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Michigan DNR May Close Deer Season in UP for 2015


I'm Your Huckleberry
Staff member
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By Scott Brand

Posted Apr. 29, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Sault Ste. Marie

Anticipating the deer harvest will be among the lowest recorded over the last three decades, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is preparing to present six different options to the Natural Resources Commission at the May 7 session in Lansing, including closing the entire Upper Peninsula to deer hunting for the upcoming season.

While this is only one option on the table, the potential closure of deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula seems to be drawing the most buzz since the April 24 memorandum began to circulate on the Internet.

The full list of options on the six page document includes:

• maintaining the current season and license structure;

• close the entire deer hunting season in the Upper Peninsula;

• eliminate the combination license option in the U.P. (one buck) and eliminate the antlerless option during archery season when using the single license;

• eliminate the antlerless option during archery season;

• eliminate the antlerless option for archery hunters during the late archery season only;

• eliminate the Liberty and Independence hunts in the Upper Peninsula.

Each option comes with a lengthy description of the pros and cons associated with implementation.

The closure of the 2015 deer hunting season offers the greatest amount of protection, according to the report, conserving more deer going into the winter.

“There are significant ramifications resulting from closing down a deer hunting season in a region,” reads the report, noting the fiscal impacts to the local economy and lost revenue from license sales of approximately $3 million. “Since winter is a primary driver of deer populations in the UP, it’s possible that many of the deer that are not harvested by hunters will succumb to winter loss.”

Again, the closure of the 2015 Upper Peninsula deer season is merely an option being explored and a final determination will not be forthcoming until the June meeting of the Natural Resources Commission.

When it comes to maintaining the status quo, essentially replicating the regulations and licensing from 2014, the major con comes in the form of low deer numbers and a perceived lack of responsiveness by the DNR.

Eliminating the combination license and the antlerless option during the archery season while using a single license appears destined to have only a minor effect on the overall deer herd, according to the report, while carrying the risk of significant economic impact if implemented.

Eliminating the antlerless option during the archery season, including combination licenses, could reduce the harvest by 5,000 or more deer across the Upper Peninsula, but many of those, the report reveals, are taken in areas where the deer have successfully wintered due to the more moderate climate. This measure would also be complicated as some hunters have already purchased license for the upcoming season. Elimination of antlerless hunting during the late archery season would have an unknown effect as the DNR does not have specific figures regarding the proportion of the antlerless harvest for December.

The Liberty and Independence Hunts in September, designed to promote hunting for youth and those with disabilities, make up a small fraction of the annual harvest and the financial impact is likewise considered minimal.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will look for further direction from the Natural Resources Commission on this issue at the May 7 session in preparing for June action setting the 2015 season.

But I do remember both of us talking about what a hard deer season it was last year.
Ouch. I take it that's where you hunt Mike?

We have a place up there. I do a lot of hunting in lower MI now but I still love to go up there for family vacations and just to get away. Lots of memories and tradition up there, I've never missed a deer season in all my years of hunting I've always made it up for at least a weekend.

This probably would be good for the deer as the numbers are low due to prolonged cold harsh winters. Just not sure how well it would fly with locals and those of us that drive up to deer camp every year .
Lots of memories and tradition up there, I've never missed a deer season in all my years of hunting I've always made it up for at least a weekend.

And that's going to be the hardest part about it. If they do decide to stop season this year.

But that still won't take away anything from your memories and traditions.

But I do understand why you'd be bummed about it. I would be too.

But from what everyone is saying, this year is going to be a bumper crop so hopefully the deer that did make it through the winter will have a fighting chance to pull out of it.
If they do stop it completely this year, the DNR officers will have their hands full of poachers. Some people jus gots ta have their deer...
Worst case, i will go to coyote camp. There are more of them than deer anyway LOL
Coyotes will kill the fawns given a chance.

I know they'll even follow along behind heifers just before they give birth too.

The more you take out, the better you'll be as far as deer numbers go.
They'll pull antelope right out half way thought the birthing thing process around here.

