Deer firearm season ends but it's too early to declare success

REED CITY — Deer hunting season ended Saturday for firearm hunters and it’s too early to get an accurate account of overall success.

“The way we compile our information is we don’t have it the day or a couple of days after the season is over,” said Katie Keen, northern Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician. “The deer check is one of the ways we get info. It’s voluntary to check their deer. Up until Jan. 10 for the firearm season, we’re checking deer until then.”

The Nov. 15-30 season was met with a variety of weather in various areas. Northwest Michigan, including Lake and Osceola counties had antler point restrictions this season.

“Initial reports are looking like numbers seem to be a little low,” Keen said. “But again, it’s nothing final. The other way we gauge hunter success is through harvest deer survey on line. where you hunted, what counties, what you saw..those type of questions. The paper surveys sent out are random. They’re not sent out to every deer hunter in Michigan. But any deer hunters in Michigan can do the online form. That’s the other way we put together the information that will come out.”

Keen said it’s tough to determine right now how much of an impact the cold snap during the middle of the season may have had on hunting.

“The date they harvest, they tell us that,” Keen said. “We don’t have enough numbers to decide if it was a factor. Thanksgiving weekend is a time when a lot of people can get out again after the first few days. It’s too early to get information.”

Dec. 13-22 will be muzzleloading season for the northern Lower Peninsula.

“It’s a smaller amount than archery and firearm and I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head,” Keen said. “We do have a late antlerless season.”

Johnny Matson of the Meat Shack, south of Baldwin, has been having some good business in recent days.

So far during the deer season, including the bow season starting Oct. 1, his business has had 404 deer brought in. Last year the figure was 351.

“We’re up in numbers from last year which was a 20-year average for us,” Matson said. “This year we’re up a few more that. It’s a little bit of a surprise because of the new 3-point (antler) restrictions in Lake County. We do a lot of our deer from the north.

“I was little bit surprised but it was a good horn year too. We had good acorns last year which promotes the horn growth for this year. I think a lot of those nice horn bucks came in from what we had before. This year might be tough on them because there’s no acorns. It’s looking like a solid winter. It fluctuates.”

Matson said his business processed 200 deer during bow season and the other half since the rifle hunt started Nov. 15. That was prior to Thanksgiving weekend.

Doug Loomis of Ed’s Sports Shop in Baldwin indicated activity in his area has been slow. The wintry like weather has put a cramp into area activity, he said.