Oakland Press: New technology may make this the most successful hunting season ever

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By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Hunting is a time-honored tradition for hundreds of thousands of Michigan families. Sportsmen and women all over the state enjoy our bountiful natural resources and rich hunting tradition.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), more than 600,000 hunters harvested about 335,000 deer last year and contributed more than $2 billion to Michigan’s economy. In fact, Michigan’s hunting participation rate — the percentage of residents who have a hunting license — ranks third in the nation.

With the start of deer firearm season, I thought it would be helpful to pass along some hunting information and urge all outdoor enthusiasts to hunt safely.

The regular firearm season runs from Nov. 15-30. It is the most popular deer hunting season, but it is not the only one. The first part of archery deer season ran from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14, and the season will resume from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1; disabled veterans and hunters with disabilities hunted Oct. 13-16; muzzle loading deer season runs Dec. 2-18 in southern Michigan; and late antlerless deer firearm season runs from Dec. 19 to Jan. 1.

This information and more is included in the 2016 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest, a summary of information regarding Michigan hunting and trapping rules and regulations. The booklet is available on my website at www.SenatorMikeKowall.com/publications.

Hunting guides, including all current Michigan rules and regulations, can be found at www.michigan.gov/hunting. On the site, you can also learn about all other hunting seasons and how to get a license.

A DNR online mapping tool makes it easier than ever to plan your next hunting trip. The interactive Mi-HUNT application (not a downloadable app) is easily accessible through the web browser on smartphones, tablets or computers.

The tool enables visitors to create and print customized routes and locate seven million acres of state and federal public lands open to hunting and printable hunting maps highlighting the vegetation of most interest to hunters.

The program also features information on topography and vegetation as well as nearby recreational facilities. To check it out, go to www.mi.gov/mihunt.

Residents can buy hunting licenses from a local licensing agent or online 24 hours a day at www.mdnr-elicense.com. If you want to buy your licenses locally, click on “License Agent Locations” to find licensing agents in each county.

Legislation recently passed by the Senate could enhance our hunting traditions with a new use of technology.

I voted yes on Senate Bills 1073-1075, which would require the DNR to develop and offer smartphone applications that show an electronic copy of base hunting, waterfowl and all-species fishing licenses for customers by March 1, 2018. Another provision would require that the app include other services such as information on points of public access, descriptions of game species, boundary maps and more.

With the app in hand, hunters and anglers wouldn’t have to worry about lost licenses and would enjoy increased convenience and quick access to helpful outdoor information. The bills have been referred to the House Committee on Tourism and Outdoor Recreation.

I wish everyone a happy, safe and successful hunting season.

This column first appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.