The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has made a few deer hunting rule changes for the 2023 through 2025 seasons.

Deer Hunting and the DNR

I will start off by saying that I believe the Michigan Department of Natural Resources does a pretty good job with our hunting and fishing regulations. That being said, I still disagree with a few things here and there, but I guess we all can't get what we want.

Almost every year there is a rule change or two when it comes to hunting and fishing. I was actually pleased with how the DNR updated the bear application with a much better explanation of the point system. Originally, the most important parts were vague and now the process is more clear on hunting parties. The DNR recently updated the deer hunting rules for the next three seasons and I agree with a few and disagree with the others.

New Deer Hunting Rules for 2023 - 2025

4-Point Rule

The DNR has changed the restricted tag of the deer comb license for 19 counties in the lower peninsula requiring a four-point buck or better for that tag. This new rule covers Kent, Newaygo, Muskegon, Ionia, Mecosta, Montcalm, Barry, Eaton, Lenawee, Midland, Calhoun, Hillsdale, Clinton, Jackson, Gratiot, Shiawassee, and Eaton counties.

I think this is a step in the right direction, but if you really want great bucks on public lands you have to get an 8-point or better rule for this to happen. Plus, there are still no proper instructions on the identification of button bucks vs. does in the regulations. I know you experienced hunters know the difference but this is for all the new, inexperienced hunters out there trying to fill a doe tag. We all know the first deer that runs into a field or comes out of the swamp is almost always a young buck and those get shot all the time never giving the deer a chance to mature. Even if the buttons are not poking through, the head shapes of a young buck and a doe are different and both walk a little differently. This should be in the regulations.

Liberty Hunt

Now during the Liberty Hunt, hunters can harvest more than one deer. You can still only shoot one buck, but you can get multiple antlerless licenses.

The Liberty Hunt is for youth and hunters with disabilities and takes place September 9-10. I am all for youth hunters and those with disabilities getting into the woods a little earlier to experience hunting. I think this should be limited to bow or crossbow, and no guns should be allowed. I am an avid bow hunter, and shooting guns at deer before the archery season starts is ridiculous and forces the mature bucks to go full nocturnal before the season begins.

The same goes for the early antlerless firearm hunt that happens September 16-17 and the Independence hunt that happens October 19-22. This is ruining deer hunting for many bow hunters in Michigan. The DNR wonders why fewer and fewer people are deer hunting. By the time gun season rolls around, most of the large bucks are already full nocturnal and it is ruining archery season. I live by the Amish and their kids hunt all three of those hunts, (unsupervised) and it sounds like a war going on in my area. All three of these hunts should be archery or crossbow only.

Baiting in the Upper Peninsula

For those who hunt in the Upper Peninsula, you can still use bait, and there are no longer any Chronic Wasting Disease Zones in the U.P. Sounds like the wolves and cougars took care of that problem by taking out the sick deer.

10 Things Guys Should NEVER Say at the Deer Camp

There aren't a whole lot of rules for guys at the deer camp, but a man should always remember that his man card is on the line if he slips and says something like these things.

Gallery Credit: Gary McCoy

Get Planting: 10 Deer Resistant Flowers & Plants

We plant, and the deer eat. Not that we mind seeing the adorable four-legged friends making their way around our yards, but when they turn our hard work into their private banquet, that's a different thing. Planting these flowers & plants may keep Bambi and the gang away from your flower beds and gardens.

Gallery Credit: Unsplash/ Lowes