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DNR reports 2014 deer hunting harvest down across Michigan


Several factors added to decline; wildlife managers working on improvements


Several factors contributed to a lower deer hunting harvest in 2014.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently issued a Michigan Deer Harvest Survey Report on the 2014 hunting seasons indicating that roughly 615,000 hunters statewide harvested a total of roughly 329,000 deer. The harvest represents a drop of 15 percent from 2013.
Wildlife managers report that regional declines in deer harvest were greatest in the Upper Peninsula, where the overall harvest was down by nearly 36 percent.
The DNR said several factors—including back-to-back years of severe winter weather that depleted the deer population in some parts of the state—contributed to the decline.

Snow, snow and more snow

“In the Upper Peninsula, winter started early with more than three feet of snow on the ground in some areas before the Nov. 15 opening of firearm deer season,” said DNR wildlife biologist Brian Frawley. “Though not as severe as the previous season, this marked the third consecutive rough winter for the deer population in the U.P.” Frawley said that much of the region’s drop in deer harvest could be explained by those conditions. The heavy U.P. snowfall, for example, made it challenging—sometimes impossible—for some firearm deer hunters to get to their camps. Given the conditions, many decided not to hunt; others, after experiencing the effects of the two previous winters, decided not to buy licenses.
“When the number of hunters is reduced in a given year, the deer harvest potential naturally is reduced, too,” Frawley said.

 Michigan deer hunters spent 8.8 million days afield last year.

Michigan deer hunters spent 8.8 million days afield last year.

Across all hunting seasons, 84,099 people hunted deer in the U.P. in 2014, down about 19 percent from 2013.
Natural cyclical movement

DNR Director Keith Creagh said that like Michigan’s deer population, the state’s deer harvest numbers have risen and fallen in an ebb-and-flow pattern since the early 1960s.

“The number of deer harvested hit a low in the early 1970s at below 100,000 statewide,” Creagh said. “With mild winters and changing forest conditions, deer populations then rose and hunter harvest climbed to more than 400,000 by the late 1980s.”

After tough back-to-back winters in the mid-1990s, the harvest followed the population steeply downhill, but rebounded again to nearly 600,000 by the end of the decade. Since then, deer harvest has remained below 500,000 since the early 2000s.

Other population indicators

DNR deer program biologist Ashley Autenrieth said U.P. deer-vehicle collisions tallied 2,961, down 22 percent from 2013. Crop damage permit kills were down to 1,664 in 2014 from 1,745 the previous year. “These two factors indicate a drop in the overall deer population,” Autenrieth said. The winter severity index, crop damage permits and deer-vehicle accidents also were down in the northern Lower Peninsula.

Pockets of success

In northern parts of the U.P., firearm deer hunters who did get to their camps and blinds found the snowy conditions had put many deer on southward seasonal migration paths early. Hunters who altered their strategies to follow those paths fared better. Despite the challenging conditions, firearm deer hunters in the U.P. harvested 14,734 antlered bucks, with 41,415 taken in the northern Lower Peninsula and 49,110 in the southern Lower Peninsula.
Across all 2014 deer hunting seasons, nearly a fourth of hunters in the western U.P., and 14.6 percent in the eastern U.P., harvested at least one antlered buck. Statewide, the percentage jumped to 26.9 percent.

Overall deer harvest, hunter satisfaction

Statewide, 41 percent of hunters harvested a deer in 2014, compared to 43 percent in 2013. Roughly 11 percent of deer hunters harvested two or more deer of any type. Less than 4 percent of hunters took two antlered bucks.
About 20 percent of deer hunters harvested an antlerless deer and 27 percent took an antlered buck. “Across Michigan, 39 percent of hunters said they were satisfied with their overall hunting experience, with the highest satisfaction in the Lower Peninsula,” Frawley said. “Those are numbers we want to build on as we work to provide a positive experience for hunters in every part of the state.”

Other population, harvest factors

Michigan deer hunters spent 8.8 million days afield last year. DNR efforts to improve the deer population affected the harvest numbers as well. Those actions include:

To protect more does in the U.P., the Michigan Natural Resources Commission restricted the number of deer management units open to antlerless deer hunting to three areas in the southern part of the region.

Recently, at the urging of hunters, the NRC decided to remove for this fall the ability of hunters in the U.P. to tag antlerless deer during the archery season with a single or combination deer license.

For the long-term, DNR and hunter efforts continue to improve deer habitat:

A U.P. Habitat Workgroup reconvened in January, focused on improving and conserving critical winter deer habitat, offering technical assistance and incentives to private landowners.

A Mississippi State University multiyear study on the role of predators, winter weather and habitat on white-tailed deer fawn survival in the U.P. is continuing, aided by the DNR and Safari Club International.

