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Wishing hunters a successful and safe season

An Upper Peninsula tradition began at dawn this morning when the firearm deer season opened, sending thousands of Yooper hunters to their camps and bringing thousands of Midwesterners to the area for a chance to bag an elusive buck.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has issued a hunting forecast for the Upper Peninsula, as reported Thursday by Journal Staff Writer Christie Bleck.

Biologists from the DNR have been out in the field, observing deer trends in their respective areas and looking at the food sources that will sustain deer this fall. They say, overall, the winter of 2018-19 was average for the U.P, although some communities had record-breaking snow levels. However, the DNR reported that snow melt occurred quickly throughout the region and it appears few deer succumbed to the harsh winter conditions.

By DNR staff observations, deer numbers appear to be similar to 2018.

For those who want to hit the woods with as much information as possible, the DNR suggests people use Mi-HUNT, a digital tool that provides information such as public/private land boundaries, satellite imagery, cover types, trails, topography and more.

Firearm deer season also is a time of year when people need to put safety first, be it their first time in the woods or their 50th. Some safety tips to keep in mind include:

• Treating every firearm as if it’s loaded.

• Being aware of your surroundings by knowing the target and what’s beyond it.

• Unloading the firearm when crossing obstacles and/or getting in or out of a tree stand.

• Obeying “no trespassing” signs; they exist for a reason.

• Obtaining the landowner’s permission to retrieve game if it wandered onto private property.

• Wearing as much hunter orange as possible to increase visibility.

For some especially rural parts of the U.P., deer season is the most profitable time of year for restaurant, grocery and bar owners. They welcome visitors warmly and wait anxiously for this time of year.

We wish hunters good luck and a safe season.