September Firearm Deer Hunting Dates in Question

The Natural Resources Commission is now reviewing two options for the September firearm deer hunting dates, which includes the Early Antlerless Season, Youth Early Antlerless Season, and the traditional Youth Hunt.

First, we will remind you what all these special September seasons are:

  • The Early Antlerless Season was established in 2008 as a 5-day hunt on private lands in certain Deer Management Units (DMU), which in 2011 included the Tb Zone, southern Michigan (DMU 487), and Antrim, Charlevoix, and Oceana counties (DMUs 005, 015, 064). This hunt has been fairly controversial among the hunting public and in 2011, MUCC passed a resolution asking the DNR to reevaluate and possibly eliminate this season altogether.
  • The Youth Early Antlerless Season was established in 2010 as a 4-day weekday hunt to serve as a “bridge” between the Early Antlerless Season and the Youth Hunt, allowing additional opportunity for youth to help with additional harvest of does in areas that needed it. In 2011, it was open on public and private lands in southern Michigan (DMU 486).
  • The Youth Hunt has been around for much longer, providing a 2-day hunt statewide at the end of September for youth under 16. In recent years, veterans who are 100 percent disabled or “individually unemployable” were also eligible to participate during the Youth Hunt.

Given the concerns expressed from our MUCC members and the new addition of Mentored Youth into our deer seasons, we are pleased that the DNR and NRC recognized it might be time to review these early seasons.

Two options are on the table right now (<—follow this link for the full NRC Order; note that the DMU Open/Closed status will be changing, new information will be posted when available):

  • Option 1 would keep the three seasons in place within basically the same timeframe and locations. This would mean that there would be 11 days of hunting in September 2012: Early Antlerless 9/20-24; Youth Early Antlerless 9/25-28; and the Youth and Veterans with Disabilities 9/29-30.
  • Option 2 would eliminate the Youth Early Antlerless season (during which fewer than 5,000 youth participated) and reduce the Early Antlerless Season to only a 2-day hunt, which would also move to be concurrent with the Youth Hunt. In Sept. 2012, this would mean that the Youth Hunt (statewide) and the Early Antlerless Season (private lands, same DMUs as noted in 2011) would take place on Sept. 22-23 due to the desire to not conflict with the small game opener and avoiding the weekend prior to archery deer season.

MUCC is supporting Option Two as it is moving in the right direction according to our member-approved policy; however, we would like feedback if you feel this would in any way hamper participation or success in the Youth Hunt if the Early Antlerless Season was held concurrently, or would hamper access to private lands, or if there are other alternatives you would like considered.

The MUCC Wildlife Committee is also offering alternatives including limiting the Youth Hunt to antlerless deer only and/or eliminating the Early Antlerless Season altogether. Any position on the Youth Hunt would need to be approved through a resolution at the next MUCC Annual Convention.

The NRC will vote to approve some version of these regulations at their next meeting in Lansing on June 14 (MSU Diagnostics Center for Population and Animal Health–click here for the full 2012 NRC meeting schedule).

  • Rork

    It’s selfish of me, but I would benefit if the Youth Hunt were private land only. That way, it’s your land you are scaring the deer on, though it will affect your neighbors some too.

  • Grant

    The youth hunt should be antlerless only and the early antlerless hunt should be eliminated.

  • curt

    All early seasons seem to accomplish is to make the herd more noctural earlier in the year . I would go along with a early hunt on private land only and antlerless only if limited to a 2 day season early in Sept. Then leave them alone until archery season.

  • John

    Restrict bow season for month of october only.Leave the rest of as is.

    • Djml1987

      take up bowhunting and enjoy the long season instead.

  • Codfather1380

    I am for the 2 day season if we need to have an early season. I didn’t have the early season as a youth and still loved to hunt. Do we really need a youth season? Is the success of killing something so much more important than the hunt? Do we have a diver put fish on the kid’s line just to be sure they are successful? Or do they learn that the hunt isn’t always easy.
    As far as bow season, only a gun hunter not really interested in a challenge would post limiting the bow season so they can have an easier time with a gun. Most bow hunters practice scent control and have to be much closer to the deer to kill it so we aren’t disturbing the herd so much. See how the deer behave during all of bow season vs. the day after the gun opener. I hunt both so I am not an elitist bowhunter but limiting bow season truly seems self serving and ridulous.

