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Results of 2019 deer hunt look promising

ESCANABA — Michigan’s 2019 regular firearm deer season ended Saturday. According to information provided by Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Deputy Public Information Officer John Pepin, early results from the Upper Peninsula have been promising.

As of Saturday, Nov. 23, wildlife biologists with the DNR had found an average increase of 12 percent in deer check numbers across the U.P. A 2 percent increase over the 10-year average was also noted.

“Approximately 90 percent of the deer checked have been bucks,” said David Jentoft, a wildlife biologist at the DNR Sault Ste. Marie Field Office.

DNR staffers found that 85 percent of bucks checked at the time were 2.5 years old or older. Antler development in older bucks varied — some had fair antler development and some had good antler development — but seemed to be below average overall.

At the DNR Escanaba Customer Service Center, a total of 449 deer had been checked as of Nov. 23 — more than were checked at any of the other six U.P. DNR stations included in Pepin’s data. This marked an increase of 20 percent compared to 2018 and was 3 percent higher than the 10-year average.

The second-highest deer check number listed was from the DNR Marquette Customer Service Center, which had checked 261 deer through Nov. 23. This was up by 22 percent compared to 2018 and 15 percent higher than the 10-year average.

It was noted Nov. 22 and 23 were during the Thanksgiving holiday last year, making it difficult to directly compare 2019’s preliminary numbers to 2018 and potentially affecting comparisons to the 10-year average. Check station numbers for 2019 were said to appear similar to 2018’s numbers “in a very general sense,” with more information forthcoming.

On the whole, weather conditions in the U.P. were good for hunting this year. However, there were some exceptions, including high snow depths in some northern parts of the eastern U.P.

“The higher snow depths spurred deer migration out of those areas and prevented some hunters from being able to get to their hunting spots,” Jentoft said.

In many areas of the U.P., snow was on the ground when the season started but melted later on.

Hunters — particularly those in and near the DNR’s core CWD surveillance area in the U.P. — were said to be submitting the heads of deer they harvested for CWD testing. However, the DNR’s goal of 2,600 samples had not been reached by the time Pepin’s report was issued.

Deer license sales across Michigan through Sunday, Nov. 24 were slightly higher than sales numbers from 2018. A total of 1,226,250 licenses were sold since March 1 in 2019, compared to 1,264,278 in 2018.

However, the number of distinct deer license customers across the state was lower than last year. As of Nov. 24, 2019’s number of distinct customers was 573,691, compared to 595,275 in 2018.

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