Checked white-tails up from 2017

Sean Thompson, 12, is pictured with 8-point buck outside of Big Bay. (Photo courtesy of Bill Sanderson)

MARQUETTE — With the conclusion of the Nov. 15-30 firearm deer season, preliminary numbers show the total number of white-tail deer coming into Upper Peninsula check stations to be up 10 to 15 percent from 2017.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported the deer numbers were similar to the 10-year average, and although individual stations varied, all saw an increase from the 2017 season.

The Marquette station, located along U.S. 41 in Harvey, had a 9 percent increase in checked deer and a 2 percent uptick in the number of bucks checked.

At the Baraga station, the increases were 4 percent and 5 percent in total deer and bucks checked, respectively.

Escanaba saw a 10 percent increase in checked deer and an 11 percent increase in checked bucks.

There was a 21 percent increase in deer checked at Newberry and an 18 percent increase in bucks checked at that location.

At Sault Ste. Marie, 3 percent more deer and 3 percent more bucks were checked than in 2017.

Crystal Falls had the largest increases: 88 percent in total deer and 82 percent in bucks.

The DNR said many of the bucks checked this season were mature at 2¢ years old, and there were more bucks with frozen jaws that couldn’t be aged this year. Body condition, though, was good.

The DNR reported that antler development was varied but seemed to be lower on older bucks than what staff otherwise would expect.

Escanaba checked the most deer this season, the DNR said. However, Crystal Falls’ big increase possibly was due to public awareness about chronic wasting disease, with sampling contributing to the increased number of deer coming in to some stations.

A 4-year-old doe tested positive for CWD Oct. 18 in Waucedah Township in Dickinson County. The infected animal was shot on a deer damage shooting permit at an agricultural farm in September. The test that discovered the infected deer was part of the DNR’s CWD surveillance efforts over the past three years to test deer from Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson and Menominee counties.

The DNR said hunters appeared to be willing to contribute to sampling efforts in the Core and Expanded Surveillance zones to help with monitoring efforts, with the expanded area extending north into Marquette County.

Testing goals for both areas have been met, the DNR said, with testing involving deer heads. Head submissions from the Baraga and Newberry stations were higher than in 2017, although not many hunters requested a head be collected at these sites.