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The Ultimate Michigan Hunting Cheatsheet - Fall 2023 Edition

Fall means primetime in Detroit's outdoors - especially for the Michigan hunting community ready for crisp mornings and cool evenings in the woods! Here is Expedition Detroit's breakdown of the species, dates, equipment, and special regulations for the 2023 Michigan hunting season.

michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr

Michigan hunters, start your engines: Fall is officially BACK and the woods are ready for your arrival!


Before trekking out into the woods, however, we always encourage both seasoned and fresh hunters to pause for a moment and review the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' annual fishing guide and hunting summaries. These summaries are truly invaluable resources for reviewing recent changes to DNR regulations, restrictions, and procedures, such as last year's mandatory deer harvest reporting requirements. Regardless if you’re a veteran woodsman or as green as hunters come, reading through the 2023 Michigan Hunting Regulations Summary would be a worthwhile investment of your time prior to heading out to your stand.


The only downside to wading through the DNR's comprehensive summaries is that they tend to be almost too informational. We don't blame the DNR - creating a Michigan hunting regulations bible each year that covers the whole state certainly isn't a small feat. However, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing, and summaries of this magnitude often cause readers' eyes to glaze over and miss the most important information.


That's where we step in. Ladies and gentlemen, meet our second annual Michigan Hunting Cheatsheet: Expedition Detroit's curated summary of the most important information for hunters within the Detroit region.

michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr deer

Whitetail Deer

When: October 1st - November 14th and December 1st - January 1st for archery, November 15th - 30th for regular firearm, and December 1st - 10th for muzzleloader.

  • There is a late antler-less firearm season open on private lands only from December 11, 2023 - January 1, 2024.

  • An extended archery season exists until January 31st for Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.

Hunting Equipment: Compound or crossbow all season; limited firearms and muzzleloaders during various phases of season. “Limited firearms” include a shotgun, a handgun that is .35-caliber or larger with straight-walled cartridges, a .35-caliber or larger rifle with straight-walled cartridges with a minimum case length of 1.16 inches and a maximum case length of 1.80 inches, and a .35-caliber or larger air rifle or pistol charged only from an external, high compression power source.


Where: Private or public lands within Southeastern Michigan.


Limit: 1 per tag.


Licenses Required: Base License and either Deer License or Deer Combo License.

michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr duck waterfowl

Waterfowl (Ducks, Coots, Mergansers, and Geese)

When: September 1st - 30th, October 14th - December 10th, December 30th - January 7th, and February 3rd - 12th (geese); October 14th - December 10th and December 30th - 31st (ducks, coots, and mergansers).


Hunting Equipment: Shotgun.


Where: Private or public lands within Southeastern Michigan.


Limits:

  • Ducks: Daily limit is 6, season-long possession is 18.

  • Coots: Daily limit is 15, season-long possession is 45.

  • Mergansers: Daily limit is 5, season-long possession is 15.

  • Dark Geese (Canada, brant and white-fronted): Daily limit is 5, season-long possession is 15.

  • Light Geese (snow, blue and Ross’s): Daily limit is 20, season-long possession is 60.

Licenses Required: Base License and Waterfowl Hunting License.


expedition detroit michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr turkey

Turkey

When: September 15th - November 14th.


Hunting Equipment: Shotgun, crossbow, or compound bow.


Where: Private or public lands within Washtenaw and Livingston Counties; only on private land within Oakland, Macomb, and St. Clair Counties.


Limit: One per tag.


Licenses Required: Base License and Fall Turkey License.


More information: 2023 Fall Turkey Hunting Summary

expedition detroit michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr pheasant

Pheasant

When: October 20th - November 14th and December 1st - January 1st (male only).


Hunting Equipment: Shotgun.


Where: Private or public lands within Southeastern Michigan.


Bag Limits: Daily limit is 2, season-long possession is 4.


Licenses Required: Base License and Pheasant License (required only for hunters 18 years of age and older hunting on public lands).

expedition detroit michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr quail

Quail

When: October 20th - November 14th.


Hunting Equipment: Shotgun.


Where: Private or public lands within Southeastern Michigan. At Highland Recreation Area, quail may be harvested only by field trial participants in the field trial areas on days with authorized field trials.


Bag Limits: Daily limit is 5, season-long possession is 10.


Licenses Required: Base License.

expedition detroit michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr ruffed grouse

Ruffed Grouse

When: September 15th - November 14th and December 1st - January 1st.


Hunting Equipment: Shotgun.


Where: Private or public lands within Southeastern Michigan.


Bag Limits: Daily limit is 3, season-long possession is 6.


Licenses Required: Base License.

expedition detroit michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr squirrel

Fox and Gray Squirrel

When: September 15th - March 31st.


