Early DNR results show big increase in 2015 deer harvest

 

MANISTEE — DNR officials such as northern Michigan wildlife technician Katie Keen are waiting for the results of survey forms that will shed some light on the success hunters may have enjoyed during the Nov. 15-30 firearm season.

“It’s early, but in the northern (Lower Peninsula), you’re looking at a 15 to 20 percent increase of harvest from last year,” Keen said. “But that’s early numbers. We’re seeing that the herd is in better condition than it was last year, looking at the information we do receive from the deer checks.

“But it is a different story for the U.P. The U.P. harvest is expected to be down about 20 percent from last year. We’re encouraging folks, as always, don’t forget about that deer harvest survey on line. Over 50,000 are mailed out, but if you don’t get one in the mail, make sure to do it online. Anyone can go online.”

Keen said because of the warmer temperatures during the rifle season, deer may not have been moving.

“But it may have allowed people to be in the field longer,” she said. “They were comfortable, but maybe the deer were moving because it was so warm. We’ll see how that shakes out.”

Bow season goes until Jan. 1, plus the late antlerless season Dec. 21-Jan. 1 on private land only, select counties only.

“I think the people were down, the deer seemed to go nocturnal and I would say the take was down,” Rob Eckerson of Pappy’s in Wellston said. “The sentiment was the horn restriction was helpful. People were thinking this was a correction year as far as numbers were concerned and the deer had to be older before you could harvest them.”

“Muzzleloading season is progressing along,” Amanda Rommell of Big Bob’s Outfitters in Frankfort said. “We’re getting just average reports.”

Rommell had a buck pole during the rifle season.

“For our pole, we didn’t see quite as many deer hung,” she said. “But we had real nice quality bucks. An 8-point was average. Reports were mixed. I’d say it was a mediocre year. The quality of bucks were nice. We’re seeing a swing in people that are supporting the antler point management. That’s good.”

Wildlife biologist Steve Griffith from the Traverse City DNR office indicated that reports have been promising.

“Deer checks were down a little bit this year compared to last year,” Griffith said. “But last year, our deer check station saw an increase from 2013.”

There were a lot of 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 year old bucks, he added.

“The short of it is that it was a pretty good year,” Griffith said. “Guys are getting them mounted. It does appear we’re getting bucks in the older age class. That’s from the quality Deer Management program.”

Griffith admitted that the recent warm weather has played havoc for hunters.

“They’re not digging through the snow for acorns,” Griffith said. “If we get colder weather, we’ll get some activity. December has been quiet.”

Grouse hunting season will continue until the end of the year.

“A lot of people still target them in December,” Keen said.

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