Firearms deer take one of lowest in recent years
With ice and or snow seriously lacking in many parts of the state, hordes of sportsmen and sportswomen appear to be reflecting on the recent firearms deer hunting season.
Phone calls, emails and letters have been flooding into the MON office over the last few weeks from hunters across the state. Some call to share their success stories from the recent season, but most want to vent and adamantly disagree with the DNR's preliminary assessment that this year's overall kill during the 16-day firearms season was similar to last year's.
The thing is, most of these disgruntled hunters claim to be mad that the DNR is claiming the recent season was a good one.
The statement that last year's take was similar to 2010 doesn't necessarily claim that the 2011 season was a good one, just that it wasn't significantly better or worse than 2010.
What many don't realize is that the firearms season kill of approximately 220,000 whitetails in 2010 is the lowest harvest in the last 10 years. In fact, that number is down about 25 percent from the 292,000 whitetails that hunters shot during the firearms season of 2008 and down about 28 percent from the 307,000 killed in 2003.
If last year's harvest does parallel that of 2010, the bottom line would be that the kill over the last two years have been the lowest so far of the 21st Century.
For many hunters, the 2011 season was frustrating, especially those hunting in parts of the northern Lower Peninsula where lots of hunters are complaining about a lack of deer. Things were a little better in the U.P., where back-to-back mild winters led to higher deer numbers than in the recent past.
The biggest decline, according to the DNR, was in the southern Lower Peninsula, where deer numbers and hunter numbers are the highest. The continued decline in the southern Michigan deer kill appears to indicate that the relatively unlimited number of antlerless permits the DNR has made available over the last several years are taking a toll and that whitetail numbers in the southern third of the state are finally trending downward.