I hesitated to write this commentary regarding the decimated deer herd in knowing the juggling act that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has to endure with pressure coming from the auto insurance industry, farmers, sportsman's clubs, the timber industry and licensing, to name a just a few.
First off, recently I've read twice now how the difficult winter last year reduced the deer herd substantially. I don't think any sportsman would disagree with that assessment, however I believe there is a lot more to the story which I will list.
- Bad winter
- Youth Hunt
- Bow Season
- Regular Fire Arms
- Black Powder
- Bow Season
These seasons run from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1. My point is that this amount of hunting takes its toll on the deer herd.
Secondly let's look at the amount of predators we have roaming the forests.
Again my point is that this also takes a large amount of deer.
Thirdly I'd like to mention the following as well.
More reasons for less deer.
Does anyone wonder why deer are so jittery and stressed with the amount of pressure they are under. I would think that in addition to bad winters, there are many other reasons
I've just listed why our deer herd is so fragile I think we are faced with some pretty dismal seasons ahead.
I love to hunt as much as the next person, but it is frustrating to see such an up and down herd where encountering a nice buck in the U.P. is a rare occasion. Several of my friends now go to Canada, Wisconsin, Kansas and Ohio due to their huge bucks and deer herds.
Most won't hunt here anymore because it's so much better elsewhere even in area's with hunting pressure far worse than here. I don't know all the answers, but for starts, I think one buck a year should be sufficient and small bucks let go unless you are under 12 years of age. The QDM area's are a wonderful start.
Lastly, the most complaining I hear is the youth hunt. Most hunters I've talked to say their biggest concern is kids as young as 5 years old or younger shooting high powered rifles without hunter safety and then the biggest bucks are taken out of the gene pool before they have a chance to rut.
Why not shoot an antlerless deer where areas have an abundance of them. Some question, including myself, who is shooting these deer with such young kids? Others want to speak out on this subject but feel they may be looked at unfavorably as not wanting the youth hunt.
It just needs to be done better without selling license's as the driving force behind it. The DNR is so concerned with hunter recruitment that we are No. 1 in the country with license sales with the sole exception of the state of Pennsylvania.
I'm all for getting the younger person involved in the hunting sport, but let's use some logic.
In closing, I am hoping that with less emphasis on selling licenses, an answer can be found in making Michigan, and especially the U.P., a mecca for hunting whitetail deer.
Editor's note: Don Charlevoix is a resident of Vulcan.