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Do I have to Show my Hunting / Fishing License to the DNR?

In this post we are answering one of the most commonly asked questions pertaining to hunters and fishermen here in the state of Michigan. The question goes like this.

WHEN do I have to show my hunting or fishing license to the DNR?

Hello everyone, my name is Joseph Radzwion IV, Your Trusted Attorney with Radzwion Law, PLLC, and this post will cover when an outdoorsman or outdoors-woman is legally required to show their hunting or fishing license to the DNR and when they do not have to. We will also cover some "think like a lawyer tips" at the very end so stick around for that as well.

Legally Required

Under Michigan Law an outdoorsman is required to show their hunting or fishing license in two situations. These situations can been seen in MCL 324.43516.

The first situation is when an outdoorsman is actively engaged in hunting, fishing, or trapping. If a DNR officer comes up and requests to see the outdoorsman's license, the outdoorsman must show the license.

The second situation is when an outdoorsman BOTH: POSSESSES a (1) Firearm, (2) Hunting/Trapping Apparatus (gear) or (3) a Fishing Apparatus (gear) ~AND~ IS LOCATED in an area that is frequented by wild animals or fish.

In other words, if an outdoorsman has hunting or fishing gear with them, and is in an area they could use the gear to trap/hunt animals or catch fish, the outdoorsman will be required to show their license to the DNR officer

Remember YOUR Rights

The 5th Amendment right every citizen has is the right to remain silent when a law enforcement officer such as the DNR are questioning them. This right is meant to assist even outdoorsmen who are doing their best to follow all the rules and laws. I cannot stress strongly enough the need for outdoorsmen to properly assert this right when an Conservation Officer, DNR Officer or otherwise is asking questions.


An outdoorsman is not required by law to answer any of the following questions: "how many fish did you catch?" "when did you catch these fish?" "who caught the walleye and who caught the perch?" "How many deer have your harvested this season?" "Where did you harvest your deer?" "How many antler points did your buck have?" "where did you field dress your deer?"

Even truthful, respectful answers to these questions can give the DNR officer probable cause to continue their investigation and even lead to criminal charges. This is why an outdoorsman should be prepared to say" : "Here is my license, I wish to remain silent and I do not consent to any searches or seizures of my property."

If an outdoorsman has an encounter with a DNR officer we strongly suggest you call your attorney and have them on the phone during any questioning.

Tips to Think Like a Lawyer

Assuming one of the situations previously describe have been met, the law requires that every outdoorsman produce their license upon the request of the DNR officer. This means the law also requires the outdoorsman actually be carrying the license when hunting, trapping or fishing.

The law does not require an outdoorsman to produce their driver's license in any of the situations discussed.

An exception to having a hunting or trapping license while carrying a loaded or unloaded PISTOL, is if the outdoorsman has their Concealed Pistol License. This is one more reason to take the time to obtain a CPL here in the state of Michigan.


An outdoorsman will need to carry their license and show their license if a DNR office makes such request if the outdoorsman is engaged in the activity of hunting, trapping or fishing.

Most importantly, an outdoorsman can assert their 5th amendment right to remain silent even after giving a DNR officer their hunting or fishing license and is not required by law to answer any questions.

REMEMBER: Our posts should never be taken as legal advice. You should ALWAYS consult a Trusted Attorney with your legal questions.

Your Trusted Attorney

If you would like to retain Radzwion Law, PLLC as Your Trusted Attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to protect you when you need it most and we will fight for your freedom.

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