Results of the 2022 Michigan elk survey show the herd is healthy and growing.
During an aerial survey of the elk herd conducted over eight days in January, Department of Natural Resources staff flew over 1,080 square miles of predetermined sample plots across the northern Lower Peninsula to locate, count and photograph elk. Results from the survey estimate the population is between 870 and 1,684 animals.
A total of 793 animals in 92 groups were observed during the survey. A population estimate model was used to account for the animals that may not have been observed during the flight survey. Additionally, the photos taken during the survey were used to calculate the sex and age ratio of the herd. The 2022 survey estimates the population has increased 5% since 2019.
The elk population reflects the objectives and actions written in the Michigan Elk Management Plan.
Despite several days of challenging hunting conditions due to wind, snow, rain and fog, 89% of elk hunters filled their tags during hunt period 2.
State hunters harvested 140 elk (88 cows, 47 bulls and five calves) during the nine-day December season.
There were 160 elk licenses issued for this hunt period, 110 antlerless licenses and 50 any-elk licenses. Of those licenses issued, 84% of antlerless hunters and 96% of any-elk hunters were successful in their pursuits.
Michigan’s Elk Hunt Period 1 has concluded, with 73 state hunters harvesting elk (29 bulls, 40 cows and four calves) and all three Pure Michigan Hunt winners harvesting bulls.
Hunters had mild weather throughout the season, which began in late August and spanned 12 days throughout September and into early October, with unseasonable high temperatures and scattered rain showers.
There were 100 elk hunting licenses available for Hunt Period 1, one of two elk hunting seasons in Michigan. The early hunt is designed to remove elk living outside of the designated elk management area, which is primarily across the Pigeon River Country State Forest. Hunt Period 2 will open in December to 160 hunters.
By Maren McReynolds
For many hunters, few things compare to the thrill hunting for game brings. Whether you are in it for the sport, trophy, or meat, game hunting is one of those experiences you won't likely forget for the rest of your life.
When you go hunting, you typically have two options: go on a DIY hunt where you do everything by yourself or work with elk hunting outfitters so you have an expert guiding you every step of the way.
While some hunters opt for a DIY hunt, many find working with hunting guides preferable. Often, it does not matter if they are doing it for years or hunting for the first time. If you are unsure about a guided hunt, below are some signs that indicate it is the best option for you:
You are a hunting rookie.
While a newbie hunter can go on a DIY hunt, it would be tough to succeed without the help and expertise of a seasoned hunting guide. Considering how intimidating the hunting world can be, navigating the hunting grounds on your own can be tricky.
Guides who have extensive experience can also provide hunting rookies with beneficial hunting advice. An experienced guide can also teach you smart hunting tips—from finding the exact location of the animal you want to hunt to providing guidance on how you can field dress and quarter the animal.
Michigan pheasant licenses are now available for purchase online or through in-person license vendors for the 2021 season.
A pheasant license costing $25 is now required to hunt public and hunter access program (HAP) land in the Lower Peninsula for those 18 years of age or older. The pheasant license was created through passage of HB 4313 in 2020. All license monies will be used to purchase and release pheasants on state lands.
In 2017, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) member Ken Dalton brought forward a resolution at the organization’s Annual Convention asking that staff lobby legislators to create a pheasant stocking program aimed at recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) of hunters. Dalton’s resolution also asked MUCC staff to find funding for the program.