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