Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Elk hunters see high success rate

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Nearly three-quarters of the 50 hunters who went after Michigan elk this fall came home with something to brag about. It turned out to be a great hunting season, according to state wildlife officials.

“We had a 74-percent success rate for quota hunters, which is on the high side of what we typically see for the early hunt,” said Jennifer Kleitch, wildlife biologist at the Michigan DNR’s Gaylord office. “We often see bull hunters being successful in this hunt, but this year, two bull hunters were unsuccessful.”

Hunters killed a total of 37 elk during the fall hunting seasons, which ended Sept. 29. The kill included one calf, 23 cows, and 13 bulls. Two of the bulls were killed by Pure Michigan Hunt winners. Tribal hunters also reported taking five elk total – three bulls and two cows.

“Elk were bugling during the second and third portions of the hunt, making it easier for hunters to locate the animals,” Kleitch said. “However, rainy weather and a few warm days slowed hunting for portions of the hunting period.”

Hunters also were well-behaved. No tickets were issued, according to Kleitch, who said it was the first hunt she could recall where no hunting violations were found. Tickets commonly are written for infractions like overharvest, taking a bull on an antlerless tag, and trespass.

The unseasonably snowy weather this fall may or may not pose a problem for elk hunters this month – those who were drawn in the state’s elk lottery and will participate in the second season, Dec. 6-14. Although snow can be a good thing, enabling hunters to find fresh elk tracks, a deep snowpack could make it more difficult for them to access areas with big elk.

Much will depend on what else Mother Nature has in store for northern Lower Michigan, according to Kleitch, who said it isn’t the first year December elk hunters have dealt with snow.

“Last year we had perfect conditions,” Kleitch said. “It snowed a little every day and hunters were able to find fresh tracks, resulting in a high success rate. Snow can be a blessing – or a burden.”  

Fifty hunters were selected to participate in the December hunt. Fifteen will have a shot at getting a bull with their any-elk licenses. The other 35 will have antlerless elk licenses.

Kleitch said the agency has not determined yet whether a third elk season will be needed.

“We typically decide after we see how the December hunt is progressing,” she said. “At this time we do not have major complaints or conflicts that would warrant holding a January hunt, but that decision will be made later.”
If a third season is necessary to meet harvest goals, it would be held Jan. 14-18.

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