Michigan Deer Hunting Regulations

Michigan Deer Hunting Rules and Regulations

Big Changes in Michigan’s 2014 Hunting Licenses

Those who enjoy hunting in Michigan know it’s never too early to begin planning for the season. This year, it’s important for prospective hunters to familiarize themselves with a new structure of hunting (and fishing) licenses. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has made major changes, beginning with the 2014-2015 seasons, to simplify what had been in place for over a decade and provide some discounts for certain combinations of licenses.iStock_000003529668XSmall

The main difference introduced by the new system is the establishment of a base hunting license. This is basically a small game license and is now required as a prerequisite for other additional licenses, such as whitetail deer, waterfowl, wildfowl and upland birds. The concept of the base license is meant to encourage more small game hunting, particularly as a way to introduce youngsters and others without previous hunting experience to field sports. The fee is $11.00 for residents, $6.00 for juniors (16 years old and younger) and $151.00 for non-residents. These base licenses are not required for the non-resident 7-day small game license. Also, individuals who are applying for limited permit hunts- elk, bear, turkey, antlerless deer and wolf-do not need to have a base license when they enter a drawing, but if they win a tag they will be required to buy one before they can buy a license for the special hunt.

Another innovation this year is the creation of a combination license. This includes a fishing license, a base hunting license and the two-deer combination tags. The price structure makes purchase of these combination licenses less expensive than buying each separately. A resident can purchase a combo for $76.00, seniors (65 years or older) for $43.00 and non-residents for $266.00. If an individual has already purchased a separate fishing license and wants to buy a combo one instead, the DNR will refund the difference in cost.

Although many people still like to purchase their hunting and fishing licenses from their local Michigan gun shop or Michigan outdoor supply store, the DNR also has an efficient on-line system for electronic purchase of licenses. One of the advantages of buying licenses electronically is the ease, speed and low cost – free! – of replacing one if it is lost. The Michigan DNR website, at the familiar URL of michigan.gov/dnr, continues to offer detailed information on game laws, season calendars, information on the Pure Michigan Hunt lottery (a tremendous hunting package offered for just $5.00 a ticket) and information on wildlife populations’ conditions. Hunter education courses, programs for disabled hunters and even maps of land open to public hunting are also provided.

What has not changed – and should never change – is the Report All Poaching program. The people of Michigan are justly proud of their natural resources – the Michigan whitetail deer herd, for example, is one of the largest in the nation – and are fiercely concerned about protecting them. Remember that Michigan wild game poachers are nothing but selfish, low-down thieves; report all poaching activities by calling (800) 292-7800!

2014-2015 Hunting Season Calendar

For current updated information from the Michigan Department of Natural Resourses click this linkhttp://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10363—,00.html

Michigan Whitetail Deer Hunting Regulations

Whitetail Deer

•Early Antlerless Firearm: Sept. 20-21
•Liberty Hunt: Sept. 20-21
•Independence Hunt: Oct. 16-19
•Archery: Oct. 1 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1
•Regular Firearm: Nov. 15-30
•Muzzleloading: ◦Zone 1: Dec. 5-14
◦Zone 2: Dec. 5-14
◦Zone 3: Dec. 5-21

•Late Antlerless Firearm: Dec. 22 – Jan. 1

Michigan Antlerless Deer

Application Period: July 15 – August 15
Drawing Results Posted Online: September 4
Note: Hunters may apply for one public land OR one private land license. If licenses remain after the drawing, they will be sold until the quota is met in each DMU beginning September 11 at 10 a.m.

Michigan New Hunting License Structure Chart

As of March 1, 2014, hunting licenses have changed. The new structure creates a simpler, and more fair and efficient license buying process

A base license is now required for every resident or non-resident who hunts in Michigan, unless otherwise noted. The base license allows hunters to hunt small game and also purchase additional hunting licenses.

Below are the new hunting licenses and prices.