It was interesting on a Yellowstone documentary I watched that the introduction of wolves rebounded the antelope population from almost certain demise in the park boundary. Wolves absolutely hate coyotes and kill them on sight in mass if they can and by doing so brought the numbers balance back

But there are wolves there right Mike ?
Yes we have some wolves up there, not sure how many. I've seen a track but not much else. I've seen a lot of pics of dogs attacked by wolves taken not too far from my place.

I know this is not the end, A short break in tradition is small price if it will actually help the deer population. Long term I'd prefer to see the DNR actually do what needs to be done for the deer.
With as much money as the fish/game dept. get from deer licenses, I don't think they'll close the season even if it meant extinction of the species.

I don't think you've got much to worry about.

A winter of heavy snow and bitter cold may have resulted in increased mortality rates from the upper Midwest to New England.
In Maine, biologists are recommending a cut of 23 percent to the state's deer hunting permits. In Vermont, the number of antlerless deer permits is being cut nearly in half. In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, deer hunting could be halted altogether.
"This last winter was one of the worst that I can remember. I suspect that we lost a lot of deer," said David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine. "Although it's disappointing to see permits go down, I would have to agree."
Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists are recommending the state issue 28,770 "any deer" permits, which allow hunters to harvest bucks or does. The cut would come a year after the state reduced permits from 46,710 to 37,185, a 25 percent cut that was also motivated in part by winter die-offs.

More at the link above
Looks like they decided not to cancel the season entirely, but just halt the anterless option during the archery season.


MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Michigan wildlife policymakers don't plan to cancel this year's deer season in the Upper Peninsula — a place where hunting is embraced economically and culturally — despite a plummeting whitetail deer population.

A Natural Resources Commission policy committee voted Thursday to recommend that the full commission either take no action or eliminate antlerless deer hunting during bow season. The latter option wouldn't affect firearm season, which covers most hunters.

Commissioners, who were meeting at a Michigan State University facility near Lansing, set bag limits and other hunting regulations. A full vote on the hunt is planned for next month.


How to control those deer overrunning Detroit suburbs?

The whitetail population has dropped as much as 40 percent after two bitterly cold, snowy winters in the U.P., where about 100,000 people participate in the hunt. Canceling the hunt was discussed but never a likely option given how it would harm local economies, eliminate recreational opportunities, increase hunting in other areas and could leave more deer to die due to severe weather.

"Eliminating the hunt is not needed at this time," said J.R. Richardson, a commissioner from the Upper Peninsula community of Ontonagon. "We don't have to go all the way. It's an economic and cultural thing."

Richardson said taking a more measured step, such as eliminating antlerless hunting during archery season, could be enough for now as wildlife officials work with public and private landowners to improve deer habitats. The antlerless hunting ban would limit opportunities for archers, but likely would protect the highest number of antlerless deer and follows similar efforts in areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin, said state deer management specialist Chad Stewart.

Deer numbers have been dropping in Michigan since the mid-1990s, and the state is among many in the Midwest and New England that are implementing or considering cuts to hunting permits. Severe winters are perilous for deer because they risk running out of fat reserves and dying. Fawns, whose health determines the future stability of a herd, are especially susceptible.


Survey suggests Michigan's moose population dropping

Stewart said one "ray of hope" is that a monitored sample of animals in one area of Michigan's northern, rugged U.P. is surviving at a much higher rate this year than in the previous years. Still, he said, this year is expected to continue a long trend of declines.

The news that canceling the hunt was off the table was welcome to Tony Demboski, president of the Upper Peninsula Sportmans Alliance. But he recognizes further restricting the hunt is necessary.

"We're looking at anything that can help save the herd," he said. "We know we're going to have to take it on the nose here a little bit."
We've not had a (rifle) doe season in as long as I can remember.

We can take them with bows and black powders, but not with a rifle.

Go figure.

I didn't think they'd close the season altogether. Too much money in lost revenue.
The lower pop areas in the UP do not have an anterless option during the gun season (i.e. where I hunt). Elsewhere it is by tag only which you have to apply for or buy OTC if there are leftovers.

