MUSKEGON COUNTY, MICH. - Firearm deer hunting season is right around the corner. Opening day is Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Hunters should begin preparing now for the big event. And that includes buying a license early.
"We are seeing more hunters taking deer without licenses and then buying their tags," said Greg Patten, Conservation Officer with the Department of Natural Resources.
A hunter without a license faces a minimal $1,000 fine and loss of hunting privileges.
Patten wants hunters to pay attention to the clock. Early and late shooting can also result in a fine.
"It's a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset local time."
Patten says trespassing on private land is one mistake that's avoidable. He suggest hunters do their homework before selecting a location to hunt.
"Not knowing where you are anymore with the technology that we have is not a valid argument," said Patten.
A mandatory deer check is in place within certain areas of the state due to the confirmation of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. Hunters harvesting a deer in these CWD areas must bring it to a DNR check station within 72 hours. Visit mi.gov/deercheck for a map and list of check stations.
Regardless of where deer are harvested in Michigan, the DNR encourages all hunters to voluntarily take them to the nearest check station to help with disease surveillance. In addition, big-game hunters who travel outside of Michigan should be aware of new regulations restricting the importation of harvested cervids.
Here are other safety tips the DNR wants hunters to follow.:
- 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.
For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.
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