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DNR web tool helps make hunting more productive

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Oct. 13, 2017

It was Oct. 1 and I had to work until 5 p.m. Any archery deer hunter in Michigan will know what was on my mind that day – the opening of the season.

All through work, I kept thinking about getting to my new spot, to hunt on a piece of state-managed land I had picked out.

When 5 o’clock finally came, I headed straight to the spot with my pop-up blind and bow on my back. I set up on a hillside near the deer path and tree rubs I had found on a trail run the week before.

The wind was in the right direction. As darkness approached, around 7:45 p.m., two bucks were running down the path and stopped in their tracks when they smelled two apples I had thrown toward the rubs.

One of the bucks had legal antler points. This was only the second chance I’ve had at a buck in bow season in my whole life. My heart started thumping as the buck stopped and was eating the apple.

I drew back, but the deer didn’t give me a good shot before it walked off. I went home without a deer that night, but I was still very excited to see deer on the opening day of archery season.

The key to putting me in the right place at the right time, to greatly improve my chances of getting a buck, was an interactive map application maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources called Mi-HUNT (

I learned about Mi-HUNT because I work at the DNR’s customer service center in Marquette. I now recommend it to customers all the time. The tool makes available a great deal of valuable information, all with a couple of clicks of a computer mouse.

In my case, I knew that deer use the lay of land and follow the easiest course along and around hills. I also knew that deer love acorns. Mi-HUNT was able to show me where there was state-managed land with oaks and hills that would funnel deer between their feeding and bedding areas.Anglers, like Halle and Hayden Graves, both 12, of Marquette can use the Mi-HUNT maps and aerial photography to plan their next fishing trip.

Mi-HUNT has topographic maps and maps that show what types of trees are on state land, as well as an aerial photograph for the area you are zoomed in on.

The Mi-HUNT tool lets users include or exclude layers of information on the maps they view. These layers include recreational facilities, hunting lands, cover types, trails, township, range and section.

Base maps include 7.5-minute topographic quadrangles and aerial photos depicting leaf-off conditions from 1998, both provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, and 2009 leaf-on images from the National Aerial Imagery Program.

In my research, a guide on the left side of the Mi-HUNT page showed me how thick the woods would be, indicated with a number, and what type of tree dominates the area, shown with a color.

Mi-HUNT maps also show contour lines to help users find the hills and other elevation highs and lows. From seeing a Mi-HUNT map screen, I was able to determine that the oaks are shown in brown and a yellow-colored area near lowland conifers (usually cedar) might be a good bedding spot for deer.

Beyond hunting, Mi-HUNT has no shortage of additional applications.

Hunters can use the Mi-HUNT program to study maps and photos to find out where the deer are.“Students that attend our Becoming an Outdoors Woman programs take classes like archery, firearms training, hiking or kayaking,” said Sharon Pitz, Upper Peninsula BOW coordinator. “They use Mi-HUNT to assist them in finding locations to put their newfound skills to use by locating state land, hiking trails, rivers or lakes.”

Trail users also use Mi-HUNT.

“The Mi-HUNT trail layer is used extensively by equestrians, mountain bikers, ORV riders, and snowmobilers to plan their trips throughout Michigan,” said Ron Yesney, DNR U.P. trails coordinator. “Also, the fact that Mi-HUNT shows the public and private lands makes it much more valuable to trail users than other mapping systems.”

Anglers can benefit from the program too.

“This is a great resource for planning fishing excursions,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “You can follow stream courses through public and private lands, switch over to satellite images to see stream characteristics and find nearby recreational facilities.”

The Mi-HUNT webpage also has video tutorials to help users quickly get up to speed on using the application, whether they are mobile users or using a desktop or laptop computer.

The webpage provides useful links to other information on public hunting land maps, downloadable geographic data and off-road vehicle and snowmobile trail maps.

For those looking to improve their chances while on the hunt, be it for deer, fish, camping, hiking and more, a good place to start would be Mi-HUNT (

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories and subscribe to upcoming articles at

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to

/Note to editors: Contact: John Pepin 906-226-1352. Accompanying photos are available below for download and media use. Suggested captions follow. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Anglers: Anglers, like Halle and Hayden Graves, both 12, of Marquette can use the Mi-HUNT maps and aerial photography to plan their next successful fishing adventure.

Deer: Hunters find the Mi-HUNT program helpful in studying maps and photos to find out where the deer are.

Riders: Off-road vehicle riders, equestrians, hikers and others use Mi-HUNT to plan their trips across Michigan./