Prized for their delicate meat and enormous antlers, winning the opportunity to hunt for elk in the great state of Michigan is the chance of a lifetime for most hunters. Despite the rebound of the elk population in Michigan over the past 100 years, the elk population remains very small.

This has led the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to severely limit the amount of elk hunting licenses to just around 100 per  year. Unlike most other small and large game in Michigan, elk are some of the most protected and the regulations surrounding elk hunting are some of the most misunderstood by hunters.

Of course, winning a license to hunt elk does not automatically mean you’ll bag your prize, as every hunter knows. That’s why it pays to be prepared and why Michigan Whitetail Properties has prepared this convenient guide for Michigan elk hunters.


A Brief History of Elk in Michigan

Elk once roamed the North American continent free and unabated by hunters. Unfortunately, the population of elk plummeted in the 19th century, leading to a complete disappearance of elk in Michigan in the middle of the century.

To save the dwindling population, seven elk were transferred from out west to the small village of Wolverine where they were protected. From there, the elk population reached approximately 1,500 by the mid-60s, which allowed for the reintroduction of hunting. Unfortunately, poaching and poor habitats led to another significant downturn in populations until it could be stabilized by the mid-70s.

Now, the state of Michigan has reintroduced the right to hunt elk with a special permit that’s issued by a lottery. Unfortunately, the lottery is very difficult to win as you’ll find out.


How to Receive a Michigan Elk License

Around 31,000 hunters apply for elk hunting licenses in Michigan each year, but only around 100 are awarded. Of the 100 that are awarded, 70 are for antlerless elk hunting and 30 for general elk hunting. According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, the lottery system is weighted, which means the more you apply for a license over the years, the greater the likelihood you will receive one in the future.

Those who are drawn for a general elk hunting license are ineligible from all future lotteries in the state of Michigan and those who are drawn for an antlerless license are barred from the next 10 lotteries.


Where and When to Hunt for Elk in Michigan

The Lower Peninsula offers specified land units where hunters can roam for elk in the months of October through December. Land units may have different dates for each hunting period, so it’s best to check this guide for specific information.

There are often ranches and public areas where hunters are free to hunt for elk with a specially issued license.

Most of Michigan’s elk are located in Pigeon River Country State Forest, which are managed by the state. Ensuring the healthy population growth of elk are the state’s main interest so it’s important that hunter follow guidelines accordingly.


Elk Hunting: What to Pack

Depending on where you hunt for elk in the state of Michigan, most reserves provide great materials to assist on your hunt from altimeters to water tablets for hiking trails and mountains. Every good hunter knows to bring his favorite rifle for deer season and the same is true of the larger elk.

In total, elks can weigh anywhere from 500-750 pounds, depending on whether or not it is a male or female. For this reason, we recommend purchasing the right bag with approximately 50 feet of parachute cord to properly string up elk.

It’s also recommended that you hunt in a group or provide a way to transport elk back to your base if you happen to bag one in the wild.

Elk hunting remains one of the biggest prizes hunters can dream of in Michigan and many other states, so it pays to be prepared ahead of time if you happen to win a license. Michigan Whitetail Properties offers hunting properties that put you right up close to some of the best hunting spots in all of Michigan. Be sure to view our listings for properties available now before they’re gone!