Although it may not feel like a Michigan December, the final 2015 elk hunt drew to a close last weekend.
“We had crazy weather conditions for this year’s late elk hunt,” said Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Shelby Hiestand. “In a typical year, we would have had a ton of snow on the ground, where hunters could track and pattern elk and really have a better chance at spotting them against the white snow.”
Although conditions may not have been typical for the December elk hunt, the harvest was still quite successful. Ninety-two percent of hunters harvested an elk this December season, totaling 46 elk. Each hunter was selected out of a random, weighted lottery of more than 31,000 Michigan hunters who applied to hunt elk this year.
The latest season, held Dec. 5-13, was open in all elk hunt units in the northern counties of the northern Lower Peninsula. Each elk hunter attended a mandatory elk orientation in Johannesburg to learn about hunting elk, regulations, biology and the history of elk in Michigan.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime hunt, and our goal is for every hunter to have a safe, enjoyable experience,” said Hiestand. “Most hunters have never hunted elk before, and may not be familiar with areas in northern Michigan. Elk orientation is a great time to get to talk to hunters and answer any of their questions.”
One hundred elk licenses were available in 2015 – 50 in the early season and 50 in the late season.
Elk hunting in Michigan is an effective management tool that biologists have used to maintain elk herd numbers, composition and even distribution since 1984, when elk hunts began to occur annually for Michigan residents. The elk application period runs annually from May 1 to June 1.
To learn more about elk in Michigan, including their comeback story, visit www.michigan.gov/elk.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.