Local Organization Proposes Antler Point Restrictions in Northwest Michigan

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The Northwest Michigan chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), in partnership with Leelanau Whitetails, has proposed new antler point restrictions (APR) for deer hunting in the following 12 counties: Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Missaukee, Mason, Osceola, and Wexford.

This proposal seeks to require that all antlered deer (bucks) harvested in the 12-county area must have at least three antler points on one side. Current regulations allow hunters to take bucks that have at least one antler that is three inches long or longer. The proposal would continue the current statewide requirement that hunters taking two bucks must ensure at least one of those bucks has four or more antler points on one side. The proposed regulation would be consistent with the current regulation in Deer Management Unit (DMU) 045, which is Leelanau County. The restriction will be considered by the Natural Resources Commission for implementation starting with the 2013 deer season. Antlerless deer regulations within the proposed area would continue to be determined by the Natural Resources Commission based on recommendations by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Division staff.

Under guidelines adopted by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC), mandatory regulations proposed by sponsoring organizations will only be implemented where a clear majority of 66 percent support among hunters in the proposed area is documented. Support will be determined by a survey mailed to a sample of hunters who indicated on the 2011 DNR deer harvest survey that they hunted deer in one of the 12 counties. Surveys will be mailed starting in August.

"This proposal is the first to reach this stage since the moratorium has been lifted," stated DNR deer biologist Ashley Hippler, "We are looking forward to seeing how the majority of northwestern Michigan deer hunters feel about antler point restrictions."

The Northwest Michigan Chapter of the QDMA will be hosting meetings in each county to provide information, answer questions and explain their reasons for making the proposal. The first meeting is scheduled for April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Benzie Central High School.

Additional meetings will be announced as they are scheduled.

The Northwest Michigan Chapter of the QDMA will provide payment to offset the cost of doing the hunter opinion survey.

The NRC had placed a moratorium on accepting APR proposals in 2006, to allow the DNR to assess experiences with initial guidelines which were implemented in 1999. The NRC assembled a stakeholder workgroup late in 2010 to provide recommendations regarding revisions to the process. The DNR is now evaluating proposals based on the recommendations from that workgroup. The NRC is the body that has authority over decisions to implement APR and other harvest regulations. The proposal review process provides valuable information to inform those decisions.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.