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E-M:/ FWD -DNR: 2001 Preliminary Firearm Deer Season Report

Enviro-Mich message from "Rita Jack" <rita.jack@prodigy.net>

-----Original Message-----
From: Department of Natural Resources publications list
[mailto:DNRWIRE@LISTSERV.STATE.MI.US] On Behalf Of Richard Morscheck
Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2001 3:42 PM
Subject: 2001 Preliminary Firearm Deer Season Report

20 NOV 01
CONTACT: John Urbain, 517-373-1263


LANSING--Thanks to mild temperatures, which allowed hunters to stay in
the field longer, deer hunting efforts appear up significantly in many
parts of the state during the first week of the 2001 firearm deer
season, according to field reports compiled by the Michigan Department
of Natural Resources.

Hunting Conditions

Although this has been the warmest opener since 1990, hunting conditions
are quite good. The mild temperatures, along with early morning fog and
dew, have given hunters excellent sitting and walking conditions. High
temperatures were in the 60s each of the first three days, and low
temperatures remained above 32 degrees in most areas. Winds have been
moderate to calm on most days. Deer were hard to see, impossible to hear
and just were not detected by hunters.

Corn harvest is slightly behind normal, providing escape cover for deer
in some areas. The roads were reasonably dry providing good access to
all areas.

Hunter Numbers and Attitude

Hunter numbers on public lands were similar to last year. Private land
hunter numbers appeared to be similar or slightly down from past years,
with areas of both heavier and lighter than normal pressure reported.

Hunter attitude has been very positive so far. Complaints generally were
about the warm weather. In a few areas, hunters returned home early to
keep their deer from spoiling. This may suggest a reduction in effort.
Department field staff have heard from a few hunters who noted that it
appears the deer herd is down in their area, but these observations are
few in number and could be attributed to weather conditions.

Deer Numbers and Deer Behavior

Deer populations may have stabilized over most of Michigan at levels
below peak populations of the mid-1990s. However, deer numbers remain
above the DNR goal in many deer management units. Many hunters remarked
that for the health of the herd, we needed fewer deer.  

Hunter reports and a recent upswing in car-deer accidents indicate that
many of the bucks began serious rutting activity about a week before gun
deer season began. Several hunters have reported seeing rutting
behavior, bucks chasing does. However, the milder temperatures have
tempered some of this activity and cooler temperatures are sure to get
the bucks moving again.

Harvest Impressions

Field units generally are reporting that more deer have been checked
this year than last year. The number of deer reported at highway check
stations initially appeared down from 2000, possibly because 92 separate
stations were open this year. To date, more than 20,000 deer have been
examined at DNR check stations. With the very warm temperatures it is
expected that many hunters would return early from the North Country.
This did not really occur until Sunday, Nov. 18. Many hunters purchased
large amounts of ice and stayed in camp, or they took their deer
straight to the processors and the DNR will not see them until they
bring in the deer heads at a later date. Processors across the state
were busy and had to refuse many deer for lack of space.

Antler development again appears to be above normal throughout most of
the state. In the northeast, yearling bucks continue to improve in
condition. A very large 8-point buck was checked at the Lost Nation
State Game Area check station--potentially scoring in the 180+ range.

Although it appears that similar numbers of antlerless deer are being
checked, there is some indication that the number of fawns being brought
in are down. Yet, many hunters report they are seeing many fawns.
Hunters may be selecting against fawns.

More Opportunity

For the remainder of this firearm season that ends Nov. 30, there should
be excellent opportunities to hunt many private land areas in the Lower
Peninsula with permission. Generally, permission to private land is
easier to
obtain after the opening weekend. Excellent deer numbers remain in
southern Michigan and with more cornfields being harvested and a return
to more seasonal temperatures, hunting opportunities should improve.  

A Final Reminder to U.P. Hunters

In an effort to prevent the accidental killing of gray wolves, hunters
in the Upper Peninsula are reminded that COYOTE HUNTING IS PROHIBITED
during the 16-day firearm deer season. Two wolves reportedly were killed
during the first few days of deer season. DNR Conservation Officers are
investigating both incidents for referral to local prosecutors.

The gray wolf is protected by both the state and federal government as
an endangered species. A person convicted for killing a wolf can face up
to 90 days in jail, $1,000 in fines and $1,500 restitution, plus
revocation of all hunting licenses for three years.

Anyone who witnesses an illegal activity related to a protected species
is encouraged to call the DNR Report All Poaching hotline at
800-292-7800. Strict confidentiality will be maintained with any
information received. 


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