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Michigan Hunting Laws and Regulations - Deer & Elk

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. The DNR also publishes an "Elk Digest" 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 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 Offenses Related to Deer & Elk


Unlawful Bating or Feeding of Deer or Elk (C3.100a) – Baiting and feeding of deer and elk is banned in the Lower Peninsula, and banned in the Upper Peninsula core Chronic Wasting Disease areas/zones.

  • Baiting includes using a substance intended for consumption that is composed of grains, minerals (including salt and salt blocks), fruits, vegetables, hay or other food materials, which may lure, entice or attract deer or elk as an aid in hunting. In areas where baiting is banned, scents placed to entice a deer (natural or synthetic materials), must be placed so that they are inaccessible for consumption by the deer. You must also ensure that the scent producing material is not physically accessible by the deer. However, this scent based rule does not apply to urine-based products bearing the Archery Trade Association (ATA) symbol on the bottle or packaging. In other words, hunters can still use those urine-based products for wicks, drag ropes, mock scrapes, etc. In the areas in the Upper Peninsula where baiting is allowed, the following baiting regulations apply:

  1. Baiting is only permitted from September 15 – January 1, with the exception of the Liberty Hunt;

  2. Bait volume at any hunting site cannot exceed 2-gallons;

  3. Bait must be dispersed over a minimum 10”x10” area;

  4. Bait must be scattered directly on the ground; and,

  5. Only bait while actively hunting.

  • Feeding means a substance intended for consumption that is composed of grains, minerals (including salt an salt blocks), fruits, vegetables, hay or other food materials, which may lure, entice or attract deer or elk for any reason other than hunting. As long as you are not within the prohibited zones for feeding, you may participate in recreational viewing if all the following conditions are met:

  1. The feed is placed not more than 100 yards from your residence or land;

  2. The feed is scattered at least 100 yards away from any place that can be accessible by cattle, goats, or other livestock;

  3. The feed is spread directly on the ground by any means; and

  4. The feed amount does not exceed 2 gallons.

If you violate any of these conditions 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.


Common Offenses Related to Deer


Taking a Deer with a Crossbow When Not Allowed (C2.1(15)) – This order is specific for Zone I from December 1 to March 31. If violate this order you could be imprisoned for up to 90 days, a fine between $200 and $500, restitution of $1,000 per deer, and the revocation of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus 3 calendar years after.


Hunting a Deer with .22 Rimfire or Greater (C3.100(3)(e)) – If you violate this order you could face up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, and the loss of your license at the discretion of the court, pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Taking a Deer with .22 Rimfire or Greater (C3.100(3)(e)) – If you violate this order you could face between 5- and 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $200 and $1,000, restitution of $1,000 per deer, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus 3 calendar years after, pursuant to MCL 324.40118(7).


Taking a Deer Over Water (C3.100(3)(j) – You cannot take a deer while it is swimming in any type of body of water. If you violate this order you could face between 5- and 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $200 and $1,000, restitution of $1,000 per deer, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus the 3 following calendar years, pursuant to MCL 324.40118(7).


Making Use of Deer Bait: Chronic Waste Disease (CWD) and Tuberculosis (TB) Areas (C3.100(5)) – You cannot use deer bait in Zone 2, Zone 3, and core CWD surveillance area, except for specific areas specific in the order. 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.


Taking a Deer over Unlawful Bait (C3.100(7)) –If you violate this order you could face between 5- and 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $200 and $1,000, restitution of $1,000 per deer, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus the three following calendar years, pursuant to MCL 324.40118(7).


Illegal Taking or Possession of a Deer – Season Related (C3.101), MCL 324.40118(3) – If you take or possess a deer out of season you could face between 5- and 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $200 and $1,000, restitution of $1,000 per deer, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus the three following calendar years, pursuant to MCL 324.40118(7).


Possess a Deer without Validated Kill Tag Attached (C3.103) – If you kill a deer you must immediately validated it with the appropriate information and then attaching it to the deer. The tag must be attached until the deer is processed for personal consumption, accepted for processing by a commercial processor, or accepted for processing by a taxidermist. If you fail to do any of these steps 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.


Unlawful Application for an Antlerless License (C3.104(2)) – You cannot submit more than 1 application for an antlerless deer hunting license per license season. If you submit more than one 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.


Common Offenses Related to Elk


Illegal Taking or Possession of an Elk (C3.1) – If you hunt outside open season (see DNR Digest) or possess more than one elk per license, you could face up to 180 days imprisonment, a fine between $500 and $2,000, restitution of $5,000 per elk, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus 15 calendar years after your first offense. If you commit a second offense you lose your hunting license for your lifetime, pursuant to MCL 324.40118(10).


Taking an Elk Using a Shotgun with Buckshot (C3.2) – You cannot use a shotgun to hunt elk like you can deer. If you violate this order you could face up to 180 days imprisonment, a fine between $500 and $2,000, restitution of $5,000 per elk, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus 15 calendar years after your first offense. If you commit a second offense you lose your hunting license for your lifetime, pursuant to MCL 324.40118(10).


Hunt Elk with a No Kill Tag in Possession (C3.6(1)) – You must be issued a kill tag by the DNR with your elk hunting license in order to kill an elk. If you do not have this tag and kill one, 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.


Failure to Tag, Register, or Submit Head (C3.6(3)(a) C3.6(4), C3.6(5) – You must register your elk within 24 hours and submit the head within 2 weeks. If you fail do tag, register, or submit head, 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.


Taking an Elk Over Bait (C3.6(7)) – You cannot take an elk while it is over bait. If you do so you could face up to 180 days in jail, a fine between $500 and $2,000, restitution of $5,000 per elk, and the loss of your hunting license for the remainder of the year plus 15 calendar years after your first offense. If you commit a second offense you lose your hunting license for your lifetime, pursuant to MCL 324.43559.