Weather Forecast


The way deer hunting used to be...

A bunch of Wisconsin 1960s metal license tags with colored caps and a fine example of a 1963 Michigan resident hunting license. Photo by - Mark Greenig

Being an avid outdoor person, whether in the fishing boat or hunting blind, I am often blessed with time to ponder many different topics. None of my thoughts are so serious they could solve worldly problems. Rather, I often focus on issues that many individuals would consider trivial. However, they seem important to me at the time. Such was the case with the recently completed deer hunting season.

While on stand I was looking at the current Minnesota blue license, which is made of relatively tough plastic. I thought back to my early years in the blind when hunting deer seemed less complicated. For the most part, it was either rifle or slug gun season with little else to concern yourself with.

Today, just look at the back side of the paper deer season insert. You must deal with November restrictions, Leech Lake deer areas, hard to define areas, TB deer area, metro deer area, CWD management zone and much more. Even the blue license is challenging to deal with. One must "slice" date of harvest, go online to obtain a registration number to legally have venison in the home and so on.

For whatever reason, I thought back to the way it used to be in the 1960's and the old metal snap license used by Minnesota and Wisconsin or clip on back paper license used in Michigan. Let's talk about those, as they are good indicators of days gone by.

Right up front I will tell you these items are entry-level collectibles. Many inexpensive hunting and fishing collectibles are worth more as home décor. Such is the case with today's topic. It's hard to believe, but these licenses are already 50 years old. The metal license tags used back then were generally just over eight inches long and about 1/2" wide. Made of aluminum and typically had the words, "lock here," year of season, Minnesota or Wis. Res. Deer and a number for registration purposes. You had to be careful when attaching this license. Once "locked" there was no getting it apart.

What is appealing, especially to the Wisconsin license, is the color coding on one end. I have seen red, green, blue, black and white. It may sound silly, but you could actually use a color best suited to your home décor. For example, someone in your family, (most likely a male) may have a deer head on the wall. If most of your walls are white, the license with the white cap would look nice somehow attached to that fixture.

  In continuing, the Michigan resident hunting license in the early 1960's consisted of a heavy plastic sleeve, which was pinned to the hunter's back for easy visibility. The large pin was 4.5" long and very heavy duty. This paper insert license is 8.5" long and 2.5" wide. The front depicted a number in large black letters. The reverse side was blank. However, the license would often come with paper instructions on how to field dress your deer. All three pieces are essential to have a desirable item.

This collectible would be displayed in the home similar to the metal license. Such items are called "companion pieces" which add visual appeal and often facilitate the hunter's story-whether true or not. Most hunters enjoy such items.

Monetary value here is limited. Metal license tags should be available for $2 to $4. Michigan licenses with all three pieces mentioned will have a value around $5. However, remember these types of "companion pieces" have more appeal by reminding hunters of simpler days. Until next time, may all your searches be successful and of course Happy Holidays.