With November 15th coming right up, hopefully you already have a great place to deer hunt lined up for the upcoming firearm deer season. Maybe it’s one of the steadily improving southern Michigan State Game Areas, a spot on the vast northern State Forest lands, or somewhere on federal forest lands. Or maybe you are lining up some private land: be it something you own, leased, or knocked on their door to ask for permission.
But if you are still on the hunt for hunting access, there are three resources that you might find helpful when looking for a spot to hunt in Michigan.
- Commercial Forest Lands: These are private lands enrolled in the Commercial Forest Act, which gives landowners a significant break on their property taxes in exchange for managing their land for timber and opening it up to public hunting, fishing, and trapping access (limited to walk-in only unless you have landowner permission). There are nearly 2.2 million acres enrolled, most of which is in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower. However, Southern Michigan hunters will be happy to know that that there are some CFA parcels there so check out the counties near you!
- Hunter Access Program (HAP): Michigan’s Hunting Access Program was created in 1977 to increase public hunting opportunities in southern Michigan, where 97 percent of the land base is privately-owned. In this program, private landowners receive financial incentives for allowing hunters access to their lands. HAP is one of the oldest dedicated private-lands public access programs in the nation, providing access to quality hunting lands close to urban properties. Due to grants and the recent license restructuring, the propgram has tripled the number of farms enrolled. We now have over 140 farms and nearly 16,000 acres available for public hunting, with plans to continue expanding the program over the next three years.Visit www.michigan.gov/hap to learn more and to see a current list of private lands available for hunting in Michigan. The HAP webpage includes details about enrolled properties, including types of hunting allowed and aerial photos of the properties.
- Mi-HUNT: To find public hunting land in Michigan, the DNR also encourages hunters to try Mi-HUNT, Web-based application that allows users to navigate through a variety of map layers to create their own custom maps or download pre-made maps to meet their specific hunt-planning needs.The interactive layers of Mi-HUNT allow hunters to view select private land open to the public for hunting; all state game and wildlife areas; 7 million acres of vegetation cover types; aerial imagery in a variety of formats covering the entire state; recreational facilities such as forest campgrounds, trails and boat ramps; and street maps and directions to hunting areas.To experience Mi-HUNT, visit www.michigan.gov/mihunt.
November 15th is the annual unofficial state holiday that happens to occur on a Saturday this year, giving us the regular 16 days, but also three full weekends of hunting time. While deer hunting forecasts are looking about the same as last year and the weather is getting cold and snowy already, hopefully your prospects are great and the memories that will be made are even better!