Yours Truly in Orange Hiking Gear | Jane Boursaw Photo
Yours Truly in Orange Hiking Gear | Jane Boursaw Photo
Cory Holman's Pumpkin Patch on the Old Mission Peninsula

If you’ve encountered someone with a gun on the OMP trails lately, you might have been a bit taken aback. Many people don’t realize that hunting is allowed in certain Peninsula Township parks and nature preserves, which means if you hike the OMP trails regularly like I do, you’re likely sharing those trails with hunters between August 1 and March 31.

In short, wear bright orange on the trail during hunting season (which is now, starting with small game), lest a hunter mistake you for a deer or squirrel. This is also a great reminder to keep your dogs on leashes – also a requirement on most OMP trails (unless they’re hunting dogs). That’s yours truly in the photo above in my orange hiking gear.

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Because Old Mission Point Park – at the very end of the Peninsula – was funded by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund years ago, hunting is allowed per DNR regulations. As Township Supervisor Rob Manigold noted during the Township Board meeting this week, the Township would not have been able to purchase this land if hunting were excluded.

The Township is in the process of buying and installing signs noting that hunting is allowed per DNR regulations, so look for those on the trails soon.

Here’s the rundown on where and when hunting is allowed in Peninsula Township parks and nature preserves. (Note that hunting is not allowed in the Pelizzari Natural Area, so walk that trail to your heart’s content.) And be sure and check out the 2021 Michigan Hunting Digest for more details.

Lighthouse Park/Old Mission Point Park

Lighthouse Park and Old Mission Point Park have the same trail system – meaning that you can hike from the Ridgewood Trailhead over to Lighthouse Park and back, by way of the Murray Road Trailhead. And as mentioned, because Old Mission Point Park was acquired by lease with the help of the Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, this land is also accessible to hunters.

Here is the sign at the Lighthouse noting that hunting is allowed…

Hunting in Old Mission Point Park on the Old Mission Peninsula
Old Mission Point Park on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

Note that even though hunting is allowed here, Lighthouse Park/Old Mission Point Park do not show up on any of the DNR hunting maps. In fact, none of the OMP parks or nature preserves show up on any of the DNR hunting maps.

However, below is the basic hunting schedule for 2021-2022 as noted on the DNR website (again, check out the 2021 Michigan Hunting Digest, and hunters, feel free to jump in with more info in the comments section below):

2021 Hunting Season Schedule from the DNR Website

There is an open hunting season at all times on public and private land from August 1st through March 31st every year. Hunters could be encountered in the woods on public lands during these months.

Fur Harvester Information (includes Muskrat, Mink, Raccoon, Fox, Bobcat, Badger, Fisher/Marten, Beaver, Otter, and Coyote): See the Michigan Fur Harvester Digest.

  • Bear: See season dates in the Michigan Bear Hunting Digest
  • Cottontail Rabbit and Snowshoe Hare: Sept. 15 – Mar. 31
  • Crow: Aug. 1 – Sept. 30 and Feb. 1 – Mar. 31
  • Deer (Hunting Digest):
  • Liberty Hunt: September 11-12, 2021 (Youth and Hunters With Disabilities Hunt)
  • Early Antlerless Firearm: Sept. 18-19, 2021
  • Independence Hunt: Oct. 14-17, 2021 (Hunters With Disabilities Hunt)
  • Archery: Oct. 1 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1
  • Extended Archery – Urban Deer Management Zone of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties: Open through January 31.
  • Regular Firearm: Nov. 15-30
  • Muzzleloading:
    Zone 1: Dec. 3-12, 2021
    Zone 2: Dec. 3-12, 2021 (this is us)
    Zone 3: Dec. 3-12, 2021
  • Late Antlerless Firearm:
    Dec. 13, 2021 – Jan.1, 2022
  • Elk: See season dates in the Michigan Elk Hunting Digest
  • Pheasant (male only):
  • Zone 1 (partial): Oct. 10-31
    Zone 2, 3: Oct. 20 – Nov. 14 (this is us)
    Zone 3 (partial): Dec. 1 – Jan. 1
  • Quail: Oct. 20 – Nov. 14
  • Ruffed Grouse: Sept. 15 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1
  • Sharp-tailed Grouse: Oct. 10-31
  • Squirrel – Fox and Gray (black phase included): Sept. 15 – Mar. 31
  • Waterfowl: See season dates section in the Waterfowl Hunting Digest
  • Wild Turkey; Spring Season: Apr. 17 through June 7, 2021 (see Spring Turkey Digest for applicable units)
  • Woodcock: Sept. 15 – Oct. 29, 2021

