Lansing – The buck harvest during the 2006 deer-hunting seasons
in Michigan was up by about 22 percent over 2005, but the
antlerless harvest was down about 5 percent statewide. That was the
message Brian Frawley, DNR research biologist, gave Natural
Resources Commission members during a meeting of the NRC’s Policy
Committee on Wildlife and Fisheries, held earlier this month in
According to a DNR report circulated at the meeting, 1,163,531
deer-hunting licenses were sold to hunters in 2006. A total of
426,123 antlerless permits were sold, a dip of 15 percent over
2005, and 385,961 combo licenses were issued, a 7-percent increase
over 2005. Hunters also purchased 294,507 firearms licenses (up 2
percent over ‘05) and 56,900 archery tags (down 2 percent). Hunters
averaged 2.1 tags per person.
‘There were 734,323 people who purchased at least one license
last year,’ Frawley said. ‘And this is the first time since 1998
that we’ve had an increase in firearms hunters.’
DNR Wildlife Chief Bill Moritz pointed out that nationally,
Michigan is tops in the number of archery licenses sold each year
and in the top two (Texas is first) in terms of firearms licenses
The DNR uses a complex equation to determine whitetail harvest
numbers, including hunter surveys and reports from field personnel.
For the 2006 season, the DNR received nearly 20,000 responses to
its Deer Harvest Survey via the Internet, and another 30,992
responses from the mail survey it sends out to hunters. (The DNR
mailed out 49,052 surveys for a return rate of 63 percent.)
The estimated deer population in Michigan entering the 2006
season was about 1.7 million. That breaks down to approximately
912,000 in the southern Lower Peninsula (Zone 3), 513,000 in the
northern Lower Peninsula (Zone 2), and 360,000 in the Upper
Peninsula (Zone 1).
With an overall success rate of 46 percent, biologists estimate
that hunters last fall killed about 456,000 whitetails during all
seasons combined, including 266,000 antlered deer and 190,000
Firearms hunters accounted for the biggest portion of the
harvest, killing an estimated 169,000 antlered bucks (a 23-percent
increase over 2005) and 92,000 antlerless deer (an 11-percent
decline). Archers shot 75,000 antlered bucks and 50,000 antlerless
deer, while muzzleloader hunters accounted for 15,000 antlered
bucks and 30,000 antlerless deer. During the youth hunt, kids age
16 and under killed just under 7,000 antlered bucks and just short
of 3,000 antlerless deer, according to the DNR estimates. The late
antlerless season in select counties in the Lower Peninsula
accounted for another 10,000 deer being killed.
Antlerless permit regs
The DNR has established the counties that will be open for
antlerless hunting in 2007 and is in the process of establishing
the number of permits that will be available in each Deer
Management Unit (DMU).
No new areas will be opened to antlerless hunting in the
northern Lower this year, but in DMUs 05 (Antrim County), 15
(Charlevoix County), and 72 (Roscommon County), no public land
permits will be issued.
In the U.P., DMUs 07, 27, 36, 42, 48, 66, and 131 will not have
antlerless permits available. DMUs 31, 17, 21, 49, 127, and 152
will have only private-land antlerless permits available. DMUs 22,
55, 117, 121, 122, 140, 155, 255, and 252 will offer both
public-land and private-land antlerless permits.