A Guide to Grouse and Woodcock Hunting in Michigan


Attention hunters! Do you know what’s already in your pocket? A license to get out hunting small game.  Yes, that base license that every Michigan hunter must purchase, is all you need to go explore the beautiful fall forest September 15 – November 15 and the winter snows December 1 - January 1 to hunt ruffed grouse. Also don’t forget about woodcock! The season is September 22 – November 5 and they are a migratory bird, so you must get a free woodcock stamp.
 

Get Started or Try Somewhere New - Michigan GEMS

GEMS Map
GEMS Map on a Trail | Photo Courtesy of DNR 

GEMS, Grouse Enhanced Management Sites, are large blocks of land open to hunting and have lots of young forest. Young forests are great places to hunt and see wildlife due to thick cover and great food sources provided.  To get young forests, plans are made and timber is cut.  At GEMS, old logging trails are used as hunter walking trails to get you started. The hunter walking trails will provide an easier walk for those looking for it. Of course, you can always make your own adventure by taking off through the woods and walking through the brush and trees.
 
Michigan has 19 GEMS that can be found across the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. You can visit the DNR Gems page to try out the interactive map, learn more about individual sites, and take a look at custom maps that have been developed. 


Use These Tips - Woodcock and Grouse Hunting in Michigan

  • Pick out a few GEMS you might want to visit.  Use the GPS points, the general directions and a county atlas to get a feel for the area. 
  • Print off or save to your phone the very detailed GEMS map.
  • Don’t forget to have your base license and free woodcock stamp in your pocket!
  • Drive to the informational parking area, get your bearings and a feel for the area.  At the kiosk, read about grouse and woodcock, timber activity and the acres of land nearby that you can also hunt.  Note, there are businesses that will give you a great discount because they support GEMS.
  • Get out and explore.
  • Repeat over and over and take others with you!  
 
American Woodcock
American Woodcock | Photo Courtesy of Christopher L. Wood

Remember in Michigan, there are millions of acres open to public hunting and many, many more locations to hunt than just GEMS!  All we’ve done is taken some great locations found across the state and packaged it for you to get started.  Use mi.gov/mihunt to plan your adventures anywhere across the state!
 
About the Author: Katie Keen is a wildlife communications coordinator for the DNR in Cadillac, who spends her working hours with hunters, landowners, educators and media representatives to help with their DNR-related needs. In her off-time, she is a hunting-landowner who loves to educate folks about the DNR.