Pure Michigan Hunt provides big thrills for hunters, habitat restoration for Michigan

Pure Michigan Hunt 2016 winner Makayla Fleetwood of Bloomingdale is shown with the elk she harvested

Annual drawing offers three winners hunting licenses, great prizes

Dec. 1, 2016

Some Michigan hunters wait a lifetime to get an elk license, with elk hunters selected from a pool of applicants that is often 100 times greater than the number of available licenses.

So it’s no wonder that the Pure Michigan Hunt – a drawing that gives hunters an extra opportunity to win a coveted elk license, as well as a host of other licenses and prizes – is often called “the hunt of a lifetime.”

To enter the drawing for the multi species hunt and prize package, Michigan resident participants pay $5 for each application.

Pure Michigan Hunt 2015 winner Mike DiLorenzo of Rochester is shown with his son and the elk he bagged.

“Winning the Pure Michigan Hunt was, far and away, one of my most amazing life experiences,” said 2015 winner Mike DiLorenzo of Rochester. “I had craved the chance to win a Michigan elk tag from the time my hunting mentor told me about his experience seeing elk in his early hunting days. That was 30 years ago, so this was a monumentally emotional experience.”

DiLorenzo said he received the call telling him he’d won at work.

“My office mates thought I had won the Lotto,” he said. “I had to explain the Pure Michigan Hunt is better than the Lotto, as no amount of money will give you the opportunity to hunt a wild Michigan elk.”

Makayla Fleetwood of Bloomingdale – a 2016 Pure Michigan Hunt winner and the first female ever selected in the drawing – echoed those sentiments.

“This hunt package has been one of the most incredible things a person can win. I’ve had an amazing time being able to hunt animals, such as bear and elk, that some people wait a lifetime to get tags for,” Fleetwood said. “I’ve gotten a lot of attention from family and friends regarding my hunts, especially the elk. They’ve been amazed at the fact that we have elk in Michigan, and that I was able to get such a magnificent animal.”

Fleetwood harvested a bull elk with a 6-by-6 antler rack and a black bear, both in the same day. She hunted with her father – who bought her the winning Pure Michigan Hunt entry – along for the ride.

“I’ve been able to create amazing memories with my dad and friends, and that’s what really counts,” Fleetwood said.

Started in 2009, the Pure Michigan Hunt drawing offers the chance to win a variety of hunting licenses – including a cherished elk license as well as bear, spring and fall turkey, and antlerless deer licenses – as well as first pick at a managed waterfowl hunt area.

Bruce Shaneour of Osseo shown with the prize he bagged on his 2014 Pure Michigan spring turkey hunt.“The Pure Michigan Hunt is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for hunters to experience all that Michigan has to offer,” said Rachel Leightner of the DNR Wildlife Division. “Waterfowl hunting at daybreak, guided black bear hunts, the chance at a Michigan elk, and so much more.”

Winners also get a hunting prize package valued at more than $4,000. Donated by Michigan businesses and organizations, the prizes vary from year to year and include gear like crossbows, firearms, hunting blinds and trail cameras, as well as guided hunts and gift cards.

Pure Michigan Hunt applications are sold from March 1 through Dec. 31 each year, with three winners drawn randomly in January. Applications are $5 each, in unlimited quantities, and can be purchased at any license agent or online at E-License.

Applying for the Pure Michigan Hunt does not affect eligibility to apply for or purchase other hunting licenses, and drawing winners do not have to forfeit any preference points or weighted advantage for any other limited hunt.

Pure Michigan Hunt winners have the flexibility to choose the hunt areas and times that best fit their schedules – licenses are good for any and all areas of the state open for that species during all hunt periods.

“Winners can pick and choose hunt areas and times so they are able to fit these hunts into their busy lives,” said Leightner. “They also have the option to give a license to someone else.”

With a recent change in Pure Michigan Hunt rules, winners can now transfer one or more of their licenses to another eligible hunter.

“With the holidays coming up, Pure Michigan Hunt applications make a great gift or stocking stuffer for the avid hunter on your list,” said Leightner. “Instead of needing to know other hunters' driver’s license numbers, addresses and birthdates to apply on their behalf, Pure Michigan Hunt winners now have the ability to give one or more of their licenses away to whomever they choose or keep all of the licenses for themselves.”

Mike Scherzer of Freeland, a 2016 winner, had the opportunity to watch a family member experience the thrill of the Pure Michigan Hunt when he transferred his bear license to his son, Brandon.

Over the course of eight days, Brandon, Mike and their guide from East Lake Outfitters waited anxiously for the chance at a bear. Their patience and persistence paid off.Pure Michigan Hunt 2015 winner Jason Eurich of Saginaw with geese and ducks he bagged.

“The bear came in at last light on the eighth day, and I shot it with the Darton crossbow that came with the prize package,” Brandon Scherzer said. “It was a great hunt, and I am very grateful for the experience.”

Twenty-one Michigan hunters have won the Pure Michigan Hunt, and more than 154,000 applications have been purchased, since the drawings started eight years ago.

“In 2015, we had a year of great success – we had over 35,000 applications sold across the state, generating over $176,000,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason.

Since the program’s inception, the Pure Michigan Hunt has generated more than $700,000. Funds raised go directly toward wildlife habitat management and restoration in Michigan.

“I purchased one ticket for the first time while applying for my elk draw on the Internet, which I have been applying for forever,” said 2014 Pure Michigan Hunt winner Bruce Shaneour of Osseo. “The hunts were unbelievable. I was able to do some hunting for species that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to do. The guns and gear that were awarded was also very surprising.

“Overall, this is a great thing to have a chance at. I am still greatly grateful I purchased that lone ticket and continue to do so. You never know, it just takes one.”

To learn more about the Pure Michigan Hunt, visit michigan.gov/pmh.

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