The Michigan Natural Resources Commission yesterday approved a new package of deer regulations at the commission’s regular monthly meeting, which was conducted in an online and conference call format due to COVID-19 public health and safety concerns.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer program experts say the regulations, which will be in effect for the 2020 deer hunting season, will provide additional opportunities and cost savings for hunters and offer flexibility in how hunters pursue deer. The DNR uses existing and projected data to gauge the impact of proposed regulations. The data shows that the projected changes will not have a significant negative effect on the deer herd or the quality of deer hunting.
“These recommendations are aimed at making it easier for hunters of all ages and experience levels to enjoy a Michigan outdoor tradition, while at the same time facing the present and future challenges of managing the state’s abundant deer population,” said Chad Stewart, the DNR’s deer, elk and moose program leader.
Approved deer regulations for 2020 include:
• Liberty and Independence hunt qualifications now include deaf people.
•Mentored youths (age 9 and younger), junior license holders (age 10-16) and apprentice license holders are exempt from antler point restrictions in all seasons, in all deer management units (DMUs) and under all licenses, which includes both the regular and restricted tags on the deer combo license.
•The statewide limit for private-land antlerless license purchase is 10 per hunter. This limit offers maximum opportunity for those who wish to manage abundant deer on their property.
•Hunters with disabilities may use single-bite and multibite baits during the Liberty and Independence hunts. Hunters participating in the Liberty and Independence hunts may begin baiting five days before both hunts.
•Upper Peninsula archers in select DMUs may pursue antlerless deer with their deer/deer combo license. The following DMUs continue to be closed to antlerless harvest during the archery seasons: 027, 031, 036, 042, 066, 127 and 131. Additional DMUs may be open or closed based on the snowfall totals from the prior winter, pending DNR analysis. Please see the 2020 Hunting Digest for complete regulations when it becomes available in August.
• Antler point restrictions have been removed on the deer license in parts of DMU 122, including areas outside the core chronic wasting disease surveillance area.
• In addition to the archery season, antlerless deer may be taken on the deer/deer combo license during the firearm and muzzleloader seasons in all Lower Peninsula DMUs.
• Early and late antlerless seasons will be open in all Lower Peninsula mainland DMUs.
• Antlerless deer may be taken on a deer/deer combo license during both the early and late antlerless seasons in the Lower Peninsula.
• Antlerless quotas will change in select DMUs.
• The muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula will be shortened to 10 days and the late antlerless firearm season will begin the Monday after the muzzleloader season concludes in the Lower Peninsula. Muzzleloaders can be used on public lands in Zone 3 during the late antlerless firearm season to take any deer with a valid tag.
• All legal firearms may be used during the muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula.
• Carcass movement restrictions will be scaled to areas most affected by chronic wasting disease. This aligns movement restrictions to areas with the highest risk of CWD is being observed.
• The expanded archery season through Jan. 31 will continue for one more year in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. It previously expired Jan. 31, 2020.
The 2020 Hunting Digest will have further information regarding these regulations. The digest is in the process of being finalized now that regulations are set. Watch for the current digest in August at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests.
Learn more about deer management and hunting at Michigan.gov/Deer.