Buy a license before you go out and don’t loan kill tags
Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources urge deer hunters to engage in an ethical hunt and be aware that Michigan’s new hunting licenses carry certain conditions. The new licenses approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013 took effect March 1, 2014. Deer hunters should be aware of the two options they have for licenses:
Single deer license, valid throughout archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons. This license has replaced the separate archery and firearm licenses. Hunters who buy a single deer license may not buy a second single deer license or the deer combo license.
Deer combo license, which includes two kill tags, one regular and one restricted. Hunters who want two deer licenses must buy the deer combo license instead of the single deer license. This is required to implement antler point restrictions, which apply based on whether the hunter has purchased two deer licenses. The deer combo license is valid for use during the archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons. A hunter can use both kill tags in the firearm seasons, both in the archery season or one in each season.
Michigan’s new license structure requires hunters to choose at the time of purchase if they want the opportunity to harvest one or two antlered deer, and purchase either a single deer license (one kill tag) or a deer combo license (two kill tags). Because this is the first year of the new structure, some hunters may have bought a single deer license without realizing they couldn’t buy another antlered deer license later.
Those who bought a single deer license and haven’t used it, and would like the deer combo license instead, may bring the unused license back to the store where they bought it during business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and ask the agent to call the DNR. The DNR will void the single deer license, the agent will keep the voided license and send it back to the DNR, and the hunter may then buy a deer combo license. Those who bought the single deer license online should call DNR Licensing at 517-284-6057 during business hours.
Every deer hunting season, DNR conservation officers encounter individuals engaged in unethical hunting practices and tackle many cases of individuals buying a hunting license after harvesting a deer or loaning kill tags to a friend or relative.
“Each year, we see cases of individuals waiting to buy licenses until after they have shot a deer,” said Dean Molnar, assistant chief of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “We remind all hunters that you must buy your license before you go out to hunt and have it in your possession when afield. Buying a license is not only the ethical and responsible thing to do, it is the law. Harvesting a deer without a license is poaching.”
Deer poaching in Michigan carries a restitution payment of $1,000 per deer, a minimum $250 fine and jail time up to 90 days. In addition, a violator’s hunting privileges are suspended for three years. If an antlered deer with eight or more points is poached, fines are increased under a new law that takes effect this hunting season. Under the new law, antlered deer are assessed an additional $1,000 in restitution plus the standard $1,000 for illegally killing any deer. Deer with eight points but not more than 10 are $500 a point, while deer with 11 points or more are assessed a penalty of $750 per point. Also, additional years can be added to the hunting privileges revocation.
Another unethical practice encountered frequently each hunting season in Michigan is the loaning of kill tags to an unlicensed individual who has harvested a deer. “Loaning kill tags is among the top violations we see while on patrol, and is often done for friends or relatives who are from out of state to avoid paying the nonresident license fee,” said Molnar. “Kill tags must be attached immediately to your harvested deer and visible for inspection. It is unlawful to loan out or borrow kill tags.”
For more information on deer hunting in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/deer.