MARQUETTE - Today marks the dual season opener for the firearm deer and wolf hunting seasons.
As always, there will be concerns for deer hunters with weather conditions, as warmer than ideal temperatures and rain are forecast for many locations across the region during the first couple days of the season.
The firearm deer season opens today and will continue through Nov. 30. The wolf hunt, which is taking place in three wolf management units in the Upper Peninsula, will extend until Dec. 31, unless the quota of 43 wolves is reached first.
Gwinn resident Sean Willman, 42, holds up the first buck he’s ever shot in 16 years of hunting. Willman, who shot the 6-pointer with a bow, brought the first deer of the day in to the Marquette’s Department of Natural Resources office along U.S. Highway 41. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
The bag limit is one wolf per person per year. Firearm, crossbow and bow-and-arrow hunting will be allowed on public and private lands. Trapping is not allowed. A total of 1,200 licenses were sold, and no additional licenses are available.
DNR officials were reminding wolf hunters that they are required to report successful harvest over the phone on the day they shoot a wolf. Once the target harvest is met for a management unit, the entire unit will be closed for the season. Licensed hunters will be required to check daily by phone or online (www.michigan.gov/wolves) to determine whether any management units have been closed.
Successful hunters must present the carcass to a DNR check station within 72 hours of harvest. DNR staff members will seal the pelt and collect a tooth, female reproductive tracts and harvest location information.
In a recent forecast for the deer season, Michigan Department of Natural Resources biologists predicted hunters will see fewer fawns and yearling deer in the Upper Peninsula during the firearm deer season, but "a decent number" of bucks are still expected.
The report said weather conditions earlier this year, in late winter and spring, negatively influenced deer populations and the results will be evident to hunters this fall.
"The winter of 2012-2013 started off mild with melt-offs occurring throughout December and January. However, the winter increased in severity quickly in February and continued until late April," the report stated. "This left many deer in poor condition coming into spring and as a result there were notable decreases in fawn sightings compared to recent years."
In response, wildlife biologists closed some deer management units to antlerless hunting. Six units remain open in the U.P. for antlerless deer hunting including Crystal Falls (022), LaBranche (255), Menominee (055), Bay de Noc (121), Norway (122) and Gladstone (155).
Biologists said fruit and nut production was plentiful throughout much of the U.P. this year. They recommended hunters scout for places with oak and beech trees and shrubs and trees producing fruit, including apples and sumac.
Last fall's firearm deer season in the U.P. was better than the season before.
"Statewide hunting success and hunter satisfaction increased, with the majority of the increase occurring in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula," the report said.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.