IN MY OPINION: Keeping November 15 as the opening day of Michigan's firearm deer season will be, in large part, what ends up killing the sport while increasing insurance rates and lowering retail sales statewide as the deer population increases and sporting goods stores lose revenue.

Related: UPDATE Michigan Deer Season: Which County Has Tagged Most to Date?

The number of Michigan hunters has been steadily declining since the whitetail deer pinnacle was reached in 1998. Oh, and yes the opening day of firearm deer season WAS and has been the opening day in that year and nearly all previous years. So, what's changed? High school sports.

Why Michigan Youth Athletes Aren't Hunting: 'Do You Want to Start or Hunt?'


In 2023 and for the foreseeable future, the Michigan High School Athletic Association's (MHSAA) first day for winter sports practices like boys and girls basketball, bowling, cheer, gymnastics, ice hockey, skiing, wrestling, and even swimming in Michigan's Upper Peninsula fall before November 15. Therefore, when firearm deer season opens on a practice day, the only Michigan winter high school sports athletes that aren't in danger of missing practice are the boy's swimming team in the Lower Peninsula.

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Certainly, kids could take the day off of school and participate in the  November 15 tradition that has meant so much to the sports-aging population, but at what cost? Most school's attendance policies do not regard hunting as a valid reason to miss school, let alone keep your starting position should you miss practice as an athlete.


The average age of Michigan hunters, according to the DNR's 2022 report, was 45 years old. At that age, you can plan out your schedule and take time off as needed. A high school athlete or any high school student, should not have to take time from the classroom to be a part of Michigan's firearm deer season opener.

Related: Michigan 83 County Whitetail Deer Ranking: 2022 Bucks and Does

What's the solution? It's not a Liberty Hunt. Move the opener to the first, second, or third Saturday of November. Pick one. This allows not only more youth access to the sport but also allows younger members of Michigan's workforce who have yet to build up time off to reengage with the sport.

Or...we can keep the opening day on November 15 because "that's the way it's always been! Right, fellas?" (looks around for the fellas, who aren't there) "Fellas?". IN MY OPINION: "Tradition!" and those who swear by it, may be what ends up killing the sport.

UPDATE Michigan Deer Season: Which County Has Tagged Most to Date?

Using data available through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer harvest report, let's count down to the Michigan county that has tagged and reported the most deer to date in 2023.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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