The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will take action on deer regulations, including hunter orange on blinds, doe tags and season changes at their next meeting. 

NRC members will meet virtually at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 11 to weigh a number of agenda items that will impact Michigan hunters next fall. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host the meeting online, and a recording can be viewed using this link

Changes to a number of standing deer regulations will be brought up for action in time to be implemented for this fall. These regulations come on the standard, three-year deer regulation cycle. 

MUCC has worked diligently on behalf of our member-passed resolutions to improve these proposed rules and regulations, said MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter.

“Deer regulations impact the vast majority of Michigan hunters and we are working hard to ensure the best outcome for hunters and the resource,” Trotter said. “We look forward to working with the department further on these changes, on behalf of our members.”

Some of these modifications align with MUCC member-passed resolutions, including requiring hunter orange on ground blinds and clarifying rules for harvest. The proposed deer regulations would require hunters to have at least 144 square inches of hunter orange on the outside of their blinds visible from 360 degrees. In May, DNR Director Dan Eichinger said that the department will provide more information on this topic at the June NRC meeting.

Another change would allow Lower Peninsula hunters to harvest an antlerless deer with their standard deer license (currently a buck-only tag) or the unrestricted tag on a combination license. The antler point restriction combination tag would remain in effect.

Proposed statewide changes include: 

  • Expansion of Opportunities in Liberty and Independence Hunts
  • Alteration of APR Applicability for New and Young Hunters
  • Clarification of Season Purchase Limits for Private Land Antlerless Deer Licenses
  • Implementation of Hunter Orange Requirement for Ground Blinds on Public and Private Lands
  • Provision of Baiting Exception for Hunters with Disabilities 

In the Upper Peninsula, DNR staff proposed: 

  • Changes to Open/Close DMUs and Alter Antlerless Quotas 
  • Reinstate the Antlerless Option During Archery Deer Season for Hunters Hunting on the Deer License or Deer Combination License in the Entire U.P.
  • Remove APRs on the Deer License in the Remainder of DMU 122

In the Lower Peninsula, DNR staff proposed: 

  • Changes to Open/Close DMUs and Alter Antlerless Quotas
  • Allow Antlerless Deer to Be Taken on Deer License and Deer Combination License During Firearm and Muzzleloader Seasons in the Entire Lower Peninsula
  • Expand Early/Late Antlerless Firearm Deer Seasons
  • Deer License and Deer Combination License Valid for the Early/Late Antlerless Firearm Deer Seasons
  • Streamline Muzzleloader and Late Antlerless Firearm Season Dates 
  • Open Muzzleloader Season to All Firearms in Zone 3
  • Resume 4-point APR on Restricted Tag of Deer Combination License in CWD Management Zone (Not Including Newaygo and Kent Counties)
  • Alignment of Regulations in CWD Management Zone and Zone 3 
  • Alteration of Carcass Transportation Bans
  • Extend the Urban Deer Management Zone for Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties

If DNR staff or members of the NRC see fit, there may also be an additional round of deer regulation changes later in the year. 

For Information

Commissioners will also discuss a change to the mandatory elk hunt orientation to give DNR staff the option to offer virtual training. According to wildlife division staff, “this change provides a safeguard that allows hunters to pursue elk if social distancing is required at the time leading up to the elk season without violating WCO language.” 

For Information – Director

Eichinger will also likely approve an order to regulate camping on state forest lands in Benzie County under the authority of a Land Use Order of the Director Amendment No. 04 of 2020. This order will limit the extent to which campers may utilize this piece of land, as DNR staff notes that “associated camping [in the area] results in enormous amounts of garbage and accumulations of human waste being left onsite.” The abuse of this particular parcel is directly linked to this new management action. 

For Action – Director

Eichinger will also bring up a letter of authorization eliminating discounted private land antlerless deer licenses expiring the first Sunday in November in the CWD Management Zone. This change is intended to clarify rules for hunters. As the letter notes, “there was a lot of confusion from hunters and retailers about where and when the license was valid.” Commissioners agreed at the May NRC meeting that this revocation would help to clarify rules for hunters. 

In addition, there were a number of land transactions before the director this month, including sales in Allegan, Chippewa and Delta counties. A full list of transactions can be found on the agenda here. The director approved all transactions listed on the agenda. 

Of the seven member committee, only commissioners Keith Creagh, Louise Klarr, Chris Tracy and Dave Nyberg were present. The remaining three seats on the NRC remain vacant. 

About Charlie Booher

Charlie Booher is a State Conservation Policy Fellow with Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

1 Comment

  1. Eric Miller on July 13, 2020 at 8:46 am

    ok so with the alteration of carcass bans, does that mean if I am a mile into a cattail swamp and I shoot a monster buck I cant dress it right there, cut its head off put it on my pack and walk out? that would be a horrible rule if you aren’t aloud to do that. How would I drag a 300 lbs buck out of the swamp?

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