Michigan DNR: Deer checking numbers down 40 percent so far in U.P. as firearm season continues

North Central UP

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Opening day is often considered a holiday in the U.P., however, poor weather conditions were less than ideal for many hunters on opening day.

As high winds subsided and the weather improved, so did hunter attitudes, especially for first-time hunters.

“Overall, we’re down 40 percent across the U.P. for the number of deer we’ve checked compared to last year,” said Caleb Eckloff, a wildlife technician for Marquette’s Department of Natural Resources office. “At this point, we’re only on day three. There’s a lot of time left for guys to go out and harvest their deer and then we’ll see where the season shakes out at the end.”

The poor weather on opening day is suspected to be a factor in low deer checking numbers at this point.

Graph provided by Michigan DNR.

According to the DNR, body conditions on deer seen have been good. Check station staff are reporting “nice-looking bucks, with older ones that have had decent antler development, but there have been a few with below-average antler development.”

Buck ages vary, but so far DNR staff is seeing more two and a half and three and a half-year-old bucks. Hunters mentioned seeing multiple bucks or having multiple bucks on camera in places, while a few reports from other areas indicate few deer are being seen. DNR staff is seeing many first-time hunters as well this year.

Checking your deer is a voluntary process in Michigan. It helps the DNR collect data on harvested deer and overall management of the deer population within the state.

“Hunters can come into an open check station. They’ll typically roll up and we will ask them a few questions about when they harvested the deer, where they harvested the deer. If it’s a buck, we’ll look at the antlers. Take a few measurements, count the points. And then we’ll age the deer, whether it’s a buck or a doe by looking at the tooth wear and placement patterns,” said Eckloff.

The last day to get your deer checked by the Marquette DNR is Wednesday, November 18. The station is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Norway and Escanaba DNR stations will be open for the rest of the firearm season to check/register deer.

Although the Marquette DNR office will no longer check deer after Wednesday, if you are concerned about the health of a deer or wanting to test for Chronic Wasting Disease, contact the Marquette DNR at (906) 228-6561.

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