It did come down to economics. As much as I was bummed about the prospect of missing a season, if it would make future seasons better I was on board. It's obvious that despite many positive changes within our wildlife dept, it is still driven more by economics than the actual wildlife conservation.
Anytime you add the words "Agency" or "Management" or "Bureau" after something, it will forever more be about the money and control.
Update it's official, no antlerless during the archery season in the UP.


June 11, 2015

Contact: Chad Stewart, 517-641-4903 or Ed Golder, 517-284-5815

NRC approves 2015 U.P. antlerless deer hunting restrictions

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission today decided to eliminate the harvest of antlerless deer during the archery season for hunters using deer or deer combo licenses in the Upper Peninsula.The restriction, which does not affect the firearm deer season, will be in effect for the 2015-2016 season. The NRC made the decision at its monthly meeting in Monroe, Michigan, in an effort to aid the Upper Peninsula’s struggling deer population, which has declined to a level comparable to the early 1980s following three successive winters with severe conditions. There have been roughly 5,000 to 6,300 antlerless deer harvested in the U.P. by archers over each of the past four years. Although deer regulations currently are on a three-year cycle, elements such as weather and disease can cause regulations to be reviewed mid-cycle and adjusted when appropriate. “The NRC asked the DNR Wildlife Division to present options to address the decline in deer in the U.P. and associated concerns by hunters,” said DNR deer management specialist Chad Stewart. “In May we brought forward six possible options, and the NRC chose to concentrate on two of those options.” The NRC’s decision makes deer and deer combo licenses used in the archery season “buck-only” licenses. The other option considered by the NRC was to maintain the current regulations. “Deer hunting is an important tradition in Michigan’s U.P. and a big economic driver for the entire state,” said Natural Resources Commission Chair John Matonich. “This decision by the NRC will ensure that tradition continues while also providing prudent protections for the U.P. deer population.” The winter of 2014-2015 brought significant snowfall before the start of the firearm season, which persisted to depths of 20-30 inches across much of the region. Additionally, temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees arrived in February, further stressing animals that had limited mobility because of the deep snow. These latest wintry conditions followed the winters of 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, which were extremely hard on the U.P. deer population. The DNR Wildlife Division polled neighboring states on their recent and future deer seasons, and found those states also are reducing antlerless quotas or opportunities to take antlerless deer during specific seasons. “We will be working to communicate this information to all who hunt in the Upper Peninsula,” Stewart said. “We’ll need to make sure hunters everywhere are aware of the change because once they cross the Mackinac Bridge the rules for their 2015 deer licenses will change.” Antlerless harvest still will be permitted through the allotment of private-land antlerless licenses in deer management units where it was decided that antlerless harvest should be maintained. This includes DMUs 055, 122 and 155. Deer and deer combo licenses can be returned for a refund and new licenses could be purchased prior to the start of the deer seasons. After Sept. 20, the licenses are considered “used” and cannot be returned. To learn more about the process for returning licenses, contact DNR licensing staff at 517-284-6047 or MDNR-E-License@michigan.gov. For more information on hunting seasons and regulations, visit: www.michigan.gov/hunting.To stay up to date on regulation changes like this, sign up for DNR email updates to get important natural resource news sent directly to you, when it’s happening.
That sucks. But I didn't think they'd stop season altogether.

KY's deer reg's are also warped up. Especially in my "zone" where it pertains to doe.
There are only two counties that issue doe tags now, shutting down the ability to take one with a bow (no additional do tag required) will impact a lot of hunters in the UP.

The property I hunt up there is buck only but I would still hunt state land during the archery season as the archery tag allows taking of doe.

This does not impact me as much directly but I have to think that the poaching of does will increase this year as the income levels in the UP are low and people need to keep they freezers stocked.

Right now of more concern to me is the CWD case they found in the southern lower. DNR snipers are already culling deer (@night with suppressors....both options that are illegal for the rest of us.) in the area and have stopped baiting and feeding in the area as well.