ESCANABA - Hunters have to take some time each year to study and understand the hunting regulations, not so much to look for changes but to refresh our minds on what is already in place.
The involvement of hunters in the planning process has influenced those who manage the resource to a point where detailed options abound throughout the state. Some would choose the word "complications" over just being called options.
At least part of the contemporary levels of confusion came and went with the establishment of a Quality Deer Management Unit in the central Upper Peninsula that ended with results of a survey in 2004. Five years prior, there were antler restrictions for bucks taken by legal methods during the traditional archery and firearm deer hunting seasons.
You had to know where the boundaries on the outside perimeter existed, and take extra caution to identify and confirm your target before firing.
The concept was intended to spare 1.5 year old bucks, allowing them to advance in age and antler development. Prior to this, the majority of bucks brought in for voluntary registration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment were averaging the year-and-a-half age, many of which were spike bucks.
By simple majority, both surveys showed a majority acceptance for the program, but due to a rule that required the majority to be a minimum of approximately 66 percent in the affirmative, they failed.
How then do we continue to provide the recreational opportunity hunters live for every year, yet provide some means of protection, or moreover encouragement, to "Let-em go and Let-em-grow", a promotion sponsored by UP Whitetails Association, Inc.
Move ahead to 2008 and George Lindquist from UP Whitetails Association of Marquette County.
He had proposed the creation of a license for the UP that would restrict buck harvest on each of two tags issued under combination package. The "Combo" license (as it is known), has with it one regular buck license and one restricted buck license, and can be used during both the archery and firearm seasons.
An additional option is available to UP hunters, permitting the regular tag to be used to harvest an antlerless deer during the archery season. However, if a tag is utilized for an antlerless deer, the second tag restricts the taking of an antlered deer to have at least three legal points on one side.
The combo license remains in effect this year.
Are you staying with me?
Hunters can also still purchase a single buck license for either archery or firearm hunting seasons. However, if you take a buck on either tag in the UP, you're done for the year.
The Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest (guidebook) clearly states that, "Hunters possessing both a firearm and an archery deer license are limited to taking only one antlered deer in the UP and Deer Management Unit 487 (in the northeast Lower Peninsula), all seasons combined."
Under the rules of the single license, deer hunters can take any legal buck that meets the requirement of having at least one antler 3 inches or longer, except in UP Deer Management Units 122 (Dickinson County) and DMU 117 (Drummond Island). Those areas remain as active QDM units in the UP.
There are only five DMUs in the western UP that will allow antlerless license issue this year. They are DMUs 022, 055, 122, 155 and 255. Again, Drummond Island DMU 117 also holds antlerless hunting this year.
The only DMU showing a surplus of Public Land Antlerless Permits for sale over the counter is Menominee County 055. There a hunter can take an antlerless deer on either private, public or commercial forest land. Only four DMUs have surplus private land antlerless deer hunting permits for sale which include DMUs 022 (1170), 055 (6807), 122 (2095) and 155 (1725) as of Wednesday. These tags are not permitted for use on commercial forest land.
One of the glitches that has been apparent for quotas on antlerless deer hunting licenses sold over the counter is that for each inquiry made from license vendors, one tag is subtracted by the computer system as a sale.
This last week my son attempted to buy such a tag at a license vendor and was told the hunt was sold out. I later inquired to the same place and found that the same unit he used still had permits.
What may have happened is that either he requested or the agent looked up the wrong hunt and/or DMU quota. Be sure you know which hunt number and corresponding DMU you are hunting in to assure correct application.
You can also update yourself on the remaining tags on the michigan.gov/dnre web site.
One more thing to keep in mind, hunters age 10-11 may only archery hunt big game ( deer, bear and elk) during the established season.
Cross bows are permitted across the region for both archery and firearm deer hunting seasons, however only those hunters with documented disabilities are permitted to use the crossbow after the November hunt.
It is important to note that any youngster less than 17 years of age must be accompanied and under immediate control of a parent or (designated) adult of at least 18 years old. That means you must be with the young hunter, not some distance away.
The 2010 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest is available free of charge at any license vendor or through any of the MDNRE offices in the UP. All hunting digests are also available on line as well.
Tim Kobasic is outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.