Outlook bright for bow season

Lansing – Across the state, bowhunters can generally expect to
find higher numbers of antlered deer than last year. According to
DNR biologist Brian Frawley, there was a 7-percent decrease in the
total number of antlered deer killed by hunters in 2008. That means
a few more bucks likely made it through to this season.

The early and late archery seasons of 2007-08 saw a 16-percent
drop in both sexes of deer that were taken by bowhunters. An
estimated 106,439 deer fell to stick and string last fall.

Hunter participation during the 2008 archery season dropped 5
percent from the previous season. For approximately the past three
years, fewer bowhunters have been heading afield.

In an effort to offset those loses and to get more hunters
afield during the archery season, the state Natural Resources
Commission earlier this year liberalized crossbow regulations in
Michigan. Beginning this year, crossbows are legal for the
following uses:

€ during any season in which a firearm may be used for both big
and small game, statewide;

€ by anyone age 50 or older, during the Oct. 1-Nov. 14 archery
deer season, statewide;

€ by any hunter age 12 or older during the archery season in
Zone 3.

Hunters must be 12 years of age or older to use a crossbow, and
bolt velocity is restricted to 350 feet per second. In addition,
anyone hunting with a crossbow must possess a crossbow stamp –
which is free and available at all license dealers statewide – as
well as a valid hunting license.

A baiting and feeding ban still exists this year for all
counties in the Lower Peninsula. The ban was implemented last
summer after a doe at a privately owned cervid facility in Kent
County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, baiting and feeding is still
allowed. There also are certain counties in the northern parts of
the U.P. that allow supplemental feeding by permit only. For more
information on this topic, visit the Michigan DNR web site at
www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Bovine tuberculosis continues to exist in Deer Management Unit
452, which consists of Oscoda, Alcona, Montmorency, and Alpena
counties. In 2008, 36 deer tested positive for TB.

In addition to these counties, a deer with TB was found in Iosco
County. Compared with 2007, the prevalence rate for TB has only
increased .4 percent.

The good news is Shiawassee County was void of any TB-positive
deer in 2008, after one deer from that county tested positive in
2007.

Upper Peninsula

According to Bob Doepker, supervisor for the DNR’s Western U.P.
Wildlife Management Unit, the 2008-09 winter was average for snow
depth; however, snow cover came early and lasted into late
March.

“We are experiencing the residual effects of the winter of
2007-2008, which was severe,”_Doepker told Michigan Outdoor News.
“Our models suggest we lost deer over winter during that period,
and we lost a higher proportion of our fawns that were born during
spring 2008. These two factors resulted in fewer 11/2-year-olds
(yearlings) last deer season, and due to the loss of fawns born in
spring 2008, we anticipate fewer yearlings this year.”

The eastern U.P. also experienced heavy snow, and is
anticipating another reduction in the deer herd.

Hard and soft mast crops appear to be average across most of the
U.P.

When asked about habitat improvement for deer, Doepker said, “We
under-planted approximately 600 acres of hemlock, refurbished four
hunter walking trails, and currently we’re working on about 40
acres of openings. In addition, we have scheduled timber harvest on
thousands of acres of state land in the WUP management unit.”

Last year, the DNR implemented antler point restrictions in the
U.P. Hunters in the U.P. must choose between buying one buck tag
(firearms or archery license), which allows them to shoot any legal
buck, or a combo license, which allows them to shoot one buck with
at least three points on one side and one buck with at least four
points on one side. If opting for a license that allows you to
shoot any legal buck, hunters are restricted to one buck per
year.

Those restrictions could increase the number of older bucks that
bowhunters find in the U.P. woods this season.

Northern Lower Peninsula

In the northern Lower Peninsula, bowhunters can expect to find
about the same number of bucks as last year. However, heavy snow
cover in certain areas during the past two winters produced fawns
that weren’t as healthy; therefore the number of yearlings is
down.

Last spring’s cold weather negatively affected acorn production
in the NLP, which is likely to be mostly non-existent due to late
frost. However, soft mast, such as wild apples and dogwood, is
available for deer.

Southern Lower Peninsula

As usual, there was no negative winter impact on deer in the
southern Lower Peninsula. The deer population should be extremely
healthy this year. Food is abundant because of the great amount of
rainfall this spring.

According to Rodney Clute, big-game specialist for the DNR,
“Both soft and hard mast crops are plentiful throughout southern
Michigan.”

Agricultural crops have flourished, as well. Impressive corn,
soybean, and alfalfa crops, coupled with good minerals in the soil,
will allow bowhunters to find bucks with outstanding antler
quality. Last archery season, the SLP dominated in antlered bucks
taken, with a total of 40,138.

The DNR has created two large DMUs called mega units – one in
southern Michigan and one in the northeastern Lower Peninsula.

These units – DMU 486 in the south and DMU 487 in the north –
encompass private land in their respective areas and allow hunters
more flexibility for hunting antlerless deer.

Hunters with access to private land in more than one DMU within
the mega units may purchase a private land antlerless deer license
for a traditional DMU, or for one of the new mega units, and will
be able to use the same antlerless deer license on private land in
any of the counties within the larger mega units.

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