UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) Ten days into this year’s firearm deer hunting season, wildlife biologists with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources report an average 12% increase in the number of deer checked at stations across the region.
The preliminary results – reported as of the end of the day Nov. 23 – also show a 2% increase over the 10-year average.
“Approximately 90% of the deer checked have been bucks,” said David Jentoft, DNR wildlife biologist at Sault Ste. Marie. “Check stations were busy early last week, and activity generally slowed later in the week. Check station activity may pick up again now after the weekend.”
Check stations will be open through Wednesday, and then closed during the Thanksgiving holiday.
DNR staffers report deer coming in to check stations have generally been in good condition. Most bucks checked (85%) have been 2.5 years old or older. Antler development has varied. Some older bucks have had fair antler development (spikes, forks, and smaller racks). However, some have had good antler development. In general, antler development seems to be below average in older bucks.
Hunters have generally reported good deer numbers, including bucks, and seem happy with the season.
Station - Deer checked - Compared to 2018
Baraga - 102 - 12% up
Crystal Falls - 140 - 9% down
Escanaba - 449 - 20% up
Marquette - 261 - 22% up
Newberry - 75 - 1% down
Sault Ste. Marie - 13 - 35% down
Norway - 166 - 9% down
Station - Deer checked - 10-yr. Average Comparison
Baraga - 102 - 1% down
Crystal Falls - 140 - 1% up
Escanaba - 449 - 3% up
Marquette - 261 - 15% up
Newberry - 75 - 22% up
Sault Ste. Marie - 13 - 51% down
Norway - 166 - N/A
**The above comparisons are based on check station activity through Nov. 23rd, and all results are preliminary. Nov. 22nd - 23rd were during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2018, so comparisons to 2018 are difficult and will likely be until the end of the season. This can also affect comparisons to the 10-year average. In a very general sense, check station numbers appear to be similar to last year. We will know more at the end of the season.**
Weather conditions have been good overall with a few exceptions. One exception has been high snow depths in some northern areas of the eastern U.P.
“The higher snow depths spurred deer migration out of those areas and prevented some hunters from being able to get to their hunting spots,” Jentoft said. “Many areas started with snow early in the firearm season, but snow has been melting and has receded in some areas as temperatures on many days have been above freezing.”
Hunters have been submitting deer head samples for chronic wasting disease testing, particularly in, and near, the Core CWD Surveillance Area (portions of Dickinson, Menominee and Delta counties), but more samples from this core area will be needed to meet testing goals there.
The number of deer licenses sold across Michigan through Sunday (since March 1) totaled 1,226,250, compared to 1,264,278 in 2018. The number of distinct deer hunting license customers statewide so far this year is 573,691 versus 595,275 in 2018.
2019 Deer Hunting Prospects: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/Deer_Hunting_Prospects_470587_7.pdf
Tips for a successful hunting season: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79119_79147_81438-506313--,00.html
Baiting and Feeding Information: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79136_79772_79773_83479---,00.html