Archery Deer Hunting Season Opens in Michigan

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Fenton, MI — October 2, 2023

Sunday, October 1st, marked the opening of Archery Deer Hunting in Michigan. Season dates are October 1 – November 14, when bow hunters give way to the two-week firearms hunt. Bow Hunters get another opportunity to head to the woods December 1 – January 1, 2024.

Whitetail Deer

Here is everything you need to know for a legal, safe, and successful experience.

2023 Deer Hunting Preview

Check out what the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has to say about hunting prospects in your area. The 2023 deer season forecast.

Review the Latest Regulations in 2023 Hunting Regulations Summary

Before you head into the field, be sure to check the latest hunting regulations in your area by looking at the 2023 Hunting Regulations Summary. The sections below refer to specific pages of the regulations summary for more information on these topics.

For on-demand access to this info that travels where you do, without the need for internet access, download the Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app.

Baiting and Feeding

Baiting and feeding is allowed in the Upper Peninsula only. Baiting and feeding is banned in the entire Lower Peninsula, except for those with a qualifying disability during the Liberty and Independence hunts.

For more information on baiting in the Upper Peninsula, see page 61.

Antler Point Restrictions (APR)

  • Mainland Lower Peninsula hunters may harvest an antlered or antlerless deer on their deer or deer combo licenses during archery, firearm, and muzzleloader seasons.
  • Be sure to check the APR chart before heading out this year:
    • Lower Peninsula APR chart, see pages 54-55.
    • Upper Peninsula APR chart, see pages 58-59.
  • Youth hunters, age 16 and under, are exempt from antler point restrictions, even when hunting in an area where antler point restrictions exist for other hunters.

Harvest a Doe – Antlerless Deer Licenses Available

If you’re hunting in an area with high deer numbers or a disease-prevalent area, consider taking a doe this year to do your part in managing Michigan’s deer herd.

Lasco Press Photo

Harvesting a doe, the drivers of the deer population, is a key element in deer management. It is important to consider increasing doe harvest in areas with stable or overpopulated deer numbers to ensure healthy population ranges. This is especially crucial in known deer disease areas, where deer numbers often need to be lowered to help minimize the future spread of the disease.

Antlerless deer can be harvested on a deer or deer combo license in the mainland Lower Peninsula and during the archery season in parts of the Upper Peninsula. A universal antlerless license can also be used to harvest an antlerless deer, though some units in the Upper Peninsula prohibit or restrict the use of antlerless licenses (see pages 58-60 of the Hunting Regulations Summary).

Report Your Deer Harvest Online

Just like last year, all harvested deer are required to be reported. The easiest way to report a harvest is by downloading the Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app.

Once the app is downloaded and you’ve signed in or created an account, you can enter the harvest report information.

You can also report a harvest online. Visit Michigan.gov/DNRHarvestReport on a computer or mobile device to go directly to the reporting page. Enter your kill tag license number and date of birth to begin the report.

If you don’t have your hunting license/kill tag number, you can log in to eLicense (using your driver’s license and birthdate or user ID and password), then click on the Harvest Report tab to see the tags available to report. If you don’t already have an account, you will have the chance to create one to enter your report.

Find more information on harvest reporting on the harvest reporting webpage. If you need assistance, you can call your local DNR customer service center or the main Wildlife Division line at 517-284-WILD (9453) during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

CWD and TB Testing at Deer Check Stations

Chronic wasting disease is a contagious and fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and other cervids. In Michigan, the history of CWD in free-ranging deer dates back to May 2015, when the first case of the disease was confirmed in a free-ranging white-tailed deer in Ingham County. This marked the beginning of efforts to manage and control the spread of CWD within the state’s deer herd.

Since 2015, CWD has been detected in additional deer from various counties across Michigan. The state’s ongoing efforts have aimed at managing and containing the disease’s spread while maintaining a healthy deer population for both ecological balance and recreational purposes. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other agencies have implemented various measures to address CWD in the state, including:

  • Intensive CWD testing efforts.
  • Carcass movement restrictions.
  • Ban on baiting and feeding practices.
  • Targeted removal of deer.
  • Public outreach and education.
  • Research and collaboration.
  • Regulation changes.

One of the most notable recent changes is in the strategy for testing deer. Historically, there has been a lot of testing in and around areas where CWD has been detected to date. This has led to the detection of CWD in 12 of Michigan’s 83 counties, with Midland being the latest this summer. For more on where CWD has been found, see the County-level CWD detection information page.

Starting in 2021, the DNR began a rotational approach to testing for CWD around the state. With this new approach, a group of counties in the state is selected each year, with a desire to eventually test sufficient numbers of deer in every county across the state. The goal of this approach is early disease detection, as management has the potential to be most effective when the disease is caught early. Most of these areas have not had a CWD detection or have not previously been part of intensive testing efforts, so little is known about disease status in these locations. In 2021 and 2022, the rotational approach focused testing in the southwest and southeast parts of the Lower Peninsula.

For 2023, testing will be focused in the northwestern Lower Peninsula and in a few counties in other areas where additional information is still needed. The counties for CWD testing in 2023 include Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Hillsdale, Isabella, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford. In these counties there will be drop boxes, staffed submission sites, and partner processors and taxidermists to assist with collection efforts.

In the remainder of the state, testing is available through direct submission by hunters to a cooperating U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved diagnostic laboratory for a fee or through free self-sample shipping kits in counties where CWD has previously been detected.

For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit Michigan.gov/CWD.

The DNR also asks hunters to submit deer from the northeastern Lower Peninsula to be tested for bovine tuberculosis, a bacterial respiratory disease that impacts deer and elk.

Entire carcasses from deer displaying symptoms of CWD or TB will be collected and tested throughout the deer season, regardless of where they were harvested.

DNR deer check station hours, days of operation, and locations will be limited. To find a deer check station near you, visit Michigan.gov/DeerCheck.

Deer Harvest Patches now Available

You can now purchase a successful hunter deer patch for $8 through the Michigan DNR License & Permits eLicense store. Click on the “Purchase a license, permit, and application, or reprint your license” tile, login, and select the “Patches” tab to order.

Enjoy the great outdoor recreation available in Michigan. Stay Safe, and teach a youngster how to hunt, continuing this great tradition for generations to come