Most Michigan deer hunters have been in the woods as much as possible during this firearm deer hunting season.
However, one group of deer hunters — members of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division — have given up some of their days afield to check other hunters’ deer at check stations around the state.
Collecting valuable data about the state’s deer population is something the DNR has been doing for decades.
The DNR is aided in its efforts by students and other volunteers and through partnerships with meat processors, taverns, recreation vehicle dealers and other businesses that provide some of the most popular check station venues.
“We get a ton of information from our hunters,” said Chad Stewart, the DNR’s deer specialist, who is located at the Rose Lake Research Center. “It’s the one time of year when we can really get our hands on so many deer.”
The DNR collects data on the age and sex structure of the harvest, location data from where the deer are being taken and a glimpse of the herd’s overall health.
“We get a lot of data at the township-range-section level,” Stewart said. “Any one data point doesn’t have much value. But, when you get that same data over time, it has a far greater impact. We’re able to tell where these deer came from and anything that changes over time regarding any of the factors we’re looking at.” Read more
The 2015 Michigan deer season is the first being conducted following a finding of chronic wasting disease in a free-ranging deer in Michigan. The disease was first detected in an Ingham County white-tailed deer this past spring.
Wildlife officials are optimistic, however, that CWD can be eliminated in Michigan and are asking for hunters’ assistance.
So far, public response has been “overwhelmingly positive,” said Chad Stewart, the Department of Natural Resources deer and elk specialist.
“Most people right now are on board with what we are doing,” he said. “They seem to understand the regulatory changes we’ve made. Not everyone likes them, but they understand them.”
In April, Meridian Township police dispatched a 6-year-old female deer that was exhibiting signs of neurological disease. An initial screening at the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Disease Laboratory identified the deer as a CWD suspect. Soon, the National Veterinary Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the DNR’s suspicion: Michigan became the latest state to have found CWD in its free-ranging deer herd. Read more
Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists said today the firearm deer hunting season in the Upper Peninsula is moving ahead according to forecast, with many hunters seeing fewer deer, while others are harvesting some fantastic older bucks.
After three consecutive severe winters in the region, DNR biologists predicted hunters this firearm deer season should expect to see fewer deer in the U.P., especially in the 1 ½- and 2 ½-year-old age classes.
The season opened Nov. 15 to unseasonably warm temperatures, but with colder air and snow in some areas over the past few days, hunters have anticipated improved hunting conditions.
DNR Upper Peninsula Regional Wildlife Supervisor Terry Minzey said the season so far has been great for some hunters, disappointing for others.
“We’re killing some beautiful older bucks,” Minzey said. “But there are large areas where we’re hearing people are not seeing many deer at all.”
At the 15 DNR check stations across the U.P., the harvest is down 48 percent compared to the 10-year average.
However, some check stations are up over last year. For example, the Marquette check station is 46 percent below than the 10-year average, but the number of deer checked is up 28 percent over last year. Read more
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Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers were successful early Saturday in locating a lost bowhunter and a friend of his who had tagged along to help track a wounded deer in Gladwin County.
The two men had gone to the Lame Duck Foot Access Area in Bourret Township Friday evening to try to find a deer the bowhunter had shot the night before. As darkness fell, the men lost their way out of the walk-in-only hunting area, which is located within 11,000 acres of state forest land in northeast Gladwin County.
At about 1 a.m. Saturday, DNR conservation officers Steve Lockwood and Josh Wright were sent to the area by Gladwin Central Dispatch.
Gladwin County Sheriff’s deputies Kyle Binger and Robert Doyle were closer to the scene and also responded to the area, where family and friends had been searching for the two lost men.
“Family members had been talking to them on a cell phone,” Lockwood said. “They were walking out toward them and then they turned the other way and they lost contact with them.”
The battery had died on a global positioning satellite unit the lost men had with them. Read more
Midland area hunters are being asked to keep an eye out for a wanted man in the deer woods. Details here…