Public vs. Private Land: Where you can and cannot hunt

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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Michigan’s Upper Peninsula spans for more than 16,000 square acres. 75 percent of that land is open for public hunting.

"What makes us unique is the vast amounts of public land and the access," said Terry Minzey, the DNR U.P. regional wildlife supervisor.

Hunters have access to U.S. Forest Service land, State of Michigan lands, and commercial forest land to hunt on without permission.

"That’s land that belongs to large corporate owners and they get a tax break for allowing hunters on, GMO names like that," explained Minzey. "The Seney Wildlife Refuge, a good portion of that is also open."

On public land, hunters must have their name and address on their tree blinds and can’t cut down or nail into trees.

"You can pretty much go wherever you want, do what you want and wander the woods the old fashion way, the only thing we ask if you respect private owners signing," said Randy Trudgeon, the president of U.P. Whitetails.

The DNR says if private property is not marked and a hunter wanders onto it, they can be asked to leave.

"There’s always a few issues of trespassing and that’s something the law division responds to," said Minzey. "Deer hunting can be a competitive sport, but by and large, I don’t believe it’s a huge issue, but it can be."

Minzey says this hunting season will be similar to last year and hunters will see good antler development.

"We have a really nice crop of yearly bucks and some good 2 and a half year bucks."

Hunters say firearm season is something they prepare for year round, but the experience they receive hunting in the U.P. makes it worth it.

"It’s the freedom to move around," said Minzey.

"It’s like a rite of passage for sons and daughters to go hunting and learn," added John Pepin, the DNR deputy public information officer.

"It’s a way of life here in the Upper Peninsula," said Tony Demboski, the president of the U.P. Sportmen's Alliance.

Opening day for firearm season begins Thursday, November 15.

For details on hunting rules and regulations, click here.

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