By Steve Griffin Field Editor
Midland, Mich. — As DNR officials traveled through the state
last year talking with deer hunters about their sport they heard
one thing over and over: No one ever had asked these hunters their
opinions about deer and deer hunting. Sure, they’d heard about a
survey mailed to a few hunters every year, but neither they nor
anyone they knew ever had received one.
They wanted, they told the DNR folks, to have their say.
Now they can.
The DNR’s Wildlife Division has launched an online survey
program, inviting hunters to log on and post their experiences and
The results will become part of the report generated by the mail
“We’ll be collecting the same type of information as we do with
the mail survey,” statistician Brian Frawley told Michigan
Outdoor News in a phone interview. “This is designed to
complement the mail survey, to build upon it.”
Deer hunters logging in – and they should do it only when
they’ve finished hunting for the year, since reports can’t be
changed or updated – will be asked which seasons they participated
in, how many days they hunted, which deer management unit they
hunted most in, whether they were successful or not, and whether
that success came on public or private lands.
In addition, they’ll be asked one thing those surveyed by mail
are not: “We’ll ask them to tell us what they think the status of
the deer herd is in the DMU they hunt most often,” Frawley
In true Internet fashion, they’ll also be just a mouse click
away from logging other opinions on deer and deer hunting.
Tom Antor, founder and an executive board member of Michigan
United Deer Hunters, was guardedly enthusiastic.
“We’ve been kind of whining over the years, saying we wanted the
DNR to listen to us. So we’re posting a link on our web site
(www.mudh.com), telling our members to fill it in, be honest, and
see what happens,” Antor said. “Our only concern is what will the
DNR do with the information? We hope they process it and make it
“To me it’s a positive thing,” Antor said. “I have kind of lost
faith in the statistical data they’ve been getting.”
This is new territory for deer hunters, but not for Frawley and
another army of hunters.
“We have a history,” Frawley said. “We’ve been doing a survey
like this for three years for turkey hunters.”
Frawley said the participation rate of turkey hunters has been
somewhat disappointing, at about five percent. But if five percent
of deer hunters log on, that would generate lots of
Of the state’s 700,000 deer hunters, about 50,000 are selected
randomly and contacted by the mail survey each year, and about
35,000 of them follow through and reply.
Since those people are selected randomly, their responses are
extrapolated to the entire population from which they were
Online surveys, since they’re voluntary, don’t offer the same
opportunity. For one thing, the turkey survey showed, those
successful in their hunts are more likely to log in. But Frawley
said online reports can be computed, extrapolated to the group
itself, and then folded back into the population of deer
With online reports, he said, “We don’t have to estimate;
they’re treated as known community. The confidence interval
(statistical soundness of the DNR report) all comes from the mail
The result, he said, is a scientifically valid picture of deer
hunters and deer hunting.
And another important result: Every deer hunter will have had an
opportunity to add his or her voice to the deer report.