Hunting Licenses Previous Price New Price

Base Junior………………-……………^$6.00
Base Resident……………….-………..^$11.00
Base Nonresident…………….-……….^$151.00
Base Senior………………..-………….^$5.00
Antlerless Deer…………………$15.00…$20.00
Antlerless Deer Junior…………..$15.00…$20.00
Antlerless Deer Managed Area Hunts..$15.00…$20.00
Bear Participation………………$15.00…$15.00
Hunt/Fish Combo Nonresident (includes base,
deer combo and fishing)……..-………..^$266.00
Hunt/Fish Combo Senior (includes base, deer
combo and fishing)………….-…………^$43.00
Deer Resident………………….$15.00….$20.00
Deer Combo Resident…………….$30.00….$40.00
Deer Nonresident………………$138.00….$20.00
Deer Combo Nonresident…………$276.00…$190.00
Deer Senior…………………….$6.00…..$8.00
Deer Combo Senior………………$12.00….$28.00
*Deer Management Assistance Permits$15.00….$10.00
Elk (Michigan residents only)…..$100.00…$100.00
Fur Harvester………………….$15.00….$15.00
Fur Harvester Senior…………….$6.00…..$6.00
Harvest Tags……………………..-……..$.00
*Mentored Youth…………………$7.50…..$7.50
(Active duty and 100% disabled veterans)$1.00..$.00
*Small Game 7 Day Nonresident……..-…….$80.00
Survey Tags………………………-……..$.00
Turkey Fall……………………$15.00….$15.00
Turkey Fall Senior………………$6.00…..$6.00
Turkey Spring………………….$15.00….$15.00
Turkey Spring Senior…………….$6.00…..$6.00
Waterfowl Hunting……………….$5.00….$12.00
Wolf Nonresident………………$500.00…$500.00
Wolf Resident…………………$100.00…$100.00

* Items do NOT require a base license

^ Items include a $1 surcharge. Revenue generated from these funds will be used to educate the public on the benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping in Michigan, and the impact of these activities on the conservation, preservation and management of the state’s natural resources in accordance with statute.

+For Michigan residents who are veterans with 100-percent disability or active-duty military, fees are waived for hunting and fishing licenses not obtained through a lottery. Military Personnel Discount (Active Duty Status):
•US military members who are currently federal active duty status.
•Qualifying customers must provide proof of military status at the time of purchase as well as while afield and be able to present proof upon request by a conservation officer, a tribal officer, or any other law enforcement officer. Proof of military status may include military ID, leave papers, duty papers, military orders, or other evidence verifying the applicant is a member of the military and has been called to federal active duty.1.Michigan residents who are currently in federal active duty status may obtain hunting and fishing licenses, for which a lottery is not required, free of charge.
2.Non-residents who are in federal active duty status and currently stationed in Michigan are eligible to receive resident pricing on hunting and fishing licenses.

•DNR will perform random audits to verify this information.



Brian J. Frawley


A survey of deer hunters was conducted following the 2013 hunting seasons to estimate
hunter participation, harvest, and hunting effort. In 2013, an estimated 661,788 hunters spent
9.2 million days afield. Statewide, the number of people hunting increased significantly by
1% between 2012 and 2013. Hunters harvested about 385,000 deer. Harvest declined
significantly by 8% from 2012. Statewide, 43% of hunters harvested a deer in 2013. About
22% of the hunters took an antlerless deer and 29% took an antlered buck in 2013.
Approximately 13% of deer hunters harvested two or more deer of any type (two antlerless
deer, two antlered bucks, or one of each). Less than 4% of hunters statewide harvested two
antlered bucks. Levels of satisfaction with numbers of deer seen, bucks seen, deer taken,
and overall deer hunting experience statewide declined significantly in 2013 from 2012.
Statewide, 45% of hunters were satisfied with their overall hunting experience in 2013, and
satisfaction was highest in the Lower Peninsula. About 162,728 hunters used a crossbow
during the 2013 archery season, and they harvested approximately 58,772 deer with the
crossbow. About 10% fewer individuals purchased a deer hunting license in 2013 than ten
years ago in 2003. Although the overall number of license buyers declined from 2003, an
increased number of people younger than 14 years of age and people older than
50 purchased a license in 2013. Nearly 12% of the license buyers in 2013 were younger than 17 years old.

During 2013, Michigan white-tailed deer could be harvested primarily during
the following hunting seasons: Liberty, archery, regular firearm, muzzleloader, early
antlerless, late antlerless, and Independence. In order to harvest a deer, hunters had to
possess a hunting license (firearm, archery, combination, antlerless, or mentored youth

The statewide regular firearm season occurred November 15-30. The muzzleloader season
was held December 6-15 in the UP, December 13-22 in the Northern LP, and December 6-22
in the Southern LP. Hunters were allowed to take deer on both public and private lands with
mentored youth, firearm and combination deer hunting licenses during the regular firearm
and muzzleloader seasons. Antlerless licenses (including DMA permits) also could be used
during the firearm seasons.

