More than 540,000 hunters participated in Michigan’s 2019 deer hunting season overall, and as many or more hunters are expected to head out for this year’s Nov. 15 firearm opener.

Before the hunt, everyone should review current deer hunting regulations, found in the 2020 Hunting Digest. Changes to antler point restrictions made this year can be found on pages 42-43 and 48-49.

New this year, hunters in the mainland Lower Peninsula have the option to take an antlered or antlerless deer on their deer or deer combo licenses during archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons.

Deer check station procedures and hours of operation will be different this year for the safety of hunters and staff. At check stations, hunters are required to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. At many locations, hunters will be required to stay in their vehicles.

There are also changes to chronic wasting disease testing this year. Deer heads from southern Jackson, southern Isabella and western Gratiot counties, and the core CWD surveillance area in the Upper Peninsula, will be accepted for CWD testing through Jan. 4. Deer heads from Clinton, Dickinson, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm counties will be accepted for testing Nov. 15-18 only.

Anyone interested in submitting a deer for CWD testing outside the above listed areas/time frames can submit samples to a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved lab for testing. Hunters will be charged a fee to have deer heads tested. Visit the “For Hunters” section at Michigan.gov/CWD for information about outside labs offering testing.

Overall, DNR officials say conditions are looking excellent for the 2020 deer seasons, and hunters can expect conditions that meet or exceed 2019. See the 2020 deer hunting preview for regional forecasts, an overview of regulation changes, tips on preparing for the season

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