Deer Hunting: Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Deer Hunting Questions
Click on the following links to read more on the appropriate topics:
Application for a Private Land Antlerless Deer License
Multiple Antlerless Deer License Applications
Hunting Hours and Property Rights
Telephone Number Requirement
Use of Dogs
Why did the DNR establish an application for a private land antlerless deer license?
In the past, in many of the DMUs in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan, the demand for private land antlerless deer licenses exceed the quota. In 2007, the last year all private land antlerless deer licenses were sold over the counter (OTC), on first-come, first-served basis, 10 DMUs sold out of private land antlerless deer licenses before 5:00 pm the first day they went on sale, one DMU sold out in 15 minutes. To provide everyone with an equal opportunity to acquire a private land antlerless deer license, the lottery was established.
Is an application required for a private land antlerless deer license in Southern Michigan?
There is no application for DMUs in the southern Lower Peninsula and selected special regulation unit DMUs. Those private land antlerless licenses will be sold over the counter.
Must I apply to acquire a private land antlerless deer license?
Hunters may apply for one private land OR one public land license. Any licenses that remain after the drawing will be sold until the quota is met in each DMU. However, there is no guarantee leftover licenses will be available after the drawing. To assess the potential demand for licenses in a given DMU, hunters may view drawing success rates from the previous year at Drawings. Note: Private land antlerless deer licenses in some DMUs can only be purchased over the counter (without application), beginning the same day that leftover licenses are available.
Must I apply to purchase a leftover license?
NO. Anyone 10 years of age or older may purchase an over the counter antlerless deer license. A hunter may purchase two antlerless deer licenses a day (public or private) until the quota is reached.
May I apply for both a private land antlerless deer license and a public land antlerless deer license?
NO. Only one antlerless deer license application (either public land OR private land) may be made each year. The application and lottery is designed to provide an equitable distribution of a limited number of licenses among all interested hunters. Allowing more than one application per person could result in some individual receiving multiple licenses while others receive no licenses.
May I purchase a leftover antlerless deer licenses even though I was successful in the drawing?
YES. Once the drawing is complete, any leftover antlerless deer licenses (both public land and private land) will be sold over the counter on a first come, first served basis. Anyone may purchase a leftover antlerless deer license, up to the limit (no more than 2 from DMUs entirely in Zone1 and entirely in Zone 2, combined, and 5 private land antlerless deer licenses total) per day until the quota is reached. There is no limit on the number of public land antlerless deer licenses one can purchase. You may purchase only two antlerless deer licenses a day (either public land or private land).
May I purchase leftover antlerless deer licenses even though I did not apply?
YES. Once the drawing is complete, any leftover antlerless deer licenses (both public land and private land) will be sold over the counter on a first come, first served basis. Anyone may purchase a leftover antlerless deer license, up to the limit (no more than 2 from DMUs entirely in Zone1 and entirely in Zone 2, combined, and 5 private land antlerless deer licenses total) until the quota is reached. There is no limit on the number of public land antlerless deer licenses one can purchase. You may purchase only two antlerless deer licenses a day (either public land or private land).
May I hunt deer with a bow and arrow during the November firearm deer season?
YES. In order to hunt deer with a bow during this time, you must possess a valid firearm, combination or antlerless deer license with an unused kill tag or an unused Deer Management Assistance (DMA) permit. The archery license is not valid during the November firearm deer season. If you kill a deer, you must tag it with your firearm deer license, combination deer license, antlerless deer license or DMA permit, as appropriate. You must wear hunter orange because the archery deer season is closed.
Reminder: You must have purchased a regular deer license (firearm, combination or antlerless) to hunt with or use a DMA Permit.
How many rounds of ammunition may I carry in my rifle or shotgun?
If you use a semi-automatic rifle or a semi-automatic shotgun, other than a .22 caliber rifle or smaller caliber rimfire rifle, the firearm cannot be capable of holding more than 6 rounds in the barrel and magazine combined. This restriction does not apply to bolt action, lever action, or other firearms that are not semi-automatics.
May I hunt raccoon with a .22-caliber rimfire or smaller caliber rimfire firearm during the November 10 through 14 period?
YES. If you are a resident and have a fur harvester's license you may hunt fur bearing animals and check trap lines while possessing a .22-caliber rimfire or smaller caliber rimfire firearm during this period.
Where may I sight-in my rifle during the November 10 through 14 period?
You may use any designated shooting range. In addition, it is permitted to sight-in a firearm on your own property if it is apparent that you are target practicing and not attempting to take game.
