Hunters Helping Landowners Program Off to a Slow Start

Senate Bill 717, sponsored by state Sen. John Proos (R-St. Joseph), was signed by Governor Snyder in July 2012. This new law creates the “Hunters Helping Landowners” program.

The program, modeled after an program in the State of Indiana, allows hunters to voluntarily enroll in a database to harvest antlerless deer on private property in up to 2 counties of their choosing. Land owners with deer damage issues or disease concerns could then contact the Department of Natural Resources for the list of interested hunters in their area.

Accordingly, the DNR Wildlife Division designed an online form which gives hunters the opportunity to voluntarily enroll. Hunters without Internet access can also enroll by calling or visiting a DNR operations service center.

In 2012, over 1,600 hunters voluntarily enrolled in the program. Lapeer County was selected the most by hunters with a combined first and second choice total of 185 volunteers. Washtenaw was the second most often selected county with a total of over 160 volunteers. All of the 20 most selected counties were located in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and in Hunting and Trapping Zone 3.

Unfortunately, statewide only twelve landowners requested a list of hunters.

While this legislation benefits both landowners and hunters looking for out-of-season and private land hunting opportunities, its success largely relies on the landowners willingness to request and utilize the database list.  So far, the results are not that good.

This program will continue until the law sunsets in 2017, unless reauthorized by the Michigan legislature and approved by the Governor before then.

Until then, if you are hunter looking for land to hunt deer, its worth a shot! Hunters must sign up annually to be placed on the list; all names submitted in 2012 have been deleted. So head over to the DNR website and sign up. Just don’t hold your breath.

For anyone that is a landowner with deer damage concerns or in the TB Management Zone (DMU 452), how else can hunters help?

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  • Rugeirn Drienborough

    It’s easy to understand why landowners aren’t interested. If, for some reason, they aren’t hunting the land themselves, finding someone who does want to hunt that land is as easy as letting your friends and family know. You’re far more likely to feel good about dealing with people referred to you by people you know than about dealing with complete strangers.