By Howard Meyerson
Everyone knows that Michigan’s firearm deer season was cold. Snow piled up all across the state, and temperatures were brutal.
That frigid arctic start, combined with a late corn harvest, kept many hunters at home. Those factors, combined with a smaller deer herd statewide, resulted in fewer deer being killed, according to state wildlife officials.
“Most of us concluded that the opener was a little slower than expected for a Saturday opener, “said Steve Chadwick, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife supervisor for Southwest Michigan. “The weather was a big factor. It was pretty rough.
“We had fewer people out both Saturday and Sunday.”
But that would hold for much of the two-week season that closed Nov. 30. Fewer hunters ventured out or bought hunting licenses and kill tags.
“The number of license buyers decreased by 6.6 percent compared to last year, and the number of kill tags sold decreased by 10.6 percent,” said Brent Rudolph, the DNR’s former deer program manager. “Our general observations are that the deer kill is down this year compared to last.”
Preliminary estimates indicate the U.P. firearm kill was down 30 to 40 percent from 2013. Some areas had bigger declines, Rudolph said. The southern Michigan deer harvest was down about 5 percent, and the northern Lower Peninsula harvest was down by as much as 10 percent, Rudolph said.
“The late corn harvest provided a lot of extra refuge for deer. … Statewide, only 43 percent had been picked by the week before opener, compared to an average of 63 percent. By the end of the season, it was only 77 percent (picked).”
Barry State Game Area manager Sara Schaefer called the 2014 firearm season “the worst in the 15 years.”
Schaefer said, “People weren’t used to hunting in that kind of weather. They spent fewer hours hunting, and some didn’t go out at all.” Continue reading