GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hunters know the date well: Nov. 15 is opening day for firearm deer season in Michigan.
Those heading out to the woods Tuesday should know about the new reporting requirements from Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources. For the first time in the state, hunters must report all successful deer harvests within 72 hours or before transferring possession of the deer.
Previously the DNR would send out a post-season harvest survey, but the response rates have gone down significantly over the last 20 years. So now, it is requiring hunters to report their kills.
“Hunters just submit their typical harvest information that they would if they were going to a check station,” Rachel Leightner, the wildlife outreach coordinator for the Michigan DNR. “So we just need to know where you harvested your deer from, what kind of deer you harvested, how you harvest it, those kind of details and it all goes into helping us manage Michigan’s deer herd a little bit better.”
To make the reporting process easier, there are a few things to keep in mind: Aside from the unique kill tag license number and date of birth, hunters must also report the type of deer harvested. If that harvest is a buck, the number of antler points will need to be noted. The date and location of the kill will also be required.
The DNR said this process should only take about three to five minutes, and there are several ways to do it.
The first option is to go online to michigan.gov/dnrharvestreport and click report a harvest. The faster option is to report the harvest through the new DNR hunt and fish mobile app, which is available for Apple and Android devices. DNR said the new system will allow anyone to gather harvesting information and compare data between counties and regions.
“It’s going to open up a huge door of opportunity for us to really understand what’s happening with hunter behavior, hunter harvest and how the deer herds responding. Also, the interaction between hunters and deer harvest and the licenses that they’re using. Of course, the time of the year too,” said Chad Stewart, MDNR deer, elk and moose management specialist.
Hunters must still attach a paper kill tag before the harvest is reported.
Like many Michigan hunters, Bruce Hendrickson’s opening day started with a bang, literally and figuratively.
“He came running out and the rest was history,” the Paw Paw hunter said about the deer he got.
Hendrickson was able to submit the report in less than five minutes. He likes how Michigan is staying on target with many other hunting-heavy states.
“A lot of the other states have been doing it,” Hendrickson said. “It’s a way for them to keep more track of it and I think it’s a good thing.”
It took Cathy Austin less than 40 minutes on opening day to score a 12-point buck.
“I’m real excited, it’s my personal best. I’ll probably never see one like that again, have that opportunity. It was just a really good find,” said Austin, a hunter from Bangor.
Austin believes the new reporting system is more efficient.
“It helps them keep track of the deer population in a more accurate way. They said before that, there weren’t even 30% of the population filling out the survey,” Austin said.
Since this is the first year hunters are required to report, the DNR said it is focused on education rather than enforcement.
“If you have questions, if you are unsure, if you have no idea how to work a smartphone or the internet, that’s perfectly OK. We do have resources available to you,” Leightner said. “A lot of DNR offices will still be available to you. You can go in and we can walk you through how to complete a harvest report there. You also can give us a call. The main wildlife division phone line will be available to you.”
The Michigan DNR Wildlife Division can be reached at 517.284.9453.
The potential penalty for not reporting is a 90-day misdemeanor with fines ranging from $50 to $500.