The Department of Natural Resources will offer a total of 708,650 antlerless deer licenses for the upcoming season. The announcement comes after the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) adopted quotas at its regular monthly meeting last Thursday at Harsens Island.
The NRC approved a total of 70,750 public-land antlerless deer licenses and a total of 637,900 private-land antlerless deer licenses. The changes result in a decrease of 47,550 licenses from 2011.
The quotas represent an increase of 450 private-land licenses and an increase of 1,900 public-land licenses available in the Upper Peninsula. Deer numbers in the region are continuing a short-term increasing trend following mild conditions for three straight winters. The department recommended increased quotas to provide additional recreational opportunity, not to reduce deer numbers in the areas where licenses were added.
In the northern Lower Peninsula, the number of private-land licenses available has been decreased by 23,500, while public-land licenses have been decreased by 1,300. Recent trends in deer populations have been variable across the region, but the decreases are primarily intended to match quotas more closely with past demand for antlerless licenses. Though this means fewer leftover licenses ultimately may be available in the region, all northern Lower Peninsula deer management units (DMU) will offer at least some licenses this year. Six DMUs in the region did not offer any antlerless licenses in 2011.
In the southern Lower Peninsula, 4,150 fewer private-land antlerless licenses will be available in 2012, and the total public-land quota was decreased by 2,350. Deer populations remain above goal throughout much of the region, though numbers do appear to be approaching desired levels in some areas.
“Although antlerless license quotas were reduced overall this year, we still had the opportunity to give hunters ample chances to take antlerless deer across the state,” said DNR Deer and Elk Program Leader Brent Rudolph. “Interest in seeing more bucks and bigger bucks is increasing among Michigan hunters, so we encourage those individuals to pass a buck and harvest a doe instead.”