Another regular firearms season has closed and an irregular firearms deer season begins next week. Certainly, there is no season dubbed “irregular,” but the moniker seems fitting given the new rules. Since last year, hunters can use any state-legal firearm during the muzzleloader season, if they’re hunting in a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone. For the rest of the state, traditional muzzleloading rules apply, so make sure to be aware of the distinctions.

This year, the deer herd gets a chance to return to their normal activities with only archery deer hunters afield until December 6th. For the record here are the season dates remaining:

Muzzleloading:

Zone 1: Dec. 6-15, 2019

Zone 2: Dec. 6-15, 2019

Zone 3: Dec. 6-22, 2019

Late Antlerless Firearm:

 Dec. 23, 2019 - Jan.1, 2020.

As the regular firearms season draws to a close, a new one begins effectively for thousands of hunters in the vicinity of where CWD has been detected. Even though not one single deer has tested positive in any of the adjacent counties of CWD core zones, hunters have unique (or irregular) opportunities to bag deer with modern centerfire rifles or muzzleloaders, if preferred.

While we’ve heard bellyaching from politicians and other loud mouths about the “drastic” effect Michigan’s baiting ban may have on hunter participation, this rule change opens doors. Unless one is a traditionalist or only has some type of muzzleloading firearm, chances are that the ol’ smokepole will remain in the safe, where it will be free to corrode away in these CWD zones.

To me, it’s good riddance of a tool that’s simply problematic; heck, that’s why metallic cartridges were invented. While I have no issues with single-shot firearms and their ability to get game, I won’t miss messing with the grimy powder, ramrod, and primers. It’s been no more than a means to an end for me and I’m glad it’s the end.

Even though our deer herd is now down a couple hundred thousand head from two weeks of high-pressure hunting, big bucks remain. They’ve dodged bullets and hidden in cover not fit for human travel; some have gone nocturnal. Plus, coupled with the fact that most hunters have finished their efforts for the season, hunter competition will also be widely diminished.

Colder weather will drive whitetails to feed in the light of the day, although it may be low light or prime-time, if you will. And, snow cover will likely aid the patient hunters who’ve endured the chaos of the past weeks.

So, fill those propane tanks and support the roofs of those portable blinds, because it’s time to get ready for deer hunting at its best. Just insure that you have the means to keep any deer from freezing before it’s processed or you’ll learn why some folks don’t like the taste of venison.

Now, bring on the snow.

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