Tips for a safe, enjoyable hunting season

Firearm deer hunting season is here and the Michigan DNR wants all to be aware of the safety tips and hunting rules in place to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience. 

November 15 is opening day for firearm deer hunting season. 

“Firearm deer season is a special time of year in Michigan,” Cpl. Dave Painter said. “It brings family and friends together in celebration of our state’s great outdoor heritage. Staying safe, knowing the laws and being good stewards of our resources will help hunters have a memorable outing.”

A mandatory deer check is in place across the state due to the recent confirmation of chronic wasting disease. CWD is a fatal disease found in deer, elk and moose.

If deer are hunted in areas where CWD has been found, those hunters must bring it to a DNR check station within 72 hours. We've included the website for a map and list of the check stations.

The state would like to ask all hunters to bring their deer to the nearest check station to help with CWD management.

The DNR also lists these general safety tips to remember during deer season:

• Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
• Keep your finger away from the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.
• Keep the safety on until you are ready to fire.
• Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
• Be certain of your target, and what’s beyond it, before firing.
• Know the identifying features of the game you hunt.
• Make sure you have an adequate backstop. Don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.
• Unload the firearm before running, climbing a fence or tree, or jumping a ditch.
• Wear a safety harness when hunting from an elevated platform. Use a haul line to bring the unloaded firearm up and down the raised platform.
• Avoid alcoholic beverages or behavior-altering medicines or drugs before or during a hunt.
• Always wear a hat, cap, vest or jacket of hunter orange, visible from all sides, during daylight hunting hours, even if hunting on private land. The law also applies to archery hunters during firearm season.
• Make sure at least 50 percent of any camouflage pattern being worn is in hunter orange.
• Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return. This information helps conservation officers and others locate you if you become injured or lost.
• Carry a cell phone into the woods. Not only does it let you call for help if necessary, but newer phones emit a signal that can help rescuers locate you. Also consider downloading a compass or flashlight app.
• Program the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) line (800-292-7800) in your phone contacts so you can alert conservation officers to any natural resources violations you may witness.