A financial opportunity that increases public access
to hunting on private land in the Lower Peninsula
What is HAP?
Since 1978, Michigan’s Hunting Access Program (HAP) has been leasing private lands to increase public hunting opportunities. Enrolled landowners receive an annual payment and can select the types of hunting allowed, including all hunting, youth and apprentice only, deer only, small game only, or turkey only. Hunting is the only activity permitted.
Why HAP in Southern Michigan?
The DNR aims to promote and support Michigan’s hunting heritage and local economic development by providing more hunting opportunities through HAP. Agricultural areas in Southern Michigan contain a high proportion of private lands and offer limited public hunting opportunities. Expanding HAP enrollment increases public hunting opportunities and can assist in reducing the transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease in the deer herd, as well as reducing the negative impacts of agricultural damage caused by wildlife.
HAP offers landowners an opportunity to earn income, control wildlife populations, and support Michigan’s hunting heritage. Annual payments up to $25 per acre are calculated based on a combination of land cover types and acres available for hunting, habitat quality and the types of hunting permitted. Participating landowners are also eligible to receive funding for habitat improvements including grasslands, wetlands, tree and shrub planting, and food plots.
Landowners maintain control by setting a maximum number of hunters allowed on the property at any time (based on acreage enrolled). Hunters using HAP lands are considered guests of the landowner and required to register each time they visit the property.
What about liability?
State statute provides liability protection for landowners enrolled in HAP. Public Act 451 of 1994 states: “A cause of action shall not arise for injuries to persons hunting on lands leased under [HAP] unless the injuries were caused by gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct of the owner, tenant, or lessee.”
Who can enroll in HAP?
Landowners within eligible counties owning 40 or more acres are eligible to apply. HAP leases may include cropland (orchard, pasture, hay, crops), grassland, forest, and/or wetland. A minimum of 20 percent of the contracted acres must include wildlife habitat (grassland, forest, or wetland).
What are the hunters’ responsibilities?
Hunters are required to register each visit at the provided registration box, including name, date, address, and time. Hunters must observe all Michigan hunting regulations and any landowner rules included in the property registration folder. Driving or blocking field access routes on HAP lands is not permitted without the host’s explicit permission.
Where to get more information?
Program assistance is conveniently available at Clinton Conservation District 2343 US-127 BUS, St Johns MI 48879 Phone: (989) 224-3720 or by visiting www.michigan.gov/hap