If you’re a hunter, you know that the woods of Michigan are widely regarded as a prime hunting destination. With hunting season in full swing, it’s important to understand state hunting regulations to ensure you’re staying within the law while you’re in the woods.

Licenses and fees

Deer hunters in Michigan can use a bow or a firearm to shoot their deer, and each requires a separate license which you must purchase and carry separately. Michigan does, however, offer a single combination license, which allows you to use either weapon interchangeably without the need for carrying separate licenses.

Licenses are available for youth hunters, state residents and non-residents, and seniors.

The State of Michigan does charge a fee for hunting licenses. To legally obtain your hunting license in the State of Michigan (depending on your age), you must take a state-approved hunter safety course. Once you’ve done this, select the correct type of license and then purchase through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website, or a state-approved vendor.

Photo credit: https://www.hunter-ed.com/michigan/hunting-license.html

Deer antlers

Deer hunted in the state of Michigan are designated as either antlered or antlerless. Antlered deer must have one antler that is at least 3 inches in length. The antlerless designation covers all other deer. To shoot any deer, you must be in possession of the correct tag, which can be obtained through the state. Hunters may shoot one deer per their respective tag.

Deer hunting season dates

Keep these important dates handy to ensure you are not hunting outside designated seasons.

    • Early Antlerless Firearm: Sept. 22-23, 2018
    • Liberty Hunt: Sept. 22-23, 2018
      • Youth and Hunters With Disabilities Hunt
    • Independence Hunt: Oct. 18-21, 2018
      • Hunters With Disabilities Hunt
    • Archery: Oct. 1 – Nov. 14, 2018 and Dec. 1, 2018 – Jan. 1, 2019
    • Regular Firearm: Nov. 15-30, 2018


  • Muzzleloading:
    • Zone 1: Dec. 7-16, 2018
    • Zone 2: Dec. 7-16, 2018
    • Zone 3: Dec. 7-23, 2018
  • Late Antlerless Firearm: Dec. 17, 2018 – Jan.1, 2019

Special regulations

The Michigan DNR implements special regulations in specific geographic zones to target changes in the area’s deer population. Michigan is divided into three zones, each with its own seasonal exemptions or changes. Sometimes, hunting opportunities in a specific zone are increased or limited to moderate the excessive growth or decline of the area’s deer population.

Contact your local DNR Operation Service Center for this year’s specific regulations.

We wish you a successful hunt as you head out in Michigan’s woods this hunting season.