Michigan often boasts some of the highest deer harvest numbers in the country, and deer hunting is so popular here that schools and businesses are often empty on opening day. Whitetail hunters love this state because its habitat is very conducive to deer population growth. The numbers participating in the Michigan deer season have declined over the past decade. In 1998, the Michigan DNR estimated over 800K hunters took to the woods and fields. In comparison, ten years later in 2018, an estimated 600K hunters participated in deer season. That is a 25% reduction, and given the complexity of the rules and regulations in Michigan it has to be overwhelming for a new hunter. Continue on for our overview of deer season Michigan.
This is Number 5 in our series covering whitetail deer hunting opportunities in the midwest. Check out the others here.
Michigan sells a statewide hunting license that must be purchased, in addition to deer kill tags. You are allowed one antlered deer per deer license you buy. If you buy the combo, you get two tags that can be used to harvest two deer. If you are wanting to hunt antlerless deer, you need to investigate the specific Deer Management Units guide that can be found on the Michigan DNR website. Different Units allow for both antlered and antlerless to be taken during certain seasons, while some restrict it. In some areas, hunters can buy more antlerless tags until a certain quota is filled.
As a note, Michigan is one of the more complex states I have researched. One item to be careful of is the antler point restriction, which varies by deer management unit. Michigan DNR has a great PDF to help you understand the rules and regulations here.
|Season||Start Date||End Date|
|Firearm – Early Antlerless||Sept. 19, 2020||Sept. 20, 2020|
|Liberty Hunt*||Sept. 12, 2020||Sept. 13, 2020|
|Independence Hunt**||Oct. 15, 2020||Oct. 18, 2020|
|Archery First Season||Oct. 1, 2020||Nov. 14, 2020|
|Archery Second Season***||Dec. 1, 2020||Jan. 1, 2021|
|Muzzleloader||Dec. 4, 2020||Dec. 13, 2020|
|Firearm||Nov. 15, 2020||Nov. 30, 2020|
|Firearm – Late Antlerless||Dec. 14, 2020||Jan. 1, 2021|
Michigan is divided into three hunting zones, each with specific rules and regulations. The Upper Peninsula is one zone and the Lower Peninsula is split about halfway for the second and third zones. Within each of these zones, certain firearms and weapons are not allowed, but in others they may be allowed. Like always, it is important to check individual zone regulations and deer management units for areas you may be hunting in.
Michigan boasts an impressive amount of public land. There are 4 national forest covering a vast 2.8 Million acres. Couple that with another 2.8M acres of state forest ground and there is an opportunity for you to hunt deer on public land. As a note, the 2.8M acres of state forest in Michigan is the largest state forest system in the United States.
Michigan is state with a storied history in deer hunting. While the rules and regulations are complex, spending a little bit of time reading and researching will clear up any confusion. Our Whitetail 101 section offers tons of educational whitetail deer hunting content to get you ready for deer season. Get outside, get ready and harvest your mature deer this fall.