Michigan DNR Advises Hunters on Legal Firearms for Muzzleloader Season

Michigan DNR Advises Hunters on Legal Firearms for Muzzleloader Season
Map: In Zone 3, including Bay, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties, you can use all legal firearms. If you are hunting in the limited firearm deer zone, you must follow equipment requirements for that zone (see pages 49-50 of the Hunting Regulations Summary).

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a reminder to hunters about the appropriate firearms for the ongoing 2023 muzzleloader season, which started today (Dec.1) and will conclude at the end of shooting hours on December 10.

Emphasizing Deer Management Goals

Chad Stewart, a wildlife biologist with the DNR, highlights the evolving goals of deer management, leading to changes in regulations for the muzzleloader season.

He notes the abundant deer population in southern Michigan and the DNR’s focus on increasing antlerless harvest. The department aims to provide hunters with ample opportunities for success and effective deer population management in the region.

Adjustments to Muzzleloader and Antlerless Seasons

In response to low hunter success rates during previous muzzleloader seasons, the DNR extended the late antlerless season in 2020. This adjustment came alongside a reduction of the muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula.

Firearm Regulations in Different Zones

In the southern Lower Peninsula, hunters can use any firearm legal during the traditional firearm season (November 15-30) for the muzzleloader season.

For hunters in Zones 1 and 2, the permitted equipment includes crossbows, muzzleloading rifles, muzzleloading shotguns, or black-powder pistols, loaded with black powder or a commercial substitute.

However, in the Upper Peninsula, only certified hunters with a disability may use a crossbow or a modified bow during this season.

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For Zone 3 and select counties in southern Zone 2, all legal firearms are permissible. Specific equipment requirements apply in the limited firearm deer zone, including restrictions on shotguns, muzzleloading rifles, conventional handguns, and air rifles or pistols.

The details encompass barrel types, caliber specifications, cartridge dimensions, and power sources.

Safety and Reporting Requirements

Hunters using a muzzleloader or firearm during this season must adhere to hunter orange safety requirements. This rule does not apply to those using crossbows or archery equipment.

Additionally, hunters are obliged to report their deer harvest within 72 hours using the DNR’s Hunt Fish app, where they can access current regulations and reporting tools.

This advisory serves as a crucial reminder for hunters to ensure compliance with the specific legal requirements and contribute to the effective management of the deer population in Michigan.

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