LANSING (Great Lakes News) – After a month and a half of using bows, Michigan hunters are preparing to bring out the big guns. November 15, marks the beginning of firearm deer season in Michigan. A time-honored tradition for many Michiganders, 2018 saw over 500,000 hunters take to the woods in search of their trophy.

Hunting is instrumental in Michigan’s economy. With so many hunters taking to the woods during hunting season, revenue gained through the sale of licenses provides critical support to wildlife conservation efforts. This does not include the amount that hunters spend on lodging, equipment, and firearms which goes directly to support Michigan business. A report by Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) found that Michigan is No. 1 among Great Lakes states for job creation from hunting. Hunting and fishing creates 171,000 jobs annually, with the largest amount being spent in Southeast Michigan. In total, the industry generates more than $11.2 billion annually.

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The DNR issued a digest of hunting regulations for the 2019 hunting season to assist hunters in following the law. A highlight in the 2019 digest details the deer baiting and feeding bans in the entire Lower Peninsula and the core chronic wasting disease surveillance are in the Upper Peninsula. The Michigan House recently passed legislation that would reverse this ban, but it will remain in effect until the bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law. The digest also details new antler point restrictions, with a detailed table showcasing restrictions depending on your county.

Hunters should understand safety essentials before venturing into the forest.

You’re not successful unless you’re safe,” said head of the DNR’s recreational safety programs Lt. Wanless. “We want everyone to return home to their families and friends. While many safety recommendations may seem like common sense reminders, they shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

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Some safety tips issued by the DNR include:

-Treating every firearm as if it is loaded.

-Being aware of your surroundings – know your target and what is beyond it.

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-Unloading the firearm when crossing obstacles and/or getting in or out of a tree stand.

-Obeying “no trespassing” signs – they are there for a reason.

-Obtaining the landowner’s permission to retrieve your game if it wandered onto private property.

-Wearing as much hunter orange as possible to increase your visibility.

The early cold spell offers additional challenges to hunters who should pay special attention this year to remaining warm.

For those hoping to introduce young people to the sport, youth licenses are available to kids 9 and younger. Those 10 and older who have not completed a hunter safety education course can purchase an apprentice hunting license. Minors with an apprentice hunting license must be accompanied by someone 21 years of age or older who is able to assist the apprentice when needed.

Visit Michigan.gov/HuntingSafety for more safety information and Michigan.gov/DeerCheck for deer check station locations throughout Michigan.