It’s your year to grouse and woodcock hunt

With grouse and woodcock hunting season openers just around the corner, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that now is the time to make plans to spend some days in the woods.

“This is your year for a fall adventure,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “The 18 GEMS across the Upper and northern Lower Peninsula are waiting for you and your shotgun to flush a few birds.”

GEMS (Grouse Enhanced Management Sites) are large blocks of land, open to hunting, that have hunter walking trails winding throughout. The sites are managed to have young timber, which makes them ideal places to hunt and see wildlife due to the thick cover and great food sources provided.

“Michigan is nationally known for great ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting, but with millions of acres of public land to explore, hunters might not know how to get started,” Stewart said. “GEMS are great places to begin.”

Preseason planning is the best way for hunters to maximize their days in the field, said Stewart, who offered some tips:

    • Visit mi.gov/gems for an interactive map, more information about individual GEMS and custom maps.
    • Pick out a GEMS location or two you want to visit, and use the GPS points or general directions and a county atlas to get a feel for the area.
    • Print off the GEMS maps or save them to your phone.
    • Make sure you have your hunting license. To hunt grouse and woodcock in Michigan, you need a base license. To target woodcock, you also need a free woodcock stamp. Everything can be purchased online at E-License or at one of the many license agents across the state.
    • Drive to the GEMS informational parking area and get your bearings. At the kiosk, read about grouse and woodcock, timber activity and the acres of land nearby that you can hunt. Note that there are businesses (listed on the kiosk and at mi.gov/gems) that offer a great discount because they support GEMS.

Michigan’s grouse season runs Sept. 15 to Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 to Jan. 1. Woodcock are a migratory bird and have an abbreviated season, Sept. 23 to Nov. 6.

Millions of acres are open to public hunting in Michigan and there are many more locations to hunt beyond GEMS. Use mi.gov/mihunt, an interactive map application, to plan adventures anywhere across the state.

If you have questions or need assistance, call a DNR Customer Service Center or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at DNR-Wildlife@michigan.gov.

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