Orvis-Endorsed Wingshooting Outfitter in Northern Michigan

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Phone icon231-228-7135 Email iconchris@hawkinsoutfitters.com Link iconhawkinsoutfitters.com
Traverse City, MI

Orvis is pleased to offer our travel customers access to two valuable services: Global Rescue travel membership and IMG Signature Travel Insurance℠.

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The Story

Hawkins Outfitters is an Orvis-endorsed wingshooting and fly-fishing guide service in Northern Michigan, founded over 25 years ago to create unforgettable experiences and memories for our clients on the water and now in the field. You will find our guides are full-time professionals who are knowledgeable about the resources and the birds you are chasing for the day. Each guide is held to a high standard of personal appearance and professionalism in their client interaction and treatment. This is what you are looking for in an "Orvis experience" in the uplands with Hawkins Outfitters.

We are the only endorsed wingshooting outfitter providing wild bird experiences in Michigan, and our head guide has grown up chasing all types of birds with many different breeds of bird dogs. Chris is far enough along in life to remember "the way it used to be" and uses his background in zoology and ecology to further your education for the day on ruffed grouse and woodcock. As a professional gundog trainer who believes in the power of developing gundogs on wild birds, Chris is never really in the "offseason" except when the snow is too deep to explore the uplands. An ever-growing student of these amazing birds, he continues to work long days to improve his game as a trainer, conservationist, and guide. A day with him will leave you filled with memories of exploding flushes, great dog work, and knowledge that he hopes will take you to the next level as an outdoors person.

What is Provided:

All hunts include snacks and water. We usually stop midday for lunch to give our clients and dogs a break, but this is up to the client. For the typical hunt, we meet our clients or pick them up at their hotel, Airbnb, etc. and provide transportation. Rental guns are available if needed.

Gear Recommendations:

Break open shotguns are required for all walk-up hunts. Typically 7.5 and higher shoot will do the job on all species.

What to Bring (Additional):

We recommend that clients bring an over/under or side by side in 16 or 20 gauge. If you bring an autoloader, you will need to have a plug in the magazine as woodcock are a migratory game bird. Ideal chokes for your gun are improved cylinder and modified, but skeet chokes can work as well, especially after the leaves fall (mid October). Size 6-7.5 shot works throughout the season although some like to shoot shot size 5 or 6 in the early fall with our thick canopy of leaves.

Bring hunting boots that are at least above the ankle (8" high) or welly-type boots as we will sometimes be down in wet, swampy areas. Always have rain gear, and chaps or nylon-faced briar pants are recommended.

Michigan requires at least a hat in hunter orange, but we recommend wearing as much orange as possible, especially in the thick covers that we hunt.

You will need a Michigan base hunting license with the free HIP registration/Migratory Bird Hunter endorsement for woodcock. If you are hunting pheasant at the Thundering Aspens Sportsman's Club, you don't need a license. You can purchase your license online here:


Ruffed grouse: September 15th through November 14th and December 1st through January 1st.

Woodcock: Usually opens the Saturday after grouse closest to September 20th and runs into early November.

Pheasant: We chase wild-released pheasant from September 1st through the beginning of January. This is NOT put and take, but are the wildest pheasants east of the Mississippi..


Ruffed grouse, Woodcock, and Ringneck pheasant.


Traverse City is a tourist town with the ambiance of a small western town. It is an amazing place to visit with everything for the foodie and connoisseur of wine, beer, or spirits. A family town, there is plenty for the non-hunting members of the family, and everything you experience is pure Michigan!

Thanks to leading forest management practices, northern Michigan has prime upland habitat for grouse and woodcock. It is the reason our state is in the top three ruffed grouse states annually and the number one woodcock state. The diversity of our habitat paints a beautiful collage of color in the fall as we chase the king of gamebirds and his cousin. We typically hunt within an hour of the Traverse City area in varied habitats. From tight young aspen to older stands with berries, hilly to flat, the one thing that is consistent is tight and thick!.

Typical Weather:

Fall can be a fickle time of year, especially as we are close to such a large body of water in Lake Michigan. Early season can have highs in the 70s and lows in the 40-50 degree range. As the fall progresses into October, we experience more precipitation and cooler temps in the 40-50 degree range during the day and the 30s at night. By the middle of November, snow is always a possibility as well.

Rates start from $550 for two hunters. Additional upland hunters are possible up to 4. You can find all pricing information at:
You can find all pricing information at: https://hawkinsoutfitters.com/wingshooting/

Can I bring my own dog?

We always have our dogs on the truck, but are happy to have our clients bring their own dogs. Many times, this helps the client as they get the guide trip and gundog trainer in the same day.

How long will we hunt/how far will we walk?

We hunt as long and far as our clients want. It is their day to choose, and they can decide how to spend it. Full-day hunts are a maximum of 8 hours (including travel between covers), and we walk between 5-8 miles on average.

Can I bring my kids or other non-hunter?

We love to take kids and non-hunters into the outdoors, and Chris has five kids of his own. However, we discuss each situation individually with the client. With the type of walking and uneven terrain, this is usually best for older children and non-hunters, depending upon experience. Again, it is your day, and the way and extent that you spend it hunting are up to you.

Can my kids come and hunt with me?

Again, this is a conversation that we have with each client individually, but the child must have completed a hunter safety and have experience hunting in groups, ideally in thick cover where it is hard to always see the other hunters and dogs. The guide reserves the right to ask the client to have his child leave the gun in the truck if there is unsafe behavior.

Additional Activities:

We are also an Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter and can get you on the water chasing trout, smallmouth, salmon, and steelhead. We have cast and blast combinations available for the ultimate experience.

We offer gundog training through our sister company, Northwoods Gundogs, for tune-ups, or we are happy to combine feedback during your guide trip on your dog's hunting situation during the hunt.

Traverse City:

With the feeling of a small western town, Traverse City is a year-round destination for individuals and families from all over the world. Our beautiful beaches, Caribbean-blue waters, extensive trails, and winter sports provide endless opportunities that will keep you coming back for more. To find out more about the many things to do while you are in town, please visit https://www.traversecity.com/outdoors/seasons/fall/

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