Michigan deer hunters now have to report their harvest online: Here are answers to common questions

‘Do I still have to report my deer if I process it myself?’

Deer hunters in Michigan are now required to report a successful harvest within 72 hours or before transferring possession of the deer.

The system is new and is being implemented this year. There are many questions about the new system and the DNR posted some answers online, we’re sharing some of those questions and answers below.

Hunters will still have to attach a paper kill tag to a harvested deer. The kill tag should remain with the head if the head and body are separated. Anyone in possession of a deer after the harvest reporting timeframe expires should be able to present the confirmation number.

More: Here’s how to report your harvest

Frequently asked questions about reporting deer and the answers

Below are frequently asked questions and the answers as the DNR listed them on its website. You can click here to search for questions or read more.

What is mandatory harvest reporting and when does it take effect?

“Online harvest reporting is a new requirement of every successful deer hunter to report their deer harvest through our website or mobile app beginning in 2022. The system will allow us a near real-time estimate of deer harvest as it occurs, something Michigan has never experienced before.”

Why is the Michigan DNR adopting mandatory harvest reporting for deer?

“Since the 1950s, we have used mail surveys that were sent to randomly selected hunters to estimate harvest. Estimates were accurate if the hunters responding to surveys were representative of all hunters. This assumption generally is easier to make when most hunters in the sample respond to the survey. Unfortunately, the proportion of hunters returning mail surveys has declined from an average of more than 70% in the early 2000s to 33% in 2021. Low response rates can lead to inaccurate estimates. Because declining response rates are not likely to reverse, another approach to estimating harvest was needed.”

Who is required to report their deer harvest?

“All successful deer hunters with a state issued deer license, including those with Deer Management Assistance Permits, will be required to report their deer harvest beginning in 2022.”

Do I still need to tag my deer?

“You must continue to attach a DNR-issued kill tag to a harvested deer. The kill tag should remain with the head if the head and body of the deer are separated. Anyone in possession of a deer after the harvest reporting timeframe expires should be able to present the confirmation number.”

Do I still have to report my deer if I process it myself?

“Yes. Even if you process the deer yourself, it still needs to be properly tagged and reported via the harvest reporting system.”

How long do hunters have to report their harvest?

“Hunters will need to report their deer harvest within 72 hours of recovering their deer or prior to transferring possession of the animal to someone else, like a deer processor.”

Why doesn’t the DNR allow more time to report?

“Currently, over two thirds of states in the US have mandatory reporting requirements for deer hunters. Among the 15 states that had high harvest reporting compliance, 12 states required harvest reporting within 24 hours. Among, the three states with poor compliance, one required a harvest report within 2 days, one required the report within 7 days, and one required it within 10 days. Ultimately, 72 hours was chosen in an attempt to strike a balance between maintaining higher compliance, while still giving hunters ample time to report.”

Is there a penalty for not reporting your deer harvest?

“Harvest reporting falls under the following portion in the Wildlife Conservation Order: 3.103 Issuance of deer or elk kill tags; validation of deer or elk kill tag; unlawful acts. The potential penalty for failure to comply with harvest reporting is a 90-day misdemeanor. The fines and costs for such a violation can range from $50-$500. While the regulation is written in our Wildlife Conservation Order, which is where all of our deer regulations reside and allows conservation officers to enforce violations, this first year we will emphasize an educational approach to hunters rather than enforcement in most circumstances.”

What if I need help reporting my harvest?

“The reporting system allows for a family member, friend or hunting buddy to easily report a harvest for you. The DNR will also provide assistance for those experiencing technical difficulties at a variety of locations around the state, or by calling 517-284-9453 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. You can also Email: dnr-wildlife@michigan.gov.”

What if I make a mistake on my harvest report?

“Call the DNR licensing and customer service center at 517-284-6057 during normal business hours. Normal business hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.”

What information is collected on the harvest report?

“All successful hunters will be asked to report the unique kill tag license number that was attached to the deer, the hunter’s date of birth, the exact harvest location, the type of deer harvested (fawn/antlered/adult doe), number of antler points (if a buck), and date of kill. In addition, some hunters will be asked an additional management-related question such as what type of hunting device was used to take their deer. Most hunters should be able to complete the process in about three minutes.”

What documentation is required when transferring possession of a harvested deer?

“The successful hunter is required to report their harvest before transferring possession of their animal (e.g., before taking it to a processor or giving the animal to a friend or taxidermist). When transferring the possession of a harvested deer, the hunter should provide the harvest confirmation to the person accepting the animal. The person that accepts the animal should record the confirmation number. This confirmation number is proof that the hunter has legally reported their harvest.”

Will the public be able to see the location where a hunter harvested their deer?

“Please provide a complete and accurate report of your harvest. Data that identifies you or the specific location of your harvest will not be disclosed except where specifically required by law. The DNR will utilize harvest data to better understand deer populations and hunter activities for management purposes.”

How will the accuracy of the data collected be verified?

“The DNR can verify the data reported by hunters for animals that are submitted for disease testing. In addition, the DNR can verify the data reported by hunters when they observe deer at meat processors or taxidermists.”

How will hunters show proof of reporting their harvest?

“After a hunter has successfully reported their harvested animal, the hunter will be issued a harvest confirmation number. This confirmation number will serve as proof that the hunter has legally reported their harvest.”

How will a conservation officer know if a deer has been reported or if a confirmation number is real?

“By linking every harvested deer to a unique kill tag license number, the department can track all harvested deer reported by a hunter and investigate potential problems. Conservation officers can verify the confirmation number through their laptop computer or mobile device app.”

What if a hunter does not have cell service?

“Hunters have up to three days to report their harvest. If they cannot report their harvest due to lack of cell service, they can seek assistance from a family member or friend and provide them with their kill tag license number, date of birth and harvest location, to report on their behalf.”

Will there still be deer check stations?

“Check stations have long since provided sites to understand the age of deer being harvested, as well as sites for collecting disease samples for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and chronic wasting disease (CWD). However, they’ve never been integral for estimating season-long deer harvest. While check stations won’t go away completely, there will be fewer of them. These locations will primarily serve as disease sample collection sites for bTB and CWD. "

Is the DNR getting rid of its traditional deer harvest survey?

“The DNR will continue to do its traditional post-season deer harvest survey for a few years so we can compare harvest estimates from both the old and new systems, but eventually the traditional mail survey will be reduced in scale and frequency.”

Read: More Michigan hunting coverage

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.