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Deer harvest reporting FAQs

Please see below for answers to the most commonly asked questions about the new mandatory harvest reporting for deer in Michigan. You can use the search bar to type in keywords to assist you in quickly finding the questions and answers that are most important to you.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Report through eLicense

    Visit Michigan.gov/DNRHarvestReport on a computer or mobile device to go directly to the reporting page. Enter your kill tag license number and date of birth to begin the report.

    If you don’t have your hunting license/kill tag number, you can log in to eLicense (using your driver’s license and birthdate, or user ID and password) then click on the Harvest Report tab to see the tags available to report. If you don’t already have an account, you will have the chance to create one to enter your report.

    Report using the new Hunt Fish App

    There is now a mobile app available in the app stores:

    Once the app is downloaded, and you’ve signed in or created an account, you can enter the harvest report information.

    Once your harvest report is completed, you will be given a confirmation number and the option to receive a copy by email.

  • 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. How to Properly Tag and Report Your Deer - YouTube

    How to properly tag and report your deer
  • Yes. Even if you process the deer yourself, it still needs to be properly tagged and reported via the harvest reporting system. 
  • Hunters will need to report their deer harvest within 72 hours of recovering their deer and prior to transferring possession of the animal to someone else, like a deer processor.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Hunters can report their deer online at Michigan.gov/DNRHarvestReport, or on our new mobile app, available in the Google Play store (for Android devices) and the Apple App Store.

  • 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. Successful deer hunters can call any of the locations listed for assistance with submitting their harvest report. Help is also available by calling 517-284-9453 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    You can also Email: dnr-wildlife@michigan.gov.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Locating a confirmation number through eLicense

    Hunters can login to eLicense on a computer or mobile device (using their driver’s license and birthdate, or user ID and password). Once logged in, select the Harvest Report tab near the top of the page. Next, select the completed reports tab. The confirmation number will be associated to the correct kill tag license number.

    Locating a confirmation number through the new Hunt Fish App

    There is now a mobile app available in the app stores:

    Once the app is downloaded, and you’ve signed in or created an account, select the licenses tile on the main page. Next, select the view button for the correct kill tag license number within current licenses. The confirmation number will be located on the chosen license page.

    If you need assistance with locating your confirmation number, please call the DNR Licensing and Customer Service at 517-284-6057, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The system will provide real-time summaries of the number and types of deer harvested by county and management units.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Hunters have up to three days to report their harvest. If they cannot report their harvest due to lack of internet service, they can call 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.

    The hunter can also call one of the DNR offices from this list of locations providing technical assistance to report their harvest over the phone.

    If the hunter is looking for local internet access, there are some resources that may be useful in finding the closest location to report a harvest.

  • A hunter does not have to be in immediate physical possession of the deer when they report their harvest, but it may be helpful to answer some of the questions, like how many antler points is on the left beam of the animal you harvested. Hunters will have to report their harvest before giving their deer to a processor or taxidermist.

  • Hunters who want a patch to commemorate the season will be able to purchase one online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses, or from the DNR mobile app starting on September 15, 2022, while supplies last. The cost is $8 and includes shipping. This is an option that has been requested over the years, particularly by hunters who had to travel longer distances to get to a check station. It is not possible to send hunters free patches for reporting their deer online as it could incentivize some to report a deer on an unused tag that was not actually harvested to get a free patch. This would skew the harvest data and negatively impacting management recommendations provided to the Natural Resources Commission.

  • 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 submission sites for bTB and CWD. 

  • Our new reporting system should make it easier for hunters to understand if they are in a location where the department is looking for volunteers to submit their deer for testing. If a hunter indicates they are in one of the disease surveillance zones, they will see a message on the harvest report confirmation page asking them to submit their deer head for testing, along with locations of where they can submit their deer head or sample for testing. You can also find a list of disease sample submission sites here.

    Check stations will be focused in places where we need to gather physical samples for disease testing. This allows us to maximize our use of staff resources for disease surveillance purposes. Harvested animal must be reported using harvest reporting system. Hunters will continue to have the opportunity to submit samples to MSU and WI labs directly for a fee.

  • Michigan has had a long history of estimating deer harvests through a post-season harvest survey, so we are actually one of the later states to adopt this technology. With declining response rates for our deer harvest surveys, it makes sense to switch to a new way to collect deer harvest data.

  • Providing the location of harvest on a map allows the DNR to improve deer management in two important ways. First, the DNR will finally have a way to look at deer harvest patterns in relation to habitat features on the landscape independent of county or deer management unit boundaries. Second, the location you provide will be precise enough to support important deer disease surveillance efforts.

  • 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.