Deer harvest down

Copper Country hunter Ray Cloutier is one of the fortunate ones, displaying his 8-point buck shot near Lake Linden Thursday. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources numbers show that the 2023 deer harvest has dropped significantly during the opening days of the season compared to last year. (Photo courtesy of Joe Juntts)

MARQUETTE — Numbers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Marquette office show a sharp decline in the number of harvested deer so far this firearm season.

As of Friday morning, the Upper Peninsula saw just under 4,800 bucks harvested during the first two days of the 2023 deer season, down from 6,200 during the same time period in 2022. The harvest of does also saw a significant decrease compared to last year, with 1,360 does being bagged, down from 2,000 during the first two days of the 2022 firearm season.

While the numbers are unofficial, they paint a picture of a deer herd that was impacted by several factors.

A 2021 DNR reports looks at the overall decrease in the Michigan deer population over previous years.

According to the report, the buck harvest in the Upper Peninsula has been declining over the past 35 years.

“This decline is due in part to a decrease in the number of deer hunters as well as more restrictive changes to buck harvest regulations,” the report said.

Beyond the man made factors, natural issues have also impacted the numbers.

“Environmental factors such as winter weather and habitat can influence deer populations and the number of bucks available for harvest,” the report said.

Some of the causes that were identified include winter weather fluctuations and particularly intense winters may have an impact on the numbers going forward and as the winter of 2022-2023 was particularly long, this would continue the trend.

Also a major impact has been the unseasonably warm weather during the first two days of this years rifle season, with weather in much of the Upper Peninsula approaching 60 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday, the opening days of deer season.

While the warm weather has cooled over the past few days, hunters may have to wait until later next week to experience weather that may be beneficial for bagging a buck, with temps in much of the Upper Peninsula falling into the 30’s and 20’s late next week.

Randy Crouch can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 542. His email address is rcrouch@miningjournal.net.


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