Wildlife biologists with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are reporting an initial drop in the number of deer checked at stations across the Upper Peninsula since the Nov. 15 opening day of firearm season, compared to the same time period in 2018.
“All of these figures, which are through Nov. 17, are preliminary, and numerous factors — such as snow depth, hunter participation, day of the week of opening day and temperatures, among others — can affect comparisons between given years,” says John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “When compared to the 10-year average, some check stations were up from last year.”
Here are statistics from five check stations, through Nov. 17:
Baraga. A total of 31 deer, down 23% compared to 2018 and down 16% compared to the 10-year average.
Crystal Falls. A total of 67 deer, down 13% compared to 2018 and up 4% compared to the 10-year average.
Escanaba. A total of 103 deer, down 9% compared to 2018 and down 11% compared to the 10-year average.
Marquette. A total of 68 deer, down 4% compared to 2018 and up 24% compared to the 10-year average.
Newberry. A total of 32 deer, down 18% compared to 2018 and up 16% compared to the 10-year average.
“On average, we appear to be down about 14% from the same time in 2018,” says DNR wildlife biologist David Jentoft, describing the regionwide results. “However, this is just a quick snapshot. This will likely change as the season moves on.”
Here are some other observations from wildlife biologists:
- A majority of deer checked at Upper Peninsula DNR stations have been bucks.
- Deer have had good body condition and about average antler development.
- Staff report seeing quite a few 2.5-year-old and older bucks coming in and not as many younger bucks so far.
- Many hunters are reporting seeing good deer numbers, including bucks, and hunter attitudes generally have been good.
- Hunting conditions were a little tough on opening day in some areas, with strong winds and snow in some places. Temperatures started in the upper 20s but dropped throughout the day.
- The second day started cold but warmed up, and conditions have been favorable in most areas through Nov. 17. However, northern parts of the eastern Upper Peninsula have received as much as 30 inches of snow. This has spurred deer migration and caused some hunters not to be able to reach their camps or hunting locations.
- Hunters in or near the Core CWD Surveillance Area have been interested in having their deer tested for disease. Hunters in other areas have been asking questions, but few have submitted samples for testing. All deer that have come into the Norway check station have been tested.
- In some areas, hunters were not aware check station weekend hours were available. (Visit michigan.gov/deercheck.)
- Staff at southern Upper Peninsula stations indicated their stations have been busy.
The number of deer licenses sold across Michigan through Nov. 17 (since March 1) totaled 1,189,912, compared to 1,224,520 in 2018. The number of distinct deer hunting license customers statewide so far this year is 557,920, versus 576,601 in 2018.
In the Upper Peninsula, the number of deer licenses bought by residents between March 1 and Nov. 17 totaled 65,750, compared to 66,256 over the same time period in 2018. The number of residents who bought deer hunting licenses in the 15 counties since March 1 totaled 41,706, compared to 42,748 in 2018.