Deer population down, small game numbers up
As you read in a recent issue of Michigan Outdoor News, it’s likely that northern hunters are going to see fewer deer this fall. A winter that came early and stayed late statewide has affected the herd somewhat, especially in the northern parts of the state.
A booming berry and nut crop will help hunters find good areas to place their blinds, but biologists say they should still expect to find fewer deer even if the forest floor is covered with acorns. Hunters shot fewer deer in 2013 and they will likely shoot fewer this year.
Meanwhile, other game animals and birds seem to be taking up the slack for the deer. Duck numbers are way up, woodcock seem to have leveled off their population decline, and observers reported 16 percent more drumming grouse when they did their surveys last spring. Could be that the deep snows of last winter were beneficial for grouse.
A bumper acorn crop will keep squirrels and squirrel hunters happy, and anecdotal reports and observations are showing good numbers of cottontails in the southern Lower Peninsula. So, yeah, deer numbers look to be down, but Mother Nature has compensated for it in other areas.
Add the waterfowl, upland bird and small game success to greatly increased water levels in both the Great Lakes and inland, for those who like to mix a little fishing with their fall pursuits, and it all adds up to another great year to be outdoors in Michigan.