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Deer season off to strong start

As of Mining Journal press time on Tuesday, 377 antlered deer have been harvested and 92 antlerless deer taken in Marquette County for a total of 469, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The firearm deer season began Tuesday and runs to Nov. 30.

The DNR’s website states that the 2022 season is “upon us, and it is shaping up to be one of the more historically important hunting seasons Michigan has ever experienced.

“In 2022, for the first time, hunters taking a deer in Michigan will have one additional step to complete beyond tagging their deer before they have finalized their harvest. Successful hunters will now be required to report their harvest online through Michigan’s new harvest reporting system or recently developed mobile app.

“The good news is that successful hunters will have time, up to 72 hours, to report their harvest, so this final step doesn’t have to be done right away. The other good news is that when this system was tested in 2021, most hunters were able to complete the harvest report in under five minutes.”

The reporting system can be found online at www.mdnr-elicense.com/harvestreport.

As far as what hunters might expect in the Upper Peninsula this year, the DNR said, “The fear throughout the winter was that the long winter with plentiful snow would have an impact on the U.P. deer herd. Based on days with total snow on the ground exceeding 12 inches, it was determined that the winter of 2021 was severe. Fortunately, the fears seemed to exceed reality, and the deer seemed to fare well.

While deer numbers remain low in many locations, overall harvest in the U.P. was up a little bit last year, and there is optimism that another minor increase will happen again this year, with the deer currently being observed this summer. To not sugar-coat anything, there will be places in the U.P. where deer densities remain low, and hunting efforts in some of these locations will prove extremely challenging.

“Mast production, especially acorns, seems down this year compared to last year. While last year showed good productions from oaks, this year’s drought, coupled with the recency of last year’s heavier crop, seems to be limiting production.

“Some hunters expressed concern last year about recently expanded antlerless harvest opportunities throughout much of the southern U.P. and the potential impact on harvest. While we only have one year of data available, it appears that while antlerless harvest did increase in many units, it never increased more than one antlerless deer per square mile in any unit, with most units only increasing their antlerless harvest by about one antlerless deer for every 3 to 4 square miles. There was quite a bit of variability in how this regulation affected management units, but it doesn’t appear to have a limiting population-level effect that some had feared, given the early returns.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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