As the Leaves Change, So Too Do Hunting Laws: What Midwesterners Need to Know This Deer Season

Contact: Robert Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States & Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • Midwestern states have seen their share of changes to hunting laws and regulations as the 2022 deer season approaches.
  • Among others, changes include license fee increases in Indiana, mandatory electronic reporting for successful deer harvests in Michigan, and the allowance of arrow-shooting airguns during firearm deer hunting seasons in Oklahoma.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) works to ensure that any changes to state hunting laws and regulations are scientifically based and advance the interests of America’s sportsmen and women.

Why It Matters: Being aware of changes to state laws and regulations is the first step in any successful hunting season. Before the buck-of-a-lifetime walks into your crosshairs this year, make sure that you are up to speed on any changes that may or may not be taking effect this hunting season.

As autumn creeps closer throughout the Midwest, the leaves are beginning to change. To many sportsmen and women, this change in color signals one thing: Deer season is nearly upon us. However, in some states, leaves are not the only thing that has changed. Knowing the changes in hunting laws and regulations – and when they take effect – is a must for every hunter. Here are a few changes that Midwestern hunters ought to be aware of heading into this deer season:

  • Beginning in the 2022 season, Michigan now requires mandatory electronic reporting for all successful deer harvests. Hunters must report their successful harvest within 72 hours online or through the state’s Department of Natural Resource (DNR) app. The Michigan DNR has a Frequently Asked Questions page on the mandatory reporting requirements that can be accessed here.
  • Although earlier this year Illinois passed a law allowing the use of single-shot, centerfire rifles to hunt deer, the change does not take effect until January 1st, 2023. This means that in 2022, no rifles, except for muzzleloaders, may be used to take a deer in Illinois. The Illinois DNR also has a Frequently Asked Questions page on the matter, that can be accessed here.
  • In Indiana, hunters this year will see an increase in the price of deer tags. The new fee pricing, which the Indiana DNR has posted here, accompanies fee increases for fishing licenses, waterfowl stamps, and trapping licenses. This change, which CSF supported, will increase revenue through the American System of Conservation Funding and allow the Indiana DNR to better manage the state’s wildlife.
  • Beginning this year, Oklahoma’s deer hunters will have the opportunity to employ the use of arrow-shooting airguns (also referred to as airbows or arrow rifles) during the state’s firearm deer hunting seasons. Hunters using an arrow-shooting airgun will first need to purchase a $20 arrow rifle permit from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Arrow-shooting airguns are legal thanks to the efforts of the Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and Caucus Co-Chair Senator Mark Allen who led the effort to pass SB 1571 during the 2022 legislative session.
  • Finally, all hunters need to remain aware of their state regulations regarding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). To help prevent the spread of this devastating disease, most states have implemented restrictions on the transportation of hunter harvested deer. To do their part, hunters are encouraged to check with their state fish and wildlife agency to remain informed about CWD and steps we can all take to limit its spread.

Although the leaves and the laws may change, the passion that hunters have for our time-honored traditions remains constant. Knowing the do’s-and-don’ts is the first step to a successful season, so check out your state’s wildlife management website to brush up on any laws and regulations that you may be unaware of, and rest assured that the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping so that when laws change, they change for the better.

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