The early antlerless firearm season occurred from September 21-22. Hunters pursuing deer
during this season had to purchase an antlerless or mentored youth license, possess an
unused antlerless harvest tag (including DMA permits), and were limited to hunting on private
land. The area open to hunting during the early antlerless season was limited to all or
portions of 50 counties in the LP (Alcona, Allegan, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Barry, Bay,
Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Charlevoix, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Gratiot, Hillsdale,
Huron, Ingham, Ionia, Iosco, Isabella, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Lenawee,
Livingston, Macomb, Mecosta, Midland, Monroe, Montcalm, Montmorency, Muskegon,
Newaygo, Oakland, Oceana, Oscoda, Ottawa, Presque Isle, Saginaw, St. Clair, St. Joseph,
Sanilac, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Van Buren, Washtenaw, and Wayne). The counties open in
2013 were the same as in 2012.

In 2013, 712,404 people purchased a license to hunt deer in Michigan. The number of
people buying a license in 2013 increased by nearly 2% from 2012 (701,001 people
purchased a license in 2012). Most of the people buying a license were male (89%), and the
average age of license buyers was 42 years (Figure 3). Nearly 12% (87,716) of the license
buyers were younger than 17 years old. About 4% (26,821) of the license buyers were
younger than 12 years old.

The number of people buying a license in 2013 was nearly 10% less than the number of
people who purchased a license ten years ago in 2003 (787,951 people purchased a license
in 2003). There were fewer license buyers for most age classes between 14 and 50 years of
age in 2013, compared to 2003 (Figure 4). However, there were increased hunter numbers
among the youngest and oldest age classes in 2013. The increased hunter numbers in the
oldest age classes likely represented the rising share of older people in the population as the
baby-boom generation aged and life expectancies have increased. In addition, legalization of
crossbow use during the archery season probably increased participation among hunters in
the oldest age classes. The increased participation among the youngest hunters likely
reflected the lowering of the minimum age requirements. In 2012, the minimum age
requirement was eliminated to hunt deer with a firearm, while hunters had to be at least
12 years old to participate in 2003.

The number of 2013 deer harvest tags sold for all license types combined increased slightly
(0.7%) from 2012 (Table 2). License buyers were issued an average of 2.1 harvest tags.
About 90% of the license buyers obtained three or fewer harvest tags, and about 99% had
five or fewer harvest tags (Figure 6). Hunters most frequently obtained antlerless and
combination harvest tags (Figure 7). About 42% of the license buyers purchased at least one
antlerless license (302,050 people), and greater than 99% of antlerless license buyers
purchased three or fewer antlerless licenses, public and private licenses combined (Figure 8).

The antlerless license quota on private lands decreased 24% from 637,900 in 2012 to
483,400 licenses in 2013 (Appendix A). The quota for public land antlerless licenses
increased 2% from 69,350 to 70,574 between 2012 and 2013. The number of antlerless
licenses sold declined nearly 2% between 2012 and 2013 (Table 2).

About 93.1 ± 0.3% (661,788 hunters) of the people buying a license in 2013 actually spent
time hunting deer (Table 3). Most hunters (593,079) pursued deer during the regular firearm
season (Figure 9). Statewide, the number of people hunting deer during all seasons
combined was nearly 1% greater than hunter numbers in 2012.

A significantly greater number of people hunted during the early firearm (15%), regular
firearm (2%), and archery (1%) seasons during 2013 (Table 3). Significantly fewer people
hunted during the muzzleloader (-9%), late antlerless (-20%), and Liberty (-42%) seasons.
The numbers of people hunting in the Independence season were nearly unchanged
between 2012 and 2013 (Figure 10).

About 48% of the days hunters spent pursuing deer throughout the state occurred in the
archery season (Figure 11). About 40% of the hunting effort occurred during the regular
firearm season. Nearly 11% of the hunting effort occurred in the muzzleloader and late
antlerless seasons combined. Statewide, hunters devoted an average of 15.2 days afield
hunting deer during all seasons combined (Table 4). Archers had the greatest number of
days available to hunt deer (77 days) and devoted the greatest number of days afield
(¯x = 14.5 days/hunter) (Figure 12, Table 4). For all seasons combined, hunting effort
statewide was nearly unchanged between 2012 and 2013 (Table 3). Hunting effort increased
significantly during the early firearm season (14%) but decreased significantly during the
muzzleloader (-10%), late antlerless (-36%), and Liberty (-44%) seasons. Hunting effort was
unchanged during the archery, regular firearm, and Independence seasons between 2012
and 2013.

