Deer harvest report a good read

Although deer hunting is probably far from the thoughts of most sportsmen and women at this time, there is a group in the Upper Peninsula that is fully focused on the sport.

The U.P. Deer Advisory Team is the group and the members will be discussing deer issues at a meeting Saturday in Munising.

The panel meets from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express on M-28. While the meeting is open to the public, the discussion is limited to team members. If time permits, there will be an opportunity for comments and questions.

Deer advisory teams were established a few years ago for the three zones in the state: The U.P., northern Lower Peninsula and Southern Lower Peninsula. They provide input to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.

Included on U.P. team’s agenda for Saturday are finalization of its recommendation for buck management in the U.P. and discussion of the deer license restructure package and the 2012 deer hunter harvest survey report.

Buck management is always a hot topic among deer hunters, with opinions running the gamut from very restrictive to very liberal. It will be interesting to see what the advisory team will recommend and whether that recommendation will be followed.

As far as the licensing package goes, most hunters have heard of the plan put forth by the governor adjusts the price of nearly all hunting and fishing licenses, with the goal to increase revenues significantly.

For deer hunters, the increase – which will go into effect in 2014 – will be $5 per tag, from $15 to $20, meaning most of us will pay $40 for the combination license rather than the $30 we will pay this year.

License fees haven’t been increased since 1997, so I guess the new package is understandable and hopefully a good chunk of the additional funds will go toward game and fish improvement projects.

Then we have the deer hunter survey report, which is always an interesting document to look over. The report is available on the DNR website at

Included is 10-page written report on the survey findings and upwards of 45 pages of charts that explain just about any fact you may be interested in.

For example, the number of people who bought a license to hunt deer in Michigan is pegged at about 701,000, which is up about 1 percent from the 691, 215 who purchased a license in 2011.

The number of license buyers is certainly impressive, although it’s down about 11 percent from the roughly 788,270 hunters who bought licenses in 2002. That reduction included fewer hunters buying licenses in almost all age groups between 14 and 49 years old.

However, a promising note about the number of hunters were the increases in hunter numbers for the youngest and oldest age groups. It’s not difficult to see why there are more young hunters because of the liberalization of minimum age requirements and special hunting programs.

The reason given for more old hunters – a group I fall into – is the large influx of baby boomers in the state’s population and we are living longer. The legalization of crossbows a few years back is also credited with more older hunters.

But what about the main thing hunters want to know about – the harvest estimates? Well, the survey found about 415,000, which was not much different than in 2011. However, it was promising to see that the buck harvest was up by about 8 percent during the regular firearm season.

The increase in antlered bucks during the regular firearm season in the U.P. was even more promising, with the survey showing a 23.4 percent increase from an estimated 22,860 in 2011 to about 28,200 in 2012.

These are but a few highlights of the extensive amount of information included in the report, which I believe most hunters would enjoy looking over.

Editor’s note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.