Michigan Squirrel Hunting Season [Laws and Regulations]

Michigan squirrel hunting season

Michigan is among the top states for hunting. The state consists of more than 360,000 acres of public land available for hunters. This makes it the perfect area for hunters to hone their skills. However, it’s essential to understand the small game hunting laws and regulations to ensure you stay safe and avoid harsh penalties.

Michigan Squirrel Hunting Season

Statewide squirrel fox and gray hunting season runs from September 15 – March 31, with a daily bag limit of five and the possession limit is 10. It is legal to hunt red squirrels year-round. There is no hunting season for flying squirrels, and harming or killing one will result in fines.

All residents and non-residents must possess a base and valid hunting license, regardless of age. However, before we dive into the hunting regulations and laws, let’s look at the types of squirrels that reside in the state and the best places to hunt them.

Types of Squirrels In Michigan

Nine types of squirrels can be found in Michigan. These consist of tree, ground, and flying squirrels such as;

  1. Eastern Fox Squirrels (tree squirrel)
  2. Red Squirrels (tree squirrel)
  3. Eastern Gray Squirrels (tree squirrel)
  4. Least Chipmunk (ground squirrel)
  5. Eastern Chipmunk (ground squirrel)
  6. Woodchucks/Groundhogs (ground squirrel)
  7. Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel (ground squirrel)
  8. Southern Flying Squirrel
  9. Northern Flying Squirrel

As mentioned above, only the gray squirrel and fox squirrel are categorized as small game.

Where To Hunt Squirrels In Michigan?

There is no shortage of hunting grounds in Michigan. The state offers thousands of acres of public and private forests, making it a hunters’ haven. These rodents prefer areas with oak and beech trees because they feed on acorns and beech nuts.

It’s best to hunt squirrels on calm days, although rainy days are fine. 

During strong windy, and rainy days, the rodents seek shelter, making them challenging to find.

Best Squirrel Hunting Locations in Michigan

As mentioned, the state offers more than 360,000 acres of public land available for hunters. In addition, the Mi-HUNT website makes it easy to plan recreational public hunting activities.

Michigan’s Hunting Access Program (HAP) includes the Northeast Lower and Eastern Upper Peninsula, which consists of private land allowing hunters to hunt. That said, hunters must complete an application to hunt in an area enrolled in the HAP program.

Hunting is available on a first-come, first serve basis. In addition, trespassing or failure to abide by the rules will result in harsh penalties.

Below is a table of the penalties for violating the state hunting laws.

Violation of bag limits, hunting methods, permits, licenses, and shooting hours$50-$500 fine and up to 90 days in jail
Using artificial light with a crossbow, bow and arrow, or any other method$100 – $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail and losing your license for the remainder of the hunting year.
Three convictions within a 5-year periodUp to 180 days in jail and a fine of no more than $200

Hunting Lands In Michigan

The state has a diverse landscape, which consists of the following types of hunting areas:

  • State forest lands
  • State parks
  • Federal lands
  • Commercial forest lands
  • Hunting Access Program
  • State game and wildlife areas
  • Military ranges and Hanson Refuge

Michigan Squirrel Hunting Regulations

Hunters are responsible for understanding and abiding by the hunting rules and regulations. This entails when hours you can hunt, private and public land, bag limits, etc.

Many people enjoy hunting squirrels, but the laws differ in every state. Here’s what we found when researching the Michigan squirrel hunting regulations.

Do You Need A License To Hunt Squirrels In Michigan

All hunters, regardless of age, must possess a valid license or permit to hunt in Michigan.

At the time of this writing, Michigan hunting enthusiasts can purchase the following types of hunting licenses:

  • Michigan Resident: Anyone who has lived in Michigan for one continuous year is considered a resident. A base license is required for all Michigan residents. The base license allows you to hunt small game animals and purchase additional hunting licenses.
  • Non-Resident Hunting License: Non-residents must purchase a base license to hunt. After purchasing the base license, you can purchase additional hunting licenses.
  • Youth Hunting License: Residents 10 – 16 must possess a valid Junior Base License, which costs $6.
  • Senior Hunting License: Residents 65 years can purchase a reduced fee Senior Base License for $5.
  • Military and Veteran License: Active duty military members stationed in Michigan can purchase a resident hunting license. The state allows active duty members residents to receive a free hunting license while on leave.
  • Disability License: According to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, residents with disabilities may be eligible to purchase a senior hunting license. Visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website for the updated laws on permits and licenses for people with disabilities.

How To Purchase An Michigan Hunting License

Hunting licenses and permits can be purchased online through the Department of Natural Resources or any of the approved license vendors

All hunters must purchase the base license every year, which expires on March 31 of each year.

Here’s a link to the fees for each license.

Do I Take A Hunters Education Course to Get A Hunting License?

