MARQUETTE — October 1 marks the beginning of archery season but the deer population hasn’t quite made a full recovery after the cruel winters in the last few years.
The three winters prior to 2015 were too harsh for white-tailed deer. That paired with hunting took the bulk of mature bucks out of the population.
But last year’s winter was mild enough in the snow belt along Lake Superior that the fawn population soared.
“I’m suspecting that we’re going to see a pretty good return to the deer numbers. We’ve had excellent fawn crop this past summer so I’m seeing lots of fawns out there,” said DNR Wildlife Biologist Brian Roell. “However the actual targets are mature, adult bucks that the hunters are seeking are going to be a little harder to find. I think there’s going to be fewer of those on the landscape.”
Fork and spike horn bucks make up a large portion of a hunter’s harvest and at least one more mild winter is necessary to start increasing that target deer population.
“As a deer hunter what we really need to hope for this year is another mild winter to further help this deer herd start to rebound,” said Roell. “Just one mild winter will not bring the deer herd back to where it was. It takes multiple years, multiple generations of deer to start building that up and seeing that result.”
The DNR wants to remind archers that their single and combination tags are only good for deer with antlers. There are no antler-less permits in the immediate area so hunters may have to travel to southern parts of the U.P. for that kind of hunting.