LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Michigan hunters have less than a week to participate in the 2023 muzzleloader hunting season. 

“As the goals of deer management have changed, so do regulations around muzzleloader season,” said Chad Stewart, Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist. “The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recognizes the abundant deer population in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula and is focusing on ways to increase antlerless harvest. The DNR wants hunters to have every opportunity to maximize success and help manage the deer population in southern Michigan.”

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Due to previously low hunter success during muzzleloader season (Dec. 1 – Dec. 10), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has allowed for any firearm legal during the traditional firearm season (Nov. 15-30) to be used during the muzzleloader season in the Lower Peninsula. 

It is important to know which hunting zone you are using, as each has unique rules regarding each season. If you are unsure, you can determine your zone and other hunting regulations, see here

For Zones 1 and 2: 

According to the DNR if you are deer hunting during muzzleloading season in the first two zones “you may only possess, carry afield or take a deer with a crossbow, muzzleloading rifle, muzzleloading shotgun or black-powder pistol, loaded with black powder or a commercially manufactured black-powder substitute.”

However, only certified hunters with a disability may use a crossbow or a modified bow in the Upper Peninsula during muzzleloading season. 

For Zone 3 and portions of Zone 2: 

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In Zone 3, and Bay, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties, you can use all legal firearms according to the DNR. The agency also reminds the public hunting in the limited firearm deer zone, certain equipment requirements must be followed for that zone, including:

  • Shotguns may have a smooth or rifled barrel and may be of any gauge.
  • A muzzleloading rifle or black powder handgun must be loaded with black powder or a commercially manufactured black powder substitute.
  • Conventional (smokeless powder) handguns must be .35-caliber or larger and loaded with straight-walled cartridges and may be single- or multiple-shot but cannot exceed a maximum capacity of nine rounds in the barrel and magazine combined.
  • A .35-caliber or larger rifle must be loaded with straight-walled cartridges with a minimum case length of 1.16 inches and a maximum case length of 1.80 inches.
  • A .35-caliber or larger air rifle or pistol must be charged only from an external, high-compression power source.

Hunter orange requirements apply for anyone utilizing a muzzleloader or firearm during the muzzleloader season. Hunter orange does not apply for individuals using a crossbow or archery equipment to take deer during the muzzleloader season.

By the first of the month, Michigan’s total deer hunting harvest for all seasons in the fall exceeded 223,000, with hunters harvesting 18,000 on opening day of firearm season.

Late antlerless firearm season will commence on Dec. 11 and continue until the first of January.  For other hunting seasons, see here