Turkey season presents some legal challenges for hunters

Turkey season presents some legal challenges for hunters

If you’re a hunter living Michigan, you’re in luck to be near to one of the most robust wild turkey populations in the country. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has worked in conjunction with other agencies to improve turkey habitat and conduct wild trapped bird releases. These efforts have led to historic highs in the state turkey populations. Though turkey season has already begun, you still have until the end of May to renew your hunting and spring turkey licenses and get yourself a wild turkey.

  - Law Office of John Freeman

Familiarizing yourself with the rules and regulations

There are many standard hunting regulations in Michigan focused on maintaining hunter safety, protecting private property rights and supporting healthy animal populations. Here are some of the regulations that every hunter has to consider before getting out onto public land includes:

  • Intoxication: State law in Michigan includes severe penalties for hunters who are intoxicated and hunting. A conviction could lead to a hunting license suspension for up to 3 years.
  • Transportation: Michigan law states that hunters must transport rifles and shotguns completely unloaded and locked in a case or in an inaccessible part of the car (like an enclosed trunk).
  • Firearm category: Turkey hunters are permitted to use bow, crossbow, firearms that fire a ‘fixed shotgun shell,’ as wells as muzzleloading shotguns. Pneumatic guns require ammunition with no. 4 shot or smaller. The carry or use of any other firearm is illegal during this season unless the person has a concealed pistol license.
  • Baiting and decoys: Baiting through food caches/lures and is considered unlawful. Additionally, decoys (mechanical, electronic, or live) are prohibited unless that decoy is of a windsock or similar design that is attached to a fixed point on the ground.
  • Kill validation: A hunter must validate a kill by providing the appropriate information notches as described on the license.

Protecting hunters’ rights

The consequences of a hunting violation can include harsh civil penalties, revocation of hunting licenses and potential jail time. More than that, your firearm or bow may be subject to forfeiture. If you’ve been charged with a hunting or firearms violation, you need to contact a lawyer with experience protecting hunters’ rights.