Another exhilarating year of elk hunting has ended, and the 2019 season statistics are in. Success rates continue to be high for Michigan elk hunters.
Elk hunt period 1
Hunt period 1, which targets elk outside of their traditional range, was 12 days long, running Aug. 27-30, Sept. 13-16 and Sept. 27-30. The first four days of the hunt, temperatures were slightly cooler than normal with good weather, leading to early success. During the first hunt period, 96 state hunters harvested 71 elk (29 bulls, 40 cows and two calves). Additionally, all three Pure Michigan Hunt winners were successful during this elk hunt period.
Elk hunt period 2
During hunt period 2, Dec. 14-22, another 99 state hunters harvested 89 elk (30 bulls, 54 cows and 5 calves). The weather was ideal for hunters during the nine-day season, with multiple snowfalls and temperatures below freezing, creating perfect tracking conditions.
Among this year’s successful hunters was 8-year-old Braeleigh Miller. Already an avid hunter, Braeleigh took only one shot to harvest the 400-pound cow, and shortly afterwards, she helped to field-dress it as well.
When asked what her favorite part of the hunt was, she responded, “Seeing all the elk in the field. We went out to watch them the day before. They were all so big and beautiful.”
Annual elk survey
Due to a consistent trend in elk population data over the last several years, the annual elk survey will not be conducted this year. The aerial survey may resume in January 2021, when a Department of Natural Resources airplane will fly predetermined grids covering the entire elk range.
Elk regulations will be revisited for the 2020-2021 hunting seasons at the March Natural Resources Commission meeting.
Hunters flocked to public lands in southern Michigan this fall in pursuit of pheasant hunting opportunities made possible by the Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative.
An activity rooted in companionship, pheasant hunting has remained a legacy throughout Michigan's rich hunting heritage. However, as landscapes have changed and become more cultivated over time, wild pheasant habitat and populations have waned. Despite these limiting factors, the excitement surrounding pheasant hunting prevails. This year, a dedicated group of pheasant hunting enthusiasts banded together to bring opportunities back to Michigan hunters.
In 2018 the Michigan Pheasant Hunting Initiative, a grassroots coalition, advocated for legislation that would increase pheasant hunting and recruitment, retention and reactivation opportunities in the state. As a result of these efforts, the Michigan Legislature appropriated $260,000 from the General Fund for a pheasant release program during fall 2019 and 2020.
By RYAN SOULARD
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
As the snow starts to fly and the days get shorter, itís "Rabbit Time!"
Rabbit hunting provides an excellent opportunity to get outside this winter, get some exercise, and hopefully bag a rabbit or two if you're lucky.
My Grandpa Moon used to tell me tales of rabbit hunting with his beagle and his Belgian-made Browning A5 shotgun. Unfortunately, by the time I came along, my grandpa had gotten out of hunting, but the stories sure lived on.
Spending a big portion of his life in Alabama, he was a storyteller without even trying hard at it. I can remember being in awe listening to him tell stories of bringing rabbits home for my mom and grandma to clean, which as a kid was something I just couldn't comprehend.
"Rynee," as he liked to call me in that deep Southern accent, "those rabbits made some fine vittles."
It wasn't until my late 20s that a group of guys I met from the Grand Rapids area introduced me to rabbit hunting the old-fashioned way, without the use of dogs.