News & Blogs

License Fee Proposal: It’s Time To Talk

February 8th, 2013 by thansen.

As soon as the Governor’s budget was released, all manner of chaos began to ensue. Why? Because a few media outlets reported that “deer hunting license fees would double.”

I won’t call it sensational journalism. But it does make for a snappy headline. It’s also not the entire story.

Deer license fees would, in fact, double under the proposal. But that’s not all the proposal would do. It would also reduce the price of a small game license, reduce the price of an all-species fishing license and it might also create a license system that’s a bit easier to understand.

What the Governor is proposing is an entirely revamped license system that would feature a base hunting license good for small game and waterfowl. That license would cost $10. Which, of course, is a $5 savings over the current cost of a small game license.

Then to hunt deer, turkeys, bears, etc. you’d buy a “tag” for the base license. So the base license costs $10, a deer tag $20. Total cost: $30. So, yes, that’s twice what a current deer license costs.

As a deer hunter, I can’t say that I’m all warm and fuzzy over the thought of paying more for a deer license. At the same time, I don’t mind the fact that my fishing license fee would be reduced as well as the cost of a small game license.

That said, I certainly understand why people are a bit annoyed with the prospects of a fee increase. And there’s no question that part of the reasoning behind the new license fee structure is to raise additional revenue for the DNR.

We haven’t had a fee increase since 1996 and I’m pretty sure the costs of doing business for everyone have risen pretty dramatically since then. So, on the surface, I can understand the need for raising prices.

But this is the DNR we’re talking about. And the last time we had this discussion, things weren’t quite what they seemed. Does that mean we should vehemently oppose this move? Does it mean we should hold a grudge?

I don’t think so. I think what it means is that we need to enter into this process with our eyes wide open. And that’s precisely what MUCC is doing. MUCC has not endorsed anything at this point except for one simple fact: MUCC will insist that our members (and the hunting, fishing and trapping public) be shown where our current fees are spent and exactly where any additional revenues will be administered.

None of us should fundamentally oppose the plan right out of the gate. Nor should we blindly support it. We need to learn from mistakes of the past and learn that it is we, the outdoors community, that will ultimately decide whether we are willing to support the DNR and conservation. We have a choice: Do we buy licenses or not?

Most hunters, anglers and trappers believe in supporting conservation and science-based wildlife management. Show us that our license fees will be spent correctly and in areas that matter to us and we will listen to the options. Shut us out of those discussions, hide behind a pile of jargon and double-talk and we will not support the plan. It’s really that simple.

Hunters, anglers and trappers are willing to listen. But we are not willing to simply be talked at.

In the coming days, MUCC will outline the new license proposal and raise the type of questions that we should raise. They are the very same questions you’re likely asking yourselves.

Will we really see more Conservation Officers on the ground?

Will additional funding be spent on actual wildlife management or will it just be spent on more bureaucracy?

Will additional funding be spent to address the shortcomings we’ve all been told are the result of not having enough money?

Those questions will be answered openly and honestly. And we will share those answers with you.

Because, without them, no one can justify any type of change in the license structure or a fee increase.

  • Sandy Seppi

    People wonder why we have such a mess on our hands in this state. If all the hunting orginztions were on the same page and get to the bottom of the true issue, we would all better off.. We are being led down the road by a bunch of bearucats that what something other than what we the sportman want. Our resources are being so miss managed and they want us to give them more money to do their aganda and not ours. As for the audit “Sir” you’d better do your homework, it was never done. As for the CO’s that money was approitated but was never used for what it was intended a that was departments leadership choice. I am one of the people that will be not buying licences anymore, after 53 years of faithfully buying hunt, fishing, trapping licences because the complete miss mangagement of our resurces, it is not getting any better, infact it is getting worse. This our land and this is our game and fish, when are people going to rise up and say enough is enough. Till you do that all you are going to get is that warm and fuzzy feeling by being going to the meeting that DNR has and asked you to attend and set on, and what really gets done? Not a thing really, they ask for your input and they are just stroking your ego and that is about it. Not much gets accomplished after years of attending other than indoctornation they are hoping you will come on board and fall instep with their line of thing, they don’t want independent thinkers as you are a hinderance to their agenda. Oh by the way people do you think “United Nation Agenda 21″ has anything to do with the way the department is headed……Norm

  • lifelong hunter

    why should deer hunters pay more than fisherman another botched plan by a man i will not vote for again

    • pikemaster1

      what’s the difference in a couple pounds of fish meat and a couple hundred LBS. deer in meat ?? huh might work out pretty close ? Most deer hunters pay more for their beer and cigars at deer camp than for the license and never think twice about it ?

