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Recreational Licenses in Michigan

Michigan is a premier destination for hunters and anglers. With millions of acres of public lands, and numerous fishing opportunities, Michigan has something for everyone. Some of the country’s best turkey hunting takes place in Michigan, and the trout are abundant in the ice cold inland waterways. Michigan offers deer hunters many opportunities to take trophy deer and hunt for bear. For residents and visitors who wish to enjoy the abundant wildlife in Michigan, a license will be required. Depending on the type of game animal or fish, the license holder may have to purchase additional permits, tags, or stamps. Those who are 17 or older will be required to obtain a license. From the trails and inland forests, to the waters of the Great Lakes and inland streams, Michigan offers ample opportunity for all sportsmen and at all ability levels. The following offers basic information for those who are interested in learning more about fishing and hunting licenses in Michigan.

Michigan Fishing Licenses

Fishing licenses are valid a year, from March 1 to the 31of the following year. Licenses are issued as resident or nonresident licenses. The fishing license in Michigan is called the base license and is available as an annual license, temporary one or two-day license or a lifetime license. For anglers who wish to fish for muskellunge or sturgeon, special tags and permits are required, but there is no additional fee. The base license covers all species of fish. Seniors can purchase their fishing license at a discount. Free fishing days happen twice a year in June and February. During these times, no license is required. Michigan recently updated its licensing regulations and no longer requires a restricted license type.

Michigan Hunting Licenses

First time Michigan hunters must present proof of completion of an accredited hunter’s education course before a license will be issued. This is for hunters who were born on or after January 1960. Thereafter, the hunter will only be required to show the previous year’s hunting license in order to receive a renewal. The base hunting license must be purchased before the hunter will be allowed to purchase any other types of license or game specific permit. The base license allows the holder to hunt for small game such as quail, ruffled grouse, squirrel, rabbits, pheasants or waterfowl. There is also small game that have no bag limit which would include animals such as weasel, opossum or woodchucks. A base license is required of anyone 17 years of age or older, though an apprentice hunting license is available for hunters 10 years of age or older. These types of licenses can be held for a total of two years only while the hunter takes and completes his or her hunter’s safety class.

In order to hunt big game, such as deer, turkey, elk or bear, hunters are required to obtain a species-specific license. To be eligible to purchase such a license, the hunter must fill out an application which is entered into a draw. If a hunter’s application is selected, then he or she will be able to purchase a license for that particular species. If there are additional species-specific licenses left over after the draw, then they will be made available to the public.

Additional stamps or permits that may be required are those for hunting woodcock, sharp-tailed grouse or waterfowl. If a hunter plans to harvest furbearers, then a Fur Harvester License must be purchased. Hunters specifically hunting for otter, marten, fisher or bobcat have to request free kill tags. These are offered only during certain times of the year. All licenses are issued as resident or nonresident and can often be purchased as a combination license. For those who are interested in both hunting and fishing, there is a combination license that includes the base licenses and a deer permit. There is only one temporary hunting license in Michigan for nonresidents, which is a small game license that is valid for seven days.

Purchase Hunting and Fishing Licenses in Michigan

There are many ways to purchase a hunting or fishing license in Michigan. The easiest way is to do so through the Department of Natural Resources online platform. The base licenses can also be purchased from participating DNR vendors throughout the state. In order to purchase a license, the sportsman will need to have a valid form of government issued ID (such as a driver’s license), a State of Michigan ID Card and the DNR Sportcard. The Sportcard is issued through the DMR licensing platform and simply has a unique registration number that will be used to identify the year to year activity of a hunter or fisher. Harvest logs and records are issued at the time of purchase of the license and can also be printed out from the official DNR website. Revenue generated from the sale of licenses goes to management of the wildlife in the managed areas and to ensuring that the animal populations continue to offer hunters and fishers sporting opportunities for future generations.

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