Did you feel your hunting instincts suddenly kick in? There is something about hunting season that you can feel in your bones even without checking the calendar. Perhaps the feeling of anticipation as your favorite hunting season draws near is based upon primal instincts that you inherited from your ancient ancestors. Or, you may just love how the forest comes to life during certain times of the year when the chance to go legally hunting for grouse, deer, turkey, and even bears finally arrives.
Michigan has more than 10 million acres of land that is open to public hunting during specific seasons, and you’ll also find 111 wildlife management areas throughout your state. While some states only offer a few opportunities to hunt specific species of wildlife, such as deer, you can find just about every imaginable animal that you can legally hunt here.
The Upper Peninsula is especially known for having thriving hunting grounds that are filled with beautiful scenery that enhances your favorite outdoor activity. Yet, you will want to respect the local laws that are designed to also preserve wildlife by limiting hunting to only the times of the year when it is less detrimental to animal populations.
Being aware of the prime hunting seasons in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan helps you know when to secure your permit, book your Ironwood hotel and pack up your gear for a successful hunting trip this year. Keep in mind that these dates are all for the 2023 seasons, and you’ll find that they change slightly from one year to the next.
Michigan Deer Seasons (Based Upon Specifications)
Legal deer hunting in Michigan is divided up into specific seasons, and each one has specifications that you need to meet to comply with regulations.
- Liberty hunt (Sept. 9-10)-Hunters with disabilities and youth are allowed to hunt
- Early antlerless firearm (September 16 and 17)
- Independence hunt (October 19-22)-open to hunters with disabilities
- Archery (October 1 through November 14, and open again December 1 through January 1)
- Regular firearm (November 15 to 30)
- Muzzleloading (December 2 to 11)
- Late antlerless firearm (December 12 through January 1)
Knowing where you fit into the deer hunting season schedule makes it possible to find the best Upper Peninsula motel that has openings during that time frame. Having a place to rest up and secure your gear while you fuel up for a big day’s adventure allows you to focus more on planning for your hunt.
Bagging an elk is a huge achievement every season, but this special event is limited to only hunters who receive a permit through the annual lottery system. The general elk season falls within the range of dates between August 30 and December 180. If you score a permit, then you’ll want to be careful to follow the stipulations regarding the hunting areas and designated time period.
Small Game Seasons
Avid hunters know that smaller catches aren’t always easier. These small game hunting seasons give you the chance to refine your sharp-shooting skills while enjoying the opportunity to hunt in the Upper Peninsula forests.
- Snowshoe Hare – September 15 to March 31
- Cottontail Rabbit – September 15 to March 31
- Ruffed Grouse – September 15 to November 14
- Sharp-tailed Grouse – October 10 to 31
- Fox and Gray Squirrels – September 15 to March 31
The abundant wildlife in Michigan also allows for open-season hunting of the following other types of small game that prevents overpopulation that could have a negative impact on the overall Upper Peninsula environment.
- Feral swine
- Feral pigeons
- House sparrows
- Ground squirrels
The quest for the perfect turkey is what brings many people to an Ironwood hotel every fall, and the window of opportunity to hitting your goal falls within the range of September 15 to November 14.
The spring turkey hunting season is also designed for managing wildlife populations, and the application window for 2023 fell between January 1 and February 1. If you were fortunate enough to apply on time, then you can start looking for your results on March 6. If you didn’t get to apply, then you may be able to pick up a leftover license or obtain a Hunt 0324 license, both of which become available on March 20. The license you obtain will designate your hunting unit along with the associated season dates that fall between April 22 and May 31.
Bringing home a bear is a trophy-level achievement that is limited to only a few people every hunting season. Bear hunting licenses are granted on a drawing and points system, and you’ll need to put in your application between May 1 and June 1. Following the drawing in June, the results are posted towards the end of the month.
Nonresidents can apply, but only a small percentage of licenses are granted to people from out of state. If you do manage to score that coveted license, you’ll want to start figuring out where to stay in Ironwood fast since Upper Peninsula motels tend to book quickly during the prime hunting seasons.
Whether you choose to do a DIY hunt or a guided hunting trip, staying close to where you plan to go helps you arrive at the ideal times for enjoying a successful bear hunt.
Obtaining a valid hunting license is a must-do when you plan to visit the Upper Peninsula to catch any type of game, and you can also tie in a fishing license at the same time for a seamless outdoor trip that results in multiple successes. Make sure to check the latest fishing and hunting license information to get up-to-date fees and any other requirements. Then, you can book your stay in one of our Upper Peninsula hotels and start gathering your gear for a visit to one of the top hunting destinations in the nation.