Saturday, October 10, 2015

Successful early elk hunting season in the books in Michigan

Michigan’s early elk season is now over, leaving many happy hunters with full freezers and memories for a lifetime.
“It was perfect! The hunt was above and beyond my expectations, very thorough and very professional,” said Dale Grelewicz of Twin Lakes. Grelewicz harvested his once-in-a-lifetime bull elk, with his wife Jeanne at his side, on Aug. 26
The early elk season was made up of three, four-day hunts starting Aug. 25. Fifty state hunters had 12 days to harvest their elk, and 43 of them were successful in doing so. The early elk season is unique because it takes place during the rut, when calling can be effective, increasing the potential for some exciting interactions.
“Throughout the season we have had excellent weather,” said DNR wildlife biologist Jennifer Kleitch. “Weather is always a big factor in hunting, and a hunt in late August, for large animals like elk, can sometimes be difficult if the weather is too warm and animals don’t move much.”
For the early elk season, 35 licenses were issued for antlerless elk and 15 for bulls.  Of the 43 elk that were harvested, 28 were antlerless and 15 were bulls. 
Over 36,000 Michigan residents applied to hunt elk this year, and 100 were selected via a random, weighted lottery, which began in 2003. This system provides some advantage to hunters who apply consistently year after year, while still offering an opportunity to all applicants.
“I had been applying for over 20 years,” said Grelewicz.
DNR biologists age an elk at a check stationElk hunting in Michigan, which has occurred annually for state residents since 1984, is an effective management tool biologists have used to maintain elk herd numbers, composition and even distribution. The early elk hunt is designed to address crop damage or other private-land concerns by managing elk primarily in agricultural areas.
The December, or late, elk hunt will begin Dec. 5, and 50 more state hunters will have nine days to pursue elk in northern Michigan.
“We are all looking forward to the late elk hunt,” said Kleitch. “With the chance of snow on the ground, it’s a whole different hunt and experience.”
To learn more about elk in Michigan, including their comeback story, visit mi.gov/elk.