  • James

    I like having the two different dates for the youth to get out there and hunt. Bucks or does, these young people need to get out and get involved. If people want change, I would do away with the early antlerless season and leave the youth hunt alone. We can fill the freezer with does anytime, especially the late muzzleloader season.

  • Jskipper2

    My vote is for elimination of all September hunts including the youth hunt. These kids will hunt anyway. The meat won’t spoil when the days are cooler and it won’t be too hot to hunt. If the youth hunt isn’t eliminated, move it to mid October.

  • GB

    I didnt need a youth season to learn to hunt deer,I think they can learn during regular hunting season, that way they know what it is really like. There are a lot more hunters in the woods so the parents can teach them safety first. It shouldnt be about selling more licensces.

  • Pat

    Eliminate all pre-season hunts. The DNR have reduced deer numbers to bare minimums now. Why don’t we make a special season for all people that have been divorced and remarried. For petes sakes. Enough is enough.

  • Todd

    Eliminate the September hunting and focus on a finding ways to have urban hunting. Rural deer numbers are under control but city deer are not scared of much and have no predators (other than cars).

  • V. H. Smith

    I support Option # 2 We currectly have too many hunts prior to the normal Nov. 15 firearms season.

    Charlevoix County Hunter

  • Dooner

    I agree with Pat below – I think all the early seasons should be eliminated – It’s almost impossible to see a decent buck during the regular rifle season because of all of these early seasons stirring up the deer so much. I used to always buy 2 licenses, but not anymore – why should I if I can’t even see one decent shooter buck.


    I like option 2. Yes, many of us didn’t need an early season to learn to hunt. But we are still hunting today. What about those out there who had a miserable first hunt, cold, bored, alone. They probably aren’t still hunting or voicing their opinions here. My sons and daughter will benefit from the youth hunt, They will be warmer, and I have to go with them. Before you decide the hunts are bad, realize why they are offered and whom they benefit. Two days in September should spoil no ones hunting.

  • Mjjs196

    The early anterless hunt should be eliminated and the youth hunt should be kept to private land. There is too much activity in the woods prior to bear season.

  • DE

    Option 2

  • 264Magnum

    We definately need to do what we can to get/keep our youth interested in hunting. An early youth hunt is fine, but do agree it should be anterless only to limit the potential for adult fraud. As for the comments earlier “As far as bow season, only a gun hunter not really interested in a challenge would post limiting the bow season so they can have an easier time with a gun. Most bow hunters practice scent control and have to be much closer to the deer to kill it so we aren’t disturbing the herd so much. See how the deer behave during all of bow season vs. the day after the gun opener. I hunt both so I am not an elitist bowhunter but limiting bow season truly seems self serving and ridulous.”…THE BOW SEASON DOES NEED TO BE LIMITED! Technological advances have been huge in the last 20 years with archery, yet we still have the same 3 months to hunt them. It used to be any deer with a bow was a real accomplishement, now most wait for a nice buck. The days of 12 -15 yard shots are long gone for most. 30-40 yards are the norm…

  • Dave

    Eliminate all early hunts, there is plenty of time for youths to learn how to hunt with their parents or mentors in the regular season. There would be less problems with meat spoiling & the deer would not be so spooky & tend to go nocturnal right away.

    The DNR needs to get back to basics & quit trying to make more money off of resident hunters. If you really think you need a special hunt, do it the first week of January. Have a special late season hunt.

  • Tuebor

    Eliminate all early seasons. Reduce bow season to the middle two weeks of October and after gun season in December.
    Dad, get out of the bow blind and away from the bait pile and take the kids small game hunting. Squirrels are a great learning tool. Reset the age to hunt deer to 14 years old. Give the kids something to strive for.

  • Djml1987

    option 2

  • Andrew

    I’m for the elimination of all early hunts involving guns. If anything, open it up to archery only.

    Another thing I would like to see eliminated (that you haven’t yet mentioned) is the 5 doe per day limit in DMU 487. This excessive taken of deer has decimated our once great deer herd. A unintended result from fewer deer is that fewer deer hunters from last years hunt means fewer hunter dollars spent in our county (Oscoda). That hurts our small businesses here deeply.

    Consider: We have a hunter who lives off Cheery Creek Rd. bragged that he took 11 does during the 15 day hunt. Excuse me but this isn’t what “sport hunting” is about. This is legalized poaching by permission from the DNR!!! And for what? A supposed problem with CWD or TB that never found its way into our county.

