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Dog tracking

A dog used for tracking runs through the snow. The dog is wearing a collar that is "hunter orange" and has snow on its nose.

Dog tracking

If you are a tracker using a dog to locate wounded game, you must obtain a permit. If you are a hunter working with a dog tracker, the dog tracker must obtain the permit.

Only the licensed hunter who wounded the game is allowed to dispatch (kill) and tag the wounded game.

  •  A licensed deer or elk hunter accompanying a dog tracker may not have a live round in the chamber, a cocked crossbow, or bow with nocked arrow, except at the time and point of kill.
  • A licensed bear hunter accompanying a dog tracker outside of legal hunting hours shall not have a loaded firearm, a cocked crossbow, or bow with nocked arrow except at the time and point of kill.

Refer to Wildlife Conservation Order 2.1a or the current hunting regulations for more information about dog tracking.

Registration and reporting

Follow the process below to receive your dog tracking permit and to report your tracks. Permits expire on Dec. 31 of the second year from the date it was issued. You are encouraged to reapply at least two weeks before your permit expires.

Fill out registration form

Complete the online dog tracking registration form.

Your permit application will only be considered if you are 18 years of age or older and you have provided all required documentation.

Receive permit via email

If approved, you should receive your tracking permit within five (5) business days. Your permit will come to the email address you provide on your application.

You must have your permit BEFORE you track game with your dog. It is recommended to complete the application two weeks prior to your desired hunting date to ensure you have your permit in time.

Report your track

You must use the tracking registration form to log the start and end of each dog track. 

  • Start track by logging the tracker's name, address, telephone number and accompanying hunter’s license information prior to initiating each track. 
  • End track within 12 hours of a mortally wounded animal being dispatched or ending each tracking activity.

Questions and answers

  • The DNR requires the person to register themselves as a tracker, not the dog.

  • A dog being used for hunting, in field trials, while being trained for hunting or field trials, or for other purposes as allowed by the department on land under the control of the department and open to such use does not need to be leashed.

    The tracker must have knowledge of the dog's location and be able to demonstrate a method to control the unleashed dog, which may include voice command. 

  • The registered dog tracker must be accompanied by the licensed hunter who wounded the game. The hunter who wounded the game must be the person to dispatch (kill) and tag the game once it is located.

  • All blood tracks need to be reported, for others as well as personal tracks.

  • Anyone using a dog to track wounded game must have a valid dog tracking permit regardless of whether or not they have a firearm.

  • Any person or dog involved with tracking wounded game must have landowner permission to track on private property.
  • Anyone using a dog to track wounded game in Michigan must register through the Michigan DNR and log their start and end track.