Two healthy bucks made their way through the autumn woods in the Iron County area before the last snowfall. (Photo by Kevin Zini)
DNR reports deer numbers are up
LANSING—Michigan has a strong and proud tradition of deer hunting that dates back hundreds of years. The first designated deer season in Michigan was established in 1859. Since that time, Michigan has been a proud leader in deer hunting across the nation.
To this day, Michigan consistently ranks as one of the top five states in the nation for number of deer hunters and overall deer harvest. While deer numbers can fluctuate from year to year due to a variety of factors, Michigan deer hunters remain true to their passion. With the assurance of spending time with friends and family and the hope of harvesting a deer, they make their way out to hunt each year.
This year is anticipated to be a successful year for many deer hunters with indicators showing deer numbers being up. Biologists are anticipating harvest to increase slightly from last year which was up over 10 percent across the state from the previous year.
Of course, success of harvest is never a guarantee but there are steps that can be taken to increase those chances for success. Scouting your hunting area can reveal current deer trails, changes in terrain or habitat types and other influences on deer movement. Familiarizing yourself with current regulations is another important step. The deer website of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – www.michigan.gov/deer – provides highlights of regulation changes, information about deer management, and links to additional resources, such as a list of deer check stations.
Refer to the 2018 Hunting Digest and Antlerless Digest, available at DNR Operations Service Centers, license vendors, or available in electronic formats through links at this site, for a map of all Deer Management Units (DMUs) and other regulation
With new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease being discovered during the 2017 hunting season, a set of new regulations were put in place for 2018. Thanks to the input the DNR received from stakeholder engagement and the application of the best science, the DNR was able to work with the Natural Resources Commission to develop regulations that would best address the disease. While many of these regulations may not be what some hunters would want, the decisions were made with the best intentions of limiting the impact of the disease in our deer herd as we work to understand the scale of this disease across Michigan. For more information on CWD visit - www.michigan.gov/cwd and for a list of the new regulations, read on or see the 2018 Hunting Digest.
What to Expect Across the State
The 2017 season, while seeing a significant drop in hunter numbers, ended up with a significant increase in harvest from 2016. Overall hunting success increased across most of the state in 2017 with nearly 50 percent of hunters harvesting a deer.
The winter of 2017 was average across the entire state. Despite the snowfall and temperatures being normal it appears that deer came through the winter in good to excellent condition. Spring had relatively mild weather as well which is a major factor in both deer fitness and fawn survival. Due to these circumstances, this year has seen an increase
in both the overall number of fawns and deer seen.
With the favorable conditions throughout the winter, spring, and summer, there is an opportunity for hunters to experience increased success rates in 2018 from last year.
Though, this forecast may help to get you started with what to look for there is no
substitute for scouting. The opportunity to find out which trees are producing fruit and mast, what deer trails are being utilized and what activity patterns deer are following this year is priceless information for a deer hunter before they go out hunting. So, whether your goal is to get meat in the freezer, go for a wall hanger or simply get outdoors, Michigan’s deer seasons offer something for everyone. Best of luck to you hunters and have a wonderful and safe deer season.
The Upper Peninsula (U.P.) appears to be rebounding well from the harsh winters observed in 2013 and 2014. Deer numbers are increasing across the entire peninsula and harvest numbers increased over fifty percent across the region in 2017.