    Again all hunting is about fair chase and adhering to its rules to the letter (and not withstanding issues regarding CWD or TB).

    Sorry if I got off a tangent here but your column should be about all the deers for 2012. Not just the early ones!!!

    • Amy Trotter

      The NRC is looking at the 5 doe tags per day item as well. Considering a season limit back to 5 or maybe 10 rather than a daily limit. I’ll do a blog on that later.

  • Michael

    Between the two listed options, I would support option 2. I would be in favor though of eleiminating any of the early seasons. All of the additional human traffic and shooting has managed to turn the deer nocturnal by early October, and all but ruined the hunting in the traditional November season.

  • MJaeger2379

    Option 2, of the two chices.
    Option 3, eliminate all early seasons.
    Youth do not need their own season. I do not think more youth hunted because of the special season. The deer population is in check for the most part should we wait until the population is dwindled to low to make a change and we lose more hunters because low deer numbers?

  • buxtopr

    I vote for option #3. No early hunts. All hunters abide by the same rules!

  • Cjmyers1

    I am all in favor of a youth hunt but it should be antlerless only. This would eliminate cheating and change the youth hunt from a killing experience to a learning experience. It would change the approach on the part of the adult and be a right of passage for the youth and help reduce the doe population.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe the earlier hunts should be eliminated, Particularly the hunts that involve the disabled veterans. I believe that the disabled veterans deserve the right to be able to hunt early. It is a time of year that wheelchairs can get out into the field much easier and the veterans with circulation problems would not have to worry about frostbite or any other complications that go along with the cold. I also think an early-season for the youth should be preserved because the whole purpose is to get them interested in hunting and they will be the future and their first introduction should be a pleasant one. At least as pleasant as possible and it helps parents get quality time with their kids in a more relaxed setting, not a survival one.

  • Anonymous

    I definitely think urban hunting should be explored. There are too many car deer accidents around suburban areas where hunting is totally restricted. Bow hunting would fit perfectly into those areas, although public opinion would have to be swayed because they like the “cute” deer in their yard. The deer are a dangerous and expensive menace to these urban areas. It might even cut down on our car insurance costs if they don’t have to pay for repairs and hospitalized for these car/deer accidents. In order to obtain a urban hunting license however, the hunter should have to take some type of marksmen test so you don’t have just a bunch of wounded animals running around. Clean and quick kills would be a definite plus for that type of hunting.

    • Mark L

      Great comment D. So many other good reasons for this in addition to the car-deer issue. I’ve advocated several years for the same thing. Would be great to see the State DNR come up with a “suburban hunter” training certification, that would test people for shot placement/ accuracy with their weapon of choice, range judging ability, educate on sensitivity to neighbors, et cetera. “Certified Suburban Hunters” would be a real asset to municipalities that were considering suburban hunts but worried about the backlash. Also a great youth and other hunter retention tool- how many of us have lost our good spots to suburban encroachment? I would sign up for this in a minute.

  • T.Dorsey

    I would be willing to support the use fo the two day season covering both youth and antlerless. I have been against both seasons since the start.

  • Twigg

    eliminate september hunts all together, not as needed as DNR leads us to beleive! Let youth learn during regular season in November! they will learn more and have more meaningful experiances.

  • Ron

    What ever happened to the early antlerless season on private land that was around October 16th in years past ? We don’t need people hunting in September spooking the deer. I grew up learning to hunt with my dad in the regular deer seasons and learned well, I got my first deer then. I’m for no Septerber hunting. Way too much foilage also.

  • Copperrange2000

    No early hunts! No special youth hunts. I learned from my father-in-law during the regular firearms season; others can too! Reserve October for archery and crossbow and have the regular firearms season as is or a little later. I live in Barry county; a traditionally deer rich area but I can assure you, the deer population is way down. I know because I live in the woods and see it every day. The DNR has to stop catering to the auto insurance companies and to the persons who want more and more special seasons just tfor the extra revenue. Enough is enough! Tom J.

  • ML

    I think option 2 seems reasonable. Also, while they are looking at the regs lets think about something else too:

    Everyone seems to be torqued off about spooked nocturnal deer (me too). Let’s set the situation straight for ALL seasons- put a 10 day resting period between seasons- that’s EVERY season! I’m tired of the public woods being filled with bowhunters up to the night before opening day of gun season. Same problem as the september hunt issue- all deer driven off land or nocturnal. Been that way for years- why go up north anymore to hunt nocturnal deer? On the Land my family has hunted for years, when we finally started hunting in 2-3 day spurts with 10 day rests in between, we started seeing a lot more deer through the whole season- and harvesting more. Think about it.

