Hundreds of thousands of hunters across Michigan are set to head outdoors as Michigan's regular firearm deer hunting season opens November 15.

Changes that took effect in 2011 allow hunters as young as 10 to hunt deer with a firearm.  Ages 9 and under may hunt under the Mentored Youth Hunting Program.

At what age should kids be allowed to hunt deer with a firearm in Michigan?

Keeping all the laws straight can be difficult, especially considering the recent changes.

A Michigan DNR press release from 2011 summarizes some changes to youth hunting laws in Michigan:

A change in state law that took effect Sept. 1 makes it legal for 10- and 11-year olds to hunt deer, bear or elk with firearms in Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources announced.

The regulations change was part of the Hunter Heritage Act, which creates a new mentored hunting program and eliminates the minimum age requirements for hunting in 2012.

This year, hunters less than 14 years of age may hunt on private land with either a firearm deer license or junior combination deer license - if they have successfully completed hunter education training - or an apprentice hunting license. In either case, the youngster must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or other adult designated by the parent or guardian.

Hunters less than 14 years of age may hunt with firearms on private land only. A youngster hunting deer must be in possession of either a firearms deer license or an antlerless deer license. A youth hunter ages 10 and 11 may use a combination deer license. If the youth has been hunter-safety certified, the accompanying adult must be at least 18 years of age. If the youngster is hunting with an apprentice license, the accompanying adult must be at least 21 years of age.

Beginning in 2012, the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, currently under development by a workgroup convened by the Natural Resources Commission will provide additional hunting opportunities for youngsters less than 10 years of age.

The new laws create more opportunities for young hunters.  Increased opportunity is good, but increased opportunity needs to be matched by increased responsibility from adults.

Some young hunters will be ready.  Some won't be ready.  Adults need to be prepared to provide assistance and support to ensure that all enjoy a fun and safe hunting season.

Here's a Youth Hunt FAQ from

Can a youth hunt on a non-family member's property or public land?

YES. A person under 17 may hunt on land where the parent/guardian does not live ONLY if accompanied by the parent/guardian or another person who is at least 18 years old and authorized by the parent/guardian.

Can 12 and 13 year olds hunt on public land?

YES. However, 12 and 13 year olds hunting deer, bear, or elk with a firearm may NOT hunt on public land. They can firearm hunt for bear, deer, or elk on private land only. However, they can archery hunt or firearm hunt for other game on public land.

If 12 and 13 year olds are restricted to private land when using a firearm, can they still hunt on public land with archery equipment?

YES. They can hunt on public land with archery equipment. They are restricted to private land only when firearm hunting for bear, deer, or elk. Commercial Forest Land is private land. They can use a firearm on public land to hunt game other than bear, deer, or elk.

How can my 10 or 11 year old hunt the youth firearm season if they can not purchase a firearm deer license and are limited to archery equipment?

Youths 10 and 11 year old will need to purchase and carry either an antlerless license or a combination license to participate. The youth will have to wear hunter orange.

Will my 9 year old be able to buy a junior antlerless license?

YES. During the application period of July 15 through August 15, youths 9 years old that will be 10 years of age by September 27 of the current year, may purchase one junior antlerless license.