Recapping one hunter’s 2015 firearms deer opener

It’s been a tough year for me.

Three times this summer I fished with my brother. Three times I slid the net under one of his muskies. I didn’t hook a muskie all year, so he never had the chance to repay the favor. Opening day of the firearms deer season, he kept the streak going and killed a deer – his first. I spent hours in my stand during the first few days of the firearms season and never saw a deer.

I suppose it’s a little dramatic to say the year’s been tough. These are just deer and muskies, after all. Plus, I’m really happy for John.

That aside, the deer kill the first three days of the firearms season – Nov. 7-9 – totaled 68,401 animals, which is just more than a 6-percent increase from last year. You can say that’s a small increase over 2014, a season during which the deer harvest was very low by the standards of modern history, but the fact remains we’ve got another conservative season this year. That there’s a harvest increase at all probably means there’s more deer on the ground. That certainly would echo many of the reports I’ve heard, as well as the overall experience of our deer camp, at least on opening day (me notwithstanding, of course).

For the time being, hunters, in general, seem satisfied with the number of deer they’re seeing. And DNR officials seem plenty willing to remind hunters that even though there’s a bunch of deer they can’t shoot this year, they should be happy they’ll have plenty of opportunities in 2016. It’s a tenuous balance, and I’m as interested as anyone to see how it call shakes out.

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