Breaking down Michigan’s white-tailed deer hunting seasons by the numbers
Deer camp is a great place for lively conversation.
Topics often include who shot the biggest buck last year, who holds the camp record for earliest buck, biggest buck and most bucks.
Inevitably, it seems, the conversation eventually heads towards the question of which style of hunting takes more deer. Do gun hunters kill too many does? Do archers kill too many bucks?
As Michigan’s 2016 firearms deer season unfolds and hunters flock to their local camps and favorite watering holes, here is a little ammo you can use in those conversations – straight from the DNR’s own 2015 deer hunter survey.
Statewide, there were 319,849 archery hunters and 541,874 firearms hunters in Michigan in 2015. (Obviously, some hunted with both.)
Archers spent an average of 14 days afield through the 76-day bow season while firearms hunters spent about 6.7 days afield during the 16-day gun season.
Archery hunters shot an estimated 111,568 deer including 68,924 bucks last year while firearms season hunters tagged an estimated 175,274 whitetails including 110,721 bucks.
Percentage wise, about 54 percent of all deer killed by hunters last year were taken during the regular firearm season including 45 percent of the antlerless deer and 62 percent of the bucks. Archers accounted for about 34 percent of all deer taken including 31 percent of the antlerless deer and 36 percent of the bucks.
When combining all of the hunts – archery, firearms, muzzleloader, early and late antlerless, Liberty, Independence and special permits – a total of 607,113 individual hunters spent 8.7 million days afield last year and combined to shoot an estimated 334,612 deer. That’s an overall success rate of 42 percent.
Now you can see just how popular of an activity deer hunting is in this state.
Here’s more. About 19 percent of hunters took an antlerless deer and 29 percent tagged an antlered buck last year. Only about 12 percent of all deer hunters shot two or more deer of any type and less than 4 percent of hunters statewide tagged two antlered bucks.
In 2015, 654,579 people bought a deer-hunting license in Michigan, which was down 1.5 percent from 2014 (664,762) and down about 8 percent from 2005 when the state says 712,466 people purchased a license.
Not surprising, 89 percent of deer license buyers were male and the average age of license buyers was 43 years. Despite all of our efforts to recruit youths into deer hunting only about 11 percent (74,600) of license buyers were younger than 17 years old and about 4 percent (23,942) were younger than 12 years old.