Michigan Deer Hunting

Great Lakes, check, Mackinac Bridge, check, automobile capital(Detroit), check, but let’s not forget deer hunting, double check. Michigan has faced many difficulties surrounding deer management and differing strategies concerning them, but practice and patience have paid off and the deer population reflects it.

Settlement and unregulated hunting forced deer northward in the early 1800’s, to the point where they were rare in the south and approaching a million in the north. Loggers forested the north. Light began to filter through to the forest floor, making room for growth other than trees, and thus creating an ideal habitat for deer.

Railroads were being built and deer meat was a substantial food source for these workers. Venison was also marketed and sold, as were hides. As you can imagine, this couldn’t continue for long. Attempts by wildlife agencies were made to control this marketing, with little success. Though hunting was limited to seven months, instead of year-round, no restrictions or bag limits limited the hoped for results. With over 90% of deer being harvested by marketers, a new law would soon go into effect. Several years of research led to a ban on selling deer meat out of state in 1881. Later, the Lacey Act of 1900 was passed, making the act a federal offense.

An unsuccessful ‘buck law’ passed in 1921, decimated the herd. The law remained in effect for twenty years, no antlerless hunting. Does became plentiful and poor, and bucks were scarce. The south couldn’t be hunted from 1930-1941. Wildlife agencies then began designating a portion of the hunting licence fee toward buying land to house the animals. This has proved beneficial.

The current deer population is near two million statewide, and Michigan needs this number reduced. Think you can help? Rut dates are from October to December, usually starting earlier in the southern part of the state.

Michigan Deer Hunting Facts

  • Number of hunters in decline
  • Close to 2 million deer in the state
  • Record typical buck is 198 0/8, taken with a gun by Troy A. Stephens in 1996
  • Record non-typical buck is 238 2/8, taken with a gun by Paul M. Mickey in 1976

Michigan, derived from an Indian word, meicigama, meaning great water, should provide hunters with high success rates while hunting this area.

Popular Hunting Areas in Michigan

Maple River State Game Area—Marshland hunting, including Clinton, Gratiot, and Ionia Counties. For more information, check out this site.

Michigan Private Hunting Areas

Do you own private hunting land or offer guided hunts in Michigan? Contact us about a listing in this section!

Other Resources

For Michigan hunting license information, rules and regulations, visit here and here.