  • tcc

    It is interesting that so many mention that they learned to hunt without the “special” youth hunts of today and with that I agree. If a child grows up with a hunting parent and the parent brings the child along on hunts no matter what kind, there is a good chance the child will also hunt. Who says the child has to carry a rifle at 10 years old to enjoy the hunt, it is the excitement of the hunt not the killing (opps harvesting) that makes the hunt. So what we are saying is we are bribing the parent to take the kid hunting by giving them a “special season”. And who can say if the kids even shoot the deer, maybe it is just a way for dad to shoot that big wall hanger he has been seeing all summer, before anyone else can even get into the woods.

  • Ben Milo

    I have an 8yr old just chomping at the bit to go deer hunt this September. If the hunt was not available til Oct 1st (Bow) or Nov 15th (gun) it would be better. In my eyes… I like the traditional value the way most of us grew up. However, I am glad they lowered the age requirments. My 8yr old has been ready with shooting in competition archery JOAD & blowing up milk jugs with his Remington Semi-auto 20ga youth gun.

  • Cfalls

    I think option 2 is the best solution. I have taken my kids to the youth hunts they never did get a deer but my son had one opportunity at a 10 point but had a scope get bumped and was not sighted in he missed. I was brought up learning to deer hunt in the UP at 14 during regular firearm season you would maybe hear 3-4 shots all day and I learned alot had a great teacher, my Dad. I do know that if you try to take your kid out to say Gladwin area during the firearm season or at the worst an opening day it sounds like a war is going on, I counted over 120 shots before 8AM on one opening day. I don’t think that makes a new hunter especially a young hunter feel comfortable, they need an opportunity to hunt and feel safe and enjoy doing it.

  • Andrew

    Option 2 of course.

    However, Oscoda County has very few deer left after years of excessive taken of deer during the gun season. Oscoda’s once huge and valued deer herd is a few dozen from extinction. This is due to TB scare in DMU 487.

    Last month I received a questionnaire from MSU requesting my input regarding 2012 deer season. All indications are that the MSU/DNR team wants to continue with the massive deer kill off for DMU 487. This is again to vainly eliminate TB from DMU 487. If TB is such a big issue for DMU 487, then we should totally eliminate all deer in DMU 487 by having unrestricted deer warfare and eliminate TB once a for all.

    That said, once the new deer herd comes back, they will again be infected with TB. Deer get TB from cows. Not the other way around…

    Annnd sorry if I got off on a tangent but Oscoda County is bleeding downstate hunters (and hunters who own cabins) when they are going to other areas to hunt. Our once huge deer herd is waaay down to 5% from 1990’s. Our local economy is hurting really bad too!!!

  • Scott Bagby

    Do not eliminate the Youth Hunts. It is difficult as it is to get youth into the sport and with the favorable weather in September it is far more attractive to a youth than sitting in the cold in November. Remember we are trying to get youth to replace the retiring hunters and we are not keeping up. Eliminating the Youth Hunts takes us in the wrong direction when talking about Hunter Retention! Not everyone has land or direct access to land to hunt. Swallow your QDM & “this is how we did it” mindsets and start thinking about how we can attract youth that already have a multitude of options when it comes to after school activities.

  • matt88

    wow your all a bunch of idiots. ooohhh rural hunting??? great idea. Theres no big bucks?? its not because of early seasons. ITS BECAUSE YOUR FRICKIN NEIGHBORS SHOOTING BUCKS THAT ARE 6 POINTS AND LOWER! the early season has nothing to do with that dude! On top of that barely anyone knows about the early season. You all act like millions of deer are being shot every year!

    • Andrew

      I think you miss the point with all the massive kill offs by the DNR. It is NO LONGER A SPORT!!! JUST FRIGGIN TOOL FOR BUREAUCRATS IN LANSING TO SHOVE DOWN OUR THROATS. Note also that the DNR hired this successful biologist professor from MN last year who also made should very sound game management requests that work for MN. One being the ending of massive kill offs. But as bureaucrats are famous for ignoring sound and reasoned advice.