Reasons for optimism

Although the overall number of license buyers was down from 10 years ago, an increased number of people younger than 14 years old and people older than 50 bought a hunting license last year. Overall, 12 percent of license buyers were younger than 17 years old.
The DNR continues efforts to meet changing hunter demographics by promoting hunting to younger hunters and female hunters, whose numbers are rising.
Across Michigan, about 57 percent of hunters supported antler point restrictions on buck harvest that were implemented for the U.P. and about 63 percent of the hunters who preferred to hunt in the U.P. supported the antler point restrictions.

The DNR offered all deer hunters the option to voluntarily report information about their deer hunt via the Internet. More than 4,200 hunters responded. Next, a questionnaire was sent to 58,857 randomly selected individuals who had bought a hunting license, but had not reported harvest information online. Respondents who promptly responded became eligible to win a firearm or a bow.
Questionnaires were returned by 29,035 hunters (a 51-percent response rate), providing additional valuable harvest and experience data.

Moving forward, the DNR and the NRC will continue to talk with the public regarding their ideas on more measures that potentially could be taken to further improve deer hunting in Michigan.

For more information on the 2014 deer harvest report, visit www.michigan.gov/deer.

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Being a guide and having a guide

Pastor Chad Hampton

Solon Center Wesleyan Church

15671 Algoma, Cedar Springs (just north of 19 Mile)

Huntin The Truth Ministries




The first day of October marks an extra exciting season in the life of a select group of people: deer hunters. This day marks the opening of archery deer hunting season. This time of year brings the excitement and anticipation of hopefully harvesting those deer that you have been watching on your trail cameras, dreaming of, and talking to other hunters about the entire year. This is not to mention seeing pictures of some of the nice bucks being harvested by our youth during the early youth hunt that builds the excitement! Speaking of youth, for a ministry I’ve founded called “Huntin the Truth Ministries,” this also brings the excitement of having the privilege and opportunity to fulfill our mission. We take youth and physically challenged men and women out into the fields to hunt those deer and use the opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with them and help guide these men and women spiritually as they also “hunt” the plan that God has for their lives.

This year as I pondered the great memories we will make hunting and guiding other hunters, I began thinking about how God is providing for a new chapter when it comes to my family life and ministry. Even though I have been in ministry for 15 years, hunting for almost 25 years, and approaching my middle-aged years of life, this will be a season I have never been through before. Even though I have security of knowing that God is in control at every new season that life brings, I know that God uses people in our lives to help guide us along each journey, much like we do with the youth in our ministry during hunting season.We teach them where and how to hunt, how to use their weapons, and sometimes warn them of the dangers of what lies ahead based on the hard lessons we have learned from our successes and our failures. I began to realize that although I guide others and have gained experience from the years I have lived on this earth, I also need a guide, or a mentor, who God will use to lead me through this new phase in life.  I need a wise person with experience in this stage who will educate me on the ups and downs that occurred throughout a past season of his/her life.

The Bible actually tells us that even if we are wise, we will seek out and listen to more wisdom!  Proverbs 9:9 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” We see in Proverbs chapter 1 that Solomon declared that he wrote the Proverbs “That the wise man may hear, and increase in learning: And that the man of understanding may attain unto sound counsels.” Solomon, who God blessed with greater wisdom than anyone of his day, also had his share of failures even though he had wisdom to that degree. He is trying to teach us a great lesson from his life: Even though you might have much wisdom and experience, you always need more.

I began to realize this year—more so than ever—that our entire lives are cycles of seasons that we have never been through before. Whether you are a young boy or girl just entering junior high school, a young man or women who is entering a new marriage or having children, a middle-aged man or woman who is experiencing the empty nest, or a man or woman approaching retirement, these are all fresh stages in life; these are times we can navigate through easier with the wisdom and direction of someone who has already been through your current season.

So, let me ask you: Do you have a guide or mentor in your life who God could use to help guide you through this current season of your life and the seasons ahead? Regardless of our age, we have never been through our current stage of life, and I would recommend seeking God on whom that person or persons would be to help guide you! Furthermore, if you have never been a mentor to another person, I would recommend that you seek God and your church leaders concerning who you could mentor through times you have already experienced. God bless you, and if you’re a hunter, God bless your hunting!



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NRC expands deer hunting territory for the fall

Hunters will have a little more territory to hunt for antlerless deer this fall as the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) opened a few more deer management units (DMUs) in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula at its regular monthly meeting Thursday in Lansing.
Newly opened DMUs reflect increased deer populations in those areas, explained Department of Natural Resources (DNR) deer and elk program leader Brent Rudolph. The DNR will seek low quotas for the newly opened DMUs, Rudolph said.

A total of 72 DMUs will be open to antlerless deer hunting on public land, and 86 DMUs, plus the two multi-county DMUs in the Lower Peninsula (DMUs 486 and 487), will be open on private land. A complete list of open DMUs and their quotas will be published shortly in the 2012 Antlerless Deer Hunting Digest.

Antlerless deer license applications go on sale July 15 at all license agents and online at www.michigan.gov/huntdrawings.

In addition, the NRC voted to restrict hunters in DMUs 486 and 487 to a maximum of 10 private land antlerless licenses this season, a decrease from five per day in 2011.

