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E-M:/ 2005 Firearm Deer Season Preliminary Harvest Estimates Announced

Enviro-Mich message from "Richard Morscheck" <morscher@michigan.gov>

December 7, 2005

Contact: Rod Clute 517-373-1263 or Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014

2005 Firearm Deer Season Preliminary Harvest Estimates Announced

The Department of Natural Resources today announced preliminary estimates of the 2005 Michigan firearm deer season harvest.  The early estimate indicates approximately 243,000 deer were taken, of which an estimated 56 percent were antlered and 44 percent were antlerless. 

Final deer harvest figures, which will be available in July, are based on a mail survey of over 50,000 of this year's deer hunters.  As anticipated, the 2005 preliminary estimate is below the 2004 estimated harvest of 265,000, calculated from the 2004 mail survey.  The state's record firearm season harvest occurred in 1998, when an estimated 351,000 deer were taken. 

The DNR has taken steps to reduce the statewide deer population from an estimated 2.1 million deer in 1995.  The regulations for obtaining an antlerless license have been modified and special "antlerless-only" seasons have been established.  The deer herd in both the Upper Peninsula (UP) and the Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP) is substantially smaller today than in 1995.  The smaller harvest is partially a result of a smaller deer herd.

The DNR has established deer population goals for each deer management unit that take into consideration managing white-tailed deer for sustainability over the long-term, yielding healthy fawns, does and bucks without over-stressing habitat or other wildlife species and without creating undue hardship to agricultural or other private party interests.  Recent reductions of deer populations in the UP and NLP in an effort to reach established DNR goals resulted in the availability of fewer antlerless licenses this year.  The reduction of licenses contributed to the reduced harvest.

Successful firearm deer hunters generally contribute approximately 60 percent of the total annual deer harvest.  Archery season harvest contributes about 25 percent, muzzleloading about 10 percent, and special antlerless seasons about 5 percent.  The total deer harvest from all seasons this year is expected to exceed 400,000 deer.

The preliminary firearm season harvest is estimated using DNR Wildlife Division employees' assessment of the season. Wildlife management unit supervisors, who rely on an extensive network of employee, hunter, and processor contacts during the firearm season, provide an evaluation of the season for their area.  The preliminary harvest estimation is based upon the limited information that is available immediately following the season.  Final deer harvest figures will be available in July.

An estimated 700,000 hunters took to the field during the Nov. 15-30 hunt.  The firearm season experienced just about every variety of weather that can be experienced in a two week period.  Snow storms across the state on Nov. 16 dumped from a few inches of snow in the southern counties to 28 inches of snow in Marquette County.  During the remainder of the season, weather conditions ranged from a sunny 50 degree day to driving rain, unusually strong wind, snow, and unseasonable cold.  Hunting success is typically highest in the first three days of the firearm season.  The weather certainly affected this year's harvest.

UP hunters took an estimated 30,000 deer this fall, lower than last year's final harvest estimate of 34,000 deer.  Poor fawning conditions in the spring of 2004 were anticipated to result in fewer yearling bucks and does being available in the UP this year.  The preliminary harvest estimate in the Lower Peninsula is 213,000 animals, compared to last year's estimated final harvest of 231,000.  The decrease is primarily in the NLP, where the DNR's efforts to reduce the deer herd have been successful.  The preliminary estimates indicate this should be the third year in a row in which the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) firearm season harvest will exceed the harvest in the other two regions combined.  Deer populations remain above goal throughout most of the SLP.

About 20 percent of the total 2005 deer harvest is expected to be taken during the remaining deer seasons.  The archery deer hunting season continues through Jan.1. Muzzleloading deer hunting season runs Dec. 2-11 in the UP, Dec. 9-18 in the NLP, and Dec 2-18 in the SLP. 

"Deer season is far from over, and hunters have additional opportunities for successful hunting in December," said DNR Wildlife Chief Bill Moritz.  "Hunters should have an excellent muzzleloader and December archery seasons."

There also is a late firearm antlerless deer season, Dec. 20 - Jan. 2, on private land for antlerless deer in 24 deer management units in the Lower Peninsula (check the Hunting and Trapping Guide for open DMUs).  The DNR continues to encourage hunters in the SLP to take antlerless deer in an effort to reduce that deer herd.

The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.




UPPER PENINSULA 22,000             8,000             30,000
                              (24,000)        (10,000)        (34,000)

NORTHERN LOWER  43,000  30,000  73,000
PENINSULA       (48,000)        (37,000)        (85,000)

SOUTHERN LOWER  72,000  68,000  140,000
PENINSULA       (75,000)        (71,000)        (146,000)

TOTAL   137,000 106,000 243,000
        (147,000)       (118,000)       (265,000)

Wildlife Division

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