DNR requesting hunter input on proposed deer regulation changes

MARQUETTE — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is requesting input from hunters on proposed deer hunting regulation changes.

Every three years, the DNR composes proposals to deer hunting regulations, in order to adjust to changing circumstances and trends.

According to one DNR official, gathering hunter input along with scientific data is important for coming up with the most ideal rules and procedures moving forward.

“The Department of Natural Resources is and agency that is tasked with managing wildlife and our natural resources in the best interest of the public,” said Chad Stewart, Deer Management Specialist for the DNR. “Certainly we have a lot of science that backs on reasons why we should or shouldn’t go in a certain direction, but that in a perfect world is paired with the desires and needs of the public.”

The DNR placed an emphasis on simplicity and consistency for this year’s proposals.

A few key proposals include once again allowing Upper Peninsula archers to hunt antler-less deer in all regions; this practice was prohibited in 2015, when deer populations were in decline due to severe winters during the time.

A full list of the proposed changes are as follows:

Statewide

  • Change Liberty and Independence hunt qualifications to include deaf people.
  • Allow mentored youths (age 9 and younger), junior license holders (age 10-16) and apprentice license holders to be exempt from antler point restrictions in all seasons, in all Deer Management Units (DMUs) and under all licenses.
  • Require a 60% support threshold from a survey to prompt the DNR to recommend Antler Point Restrictions (APRs) to the National Resources Commission, as decided by the 2019 APR work group. This replaces the 66% support threshold recommended by previous APR work groups. Additionally, failed APR initiatives would face a 10-year moratorium before another initiative would be considered.
  • Change the statewide limit for antlerless license purchase to 10 per hunter. This limit offers maximum opportunity for those who wish to manage abundant deer on their property.
  • Require hunter orange to be visible on occupied ground blinds.
  • Standardize baiting practices (eliminate the requirement to use single-bite baits in select counties) during the Liberty and Independence hunts for hunters with disabilities.

Upper Peninsula

  • Allow Upper Peninsula archers to resume pursuing antlerless deer in all DMUs with their deer/deer combination license.
  • Remove remnant APRs on the deer license in parts of DMU 122.

Lower Peninsula

  • In addition to the archery season, allow antlerless deer to be taken on the deer/deer combination license during the firearm and muzzleloader seasons in all Lower Peninsula DMUs.
  • Open early and late antlerless seasons in all Lower Peninsula mainland DMUs.
  • Allow antlerless deer to be taken on a deer/deer combination license during both the early and late antlerless seasons in the Lower Peninsula.
  • Change antlerless quotas in select DMUs.
  • Shorten muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula to 10 days and extend the late antlerless season to provide consistency between all regions of the state.
  • Allow legal firearms to be used during the muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula.
  • Scale carcass movement restrictions to areas most affected by chronic wasting disease. This eases some of the movement restrictions in parts of the state with a lower risk of harvesting a CWD-positive animal while still applying those restrictions to areas with the highest risk.
  • Resume four-point restriction on combination license in select DMUs in the Lower Peninsula.
  • Continue the expanded archery season through Jan. 31 for one more year in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Those wishing to submit input can fill out an anonymous survey here, or by emailing the National Resources Commission at NRC@michigan.gov.