May I transport a firearm in my vehicle if it is broken down?
No. In order to transport a firearm in your vehicle it must first be unloaded in the barrel and magazine combined. It must then be securely enclosed in a case, or you may carry it in the trunk of the vehicle.
How many firearms may I legally carry while firearm deer hunting?
There is no restriction on the number of firearms that you may carry.
What caliber or gauge of firearm (rifle, shotgun, pistol) can I use to hunt deer north of the "Rifle-Shotgun Line"?
Any caliber or gauge is legal north of the "Rifle-Shotgun Line" except a .22 caliber rimfire or smaller caliber rimfire rifle or pistol. All centerfire rifles and handguns and all shotguns are legal in this area regardless of caliber or gauge.
Can I hunt deer from a raised platform with a firearm?
YES. Deer hunters are allowed to hunt from a tree stand, scaffold or raised platform. When hunting on any publicly-owned lands in Michigan, your tree stand, platform, scaffold or steps must be portable (no attachment by nails, screws, bolts, etc.) and cannot be placed out any earlier than September 1, and must be removed no later than March 1. Screw-in tree steps and any device used to assist in climbing a tree that penetrates the cambium (thin layer of living cells just beneath the bark) of the tree is illegal on public lands, however, a "T" bolt or similar device supplied by a tree stand manufacturer can be used. A tree stand or raised platform on public lands, must have etched, engraved, implanted, burned, printed, or painted the name and address of the user on the raised platform in a manner which makes the name and address easily read from the ground.
Can I use my vehicle as a raised platform for deer hunting?
NO. A vehicle cannot be used as a raised platform for either archery or firearm deer hunting. Michigan law prohibits the taking of any game from in or upon a vehicle. In addition, other hunting and firearms laws regulate the possession of loaded or uncased firearms, or uncased or unstrung bows, in or upon vehicles.
What are the legal hunting hours for deer?
The hunting hours for deer are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. These starting and ending times are published in the Michigan hunting and trapping guide.
If I post my property NO HUNTING, may I continue to hunt on it?
YES. You may continue to hunt on your property. You are simply communicating your desires to others by placing the signs.
When may I shine deer?
From December 1 through October 31 of the following year, a person may shine deer until 11:00 PM. During the month of November, it is unlawful to shine.
It is always unlawful to make use of an artificial light to hunt deer or to shine deer at any time of the year with a firearm, bow and arrow or any other device capable of shooting a projectile in your possession or under your control.
This does not prohibit an individual issued a concealed pistol license, or a person that is authorized to carry a concealed pistol without a license, from possessing or carrying a pistol while shining provided that they do not use the pistol to take, or attempt to take game.
Why does the DNR require a telephone number to purchase a private land antlerless license?
The DNR Law Enforcement Division requested the landowner's telephone number be placed on the license. This will aid Conservation Officers in the field should an Officer need to contact the landowner.
What telephone number must I provide?
The contact telephone number for the landowner granting permission to hunt is required to purchase a private land antlerless license. This requirement is to purchase any private land antlerless deer license; there is no exception to this requirement. The telephone number will be printed on the license.
May I use my own phone number?
YES, provided your land is within the DMU the private land antlerless license is for.
What if the landowner does not have a telephone?
The requirement is the contact telephone number for that landowner. If the landowner does not have a personal telephone, the landowner should provide the telephone number of someone who can contact the landowner.
Do I need to list all the telephone numbers of the landowners granting me permission to hunt on their property when I am purchasing a private land antlerless license?
NO. To receive a private land antlerless license, an individual must provide one telephone number of an individual within the DMU that has given them permission to hunt.
Once an individual has been issued a private land antlerless license do they have to hunt only on that property where the telephone number was provided?
NO. The license can be used on any private land within the DMU printed on the private land antlerless license for which the hunter has received landowner permission.
Can a youth hunt on a non-family member's property or public land?
YES. A person under 17 may hunt on land where the parent/guardian does not live ONLY if accompanied by the parent/guardian or another person who is at least 18 years old and authorized by the parent/guardian.
Can 12 and 13 year olds hunt on public land?
YES. However, 12 and 13 year olds hunting deer, bear, or elk with a firearm may NOT hunt on public land. They can firearm hunt for bear, deer, or elk on private land only. However, they can archery hunt or firearm hunt for other game on public land.
If 12 and 13 year olds are restricted to private land when using a firearm, can they still hunt on public land with archery equipment?
