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DNR introduces new deer harvest reporting requirements for Michigan hunters

Starting this deer season, hunters in Michigan will be required to report killing a deer within 72 hours.

MICHIGAN, USA — The start of deer season is on the doorstep, with preparations already underway.

In addition to the usual list of requirements and licenses, this year, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has introduced a new way to record harvests.

Starting with the fall 2022 deer seasons, online harvest reporting is required for all hunters who successfully take a deer. Last year, nearly 7,000 deer hunters voluntarily reported their harvest online to help test the new reporting system. 

“We’re asking hunters to do one additional step, and that is to report their harvest online, through either our online website, or our newly introduced mobile app, where you can do that also,” said Chad Stewart, the DNR’s deer, elk, and moose biologist and management specialist.

“Hunters have 72 hours or basically three days to report their harvest after they locate it through one of these systems,” he added.

The two ways to report a harvest:

Stewart noted the concern of hunters that do not have reliable accessibility to internet or a smart device, along with not being comfortable using technology. There are other ways for these hunters to still report their harvest through the new requirement.

“One, we have a 72-hour window. And that is really one of the longer timeframes that’s allowed in the Midwest. Additionally, we have the allowance of having other individuals report the harvest for you,” he explained. 

Friends or family members can report another hunter’s harvest on their behalf by providing them with their kill tag license number, date of birth and harvest location.

Reporting by phone to the DNR is not possible because of the need for accurate harvest location data, which is provided by selecting the location on a digital map. However, assistance or technical guidance can be provided by a local DNR office. 

There are penalties involved with non-reporting, but the DNR says this first year will be all about familiarizing hunters with the new reporting requirement.

"Potentially, there are consequences," Stewart said. "That being said, this is the first year we're trying to do this. We know it's a big change for everybody. So what we're trying to do is taking more of an education over enforcement approach." 

Besides the new requirement, the 2022 hunting season will remain the same as previous ones.

“Everything that has previously been done in terms of making sure you have the right license, the right harvest tag, you're using the right equipment — all of that still applies,” Stewart said. “This is just sort of one extra step. We anticipate it takes anywhere between three and five minutes to report the deer harvest and that number should go down as more people become familiar with it.”

One primary reason for the new requirement is the declining response rates in the DNR’s postseason hunters survey, which has gone from approximately 75% to less than 40% in 20 years. The new harvest requirement will give the DNR more precise data to make better recommendations for all deer resources.

You can find a calendar of the hunting season for deer and other game here.

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