The 2012 firearm deer season wrapped up late last week, and the Department of Natural Resources announced today that hunter reports from around the state have been mostly positive.
Into the first few days of the firearm season, the number of individuals that purchased a deer license was up 2 percent compared to the same point in 2011. Firearm season check station activity also increased this year in the Upper Peninsula and southern Lower Peninsula, but was about the same in the northern Lower Peninsula. Check station data indicated deer were in good condition, with improvements to key measurements compared to 2011.
“Hunters coming to deer check stations have a great opportunity to contribute data that we use to manage the resources they care so much about,” said Dr. Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief.
Each year the DNR generates preliminary estimates of the firearm deer harvest shortly after the season closes on Nov. 30. Those estimates are replaced by a rigorous assessment of harvest and participation over all deer seasons using an annual hunter mail survey.
The 2012 firearm deer season harvest appears similar or up slightly compared to the 2011 season. Experiences can differ widely within regions. DNR biologists estimate the harvest, compared to 2011, was up perhaps as much as 10 percent across the Upper Peninsula and very similar to last year in the northern Lower Peninsula. Experiences in the southern Lower Peninsula varied widely, and harvest in that region is expected to be anywhere from 5 percent lower to 5 percent higher compared to 2011.
Impacts related to epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), a viral disease that affects Michigan deer but does not have human health concerns, appear to have been highly localized, but pronounced where they did occur. Data on hunter observations about the impacts of EHD collected at the check stations suggested these impacts were not widespread, but the DNR also has been getting input from unsuccessful hunters that did not have deer to bring to a check station.
“Some hunters in southern Michigan saw substantially fewer deer compared to last year,” said Brent Rudolph, DNR Wildlife Division Deer and Elk Program leader, “yet we had pretty good conditions for hunters to enjoy their time afield, and the overall attitudes of deer hunters around the state have been upbeat.”
Rudolph also stressed the importance of cooperation with the hunter harvest survey, which he called “another vital tool for Michigan’s deer program, and another way in which data provided by hunters contributes to our information base.”
Hunters that do not receive a survey in the mail but wish to provide their hunting and harvest information may visit www.michigan.gov/deer and select the Deer Harvest Reporting Form link. Hunters should only provide this information once they have completed all of their 2012 hunting activities, including seasons open through as late as Jan. 1, 2013.