You can’t use a firearm during bow season for deer in Michigan, and you know that. But what about just carrying one on you? What if you don’t use it?

For instance, maybe you believe you spotted a bear on the trail camera on your hunting property. You have to walk out to that bow stand in the dark. You don’t want to stumble upon a bear with no way to protect yourself. Can you carry your handgun for the walk to the stand? You’d never take a deer with it, obviously, but you think you should have the right to protect yourself.

Generally speaking, the DNR does not agree. They specifically state that carrying a pistol or another handgun while bow hunting is illegal. You are only allowed to take the bow into the field if that is the season that you choose to hunt.

There is one exception to this, and that is if you have a concealed carry license. If you do, then you can carry a gun in accordance with that license, just as you would in many other locations. They are quick to point out that this does not mean you can hunt with it, of course, and you should never take game with it. But you can have it legally on your person if you are worried about defense issues.

If you do not have a concealed carry license, though, you can’t carry it at all. This is an effort to prevent people from using firearms during archery season and then claiming, if caught, that they just wanted to protect themselves from predators.

Those who find themselves facing charges for a mistaken reading of the regulations need to know what steps to take.