Hunters keep busy as seasons change

BIG RAPIDS — Deer hunting season kicks off Oct. 1 with the bow campaign and most observers are expecting a good harvest this year.

That includes northen Michigan wildlife technician Katie Keen.

“For us in our location, things are looking good,” Keen said. “We didn’t have the type of winter that was recorded in the Upper Peninsula. Survival seems to be better this year. We had a lower harvest level for 2014. Our harvest numbers were down. Those deer should have been healthy and made it through the winter. Usually following a year of low harvest, we’ll have more deer the following year, as long as winter cooperates.”

Hunters get their first taste of deer action during the bow season, starting Oct. 1.

“Archery and gun deer hunting should be excellent. Abundant acorns and soft mast like last year, means bait will be less successful than hunting natural foods. Crop edges are always good,” Pete Kailing, area DNR wildlife biologist said.

“We had a mild winter last year as far as deer are concerned,” Steve Griffith, northern Michigan DNR wildlife biologist, said. “I have seen quite a few fawns. It looks like fawn recruitment is going to be probably pretty good this year. A lot of does have been seen. I’ve been hearing about and seeing some nice bucks. It looks like it’s going to be a good season.”

Bow hunters resume their season, following the firearm campaign, in December.

Small game hunting started on Sept. 15.

“Michigan has always been a destination for grouse and woodcock hunting,” Keen said. “That’s because of the habitat we can provide on the ground. Birds will come if the habitat is there. We have such an avid timber program in Michigan. That’s what keeps and holds our birds here. People will flock to northern Michigan and the U.P. from all across the nation.

“Grouse are on a 10-year cycle where typically every 10 years they’re kind of booming and they’re coming down that curve. We’re on the downside of that curve. We’re still hearing a lot of birds in the spring.”

Keen said the DNR hears from rabbit and squirrel hunters from filling out harvest reports. “Active timber sales and hiding cover is great for them,” she said.

BIG BUCK CONTEST

Successful deer hunters during the bow and rifle seasons are reminded to bring their deer to our offices at 115 North Michigan, Big Rapids, to enter the 2015 Big Buck Contest. There are two divisions: bow and rifle. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Deer can only be entered during office hours. Bow season starts Oct. 1. Rifle season begins Nov. 15.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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