Big bulls harvested during state’s September elk hunt

Gaylord, Mich. – Michigan’s early elk season couldn’t have gone
better, according to officials. The quota was met, many outstanding
bulls were taken, and for the first time anyone can remember, no
mistakes were made.

To top things off, in a limited hunt where weather can make or
break the hunt, the weather was near perfect.

According to Brian Mastenbrook, a DNR wildlife biologist in
Gaylord, several days of rain during an elk hunt makes it hard to
locate animals, and it can put a damper on hunter success and
harvest goals.

“The nights were clear and cool, no wind, no rain, and a full
moon made it easier for hunters to locate bugling elk,” Mastenbrook
said. “The cool nights had the elk bugling all night. We never had
that during the first hunt.”

The good weather, combined with early bugling, resulted in good
harvest numbers during the early hunt. The combined harvest from
the first two hunt periods, Sept. 1-5 and Sept. 11-15, was 79
animals. The harvest goal was 80. Twelve tribal and 110 state
licenses were issued, and there was a 65 percent hunter success
rate.

The hunt was conducted in Area L, which is outside the core elk
population area and mostly on private land.

“This hunt is held to address elk numbers in areas where they
have expanded into agricultural areas and are affecting crop
productivity,” said Tim Reis, the DNR’s wildlife supervisor in
northern Lower Michigan. “In this area, our elk numbers were above
goal and needed to be brought down.

“The early hunt appears to have gone extremely well.”

Numbers were still coming in at press time; however, according
to Joe Valentine, a DNR_wildlife assistant in Atlanta, at last
count 30 bulls and 45 cows had been taken. He reports one 8×8 bull,
at least two 7x8s, and one 7×7 being taken. Although spike bulls
were legal with an “any elk” tag, none were registered.

Valentine said this is the first hunt he remembers during which
no hunter errors were made.

“There were no mistakes made. No multiple kills, no spikes
mistaken for cows. It was a very good hunt,” Valentine said.

During the mandatory half-day elk orientation, among other
things, marksmanship, elk behavior, and safety are covered to
prevent hunter errors.

The state’s second elk hunt period will be Oct. 13-21, and 110
licenses have been issued. Like the first hunt, the October hunt
targets animals that have moved out of the core elk area and onto
surrounding private land.

The largest hunt, with 380 tags, will be held in the core elk
area Dec. 8-15.

“Early on in this hunt we’ll access harvest numbers to determine
if our goals are being met,”_Reis said.

If harvest numbers aren’t met during the December hunt,
biologists have the option of holding another elk hunt in
January.

For the September, October, and December 2009 elk hunts
combined, 38,826 applicants had a total of 144,310 chances at 126
“any elk” licenses, which allows the hunter to take a bull or cow.
An additional 20,742 applicants had 23,621 chances at 254
antlerless elk tags.

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