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Michigan Hunting Laws and Regulations - Waterfowl & Upland Birds

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 Michigan DNR also publishes a specific "Waterfowl 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 Hunting Laws & Regulations

Waterfowl & Upland Bird Game


Unlawfully Use/Construction/Fail to Remove Waterfowl Hunting Blind (C3.401) – You cannot place or anchor a blind for waterfowl hunting on land that is not legally yours. You must place your name and address legibly on the blind and cannot remove that information. You cannot erect the blind before August 15 of each hunting year. You have to remove the blind 16 days after the calendar year ends. 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 Waterfowl without Federal Stamp (C3.402(2)) – You cannot hunt waterfowl without a current federal migratory bird hunting stamp, validated by your signature across the face. The stamp may be purchased online through the DNR website. If the hunter is under 16, they do not need a federal stamp. 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.


Leaving Decoys Overnight on a Public Hunting Area (C3.402(4)) – You can only leave a decoy in the water from 3 A.M. to 9 P.M. If you leave a decoy overnight 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 Migratory Birds with Unplugged Shotgun (C3.402(5)(a)) – You cannot take any migratory bird with any firearm other than a 10 gauge or smaller shotgun, capable of holding three or less shells. If your shotgun is capable of holding more than three shells, the gun must be plugged with one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun. 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 Migratory Birds with More than One Gun or Single Projectile (C3.402(5)(b)) – You cannot hunt migratory birds with any single projectile shotshell or with more than one gun per person. 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 Migratory Birds from Moving Vessel Propelled by Motor or Sail (C3.402(5)(d)) – You cannot hunt migratory birds by driving, rallying, or chasing birds with any motorized conveyance or any sailboat to put them in the range of hunters. 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 Migratory Birds with Live Decoys (C3.402(5)(e)) – All live, tame, or captive birds must be removed 10 consecutive days before hunting and confined within an enclosure that substantially reduces the sound of their calls and completely conceals the bird. 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 Migratory Birds in a Baited Area (C3.402(5)(g)) – You cannot hunt by aid of baiting, or on or over any baited areas. Baited areas are considered that for 10 consecutive days after bait has been removed. 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 Migratory Birds from a Raised Platform (C3.402(5)(h)(i)) – You cannot hunt by use of a raised platform when hunting with a platform, except upon the submerged bottomlands of a lake, river, pond, or stream, when erected and in compliance with this 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.


Unlawful Import of Migratory Birds (C3.403) – One fully feathered wing must be attached to all migratory birds being transported. You cannot import migratory birds that are not your own. If you are importing a bird from a foreign country, except Canada, it must be dressed correctly. If you are importing from Canada, you may possess as many birds that Canadian law allows for export. 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.


Unlawful Transport of Migratory Birds (C3.404) – You cannot possess or transport more than the daily limit of migratory birds, tagged or untagged, at or between the place where taken and either your transportation, lodging, or commercial preservation, post office, or common carrier (whichever one is arrived at first). 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.


Use or Possession of Toxic Shot in Waterfowl Hunting (C3.411) – The shot you use must be nontoxic and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department. 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 Geese in a Closed Season or Area; Illegal Taking or Possession of Waterfowl in Closed Season (C3.415) – Make sure you check the DNR website to see what the open season dates are and what zones are allowed to be hunted during certain times. If you violate this order you could face up to 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, restitution of $500 per bird, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court, pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Illegal Taking or Possession of Waterfowl – Daily or Possession Limits (C3.416) – Make sure you check the DNR website to see what the daily limits for the type of waterfowl you are hunting. If you violate this order you could face up to 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, restitution of $500 per bird, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court, pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Illegal Taking or Possession of Snipe, Rails, etc. – Closed Season (C3.420) – The open season for Woodcocks begins on September 15 and continues for 45 days after. The open season for common Snipe and Virginia and Sora Rails is September 1 to November 9. There is no open season for king rails. If you hunt out of season you could face up to 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, restitution of $500 per bird, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court, pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Illegal Taking or Possession of Snipe, Rails, etc. – Daily Possession Limits (C3.421) – the daily limit for common Snipe is 8 per day and 24 snipe possession limit. The daily limit for Virginia and Sora Rails is 25 per day and 75 rail possession limit. The daily limit for Woodcocks is possession limit per day and 9 possession limit. If you go over these limits you could face up to 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, restitution of $500 per bird, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court, pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Illegal Taking or Possession of Pheasant - Season and Limits (C3.501) – Make sure you check the DNR website to see the available zones for hunting and their respective hunting seasons. The daily limit for male pheasants is 2, with the possession limit being 4. If hunting by falconry, the daily limit is 2 pheasants and a possession limit is 4. If you go over these limits you could face up to 90-days imprisonment, a fine between $50 and $500, restitution between $100 and $500 per bird, and the loss of your hunting license at the discretion of the court, pursuant to MCL 324.43559.


Illegal Taking or Possession of Ruffed Grouse - Season and Limits (C3.502) – The open season for Ruffed Grouse is September 15 to November 14 and December 1 to January 1. In zones 1 and 2, the daily limit is 5 grouses and the possession limit is 10. In zone 3, the daily limit is 3 grouses and the possession limit is 6.