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  • Gary

    A license fee increase is likely overdue but I agree that the resulting funds need to be earmarked appropriately and there needs to be transparency so that the money can be followed by the public. I would have had a Michigan Outdoorsman tag for $10.00 then a tag for each individual license so no one feels like they have to pay more for their individual license, a fish tag would cost $10.00 plus the tag, etc. Canada does this with their outdoor card (or whatever it’s called). It would end up close to the same income wise but may be a bit easier to understand and thus pay for.

  • Terry

    I have no problem with this as long as the money is used properly and things are done as you have outlined above. I do believe that out of state hunters and fishermen should be charged at least 600.00 or more for the right to hunt and fish in this state. When I hunt in the west most of my licenses cost me hundreds of dollars. We should be taking a cue from other states on this issue.

    • Jing’s

      What you didn’t say is that you bought a out-of-state license to hunt in those other states. Ya, Michigan has that too, and their prices are generally in line for out-of-staters too.

  • Mullamaki

    I have only one problem that ids the utter mismanagement of the DNR For too long they have been issuing doe tags and have just about wiped out the deer in this state the reason they want to increasethe cost is to cver there losses as many hunter are just sitting this out why spend any amount on deer liecence if you go out for a week and harldy ever see a deer let alone three points on one side

  • bob

    I can understand the increase, and would accept it, IF it were equitable amongst all hunting/fishing licenses.

    (fishermen do not pay the $10 base…. why not?)

    I would accept the $10 base for ALL outdoor activity tags as long as the ‘new’ monies were appropriated correctly throughout the DNR.

    The way this is set up is hodge-podge, stupid bureaucratic idea created by non-outdoorsmen….. AGAIN.

    Lets wake up people and force the bureaucrats to listen to US for a change!

  • bob

    sorry another thought… how would thay work out with current ‘combo’ license…. $60. ???? absurd!

    • pikemaster1

      So from Oct 1st til Jan.1st that’s about .60 a day to hunt and take 2 deer , sounds like a pretty cheap sport to me?

  • Lynn Garvie

    I agree that a license increases is needed but the way it is proposed the people that only hunt deer will be the only ones to shoulder the most increase. I have not bought a fishing ot small game license in years. Lets make the increase even for ALL licenses.

  • Phil

    You say cost of deer license is $30 purposes a increase being double i see a combo going to $60 then add a doe permit .Then you spent close to a $100.00 What happens when your 17 – 18 year still in school wants to hunt where will. Dad find the money? The governor has his head up his behind.

    • pikemaster1

      what’s a weekend at cedar point cost ??? a lot more than a yr. of hunting with your family ? can’t believe what people will complain about for a few extra dollars when they go out for a dinner on the town and a movie or show with the wife and spend $75.00-$100.00 for a couple hours of fun .

  • Rick

    Will there even be a “combo” license under this proposal ?

  • PALarson

    As a land owner and non-resident I pay large taxes, I deserve a break in hunting licenses.

    • pikemaster1

      It sounds as if you can afford the riches of owning lands in another state to hunt,than you of all people shouldn’t be complaining ?How much is an out of state lic. in your state ?? probably more than ours?

  • deerhunter

    I do not hunt small game or fish, so have no need for a small game of fishing license, but do deer and turkey hunt. I usually get a combo and several anterless licenses. Last year I filled only one anterless license. Also last year two of my grandchildern started deer and turkey hunting but they do not fish or hunt small game. It is the same for my son. I guess as much as I would like to see my grandchildren be hunters, ( side note: all the clothes, guns, ammo that go with that) it will be to costly for them (their Dad) too do so. If you want to increase the number of young hunters, their needs to be some consideration for the cost of their licenses. I’m 77 and have deer hunted all my life and would very much like to see my grandchildern be able to do so also.

