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Michigan Hunting Laws and Regulations - Common Offenses

The State of Michigan has long been recognized as a sportsman paradise, littered with endless opportunities to hunt, fish, trap, and otherwise enjoy the great outdoors. In Michigan, the law enforcement agency responsible for policing these activities is the Michigan Department of Natural Resources or “DNR.” Each year the DNR produces a "Hunting Digest” detailing the rules and laws that apply to hunting in Michigan. That digest is available on the DNR website HERE.


It is important that you understand the laws and regulations for the area and game you are hunting in Michigan. Some hunting related offenses can vary based on the county where the offense took place and can be difficult to navigate. Before heading out, research the county and local municipality in which you are hunting to learn of any specific laws and regulations for that area. It is also a great idea to review the DNR Hunting Digest, as it details where and when you can hunt, what equipment you are allowed to hunt with, as well as other ancillary laws. While this blog is not intended to be all encompassing, Bondy Law, PLLC wants you to be prepared for your upcoming hunting experience. In the unfortunate event that you find yourself being investigated with a hunting related offense or even charged criminally, it is imperative that you have a lawyer who knows what it takes to defend DNR cases and obtain the best outcome for you and/or your loved one. Contact Bondy Law, PLLC today. We know what it takes to win these cases.


Common Hunting Related Offenses


Taking of an Animal from a Vehicle (MCL 324.40111(1)) - This violation carries a punishment of a $200 to $1,000 fine; 5 to 90 days in jail; restitution of $1,500 for a bear and $1,000 for a deer/turkey; revocation of hunting license(s) for the remainder of the year of conviction; and an inability to obtain a license for the three years following.


Loaded and Uncased Firearm in a Vehicle (MCL 324.40111(2)) – You must unload and put your firearm in a case if you are transporting it with a vehicle. The punishment for this violation is a fine from $50 to $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail, plus loss of your license at the discretion of the Court pursuant to MCL 324.43559. It is important, however when traveling with a firearm in a vehicle and you do not have a Concealed Pistol License, that your firearm be unloaded, enclosed in a case, and that case is in a location that is not readily accessible to any occupant of the vehicle. It is unlawful to carry a concealed weapon in Michigan without a valid license. A Carrying Concealed Weapon charge is a felony carrying a maximum punishment of not more than 5-years in prison and fines of $2,500 or less (MCL 750.227(3)).


Shooting within a Safety Zone (MCL 324.40111(7)) – you cannot hunt with a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied, house, building, cabin, or barn without obtaining written permission from the owner, renter, or occupant of the property. If you do not obtain written consent, you could have a fine from $50 to $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail, plus loss of your license at the discretion of the Court pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Obstructing or Interfering with the Lawful Taking of Animals (MCL 324.40112) – To violate this law you must intentionally drive or disturb animals for the purpose of lawful hunting. If you violate this statute you are guilty of a misdemeanor that is punishable by imprisonment for less than 93 days, a fine between $500 and $1,000, loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court, and the cost of prosecution. If you violate this statute multiple times you could be punished with imprisonment for up to a year and/or a fine between $1,000 and $2,500, plus cost of prosecution, pursuant to MCL 324.40112(4).


Illegal Use of Artificial Life with Bow and Arrow, Crossbow, or Firearm (MCL 324.40113(1)) - Unless otherwise authorized, it is unlawful to use “artificial light” in taking game or in an area frequented by animals. The punishment for this violation is a fine between $100 and $500, up to 90 days in jail, revocation of hunting license for remainder of the year, plus the next consecutive year pursuant to MCL 324.40118(7).


Use of Artificial Light When Prohibited (MCL 324.40112(2)) - A licensed hunter may use an artificial light 1 hour before AND after shooting hours when traveling to and from your hunting location with an unloaded weapon. Furthermore, you cannot use artificial light for the purposes of locating animals from December 1 to October 31 between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., and from November 1 to November 30. The punishment for this violation is potentially a fine from $50 to $100, imprisonment for up to 90 days, and loss of hunting privileges pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Shining – Failure to Immediately Stop for Peace Officer (MCL 324.40113(3)) – You must stop using artificial light to locate game when a peace officer requests or when they signal with a flashing signal light or siren. If you fail to do so you could be imprisoned for a minimum of 5 days to up to 90 days, a fine from $50 to $100, and the loss of your hunting privileges at the discretion of the court pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Failure to Wear Authorized Color While Hunting (MCL 324.40116) – You cannot go hunting unless you are wearing the appropriately colored attire, like hunter orange or hunter pink. This only applies during daylight shooting hours from August 15 through April 30. Failure to wear the correct color can lead to imprisonment for up to 90 days in jail, a fine between $50 to $500, and the loss of hunting privileges at the discretion of the court pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Hunting without a License (MCL 324.43558(5)) – If you hunt without a license you could face up to 180 days in prison, a fine between $500 and $2,500, and cost of prosecution pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Carrying a Firearm While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (MCL 324.43558(3)) – A person licensed to carry a firearm is prohibited from using their firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or a combination of both. The punishment for this offense is a $500 fine and/or up to 93 days in jail.


Use of an Illegal Device (C2.1(1)) – Some examples illegal devices are a pit, snare, trap, and others. A violation of this order can lead to up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Use of Semiautomatic Firearm Capable of Holding More than 6 Shells (C2.1(2)) – Violating this order could lead to imprisonment for up to 90 days in jail, a fine between $50 and $500, and loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Hunting After Hours or During the Closed Season (C2.1(8)) – The Hunting Hours and Seasons are set by the DNR every year. Make sure you check the website before heading out to prevent any kind of violation. If there is a violation, you could face up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Take/Possess Over the Limit (C2.1(9)) – This violation can occur if you take more than your daily limit or possess at one time more than the possession limit. A violation of this order can lead imprisonment between 5- and 90-days, a fine between $200 and $1,000, loss of hunting license for the remainder of the year plus 3 calendar years after, and restitution for the animal as listed below:

  • $1,000 per deer

  • $1,000 per turkey

  • $3,500 per bear

  • $5,000 per elk

If you possess elk over the limit, you could face between 30- and 180-days imprisonment, a fine between $500 and $2,000, restitution as listed above, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus 15 calendar years after for the first offense. If you have any subsequent offenses the revocation will last your lifetime, pursuant to MCL 324.40118(10).


Using a Dog to Hunt Deer or Elk (C2.1(11)) – You can use a dog to hunt if you are locating a wounded deer or elk while leashed and with an unloaded weapon. The penalty for hunting with a dog illegally can lead to up to 90 days in jail, a fine between $50 and $500, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Hunting Before or After Legal Hunting Hours (C2.5) – Hunting hours start one hour before sunrise and end one hour after sunset. If you hunt outside these hours without the correct permit, you could face up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Hunting from a Raised Platform on Public Land (C2.8) – You cannot have a raised platform on public land until September 1 and it must be taken down by March 1, unless you are elk hunting. You also cannot use any raised platform that cuts into the trunk of the tree, that is permanent, or someone else’s labeled platform. If you violate this order you could face up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court, pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Hunting While Intoxicated (MCL 750.167a) – If you are found hunting while intoxicated, you could face up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine of up to $500, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus 3 calendar years after. Your gun will also be confiscated from you at the time and sent to the DNR