Opossum, porcupine, weasel, red squirrel, skunk, ground squirrel, woodchuck, Russian boar, feral pigeons, starling and house sparrows may be taken year-round with a valid Michigan hunting license.

Old Mission Point Park on the Old Mission Peninsula
Lighthouse Park/Old Mission Point Park | Peninsula Township Map

Pyatt Lake Bill Carls Nature Preserve

Located at Bowers Harbor, this 159-acre nature preserve falls under the jurisdiction of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

According to the Conservancy’s website, only bow-hunting for deer is allowed here.

Read more about the Pyatt Lake Bill Carls Nature Preserve here.

Pyatt Lake Nature Preserve | Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy Map
Pyatt Lake Nature Preserve | Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy Map

Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve

Most people probably don’t even know this little preserve exists. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed until I started researching hunting on the Old Mission Peninsula for this story.

The Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve falls under the jurisdiction of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, and is located at the north end of Brinkman Road on the right. Part of it borders Murray Road.

Unbeknownst to us, Tim and I actually walked through this preserve not long ago and discovered a giant tree hidden away next to the bog, straight out of a “Lord of the Rings” movie.

Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve | Jane Boursaw Photo
Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve | Jane Boursaw Photo

It’s probably a good thing that most people don’t know about this preserve, because as noted on the Conservancy’s website, it features “fragile and unique habitats and is considered a ‘sanctuary.’”

Two-thirds of this preserve is, in fact, a bog and represents the only bog natural community on the Old Mission Peninsula. The property is sanctuary for the bald eagle and has two wet openings that are used heavily by a variety of birds and animals.

Hunting in Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve | Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy Map
Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve | Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy Map

“Although Brinkman Bog is open to the public,” notes the Conservancy website, “its sensitive features are not suited to disturbance, and dense vegetation makes human passage difficult so there is no parking area or trails.”

However, archery hunting for deer is allowed here, as well as small game, waterfowl and turkey hunting.

Power Island

According to an UpNorthLive.com story by Devon Mahieu, the Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Department has opened Power Island and the connected Bassett Island for deer archery hunting during the Michigan DNR’s archery season.

The announcement comes as a recommendation from the DNR to help control the deer population, writes Devon. “Power Island has been opened to bow hunters for the past ten years to prevent deer on the island from starving due to lack of vegetation.”

The Parks and Rec Department said hunters may use the ten campsites on the island on a first-come, first-serve basis, although the restrooms will be closed and the well winterized.

Hunters are not required to register with Grand Traverse County Parks and Rec to hunt on Power Island, but they’re encouraged to notify the department as a courtesy if any deer are harvested, by calling (231) 922-4818. Call that number for more info about hunting on the island, as well.

Trapping/Fur Harvesting on the Old Mission Peninsula

Because of the restrictions at Pyatt Lake, Power Island, and the Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve, the only place trapping and fur harvesting are allowed is Lighthouse Park/Old Mission Point Park.

The DNR regulations for trapping and fur harvesting, including what can be harvested and when, can be found here.

If you have questions about anything related to hunting on the OMP trails, call the DNR at the customer service centers for our zone (Zone 2), which includes the Cadillac Customer Service Center, (231) 775-9727, or Traverse City Customer Service Center, (231) 922-5280.

If anyone has other info about hunting in the parks and preserves on the Old Mission Peninsula, tell us in the comments section below.

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