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Firearm deer season starts Friday statewide

Veteran James Gross shows off his 8-point buck south of Middleville during the Liberty Hunt in September. The hunt was open to individuals and veterans with disabilities as well as youth hunters. The regular firearm deer season in Michigan opens Friday.

For a lot of residents, Nov. 15 ranks up there with major holidays. Gathering with family and friends for the firearm deer season opener is a time-honored tradition in many Michigan families, built around the excitement and fun of enjoying time in the state’s great outdoors.

Some hunters share their love of deer hunting by introducing someone new to the sport. Mentored youth hunting licenses are available to kids 9 and younger, while apprentice hunting licenses are available to those 10 and older who haven’t yet completed a hunter safety education course. Learn more about these options at Michigan.gov/MentoredHunting.

This tradition is economically important, too. More than 500,000 hunters pursued deer in Michigan during the 2018 hunting seasons, providing critical license revenue that supports wildlife conservation efforts. All of Michigan’s hunting seasons – from deer and elk to waterfowl and rabbit – contribute nearly $9 billion a year to the state’s economy.

All hunters are encouraged to review the 2019 deer hunting regulations, found in the Hunting Digest or at Michigan.gov/Deer. Key changes this season include:

Deer baiting and feeding is banned in the entire Lower Peninsula and in the core chronic wasting disease surveillance area in the Upper Peninsula. Watch our video: Michigan Deer Baiting, Feeding and Food Plots.

New regulations in the U.P. core CWD surveillance area.

New antler point restrictions.

Hunters can take deer to a DNR deer check station to earn a successful hunter patch. Area deer check stations are at Fox Farm Processing Inc. in Freeport, the National Resources Department on Yankee Springs Road in the Barry State Game Area, and at the Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners.

The DNR reminds both new and veteran hunters to always put safety first.

Lt. Tom Wanless, who heads up the DNR’s recreational safety programs, said that although some safety tips seem obvious, it’s critical for anyone hunting with firearms – regardless of their experience level – to understand safety basics.

“You’re not successful unless you’re safe,” Lt. Wanless said. “We want everyone to return home to their families and friends. While many safety recommendations may seem like common sense reminders, they shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

Some safety tips to keep in mind include:

Treating every firearm as if it is loaded.

Being aware of your surroundings – know your target and what is beyond it.

Unloading the firearm when crossing obstacles and/or getting in or out of a tree stand.

Obeying “no trespassing” signs – they are there for a reason.

Obtaining the landowner’s permission to retrieve your game if it wandered onto private property.

Wearing as much hunter orange as possible to increase your visibility.

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