November 6, 2023

Does and Don’ts: Deer Season Updates in the Great Lakes States

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Article Contact: Bob Matthews,

Why it Matters: The 2023 legislative sessions have brought several key changes to deer seasons in the Great Lakes region this year. Knowing the changes that have taken place to your state’s hunting laws and regulations is imperative to a successful season.


  • Although deer season is only a brief time of the year, legislation and regulations that impact it – whether for better or for worse – are introduced and debated year-round.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been hard at work in the halls of government to protect the interests of the sportsmen and women so that they may enjoy another successful year afield.
  • Below are a few important updates that hunters in the Great Lakes States need to know as they prepare to fill their freezers.

For many sportsmen and women, early November means one thing: backstraps are back on the menu. However, since the final day of last year’s deer season, CSF has been hard at work to protect our time-honored outdoor traditions. Here are a few updates from the Great Lakes States:

  • Beginning this year, Illinois hunters may use centerfire, single-shot rifles to take White-tailed deer. In 2022, Illinois passed House Bill 4386, introduced by Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus member Representative Lance Yednock and co-sponsored by multiple Caucus members. Up until this deer season, hunters in the Prairie State could not deer hunt using rifles (except for muzzleloaders). The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has produced a resource page that describes the specifics of the new law.
  • In Minnesota, hunters may now use crossbows during archery season. Previously, hunters could only use crossbows to take deer (and spring turkey) outside of firearm season if they were 60 years or older and possessed a permit. Under the new law, which CSF worked to include in the State Legislature’s 2023 natural resources omnibus bill, hunters in possession of an archery deer license may now use a crossbow to take White-tailed deer.
  • Lead ammunition is no longer permitted on some state-lands in Minnesota. To conclude the 2023 legislative session in Minnesota, CSF successfully worked to exclude language from the legislature’s Natural Resources omnibus bill that would have prohibited the use of lead ammunition on the state’s fifty-six Scientific and Natural Areas. Shortly thereafter, in July, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued an emergency rulemaking order – without notice or allowing public comment – that facilitated the ban despite the legislature’s unwillingness to do so. CSF submitted a letter expressing opposition to the Minnesota DNR’s order and emphasized that it runs contrary to science-based wildlife management practices while having deleterious economic and hunting heritage impacts.
  • In Michigan, hunters may continue to share firearms afield. A sweeping firearm package was introduced that, as originally written, would have applied the state’s current pistol licensing system to all guns, meaning that a person could not possess any firearm for which they did not own a purchase license. This would have made it a crime to borrow or loan a gun to go hunting or recreationally shoot, which would have had significant negative impacts on sportsmen and women and their ability to share our time-honored traditions with newcomers and youth. CSF successfully convinced Michigan lawmakers that these impacts would be detrimental to the state’s hunters, recreational shooters, and conservation efforts.

As hunters in the Great Lakes States climb into their tree stands and blinds, it is important to know the applicable laws and regulations surrounding White-tailed deer hunting – and that CSF is working to protect the time-honored outdoor traditions that sportsmen and women have long pursued.

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