Lansing – Spring turkey hunters in Michigan will see limited
changes in hunt unit boundaries and tag availability in 2008 if a
DNR proposal is approved by the state Natural Resources Commission.
The DNR’s Wildlife Division submitted the proposal to the NRC last
week. The commission is expected to take action on the proposal at
its Nov. 8 meeting in Lansing.
The proposal would reduce the total number of tags issued by
4,550, from 118,440 in 2007 to 113,890 in 2008. Most of the
reduction (4,000 tags) would be in Hunt Unit M in the Upper
According to DNR wildlife biologist and turkey specialist Al
Stewart, the state holds the spring turkey season to maximize
hunter opportunity and maintain a satisfactory hunting experience
while sustaining a viable turkey population.
In a memo to the commission, the DNR states: ‘As wild turkey
populations have flourished, turkey hunters and private land owners
have requested longer seasons with greater flexibility in areas
where they can hunt. The proposed recommendations are an effort to
provide additional recreational opportunity without impacting the
quality of spring turkey hunting.’
Of the 113,890 licenses that would be available under the
proposal, 48,890 would be general licenses (good for hunting public
land and private land) and 65,000 would be for private land only.
These numbers do not include the unlimited number of licenses
available for the guaranteed hunt period – Hunt 234.
If approved, the quota of 65,000 licenses would remain the same
for Hunt Unit ZZ (No. 301)
‘This (ZZ) hunt provides private land hunters in southern
Michigan greater pliancy and convenience during this limited-entry
lottery hunt for the first two weeks of the season,’ the memo said.
Hunt ZZ is open on private land only in southern Michigan for the
first two weeks of the season.
General licenses for southern Michigan are divided among six
hunt units (ZA, ZB, ZC, ZD, ZE, and ZF). Under the proposal, these
unit boundaries would remain the same, but an additional 50
licenses would be available in Unit ZC, which includes Genessee,
Lapeer, St. Clair, Oakland, and Macomb counties. The total number
of general licenses available in ZC would increase to 2,000.
In the northern Lower Peninsula, the proposal calls for merging
units A, AA, and B into one unit called Unit A. A total of 5,500
permits would be available, down 600 from a combined total of 6,100
available last year in units A, AA, and BB.
Unit J would be expanded to include Boise Blanc Island, and Unit
F would be expanded to include Mid-Forest Lodge. License numbers
would remain the same in these units.
The turkey population has been expanding on Boise Blanc Island
and residents there have asked the DNR to allow hunting on the
‘Mid-Forest Lodge is a large recreational property in southeast
Roscommon County, which for turkey hunting purposes has
historically been included in Hunt Unit E, the Saginaw Bay Wildlife
Management Unit,’ the memo states. ‘During the years since the
boundary was created, the wild turkey season structure has changed
and the gerrymandered line between Hunt Unit E and F is no longer
In the Upper Peninsula, the proposal calls for the boundaries of
Unit M to remain the same, but asks for 8,000 permits, a reduction
of 4,000 from last year’s allocation. The reduction, Stewart says,
is a reflection of hunter participation and application rate rather
than a decline in the turkey population.
‘There have been leftover licenses in the Upper Peninsula for a
number of years,’ Stewart told Michigan Outdoor News. ‘That’s one
of the reasons we combined all of the units up there into one.
Basically, hunter opportunity has exceeded hunter interest.’