Michigan Deer Harvest Similar to 2006

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The Department of Natural Resources announced the initial assessment of the 2007 firearm deer season, which began on Thursday, Nov. 15.

"At this time, it appears that the deer harvest is similar to the harvest of 2006," said Rodney Clute, DNR big-game specialist. "Across the state the number of hunters participating appears to be down from last year, but those participating report seeing more deer."

Overall the antler development appears smaller than in 2006. This could be a product of reduced rain fall this year. Deer from those areas hardest hit by the drought appear to have smaller antlers.

In the Upper Peninsula, a small amount of snow was on the ground in some locations, providing hunters with good conditions for sighting deer at the start of the firearm deer season. However, the snow did not last. Hunting pressure was reported to be light across the UP. Hunter success rates appeared to be a little better than the last few years. Hunters are reporting seeing more deer, including bucks. The number of deer checked in the UP as of Nov. 20 was higher than in 2006. More deer were checked on Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Mackinac Bridge highway check station than any time since 1999.

In the northern Lower Peninsula, more deer are being observed, however antler development appears to be smaller than last year. Opening day weather (rain and or snow with strong winds) may have been a factor in hunting pressure being slightly less than in 2006. Depending on the location, the number of deer checked in the northern Lower Peninsula as of Nov. 20 was equal to or slightly below the number checked in 2006. Hunters commented on seeing more deer than last year with many commenting on seeing more bucks than last year.

The DNR has been setting high antlerless deer harvest quotas in the southern Lower Peninsula for several years to help lower the deer population in this area. This year, the number of deer brought into southern Lower Peninsula deer check stations is below the number checked in 2006. Opening day weather (rain and strong winds) may have been a factor in reducing hunting pressure. Fewer hunters were observed on public land in the SLP than in past years. Hunters commented on hearing fewer gunshots. The corn harvest in southern Lower Peninsula is estimated above 80% complete, which is average for the opening day of deer season. Harvested corn does provide less cover for deer and offers hunters better opportunities to see deer.

DNR would like to remind hunters that there is a substantial portion of the firearm deer season still remaining; the firearm season ends on Nov. 30, 2007. Archery season will resume on Dec. 1 and end Jan. 1. Muzzleloader will begin on Dec. 7 in Zones 1 and 3 and on Dec. 14 in Zone 2.

Antlerless licenses are still available for private land in portions of the state, especially in southern Michigan. Check license availability on the DNR's Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr.