Deer hunters set for rifle opener on Friday

BIG RAPIDS — It seems to be anyone’s guess how successful the 2013 deer season will be. But recent cold weather could potentially make it a very enjoyable one for area hunters.

“I think we have some pretty good prospects,” said Department of Natural Resource wildlife biologist for northern Michigan Steve Griffith. “The deer checks have picked up now that the weather has cooled off. Talking to some of the successful archery hunters, people are seeing deer moving, bucks chasing does, as well  as reports from other DNR staff on the same thing. They’re seeing an increase in activity.

“We certainly have an increase in deer numbers. We’re looking forward to a good season.”

This marks the first season in northwest Michigan of antler point restrictions. There needs to be three antler points on a side before the deer is harvested.

“There will be a decrease in legal bucks,” Griffith said. “So a good percentage of bucks, the four-pointers and so forth, won’t be legal. Until we get into year 2 or 3 where you get the deer into the 2 1/2 year age class, there will probably be a downtrend in the number of bucks coming. But that should pick up.”

Brian Koopman of Reed City said his son shot a doe with a bow and had a 7-pointer with the youth hunt.

“With everyone I’ve talked to around our area here, deer hunting has been kind of slow,” Koopman said. “There’s not as many deer. Not sure what the deal is. My son and I aren’t seeing the deer we saw last year. There’s a lot of geese.

“Steelheading is picking up on the Muskegon River and a little slow on the PM (Pere Marquette).”