Hunting Equipment: Rifle (.22-caliber), limited firearm, compound bow, crossbow, or air gun.


Where: Statewide on private or public land.


Bag Limits: Daily limit is 5, season-long possession is 10.


Licenses Required: Base License.

expedition detroit michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr coyote

Furbearer (Coyote, Fox, Weasel, Raccoon, Muskrat, Beaver, Skunk, and Opossum)

When: October 1st - March 31st (raccoon); October 15th - March 1st (fox); year-round (coyote, opossum, skunk, beaver, muskrat, and weasel).


Hunting Equipment: Rifle (.22-caliber), limited firearm, compound bow, crossbow, or air gun.


Where: Statewide on public and private lands.


Bag Limits: No limit.


Licenses Required: Base License and Furbearer License. Opossum, skunk, and weasel may be harvested year-round, statewide with a valid Michigan Fur harvesting license. Beaver, coyote, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, skunk and weasel may be taken year-round, using all legal hunting and trapping methods for those species as permitted by law, on private property when doing or physically present where they could imminently cause damage.


expedition detroit michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr woodchuck

Small Game (Rabbit, Red and Ground Squirrel, Woodchuck, and Porcupine)

When: September 15th - March 31st (rabbit); year-round (red and ground squirrel, woodchuck, and porcupine).


Hunting Equipment: Rifle (.22-caliber), limited firearm, compound bow, crossbow, or air gun.


Where: Statewide on private or public land.


Bag Limits: Daily limit is 5, season-long possession is 10 for rabbit; no limit for red and ground squirrel, woodchuck, opossum, and porcupine.


Licenses Required: Base License. Cottontail rabbit, ground squirrel, red squirrel, and woodchuck may be taken year-round on private property without a license when about to cause damage.

expedition detroit michigan hunting fall 2023 dnr crow

Small Birds (Crow, Feral Pigeons, Starling, and House Sparrows)

When: August 1 - September 30 for crow; year-round for other birds.


Hunting Equipment: Shotgun or air gun.


Where: Statewide on private or public land.


Bag Limits: No limit.


Licenses Required: Base License. Crows, Starlings, and House Sparrows may be taken by a property owner or designee without a license if doing or about to do damage on private property.

Why Hunting Matters for Michigan

For some readers, this inclusion of a Michigan hunting article on our platform may have come as a surprise. The truth is, ethical hunting has represented a cornerstone aspect of Expedition Detroit since its inception almost one year ago. Fall's return to the northern hemisphere means the inclusion of more hunting-specific content, which we understand may be jarring to some readers who subscribed after reading one of our popular backpacking or camping articles.


If you find yourself in that camp - i.e., someone who is neutral or somewhat against hunting - then allow us a moment to explain why we view ethical hunting as a critical component of Michigan's outdoor recreation ecosystem. Actually, its most important component.


To summarize, Southeast Michigan has a serious ecological problem stemming largely from its overpopulation of deer. Car accidents involving deer have risen 6.6% since 2012, making Michigan the second leading state in the U.S. for deer-car accidents. Crop damage on Michigan farms attributable to deer has risen 59.6% since 2014. Milder winters across the Great Lakes region have allowed more deer to survive and reproduce in the spring and early summer. Bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease are spreading throughout herds within the Lower Peninsula.


What exacerbates these problems most for the DNR, however, is that fewer and fewer Michiganders are heading into the woods each year. In the 1990s, led by baby boomers, Michigan had 900,000 deer hunters in the woods. By 2030, the DNR expects about half as many. Beyond the physical detrimental effects of less hunters, the DNR and Michigan's tourism industry has relied on the roughly $2.3 billion in economic impact derived from hunting - a valuable revenue stream that state officials fear will diminish rapidly in the coming years.


Yes, unethical and irresponsible hunters absolutely deserve the scorn of today's mainstream outdoor community. That being said, hunting has a valuable ecological, economic, and cultural position in our state's outdoor heritage. Michigan needs hunters more now than ever in its history, and we at Expedition Detroit are proud to advocate for the development and proliferation of ethical, lawful, and science-backed hunting.


We hope that you'll join us in the woods this season!

 

This cheatsheet is intended only as a high-level and supplemental reference to the Michigan Hunting Summaries. The summaries linked to above include a broad range of very helpful and instructive information, such as legal shooting hours, species-specific limitations (e.g., ducks and other waterfowl), information on lawful stands and baiting practices, and penalties for violations. Any further inquiries regarding applicable rules and regulations should be directed to the Michigan Hunting Regulations Summary or DNR at 517-284-WILD.


You can CLICK HERE to purchase any of the requisite licenses listed above.


Best of luck this season!

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