Hunting season means something a little different to each hunter and for many Michiganders fall is a very special time of the year. Hundreds of thousands of hunters will take to the Michigan woods later this week at the start of Michigan's regular firearm deer season. Hunting contributes $2.3 billion to the Michigan economy annually. Approximately 700,000 people participate in hunting in Michigan, which supports more than 135,000 jobs in the state. It’s an exciting time.
Few things are better than getting out in nature in pursuit of some game—and with millions of public acres available across Michigan, there are plenty of places to explore on the hunting trips you decide to take throughout the year, whether it’s close to home or a further away destination. If you happen to be new to hunting in general, are curious about trying it or are considering planning your first hunting trip to the state, the following tips will help you gain an initial grasp on what you can and can't do with COVID-19 still around.
Use this guide to understand the basics of what to expect this hunting season in Michigan. You can also visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to stay up-to-date on all outdoor recreation activities available throughout the state.
Is Hunting Animals Good For The Planet?
We will start off by addressing the cautious amongst us as there has been a big push against the hunting of live animals. We believe the short answer in this scenario is yes. Michigan is one of the few states in the world that has tied it’s wildlife and conservation efforts directly to the hunting trade. All hunting license fees fund a large portion of conservation efforts that are carried out by the state. This is not only directly invested in managing wildlife populations and habitat, but every license dollar is matched with funds generated through federal excise taxes on hunting equipment.
Hunting also naturally manages the deer population. For example, deer can be the source of some negative impacts such as damage to crops and all too common deer-vehicle collisions. These are so common; the famous TV show “Family Guy” even produced an episode on it. Through setting hunting regulations, deer populations can be reduced or maintained at a certain level, creating a more balanced environment.
Traditional firearm season is from Nov. 15 to Nov. 30 each year and this year is no different. However, deer are far from the only animal legal to hunt in Michigan. You can go after small game like rabbit and hare if you want, and if you’re looking for a bigger challenge, you can even hunt bear.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has published new guidelines for the hunting season. You can read more about it here.
Is hunting allowed?
The simple answer is yes, but with restrictions. The DNR is urging us all to practice social distancing particularly if you are hunting with those who you usually do not stay with. If you are hunting with your family, you are allowed to serve meals buffet style in the normal communal style format. For mixed parties, individual meal servings are encouraged.
If you are heading to deer camp with others outside your household you are also encouraged to remember:
- Stay home if you are not feeling well.
- Maintain at least six feet distance from others outside your immediate family.
- Wear a mask if you are indoors or can’t be 6 feet apart.
- Wear a mask when you leave camp to go to the grocery store or other public places.
- Sleep in separate rooms, tents or trailers if possible.
- Wash hands frequently. If water isn’t available at camp, use hand sanitizer.
How can I get a hunting license?
Hunting licenses may be purchased online and will be mailed within 7-10 business days meaning if you do not have one yet, it’s best to get going right now. With regards to kill tags, these will not be sent over email. The DNR has also listed potential violations and kill tags appear. The latest information indicates that “using the wrong tag or improperly filling out a tag.” Many hunters use other kill tags, such as turkey or small game, on deer. The DNR said the simple mistake often is accidental and can be corrected easily by retagging deer as soon as possible.” Word to the wise – use the right tag.
Do hunting regulations still apply?
All hunting regulations remain in effect, including provisions requiring hunters to adhere to designated seasons, wear protective clothing and purchase hunting licenses. The DNR would also like to encourage all hunters to wear orange. According to the DNR, many times, hunters take off their orange when they get in their blind or deer stand and forget to put it back on when they leave. It is also still very much not allowed to hunt 450 feet of any occupied structure. More than ever, hunters are responsible for knowing the area where they hunt and where their bullets end up.
Am I still able to train my dogs on state land?
Yes. Dog training on state land is permitted during the open season (July 8 – April 15), and field dog trials may resume, as long as people maintain six feet of distance from people outside their own household and the assemblage consists of no more than 100 people. available for hunting.
How can I find out what the hunting rules are or when the seasons are?
The following resources are available for people to learn more about hunting regulations, locations and best practices, and donation programs too. Everything you need is available here - available online for reference or download or in the links below.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR): www.Michigan.gov/DNR
You can also follow the DNR on Twitter @MichiganDNR, @MichiganDNR_UP and @MDNR_Wildlife
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University
Mi-HUNT Interactive Web Application: www.michigan.gov/mihunt
Hunting and Trapping Resources: www.michigan.gov/hunting, www.michigan.gov/trapping
Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR): www.wsfr75.com
Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger: www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org
Women Hunt Too: https://www.womenhunttoo.com/