Special statewide hunts for youth and 100 percent disabled veterans will be held Sept. 22-23. The early antlerless season on private land in portions of the Lower Peninsula is being reduced from five days to two, also Sept. 22-23.
“There have been increasing concerns from some members of the hunting public that the recent expansion of September hunting is causing deer to be more wary during the traditional seasons,” Rudolph said. “By reducing and consolidating the September seasons, we’re addressing those concerns while maintaining opportunities for youth and disabled hunters throughout the state and for early harvest of antlerless deer on private land where it is most needed.”

In addition, the NRC changed conditions on special crop-damage permits in accordance with recent legislation. Public Act 65 of 2012 allows up to 15 authorized shooters on Deer Damage Shooting Permits. In the past, special authorization was required to allow more than three shooters to be designated per permit.

In other action, the NRC reaffirmed that naturally shed deer and elk antlers may be legally collected, possessed and sold.

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Weekly fishing report

From the Michigan DNR

This is the time of year when fishing reports are harder to come by as most anglers turn their attention to deer hunting. Those heading out for the firearm season are reminded that late fall and early winter offer prime fishing on inland lakes for hungry walleye, pike and bass. It is also a good time to catch big perch, bluegill and crappie.
Southwest Lower Peninsula (as of November 10):
St. Joseph: Pier anglers are catching whitefish on a small hook with a single egg. Steelhead were caught in the harbor in the early morning or late afternoon.
St. Joseph River: Has prime steelhead fishing right now even though angler numbers were down.
Kalamazoo River: Had good numbers of steelhead all the way up to the Allegan Dam. Those fishing below the dam caught walleye.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Salmon fishing is pretty much done but the steelhead action continues to grow with some large fish caught between Fulton Street and the dam. Try spawn under a bobber, small spoons or flies.
Grand River at Lansing: Steelhead were reported in Prairie Creek near Ionia and below the dam at Lyons. No reports for Lansing.
Muskegon River: Has lots of steelhead downstream from Newaygo. Some are fly fishing while others are floating fresh spawn. Walleye and pike were caught near Hardy Dam and smallmouth bass were caught upstream of the dam.
For other areas in Michigan, or to get it in your email, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on fishing, then weekly fishing report.

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2011 Michigan deer hunting prospects

by Brent Rudolph, Deer and Elk Program Leader, DNR

Over the last few years, around 700,000 individuals have purchased a license to hunt deer in Michigan. These hunters ultimately spend more than 9.6 million days afield and take more than 400,000 deer. Over 300,000 hunters participate in Michigan’s archery season, about 600,000 hunt with a firearm and 200,000 with a muzzleloader.
Deer are not evenly distributed across the state. There are considerable differences in habitat and deer numbers across Michigan’s three regions – the Upper Peninsula (UP), northern Lower Peninsula (NLP), and southern Lower Peninsula (SLP).
Part of hunting preparations each year includes becoming familiar with the most recent regulations. The deer website of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and a new collaborative website with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University provide highlights of regulations changes, information about deer management, and links to additional resources, such as a list of deer check stations. These sites are located at www.michigan.gov/deer and http://deer.fw.msu.edu. Please refer to the 2011 Hunting and Trapping Digest and Antlerless Digest, available at DNR Operations Service Centers, license vendors, or available in electronic formats through links at these sites, for a map of all Deer Management Units and other regulations details.
Southern Lower Peninsula
An average of nearly 360,000 hunters have pursued deer in the SLP over the last few years, including more than 185,000 participants in the archery season, more than 290,000 firearm hunters, and an average of about 125,000 hunters pursuing deer with a muzzleloader.
Baiting has been reinstated as legal throughout the SLP. Baiting may only occur from October 1 through January 1. Hunters are restricted to no more than 2 gallons of bait per hunting site spread over 100 square feet (equivalent to a 10 foot by 10 foot area).
The deer population in southern Michigan is expected to be similar to the last few years. Abundant food and cover in the form of agricultural crops and scattered swamps and woodlots provide very good habitat across the southern Michigan landscape. This high quality habitat, combined with relatively mild winter conditions, results in an abundant and productive deer population. Deer populations generally exceed DNR goals and fawns generally come in sets of twins and triplets. High numbers of antlerless permits are available again this year.
For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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Girl gets first deer

OUT-Shears-deerFor Catrina Shears, age 12, of Solon Township, the first time was the charm. Catrina, who hunts with her brothers Mitchell and Joshua, shot this doe her first day out during youth hunt. She was hunting on her Grandpa Demorest’s house in Howard City, and was shaking so much, her brother had to hold the gun!
When she shot at a deer in the morning, she found out the safety was still on, and missed her prey. But they went out again that night, and brought home this doe. “She was so excited!” said Catrina’s mom, Chris Shears.
Catrina said she was the only girl in 7th grade at Creative Technologies Academy to shoot and get a deer for youth hunt weekend. Congratulations, Catrina!

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