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Michigan Deer Hunting in December December 1, 2020

There are plenty of opportunities left to put some venison in the freezer for the winter. If you enjoy hunting in the peace and quiet of the woods, December is a great time to venture out. Remember to be safe while hunting and wear a mask if you cannot be 6 feet away from other people.

Deer hunting regulations can be found in the 2020 Hunting Digest, available at

Muzzleloading season

The muzzleloading season is open Dec. 4-13 statewide. In the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula, only muzzleloading firearms may be used.

In Zone 3 (southern Michigan – see page 11 in the Hunting Digest) and the full counties of Bay, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana, all legal firearms may be used during the muzzleloading season.

Hunters in the Lower Peninsula may harvest either an antlered or antlerless deer during the muzzleloading season on a deer or deer combo license. Upper Peninsula hunters, see pages 48-49 in the 2020 Hunting Digest for more information on what can be harvested in your area.

Late antlerless firearm season

The late antlerless firearm season is open Dec. 14 – Jan. 1 in select Lower Peninsula deer management units. Valid licenses for the season include an antlerless, deer or deer combo license.

The late antlerless hunt is a private-land-only hunt except for hunters hunting with muzzleloaders in Zone 3. If you are hunting with a muzzleloader on public land, you may harvest either an antlered or antlerless deer with a deer or deer combo license.

If you are hunting on private land, you may harvest antlerless deer only during the late antlerless season. You may use an antlerless license or an unused deer or deer combo license to take an antlerless deer.

Late archery deer hunting

The late archery deer hunting season is open through Jan. 1. Valid licenses for this season include a deer license, a deer combo license or an antlerless deer license. Hunters in the Upper Peninsula may not use a crossbow during the late archery season unless hunting in the chronic wasting disease core area or possessing a special permit to hunt with a modified bow.

Urban deer management archery season

The urban deer management archery season will be open through Jan. 31 in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. Licenses for this season include a deer license, a deer combo license or an antlerless deer license valid for Macomb, Oakland or Wayne counties. All rules and regulations for the archery season apply.

Hunters should check local ordinances in the communities where they are interested in hunting to make sure hunting is allowed or to see whether only specific areas are open for the extended season. State game and wildlife areas in all three counties are open to hunting during this extended season.

Deer check stations and CWD and TB testing

This year, to protect hunters and DNR staff, procedures have been updated at deer check stations. In addition, stations will be limited in number and hours of availability.

  • Hunters are required to wear masks at DNR deer check stations and to remember social distancing guidelines, staying 6 feet away from other individuals.
  • You will be asked to remain in your vehicle at most check stations.
  • Deer cooperator patches will be available only at DNR deer check stations, during check station hours of operation, while supplies last.

Deer heads from southern Jackson, southern Isabella and western Gratiot counties, and the core CWD surveillance area in the Upper Peninsula (portions of Dickinson, Menominee and Delta counties) will be accepted for CWD testing through Jan. 4.

If you wish to submit your deer head for CWD testing and you are outside these areas, your deer head can be submitted to a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved lab for testing. Hunters will be charged a fee to have their deer heads tested. Visit and click on “For Hunters” for information about outside labs conducting CWD testing.

Deer heads from Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle and Roscommon counties will be accepted for bovine tuberculosis testing through Jan. 4.

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