Michigan Hunting Season and Covid-19
Will the Michigan Hunting Season look much different because of Covid-19 and social distancing?
According to Michigan.gov and posted on June 2, 2020:
“Yes, licensed individuals may still hunt while following social distancing guidelines remaining at least 6 feet from people outside an individual’s household.”
Hunting can be a solitary sport with where hunters go into the woods alone and, for the most part, do not see other hunters throughout the day. However, you will come in contact with people at shooting ranges, deer camp, deer check stations, and processing centers.
Here are some things to keep in mind in order to stay safe and have a successful hunting season.
Changes to deer check stations this fall due to COVID-19
The Michigan DNR advises deer hunters to be prepared for big changes to DNR deer check stations this fall. According to an article releases on September 22, 2020, Staffing and financial shortages, due to both funding associated with long-term declines in the hunter base and the COVID-19 pandemic, will result in reductions in check station and drop-box locations, dates and hours operated, and the number of deer heads that will be accepted for chronic wasting disease testing (CWD).
Deer check station locations will be reduced this fall. Check station days and hours of operation also will be reduced across much of the state. Many check stations will be open only during parts of the firearm deer season in November. Wait times may be longer than usual, especially during the firearm deer season, due to staffing reductions. It’s important to note, too, that any changes in the state’s COVID-19 situation could result in changes to planned locations and hours of operation.
Information about the new check station procedures can be found in the 2020 Hunting Digest or at Michigan.gov/CWD. Hours and locations of deer check stations will be updated this week and will be available at Michigan.gov/DeerCheck.
COVID-19 Safety Policies for DNR Shooting Ranges
The following information is from the Michigan DNR Website:
- While at DNR shooting ranges, all customers and employees are asked to maintain a social distance of 6 feet between them and anyone that is not an immediate member of their family. Please note that this includes the parking lot and the ranges.
- The rifle and pistol range will be limited to 50% capacity. Range personnel will require an unoccupied bench between each occupied bench.
- The ranges will be marked so customers can clearly identify proper distances.
- Hand sanitizer will be available for customer and employee use on the rifle, pistol, and shotgun trap ranges.
- The sanitizing solution will be made available to customers for use on shooting stations, chairs, brooms, and other touchpoints.
- Customers and employees are asked to wear a face-covering while inside a building.
- Sandbags, spotting scopes, carpet squares, eye, and ear protection will no longer be provided due to the difficulty in keeping those items sanitized. These items will be up to the shooter to provide for themselves.
- Trap machines will be available on Sundays in the months of July and August. Staff will continue to load and do all work to the trap machines.
- Shooters are encouraged to bring their own gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and whatever else they deem necessary to protect themselves.
- Shooters are reminded that they are participating in an outdoor activity and they participate at their own risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deer Camp and Covid-19
Many long-standing hunting traditions will look different this year with proper social distancing precautions. What it really comes down to is what you and your fellow hunting companions are comfortable with. Family members who live in the same household can travel together, so that is not a problem. But what about all your buddies who converge on deer camp every year? Here are some things to think about:
- Everybody should get tested for Covid-19 and have negative results before attending deer camp.
- Stay outside as much as possible, handing around a campfire, etc.
- Use tents if possible and keep everyone separated as much as possible.
Have a safe and successful hunting season, Michigan!
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