Whitetail deer hunting is a favorite pastime in Michigan, not to mention an important source of food and method of natural conservation. In 2021, over half a million hunters participated in deer season for a total of 7.6 million days hunting.
These hunters were particularly successful as well. Over half of them harvested a deer, and 38 percent took an antlered buck. If you want to be among those numbers, you need to know the dates of the deer hunting season in Michigan as well as bag limits and license requirements.
Table of Contents
2022-2023 Season Dates
General Season Dates
|Archery||October 1 – November 14, 2022 December 1, 2022 – January 1, 2023|
|Muzzleloader||December 2-11, 2022|
|Firearm||November 15-30, 2022|
Special Season Dates
|Liberty Hunt||Any||September 10-11, 2022||Youth* and hunters with disabilities** only|
|Early Antlerless Firearm||Firearms||September 17-18, 2022||Antlerless deer only; private land only|
|Independence Hunt||Any||October 13-16, 2022||Hunter with disabilities only|
|Late Antlerless Firearm||Firearm||December 12, 2022 – January 1, 2023||Antlerless deer only; private land only|
**Hunters with disabilities refers to a legally blind or deaf hunter, a 100% disabled veteran, or a hunter issued a permit by the Michigan DNR to hunt from a standing vehicle or using a laser-sighting device
Licenses and Bag Limits
To hunt in Michigan, you must first get a “base license” that allows you to acquire the specific licenses for any game throughout the year. Then, there are three different types of licenses in Michigan, and you should select the appropriate one based on the number of deer you want to hunt.
- Standard Deer License: Allows you to harvest one antlered deer.
- Deer Combo License*: Allows you to harvest two antlered deer, except in DMU 117.
- Universal Antlerless Deer License: Allows you to harvest one antlerless deer, but there is no required application, and a hunter can purchase up to 10 of these licenses in a season in addition to leftovers, which go on sale on September 6.
*The deer combo license comes with some restrictions, so it’s best to read through the regulations in the Michigan Hunting Digest.
During the standard seasons, as well as the antlerless firearm seasons, you can harvest as many deer as your licenses allow. For example, if you have a combo license and three universal antlerless licenses, you could take a total of five deer during these seasons. The Liberty and Independence special seasons have a specific bag limit of one deer, though, regardless of your license.
On top of the three licenses, there is also something called a “Deer Management Assistance (DMA) Permit.” This permit allows you to harvest deer on specified private property. It must be accompanied by a relevant license for the given season, but the harvested deer does not count against that license’s bag limit.
Michigan License Costs
|License||Resident Cost||Non-Resident Cost||Senior* Cost|
|Universal Antlerless Deer||$20||$20||$20|
It’s worth noting that all hunting license fees are waived for full-time active-duty US military personnel as long as they have maintained residence status in Michigan.
Requirements to Get a License
- Michigan or valid non-resident driver’s license
- Michigan ID card
- DNR Sportcard
Additionally, anyone born in 1960 or later must provide a certificate of having completed a hunter safety course. If you don’t have such a certificate, you can apply for an apprentice license. Then you must hunt with someone 21 years of age or older with a valid hunting license.
What Weapons Can You Hunt With in Michigan?
Weapons regulations for hunting are a bit complex in Michigan with different rules in different places, including a limited firearm zone in the south of the state that does not align completely with any of the three hunting and trapping zones. As a result, it’s best to read through the Michigan Hunting Digest and check your local laws.
In general, though, north of the limited firearm zone, you may hunt deer with any modern firearm, muzzleloader firearm, bow or crossbow with the exception of firearms .22 caliber or smaller shooting rimfire ammunition.
As for archery season, there is interestingly no minimum draw weight for bows in Michigan. Naturally, you can’t use firearms during archery season, but you can carry a handgun if you have a concealed-carry permit or other legal justification. You still can’t hunt with it, though.
Are Crossbows Legal for Hunting in Michigan?
Crossbows are generally legal for hunting in Michigan throughout archery season, as well as firearm and muzzleloader season, but there are some exceptions. Notably, you can’t use a crossbow in the Upper Peninsula during muzzleloader season or the late archery season. This rule doesn’t apply to hunters with disabilities.
What Types of Deer Are Popular in Michigan?
Whitetail deer represent the dominant species of deer in Michigan. A statewide herd of about 2 million allows for an annual harvest of nearly 400,000 animals.
There are related deer species in Michigan as well, though in smaller numbers. About 1,000 elk live in Michigan and roughly 100 moose. While moose hunting is illegal in the state, almost 50,000 hunters applied for one of the 300 elk tags in 2021. With the number of applicants increasing year over year, Michigan hunters are clearly enthusiastic about the opportunity to hunt elk.
What Else Is Popular to Hunt in Michigan?
The whitetail deer is by far the most popular game animal in Michigan, but there are a number of others. In addition to the deer’s cousin the elk, big game hunters in Michigan can hunt black bear through a lottery system.
There are also specified seasons for the following animals:
- Cottontail rabbits
- Snowshoe hares
- Ruffed grouses
- Sharp-tailed grouses
- Fox and gray squirrels
- Wild turkeys
- Waterfowl (ducks, coots, geese, etc.)
Finally, there are a number of game animals in Michigan that you can hunt year round with only the base license. They also have no bag limit. They are:
- Red squirrels
- Ground squirrels
- Russian boars
- Feral pigeons
- House sparrows