3 Things You Need to Do to Prepare for Michigan Firearms Deer Season


Opening day of firearms deer season, November 15, is the single biggest day for Michigan outdoorsmen. It’s still a ways off, but it’ll be here before you know it. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of time to take care of the details that will help make 2015 a productive, safe deer season.  Here are three things everyone should do over the next couple of weeks to make they’re ready for deer hunting.

1. Sight in your firearm(s)

This is simplest thing that hunters can do to help guarantee success. Face it: You only get so many chances to shoot a deer. Do you want to miss?

For the most part, unless you are rough on it, if your firearm shot where you wanted it to last season, it should do the same this year. But there certain environmental conditions can cause changes impact where your gun’s bullet is hitting. And if you have excess oil in the barrel from the last time you fired it, that can affect where your bullet hits, too. So don’t gamble on it—make sure. Send a round (or several) downrange and see what you have.

If you’re off, adjust the sights or scope on your firearm accordingly.

If you know where you are going to be hunting and the approximate distance you’ll be shooting, you can sight your firearm dead-on at that distance. But most of us have a variety of options so make sure you know where you are shooting at various distances.  The rule of thumb for modern rifles shooting modern cartridges is “on at 50, on at 250.” If you’re on at 50, you’ll be roughly three inches high at 100 (which is where I sight my rifle) so I’m confident I can put a bullet where I want it up to about 300 yards without too much adjustment.

Shotguns and muzzleloaders are not as flat-shooting, so if you use those firearms, get familiar with their ballistics before you have to have to make a shot count.

2. Familiarize yourself with regulations

The rules stay largely the same from year to year, but there are two significant changes this year—one for central Michigan and one in the Upper Peninsula—you must be aware of.

Hunters drag a deer back to camp on opening day of the firearms season.
Hunters drag a deer back to camp on opening day of the firearms season.

After back-to-back harsh winters, the Upper Peninsula deer herd has been so affected that hunters who purchase combination licenses may not use the tags for antlerless deer during archery season in the U.P. There are very limited antlerless deer hunting opportunities in the Upper Peninsula (all in the southcentral portion) for hunters this season.

The discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Ingham County has caused the Department of Natural Resources to create a three-county area (Ingham, Clinton, and Shiawassee) where baiting is illegal. In a nine-township core area (DMU 333) deer checks are mandatory. Hunters in Woodhull Township in Shiawassee County; in Dewitt and Bath townships in Clinton County; and in Lansing, Meridian, Williamson, Delhi, Alaiedon, and Wheatfield townships in Ingham County, are required to bring the enitre carcass of any deer they kill within 72 business hours to one of three DNR check stations. It is illegal to more any part of a deer from the core area before it has been checked. All deer will be tested for CWD and hunters who submit deer that test positive will be notified by phone.

Visit www.michigan.gov/cwd for more details.

3. Check your blinds and stands

Make sure for blind or shooting shack is in order and be especially careful with elevated platforms, ladder stands or tree stands. If you are using the same elevated blinds or platforms you used last year, make sure fasteners haven’t loosened, ladders are secure and in good repair and any screw-in steps remain firmly in place. Check your rope for hauling up gear and make sure your safety harness is in working order.

If you can do it well in advance of opening day, do so – not only to make sure it gets, but to make less of a disturbance in your hunting area. Some of the most successful deer hunters I know don’t ever go near their blind for a week or so before opening day.

And remember your safety harness. Several years ago, I climbed into a home-made ladder stand that I’d never seen before. It broke while I was climbing out and I wound up spending the next several weeks on my back, recovering from a fractured pelvis. I was lucky that’s all that happened; it could have been much worse.

A short inspection may not only pay dividends with a better hunt, it could save your life.

Visit our Pure Michigan page for more Michigan articles!

For more information on Michigan hunting go to michigan.orgClick here to purchase a Michigan hunting license online.

This article was produced in partnership with Pure Michigan.

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