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1960, must pass an approved hunter education course before you can apply for a base license or any other type of hunting license.

There are three ways to attend a hunter education course.

  • Classroom-Based: The individual attends a traditional classroom environment to obtain the education card.
  • Hybrid: Consists of online and in-person training.
  • Take Home Plus Field Day: Make arrangements to pick up and complete the student manual no more than one week before the field day.

Regardless of which option you choose to complete the course, an 80% or better is required to pass.

Bag Limits

The daily bag limit for fox and gray squirrels is five, with a daily possession of ten.

There are no bag limits on the ground and red squirrels. You can hunt them year-round. 

Michigan Small Game Animals

Whether you enjoy hunting squirrels or not, Michigan has several small game animals you can hunt. 

Below is a table of the small game animals and dates for Michigan residents and non-residents.

SpeciesSeason DatesBag LimitsPossession
CrowAugust 1 – September 30 and February 1, – March 31No LimitsNo Limit
Grouse – RuffedSeptember 15 – November 14 and December 1 – January 15 Daily10 in zones 1, 2, and 3 daily. 6 daily in zone 3.
QuailOctober 20 – November 145 Daily10
Rabbit and HareSeptember 15 – March 315 Daily10 Combined
Gray and Fox SquirrelsSeptember 15 – March 315 Daily10
WoodchuckSeptember 15 – October 293 Daily9
Red squirrels and ground squirrelsYear-RoundNo LimitNo Limit

Hunting Methods

There are no restrictions for shoot hours during squirrel hunting season. That said, the best time to hunt for squirrels is either early or late in the day. Squirrels are more active at dawn and dusk.

Depending on your skill level, legal hunting methods for hunting squirrels in Michigan include archery equipment, slingshots, etc.

Additionally, cage-type traps are allowed as a hunting method, but you’ll need to check the trapping laws. The state requires individuals to apply for and possess a trapping license.

It is legal for homeowners to trap nuisance squirrels out of season without a permit. 

Can You Use A Dog To Hunt Squirrels In Michigan?

It is legal to use a hunting dog in Michigan. However, hunters must ensure their dog is properly trained. 

In addition, the state has implemented some restrictions that hunters must be aware of, which include:

  • Rabies Vaccination: Hunters must possess a valid rabies vaccination for a dog four months of age before they can obtain a dog license. 
  • Training Dogs: Hunters must possess a valid hunting license when training their dogs with live ammo.

Hunters must abide by the rules and regulations of the hunting area. Failure to do so can result in fines.

Can You Hunt From A Motorized Vehicle In Michigan?

The laws will vary depending on where you’re hunting. You can not use motorized vehicles in any game management area.

You must operate an off-road vehicle during daylight hours, and using them in any Agency-owned Wildlife Management Area is illegal.

Understanding the laws and regulations, failure to do so can result in harsh penalties and fines.

Do You Have To Wear Orange Or Camouflage To Hunt Squirrels?

According to MCL 324.40116, all hunters must wear 50% hunter orange or camouflage while hunting. The acceptable outer garments are; a jacket, rain gear, hat, cap, or vest.

Failure to abide by the rules makes it illegal to take game during the daylight hours of August 15 – August 30. 

In addition, anyone who causes harm for negligence and failure to abide by the rules is punishable by law in a civil action for injuries or wrongful death.

Equipment and Gear

Equipping yourself with the right gear can make all the difference in your hunting experience. Here is some essential hunting gear:

  • Hunting License and Permit: A valid hunting license and a small game permit are required to hunt squirrels. 
  •  Boots: Sturdy and comfortable boots are essential for walking and hiking in the woods.
  •  Game Bag: A bag or backpack to carry hunting gear and harvested squirrels.
  •  Binoculars: for scouting squirrel activity from a distance.
  •  Knife: A sharp knife is necessary for field dressing and skinning squirrels.
  •  Hunting Clothing: Camouflage clothing that matches the environment can help blend in and stay hidden from squirrels.
  •  Ammunition: Depending on your weapon of choice or bow used, appropriate ammunition or bolts are necessary for hunting squirrels.
  •  Map and Compass: A map and compass can help you navigate in the woods and find your way back to camp or your vehicle.

Safety Tips and Considerations

Following safe hunting practices and being aware of squirrel conservation efforts is essential when hunting in Michigan.

Since some squirrel species in the state are protected, understanding local regulations and conservation initiatives is crucial.

Final Word

All licensed hunters must possess a valid hunting license and abide by the rules and regulations set by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Gray and Fox squirrel season opens September 15 – March 31 statewide, with a daily bag limit of five.

The Wildlife Conservation Order Amendment No. 6, allows homeowners to shoot, kill, or euthanize nuisance animals such as; fox, gray, and red squirrels without obtaining a DNR nuisance control permit.

If you’re new to hunting, I recommend visiting the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. to learn about responsible hunting.

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