    • Not a Cheep skate

      Then maybe you can help them with license fees (if you really want to help them get into the outdoors) Don’t get me wrong, but you had 77 years of pretty good hunting and fishing, and if you do just a little math, you will see that the price of hunting and fishing license’s has not kept up with inflation (I may go as far as saying that it’s STILL the best deal in town EVEN after the price hike) I’ve been reading all of the comments on this board and would like to paraphrase a few that really stick out. <> or this one <> I love this one <>
      Now we’ve ALL done this stuff (some of us more than others), but seriously buddy, it’s not that big of a deal. Just packing a lunch once a week would more than pay for all of your family’s hunting license’s (back in my youth I packed a lunch every day for a year and was able to pay for a caribou hunt so don’t tell me it can’t be done)

  • Fran Dumaw

    I have hunted deer, small game and waterfowl, turkey’s when I could get a permit and I’ve fished for all species of fish since I reached the state required age minimum. I usually buy several antlerless permits every season, but because I usually save them for muzzle loading season the weather normally keeps me from filling them. There were a lot of sportsmen my age who used to hunt and fish the same way I do. But, because we are on a fixed income every time a license increase comes along we lose some of these sportsmen because they can’t afford this increase along with the increase in the cost of shells(I shoot a .300 savage, ten years age I paid $8.50 a box. Now they’re over $30.00 dollars a box.), hunting clothes, boots, gas, lodging, and general cost of miscellaneous equipment. This appears to me to be another form of eventual gun elimination from a segment of our society. The senior hunters are losing access to state and federal land because the Feds and the DNR are blocking access roads on the state and federal lands for the hikers and the blue butterfly. In western Michigan we have lost hundreds of acres to just these two subjects, this doesn’t include the blockage of two tracks. The blue butterfly never existed in the western part of the state, but the Feds are creating a prairie environment out of our hardwood and pine forest. I honestly believe that this all is a long range scheme to rid this state of part of it’s most enamored heritages. Hunting and fishing. The vegan anti’s could not have come up with a more affective plan.

  • Concerned

    I for one am opposed to any increase in license fees. I worked for a hardware store that dealt with the DNR .and on numerous occasions their employees would come in and say we have several hundred dollars to spend that is left in our budget or we will lose it. This to me is just waste. Don’t try to save the tax payers any money, just spend it. Lets cut some waste and we won’t need a increase. How about employees doing personal business or just visiting friends when they are supposed to be working. I have seen a DNR truck at a friends house for hours at a time when they were supposed to be working.

  • Dennis

    Why can’t they come up with a way to make money that in not charging me more. The cost of living in Michigan is going way up. Thanks Snider for making our last governor not looks so bad. I guess this was the blow away part she was talking about.

    • pikemaster1

      Her blow away was the Canadian trash that she brought into my state and the raiding of our wildlife funds for her personal uses.She wouldn’t know a wolf from a beagle if it came up a bit her. That was and still is one stupid communist women if I have ever saw one. She did more damage to MI. in her terms than any other Gov. in the history of MI.

    • no free lunch

      So what do you suggest? There’s no free lunch Dennis. The moneys got to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from the people that use the resources.There is one sure fire way you can avoid paying the higher rates. Don’t hunt or fish. It never ceases to amaze me that a guy will spend $6-7 on a pack of smokes (maybe two or three packs a day) and cry about a license increase

  • Cotz

    I’m all for an increase in license fees under the following guide lines:
    1) Poaching penalties/fines are increased by at least three or four fold. Sentencing guide lines for incarceration are doubled and mandatory.
    2) The $10 base fee is for just a base for an “Outdoor Sports” license across the board, then there are tags for fish general, trout/salmon, small game general, waterfowl, deer firearms, deer archery, bear, fur harvester, elk, wolves, etc.
    3) We lose the combo license altogether.
    4) Doe tags are set at a maximum of two per person for use in any season.
    5) One buck per season by any means, with a minimum of two points on one side or 5″ borw tines.
    6) Pheasant season has an opening of 8:30 and a closing of 4:30 daily.

  • Red

    “Tax and spend and increase fees and spend”. We are already overtaxed. Michigan needs to learn to do more with less. No more increases.

