DNR: Deer harvest on an upward trend in the U.P. this year

The department said last year’s mild winter and timely food availability like nuts, seeds and fruits have led to higher birth rates and survivability.
Most Michigan deer hunters will not need to apply for an antlerless deer hunting license in...
Most Michigan deer hunters will not need to apply for an antlerless deer hunting license in 2021; a universal antlerless license is all that is needed. However, hunters in certain areas of the Upper Peninsula, and reserved deer hunts in specific places, may need to apply for an access permit.(David Kenyon | Michigan DNR)
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 7:32 PM EDT
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UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - The mild winter and early green-up have brought more of the U.P. fauna out and about -- especially the deer.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sees an upward trend in the deer population after its 2020 Survey Report indicated an overall harvest just below 30,000 -- down nearly 6% from 2019.

“Not only was the winter mild, the deer actually coming into that winter were in much better condition than typical because of the really abundant acorn we had locally here and much of the northern parts of the U.P. where we had those mast crops available for them,” said DNR Wildlife Biologist Brian Roell.

Roell pointed to the timely food availability in nuts, seeds and fruits to keep deer healthy, especially towards this latest mild winter.

In Marquette County for example, the monthly mean temperature averaged just over 20 degrees Fahrenheit and snow depth averaged nowhere close to the over 30-inch seasonal average from the winter before (*source data through the National Weather Service).

“Basically, deer gets stressed when they have over 12 inches of snow on the ground. Deer are built to take the cold temperatures, but when you get prolonged temperatures of (20 degrees below zero) or lower, they have to actually move to keep them warm. So they just can’t sit and ruminate, be fat and happy,” explained Roell.

The DNR Wildlife Biologist said that higher survivability and higher birth rates have led toward more smaller bucks and more antler growth as hunting season begins this weekend, Sept. 11-12 with the Liberty Hunt.

“Is it going to be as good as it was, say two or three years ago? No, we’re not there yet. But (if) we get a normal winter this year, and it doesn’t even have to be a mild one just getting back to a normal pattern, those deer are capable of surviving and (will) start to grow that herd back.

For complete DNR deer hunting information including license purchasing, dates and check stations, click HERE.

The DNR’s 2021 Michigan Deer Season Preview can be found HERE.

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