YES. They can hunt on public land with archery equipment. They are restricted to private land only when firearm hunting for bear, deer, or elk. Commercial Forest Land is private land. They can use a firearm on public land to hunt game other than bear, deer, or elk.
How can my 10 or 11 year old hunt the youth firearm season if they can not purchase a firearm deer license and are limited to archery equipment?
Youths 10 and 11 year old will need to purchase and carry either an antlerless license or a combination license to participate. The youth will have to wear hunter orange.
What is the apprentice law?
On July 10, 2006, Governor Granholm signed legislation that creates an apprentice hunter program in Michigan. The program allows apprentice hunters to hunt without the otherwise required hunter education course if accompanied and closely monitored by a licensed hunter 21 years or older. Accompany means to go along with another person under circumstances that allow one to come to the immediate aid of the other person and while staying within a distance from the person that permits uninterrupted, unaided visual and verbal communication. The purpose of this program is to allow people to try hunting under close control before deciding whether or not they want to take a hunter safety class.
The apprentice program serves to attract new participants to hunting and help conserve our natural resources. Hunting is an important wildlife management tool and exceptional recreation. The DNR believes it is important to continue the hunting tradition with our youth as well as adults who may not have had an opportunity to hunt with a parent or grandparent while growing up. Furthermore, the apprentice license allows new hunters, including adults, to gain hunting experience with an adult mentor, for a limited time, without the requirement of hours of hunter education prior to the experience.
Is this only for youth?
NO, it is for anyone 10 years and up who does not have a hunter safety certificate and would like to try hunting without having to make a substantial commitment. However, the 'apprentice' regardless of their age must be with a 'mentor' who is licensed to hunt that same game and is 21 years or older.
Do regular license fees and age requirements apply?
YES. The apprentice must meet age requirements and pay all license fees and application fees.
Does the adult mentor have to be a family member?
NO. For a youth a parent or guardian, or another person 21 years old or older authorized by a parent or guardian, who is licensed to hunt that game under a license other than an apprentice license can accompany the minor child.
At what age are Apprentice hunters required to take hunter safety?
Age is not the determinant, the number of license years is. A person may purchase an apprentice license for only two license years. After two license years, a hunter safety certificate is required. The two license years do not have to be consecutive.
Does the 'mentor' need to be licensed for the same game?
YES, but not necessarily the same hunt (example: youth deer hunt, the mentor would have to have some type of deer license to go afield with the apprentice.)
What are the requirements/responsibilities of a mentor?
The mentor must be 21 years or older and also be licensed for the same game to accompany the apprentice. Accompany means to go along with another person under circumstances that allow one to come to the immediate aid of the other person and while staying within a distance from the person that permits uninterrupted, unaided visual and verbal communication. A parent or guardian, or another person 21 years old authorized by a parent or guardian, who is license to hunt that game under a license other than an apprentice license can accompany the minor child.
The mentor cannot accompany more than 2 apprentice hunters at one time.
How is this applied to drawings and special hunts?
The apprentice must apply just like any other individual. Example: If they are successful in the elk drawing, they would have to be accompanied by another person who drew an elk hunting license and who is 21 years or older.
How does an apprentice buy an apprentice license on e-license when they are asked about hunter safety?
The E-license process has been changed to accommodate an apprentice without hunter safety.
Does this (Apprentice License) apply for youth seasons, when there is an age limit to hunt that season?
Only apprentice hunters who meet the necessary age requirements for the youth hunt may participate. However, a licensed mentor 21 years of age or older must accompany the apprentice.
When and where can I get my apprentice license?
Either on e-license or at any license agent.
Does my mentor need to be with me when I purchase my apprentice license?
NO. Anyone 17 years of age or older may purchase an apprentice license without a mentor present. If the apprentice is less than 17 years old the parent or guardian must accompany the youth to purchase the license. The mentor must be with the apprentice when they go afield.
Can I use a dog to help find a dead deer?
YES. The Department has established a uniform statewide rule for using a dog to assist a hunter in finding a dead deer. The dog must be kept on a leash and no one in attendance can possess a firearm or bow and arrow. If the tracking is done at night, a light of the type ordinarily carried in the hand may be used (e.g. flashlight, lantern). A dog that barks while tracking the deer cannot be used on public lands.
Can I process or have my deer processed before I return home?
YES. You may process your own deer or take it to a processor before you return home. You do not need any type of permit from the DNR; however, until you get your deer home, you must keep the head and validated kill tag as proof of the kind of deer you took.