Busting brush in either of Michigan’s peninsulas can be an upland hunter’s dream come true. With millions of acres of public land, multiple species to hunt, and camaraderie galore, Michigan should be on the any upland hunter’s “must visit” list. Below are five reasons why you should upland hunt in Pure Michigan.
1. Multiple species of upland birds
Michigan’s diverse habitats—from aspen forests to wide, open fields and everything in between—play host to myriad species for upland hunters to chase. Ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, American woodcock (migratory birds), bobwhite quail, and ring-necked pheasants all call Michigan home.
Michigan is one of the top producers of grouse and woodcock in the nation, and the majority of the population can be found in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula. The migration of the American woodcock can be tracked online by using the Ruffed Grouse Society’s National Woodcock Migration Mapping System, giving uplanders the chance to hit peak flights with increased numbers of birds.
Some areas of the state host conducive habitat for more than one game bird species, allowing hunters to try their hand at various quarries in the same day, making Michigan a top contender for those who like to shoot “on the wing.”
There’s nothing quite like heading out to the North Woods with friends and family. For many, hunting is a yearly outing that strengthens friendships and offers memories to last a lifetime. put it best.
“There is a special energy shared amongst the lucky few that have experienced the frantic flush of a Michigan ruffed grouse from beneath a blowdown or autumn olive cover,” shared Jason Pociask, a lifetime outdoorsman and Ruffed Grouse Society (Keith David Chapter) committee member. “Experience it once and you are forever tied to ‘The Brotherhood of the Russet-Winged King.’ Whether over a pointing or flushing dog, the shared experience with a close friend or new acquaintance creates a lasting memory, always associated with the smell of a breaking double-barrel shotgun, carried by the dense Michigan breeze.”
3. Accessibility and abundance of land
According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Michigan provides 8 million acres of public hunting land, including 4.5 million acres managed by the DNR itself. The Department leases several thousand acres of farmland in Southern Michigan for public hunting, and 2.2 million acres of private forestland in Northern Michigan, enrolled as commercial forests, provide even more hunting access. The ability to crack open a plat book and pick a nearby tract of state land is a definite draw to those who seek an upland adventure.
4. Escape from reality with your sporting dog
Every hunter has his or her favorite breed of sporting dog, whether it’s pointer or flusher, canine partners add an extra escape from reality that is heightened by hunting in the beauty of Michigan’s upland woods.
“My favorite reason for upland hunting in Michigan is the simple fact that you are able to escape,” said Fritz Heller, a 15-year upland hunting veteran. “This escape comes in many different forms, from the beautiful farm fields of Southern Michigan to the aspen studded stream banks of the Northern Lower, to the magnitude and expanse of the Upper Peninsula. Once you’ve escaped to these locations and turn off your mind to the noise of life, you find such joy in the simple pursuit of birds behind your favorite canine partner. You can feel your legs burn from resistance and sweat run down the back of your neck. Your senses come alive as you smell wild raisin, or evaporating dew from a CRP field. The dog channels its life to you through its nose, the magic of observation of what a dog experiences ties everything together as the triangle of dog, hunter and bird come together to create a moment that is hard to explain in words.”
5. Scenic views
Whether you’re trekking on a two-track or weaving your way through an aspen cutting, Michigan offers beautiful scenery during autumn, when the leaves are turning from green to variants of bright oranges, reds, and yellows, and provides a beautiful backdrop for your upland adventures. Beginning mid-September and continuing through the end of October, the colors peak at different times in the state. Color tours guides and color report maps are available from Pure Michigan.
What’s your favorite reason for upland hunting in Michigan?
This article was produced in partnership with Pure Michigan.