  • woodsman

    I called the DNR rap line on this that were not right. They didnt want to deal with the problem and you want to increase licences fee for more DNR officer to say the same thing. Stupid. Make the middle class support more and get less. Thats the Michigan way more for less game. The fishery going to be better on the Great lakes no More for less again.

  • Fat Indian

    I agree everything these days costs more. So we need to raise license fees to keep Michigan’s hunting and fishing opportunities strong and available. If you truely love hunting and fishing, then re-budget and suck it up. And yes, the $100 I just spent on dinner and movie with my wife would cover my whole hunting and fishing season. So what’s a couple of bucks in fee increases. Yea Snyder!!!!!


    I agree with a license fee increase; its long overdue; but we need to be assured that with the increase we will see many more CO’s in the field. We should raise fees on par with our surrounding states. Richard Bennett

  • Whiteriver201

    The way I see it there should be no need for a base liscense.Why should outdoorsmen pay for small game and waterfoul when they don’t participate in the sport. Let’s make the system even easier by charging $10 for any hunting or fishing liscense wich is fair to all. The State is just trying to cash in on the large numbers of whitetail hunters and middle class workers.



  • Hunterruss

    Along the lines of an “Outdoor Sports” license, maybe this should include other “Outdoor Sportsmen & women)” such as bikers, hikers, horsemen, etc. The area I hunt has a lot of use by other than hunters. No problem in and of itself, but let’s share the financial burden and while we are at it, how about maybe 1 or 2 weeks of the year (firearm deer season), we forego the biking. You would still have 50 weeks for biking and firearm hunters would have 2 weeks without worrying about a brown jacketed biker with a white helmet, whizzing through the leaves.

  • jgp

    Why a “base license” at all? Just have a “small game waterfowl” license at $10, and a deer license at $20. Why should someone who doesn’t hunt small game and birds have to get that license? You could have a deer license discount of say $5, for those who do show a valid small game license at the time they apply for the deer license. And someone proposed a”license” for hikers/bikers who use the trails – that would be nice as a voluntary license with the money going to help maintain the trails.

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  • pollcat0524

    Really, double? Come the f on. I can not go to my customers in my business and say we are going to double your cost going forward. I hunt in other states and most have this stupid tag system were you need 2 or in some place 3 parts to complete a legal hunting license. This system in no way makes easier for people to understand.
    3 to 5 % increase is fair. Double the out of state license like other states. Oh by the way how much are they lowering the all species fishing license? I have not seen that released.

    • Trapper

      Considering the price of license haven’t been raised in 17 years, these prices sound pretty much right in line. You talk about running your business, ask yourself this question. Can you make a decent living and run your business on the same amount of money you took in 17 years ago? I think not. The price of everything goes up. Wages, fuel, equipment, food, etc. Why would you think the state can run a DNR on the same funds it brought in 17 years ago. The DNR , wildlife management, conservation officers, is not a charity. We have some of the best fishing around and all your interested in is “how much are they lowering the all species fishing license?” It’s time for ALL you cheep-skates to ante up. You’ve had it to good for way toooo long.

  • Greg

    Price increases on many things are a fact of life. Keeping it in line with the increased cost of doing buisness and knowing what the money goes to is of utmost importance. I think it is ridiculus to almost double the non-resident fishing license cost. How many people will stop coming to fish the Blue Ribbon trout streams in Michigan with this price increase? How many tourism dollars will be lost? I won’t travel to Michigan anymore when my home state license costs a third of a Michigan non-resident license.

    • M

      You sound ridiculous. I highly doubt raising the cost of a fishing license is going to stop someone from going on a fishing vacation. If the fishing were that great in your state, you would be fishing there!.

  • pat

    how much of the money raised will go to hunting and fishing and not to bike trails and hiking paths that do’nt put any money into the fund.

  • Trapper1960

    Boy, I hope they use some of those funds to streamline the on-line system of purchasing hunting and fishing license. I consider myself pretty computer savvy, but trying to purchase hunting license on the current website is an absolute nightmare.

  • Greg

    I am done hunting Michigan. The out of state license prices are far out of reach. I own property in Michigan and pay high property taxes as well. As a resident prepare to pay even higher tag fees because fully one half of the hunters I know quit hunting Michigan. It simply isnt worth it aymore.

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