Knowing the juggling act that the DNR endures with pressure coming from the insurance industry, farmers, sportsman's clubs, timber industry and licensing, to name a few, i hesitated to write this.
Twice recently in the Daily News I've read how the difficult winter last year reduced the deer herd. I don't think any sportsman would disagree with that assessment, however, there's a lot more to the story.
Bad winter, youth hunt, bow season, regular firearms, black powder.
These seasons run from September to Jan. 1. My point is this amount of hunting takes it toll.
Secondly, (Predators roaming the forests.)
Bears (Take a lot of the fawn crop.)
Wolves (We've never seen this type of killing of deer. Why no explanation of why the wolf hunt didn't include the entire U.P. and why we were unable to trap them like Wisconsin. We couldn't meet the quota and they're running all over the peninsula.)
Coyotes (Opening day of deer season I shot a coyote off my post as my cousin did on the same forty. The second day I shot another. We are so overrun with them any night you can hear them howling.)
Fox, bobcats, and cougars (Let's hope cougars don't proliferate like the wolves.)
Farm permits (Farmers do need help in their areas.)
Car/deer accidents (Over 1,000 in Dickinson County, not to mention Delta and Menominee who have far more.
Towns reducing deer (Deer take up residence in towns due to predators in the woods and have easier access to food.)
No wonder deer are jittery and stressed. I would think in addition to bad winters, there are many other reasons our deer herd is so fragile. We're faced with some pretty dismal seasons ahead. I love to hunt like the next person, but it's frustrating when encountering a nice buck is a rare occasion. Several friends now go to Canada, Wisconsin, Kansas and Ohio due to their huge bucks and herds. Many won't hunt here because it's so much better elsewhere even in areas with hunting pressure far worse. I don't know the answers, but for starts, I think one buck a year is sufficient and small bucks let go unless you are 12 years of age or less. The QDM areas are a wonderful start.
Lastly, the biggest complaint I hear is the Youth Hunt. Most hunters I've talked to say their biggest concern is kids as young as 5 years old shooting high powered rifles without Hunter Safety. The biggest bucks are taken out of the gene pool before the rut. We question, who really shoots these deer with such young kids. Others would speak out on his subject but feel they may be looked at unfavorably as not wanting the youth hunt. I'd bet selling licenses is the driving force behind it. The DNR are so concerned with hunter recruitment that we are No. 1 in the country with license sales with the exception of Pennsylvania.
My cousin, a Navy Seal can't get a CCW without taking a shooting course. A youngster, 5 or younger can shoot a high powered rifle by being with a parent. I'm all for getting the young person involved in the hunting sport, but let's use some logic.
I hope that less emphasis on selling licenses will yield to making Michigan, especially the U.P., a Mecca for hunting whitetail deer.