Firearm deer hunting begins Nov. 15 2020

White tail deer, late fall, early winter

Join in the time-honored tradition of deer hunting in Michigan. Get ready for a terrific time in Michigan’s beautiful forests and fields.

Firearm deer season is open Nov. 15-30. 

This fall, you may still enjoy many outdoor activities, including hunting, as long as you practice proper social distancing by staying at least 6 feet from those who don’t live in your household. If you are heading to deer camp with others outside your household, remember to wear masks if you are indoors or can’t be 6 feet apart. Plan to sleep in separate rooms, tents or trailers if possible.


Get ready for hunting season, buy your license today

You can buy hunting and fishing licenses online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses or anywhere DNR licenses are sold.

Kill tags purchased online take seven to 14 business days to arrive in the mail. You must have kill tags in your possession before hunting.

Find additional license information, including license types and fees, at Michigan.gov/Hunting.


Review latest regulations in 2020 Hunting Digest

Before you head into the field, be sure to check the latest hunting regulations in your area by looking at the 2020 Hunting Digest.

For on-demand digest access that travels where you do without the need for internet access, consider downloading DNR hunting and fishing digests to your phone. They are available for download on Android and Apple devices. Find the current digests and downloading instructions at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests.


Important regulation reminders

Baiting and feeding is banned in the entire Lower Peninsula and the core chronic wasting disease surveillance area in the Upper Peninsula.

Antler point restrictions (APR)

  • Montcalm, Mecosta and Ionia counties have APRs associated with an ongoing research study in the core CWD area. See page 45 of the 2020 Hunting Digest for more information.
  • Be sure to check the APR chart in the digest before heading out this year:
    • Lower Peninsula APR chart, see pages 42-43.
    • Upper Peninsula APR chart, see pages 48-49.

New this year! Lower Peninsula hunters can harvest an antlered or antlerless deer with a deer or deer combo license during the archery, firearm and muzzloader seasons in all mainland Lower Peninsula deer management units, on both public and private lands.


Harvest a doe: antlerless deer licenses available

If you’re hunting in an area with high deer numbers or a disease-prevalent area, consider taking a doe this year to help manage Michigan’s deer herd.

Harvesting does, the drivers of the deer population, is a key element in deer management. So it’s important to consider increasing doe harvest in areas with stable or overpopulated deer numbers to ensure deer numbers stay within healthy population ranges. This is especially crucial in known disease areas, where deer numbers often need to be lowered to help minimize the future spread of the disease. Ideally, buck and doe harvest should be relatively equal at minimum, with more does taken than bucks ideally in disease areas.

Bovine tuberculosis management zone discounted antlerless licenses

Discounted public- and private-land antlerless licenses for DMUs 452 and 487 are available for purchase for just $5. This discount, made possible by the state Legislature, provides an opportunity for hunters to further participate in deer management in northeast Michigan’s bovine tuberculosis area.

Leftover antlerless licenses

All remaining antlerless deer licenses are sold on a first-come, first-served basis until license quotas are met in each deer management unit. See current leftover license availability at Michigan.gov/Deer.


Deer check stations and TB/CWD testing

This year, deer check station operations will look different. Hunters can expect extra safety measures to be in place to protect the health and safety of all. Hunters are required to wear masks to DNR deer check stations and to remember social distancing guidelines, staying 6 feet away from other individuals at the check station. You will be asked to remain in your vehicle at most check stations.

When submitting a deer head for CWD or TB testing at a DNR check station, come prepared with the county, township, range and section where your deer was harvested. Your deer head should also be removed, with 2-3 inches of the neck remaining. If you would like to keep your antlers, please remove those from the head, but bring them with you when you visit a check station so antler measurements can be taken.

Deer cooperator patches will be available ONLY at DNR deer check stations, during check station hours of operation, while supplies last.

The DNR is focusing its CWD surveillance efforts in southern Jackson, southern Isabella and western Gratiot counties, and the core CWD surveillance area in the Upper Peninsula (portions of Dickinson, Menominee and Delta counties). Deer heads from these areas will be accepted for CWD testing from Oct. 3 – Jan. 4. These are areas where CWD has been identified, but more information is needed to determine the extent of the disease.

Deer heads from Clinton, Dickinson, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm counties will be accepted for testing from Nov. 15-18 only. USDA-approved lab testing is available for hunters in these areas at any time for a fee.

If you hunt in the remainder of the state and you want your deer tested for CWD, your deer head or the lymph nodes from the deer must be submitted to a USDA-approved lab for testing. Hunters will be charged a fee. Visit Michigan.gov/CWD and click on “For Hunters” for information about USDA-approved labs conducting CWD testing.


Questions?

Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 (WILD).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren B