Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials say the upcoming firearm deer season will require more planning and scouting by hunters if they plan to bag a big one. Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
By Howard Meyerson
Grand Rapids, Mich – Hunters who plan to go out for the two‑week firearm deer season starting Nov. 15 need to get out and scout if they plan to hunt the woods. This year’s acorn crop is spotty, according to state wildlife officials. Deer will be moving and hunters will have to find them rather than assume their favorite oak stand will be productive.
“It’s an average‑to‑good year for mast, but it’s literally going to be a case of have and have-nots,” said Chad Stewart, deer management specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “If you are fortunate to have white oak producing in your woods, sit around that tree. Or, if you have persimmons dropping, sit there. It’s just a matter of when you will see deer.”
Michigan’s deer herd, overall, is smaller than a few years ago. Three consecutive hard winters took a serious toll, particularly in the Upper Peninsula where most of the fawns died two of those winters. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, also hit the southern Michigan deer hard in 2012, killing many in various areas.
DNR surveys of hunter success showed it declined in 2014. Just more than five out of 10 hunters took home a deer. That decline was seen all around the state, but mostly in the Upper Peninsula, according to Stewart.
“The harvest up there was really low, the lowest it’s been in 30 years,” Stewart said. “The good news for U.P. hunters this year is those who see deer are seeing older‑age class deer. But they won’t see the numbers they have in the past. And, we don’t expect that to change overnight.”
Despite the bad news, there is good news, too. Continue reading