We are entering the final month of Michigan’s regular deer season, but there are still almost three weeks left to hunt for whitetail deer across the state. Archery is ongoing through the end of December, while muzzleloader season ends on December 14th. The late antlerless firearm hunt begins on December 14th and ends on January 1st. Regulations for the late antlerless firearm hunt are a little different this year. Let’s break them down and explain how and where you can participate in the hunt.
For starters, the upper peninsula is closed to late antlerless firearm hunting. The entire lower peninsula is open to late antlerless firearm hunting on all private lands. All normal firearm season rules apply while hunting for antlerless deer on private land (limited firearm zone rules, orange required, etc.). Antlerless deer may be taken with either an antlered deer tag or an antlered deer restricted tag. An antlerless deer tag may also be used. If using an antlerless tag it may only be used for the deer management unit it was issued for. The antlerless tag must also reflect the type of land it is being used for (public or private).
There is an important exception to the late antlerless season rules that is new for this season. A hunter may hunt with a muzzleloader only on public land during the late-season antlerless hunt. With a muzzleloader on public land, the hunter may use an antlered deer license or combo license to harvest any deer. You may also use a muzzleloader on public land with an antlerless license to harvest a doe.
While these rules have been worded in a confusing manner, let’s go over the basics one last time. Late season antlerless hunting is only in the lower peninsula. You must wear orange. An antlered deer tag, combo tag, or antlerless tag may be used. The hunt is for private land only, however you may hunt antlered or antlerless deer on public land during the hunt using a muzzleloader.