MARQUETTE — Autumn is here, and as always, when the chill arrives, the annual deer hunting tradition in Michigan gets underway.

While today was day one of archery deer season, this morning’s first visitor to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources check station in Marquette was a different type of animal altogether.

“We’ve been seeing a number of really nice bears this year,” said DNR Wildlife Biologist Brian Roell. “I believe we’ve checked close to fifty bears so far here in Marquette. From what I’m hearing from the hunters, they’re seeing numbers of bears. I mean, the guy we saw here today reported seeing four more bears on his trail camera. I think the bear hunters are enjoying a really good season.”

For a number of camo-clad deer hunters equipped with bows and arrows, the story this year may be a little different. Multiple subsequent harsh winters have been hard on the deer population, likely resulting in a lower number of trophy-worthy bucks this year.

“This year, though, we are seeing a better fawn crop, and we have better fawn survival,” Roell added. “From what I’m seeing, and we’ll see how this plays out, but my hunch is, the hunters are going to see more deer, but there may not be as many targets as there once [were] in previous years.”

Five of the U.P.’s check stations, including the one in Marquette, will be open throughout archery deer season. While getting your deer checked is optional, it can help DNR biologists learn more about the health of the herd.

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