About 385,302 deer were harvested statewide in 2013, which was significantly lower (-8%)
than in 2012 (Figures 13-14, Tables 5-6). Regional declines in harvest were greatest in the
UP, where overall harvest declined by nearly 19%. Statewide harvest of antlerless deer
declined nearly 8% in 2013, while harvest of antlered deer declined by nearly 9% from 2012
(Table 5). Between 2012 and 2013, harvest of antlered deer decreased significantly during
the archery (8%), regular firearm (9%), and Liberty (33%) seasons, but was unchanged in
other seasons. Harvest of antlerless deer decreased significantly in the late antlerless (36%)
and Liberty (44%) seasons but was unchanged in other seasons.

About 54% of the deer harvested (sexes combined) in 2013 were taken during the regular
firearm season (Figure 15). Nearly 45% of the antlerless deer and 62% of the antlered bucks
were harvested in the regular firearm season. Hunters took 31% of the harvested deer
(sexes combined) during archery season. These archers took 31% of the antlerless deer and
31% of the antlered bucks harvested. Few antlered bucks (4%) were taken in the
muzzleloader season. The early and late antlerless and muzzleloader seasons combined
accounted for about 20% of the antlerless deer harvested.

About 86% of the animals harvested (sexes combined) in 2013 were taken on private lands
(Table 7). Statewide, most of the antlerless deer (87%) and antlered bucks (85%) were
harvested on private lands. Some noteworthy changes between 2012 and 2013 included
decreased harvest of deer on both public and private lands in the UP and decreased take of
antlered deer in the northwest Lower Peninsula (NWLP). New antler-point restrictions were
adopted in 2013 for harvest of antlered deer the NWLP (Frawley 2012), and these restrictions
likely contributed to reduced take of antlered deer in the NWLP

Statewide, 43% of deer hunters harvested at least one deer (all deer seasons and sexes
combined) in 2013 (Figure 16, Table 8), compared to the 46% successful in 2012.
About 22% of hunters took an antlerless deer, and 29% took an antlered buck in 2013.
About 13% of deer hunters harvested two or more deer.

Hunters were most successful in taking a deer during the Liberty (40% successful), regular
firearm (32%), and archery (31%) seasons (Figure 17, Table 9). Hunter success was lowest
in the Independence (15%) and muzzleloader (16%) seasons. Nearly 21% of hunters took
an antlered buck and 13% harvested an antlerless deer during the regular firearm season.

Deer hunters were asked to report how satisfied they were with (1) number of deer seen,
(2) number of antlered deer [bucks] seen, (3) number of deer taken, and (4) their overall
hunting experience. Statewide, <45% of hunters were satisfied with numbers of deer seen, bucks seen, deer taken, and their overall hunting experience in 2013 (Tables 10-11). Statewide levels of satisfaction decreased for all measures between 2012 and 2013. Statewide, about 53% of hunters supported the antler point restrictions on buck harvest implemented for the UP (Table 12), and about 59% of the hunters that preferred to hunt in the UP supported the antler point restrictions. Statewide support for the restrictions did not change significantly between 2012 and 2013. Statewide, about 45% of hunters supported the antler point restrictions on buck harvest implemented for the DMU 487 (Table 13), and about 51% of the hunters that preferred to hunt in the northeast LP supported the restrictions. Statewide support for the restrictions in DMU 487 was not significantly different; however, opposition increased significantly between 2012 and 2013 (increased from 18% to 20%). About 162,728 hunters used a crossbow during the archery season, and they harvested about 58,772 deer with the crossbow (Tables 14-16). The number of archers using a crossbow increased 14% from 2012 (142,548 archers in 2012); however, harvest of deer by archers using a crossbow decreased 2% (59,771 deer taken in 2012). About 32% of these archers using a crossbow in 2013 harvested a deer with a crossbow. Hunters using a crossbow to hunt deer were required to obtain a crossbow stamp, and 58 ± 1% of the archers using a crossbow during the archery season had obtained this stamp in 2013. However, 76 ± 1% of the archers using a crossbow during the archery season in 2013 had obtained a crossbow stamp during at least one year during 2009-2013.

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