The Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to take advantage of their base license and enjoy a few more weeks of hunting with Michigan’s late grouse season, Dec. 1 through Jan. 1.
“The December grouse hunt is pretty special. The leaves are off the trees, and flushing grouse are more visible,” said DNR upland bird biologist Al Stewart. “We had a pretty warm fall, so now with cooler temperatures, it’s good scenting conditions for dogs.”
The early grouse season, Sept. 15 through Nov. 14, gave hunters a completely different view from behind their shotguns – warm temperatures, dewy mornings, tall ferns and leaves on the trees.
Stewart said that late-season grouse hunting is an opportunity for hunters to get more miles on their hunting boots and their base license, which is all that is required to hunt grouse. With cooler temperatures, bird hunting can be an enjoyable way to be outdoors and stay warm, with continual movement needed to find birds. December is a great time for hunters to take someone new to the sport or a youth along for a walk while they hunt. A base license isn’t required if not in possession of a firearm.
“In December, look for trees or shrubs with berries or acorns near aspen or thick, brushy areas to give you the best success,” said Stewart. “Mi-HUNT is a great tool you can use right from home to do a little recon work. Figure out where you want to head, then go into Mi-HUNT to narrow down your hunt.”
Mi-HUNT, an interactive mapping system for desktop or mobile devices, features the most up-to-date information to help plan a hunting trip anywhere in Michigan, and includes both public and private land open to public hunting. Mi-HUNT has cover-type information for more than 7 million acres, searchable by county.
For those who haven’t visited one of Michigan’s 17 GEMS – bird hunting locations across northern Michigan with parking areas and hunter walking trails – the late grouse season would be a great last-chance opportunity. More information is available at mi.gov/gems.
Once the season is over, hunters are asked to visit the wildlife survey page and tell the DNR about their hunts. Anyone who is a grouse and woodcock cooperator should mail in their report by Jan. 5.