IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) - 79-year-old Tony Demboski of Quinnesec has hunting in his blood.
"I just don’t miss opening day of hunting season, that just don’t happen," said Demboski, the president of the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen's Alliance.
With more than 60 years of hunting under his belt, Demboski has seen hunting techniques and tactics change first-hand.
"There was no such thing as baiting or feeding or anything like that," said Demboski.
Prior to 1985, hunting styles varied among identifying and following techniques.
"You walked through the woods and virtually chase the animals through the woods," recalled Demboski. "If you saw a fresh track in a days’ time, maybe you were awful lucky."
For a slower paced technique, they turned to 'still' hunting.
"Basically getting into the habitat and just working through the different transition zones of the habitat and moving very slowly and trying to intercept a deer in that manner," explained Terry Minzey, the Michigan DNR U.P. Regional Wildlife Supervisor.
In the mid-1980s hunters shifted to a more sedentary style of hunting that is popular today.
"It turned into rather than going out and finding the deer, to the deer coming to them," said Minzey.
According to Minzey, about 80 percent of hunters in the U.P. use the bait and feed tactic.
"I, myself, I love sitting there, because I can watch the deer all day long and if one comes by, I can shoot it," said Demboski.
"Nowadays, you can have hunting cameras that you set the timer to take pictures that record what time the deer are coming into your baited area," explained Randy Trudgeon, the President of U.P. Whitetails of Dickinson County. "Because deer are creatures of habit, they are pretty much in the same time morning and night making it easier to hunt."
According to Minzey, this change in tactics has escalated hunter success rates to about 30 percent, in turn impacting the demographic in deer population.
"In the earlier 30 year time, we harvested about 40 percent of the available bucks, since then we’ve been harvesting about 65 percent and that has resulted in a lower age structure of our buck population," explained Minzey.
The DNR can’t say if there is a direct correlation between Chronic Wasting Disease and the hunting bait methods, however they do want hunters to be aware of deer proximity with each other when feeding.
"Certainly if you feed an animal an apple or sugar beet, they don’t get chronic wasting disease from that," said Minzey. "What it does is, it creates an opportunity to exchange bodily fluids, so it enhances the opportunity to spread the disease."
Right now there is no bait restriction on hunting. But the future of method will be up for discussion between the DNR, sportsman’s groups and the community.
"We are trying to work together to formulate a good solid plan on moving forward," explained Minzey.
In in the final part of this hunting series, TV6 will highlight where exactly you can hunt and talk with DNR about public versus private lands.