Deer season off to mixed reviews

REED CITY — The deer season for firearm hunters is a week old and the reports of success have been mixed.

The early wintry weather for the first week of the season is widely attributed to be among the reasons for a different type of story compared to this time this season.

“What we’ve heard from hunters, as far as hunter numbers, is that they’re not seeing a lot of guys,” Steve Griffith, Northern Michigan DNR wildlife official said. “Out and about, they’re not hearing a lot of shots. It’s a pretty common assumption that hunter numbers are down in this area, very likely due to the weather as far as firearm season goes. Guys can’t get back to where they normally camp or they can’t drive in this weather.”

Hunters that the DNR have checked seem to be finding “a fair” number of deer.

“We were up for the archery season for the first six weeks,” Griffith said. “Archery was up about 40 percent as far as number of deer we’ve checked. For the firearm season, we’re up about 20 percent as far of numbers of deer we’ve checked.”

It appears the deer are healthy.

“Most of the deer have a ton of fat on them,” Griffith said. “They are in very good health going into the winter, which is good, because if this is the start, it could be a very long winter.” 

Reports of deer activity depend on who’s doing the reporting.

Brian Koopman of Reed City was among the successful area hunters. He bagged, in his words, “a beautiful 9-point with 17-inch spread. I got him right behind my house. I was excited about that.”

He hit success on Sunday morning of opening weekend.

“I had not seen him to be honest about it,” Koopman said. “A lot of people had seen him.”

It was about a 100-125 yard shot, Koopman recalled. One shot and the buck was down. Koopman also saw a 4-point buck, but antler point restrictions dictate hunters let the bucks go unless they have three points on each side.

“People that have gotten bucks, they’ve been nice bucks,” Koopman said.

Another successful hunter was Robert Parker Jr., of Howard City who bagged an 8-point buck in the Stanwood area with a 17 1/2-inch rack span.

“I hunt in the field and my back is to a bunch of houses,” Parker said. “He came from my back side from the houses. I saw him and he got down in my shooting lane. That’s when I shot him. He was about 40 yards from the buck.”

He’s had 20 bucks in his lifetime.

“We don’t usually have something like this around,” he said. “It was a total surprise. All I’ve seen is just a little buck, a spike I think.”