Hunters experiencing mixed results

BIG RAPIDS – Deer hunters have apparently enjoyed a certain amount of success after the first several days of the firearm season but many are also reporting that they’re not seeing much action in the field.

The DNR again had a check station at the rest area a mile south of Big Rapids off southbound U.S. 131.

Pete Kailing, Mecosta-Newaygo County wildlife biologist for the DNR, said 150 deer were checked at the station Wednesday, Nov. 16. About 24 had been checked in as of mid-day Thursday.

“We see where the hunter was successful at, private or public land, which county, the age of the deer and if it’s a buck, we take some measurements from the antlers,” Kailing said. “We use this to help manage our herd. It gives us information on harvest success and deer health. We’re collecting heads for routine sampling of diseases.”

Successful hunters receive an embroidered successful hunter’s patch. Deer are brought in on a voluntary basis

“We’ve had more this year than last,” Kailing said. “Antler production seems to be above average. It was a good growing season for antlers.”

Among the successful hunters was Dave Sytsma of Hudsonville who bagged a spikehorn at Osceola County’s Burdell Township on Wednesday morning. He stopped off at the station on Thursday.

“I hadn’t seen anything all day on the 15th,” he said. “The following morning, it was around 8:30 and I was getting bored and decided to stay around 10. About a quarter to nine, he was here about 120 yards away.”

Sytsma said it was the only deer that he saw. He’s been hunting since 1990 and said he’s bagged about 10 deer. He owns private property in Osceola County.

“I saw a lot more bucks this year but not a lot of does,” he said. “The opening day of the season seems to be slow for me. Bow season, I saw more.”

Sytsma expects on being up in Osceola County next month during the muzzleloading season.

Eric Fouch of Caledonia came to the check station with an 8-point buck he bagged on private property in Osceola County on Wednesday morning.

“The first day, I had just bought a trail camera,” he said. “I had that set up near my blind. Then I noticed that all the deer I saw on opening day were on the other side on this ridge under an apple tree. So I moved my trail camera over the to the base of the apple tree. At 7:15 in the morning, I was scanning back and forth and saw it standing underneath the apple tree looking at my trail camera. I have a picture of it looking at my trail camera before I shot it.”

Fouch said he also saw a spike that had one horn and another small buck, plus some does and fawns.

“I’ve had a good streak in the last five or six years. I usually get a buck opening day,” he said.

Jim Venier of Mason also hunted in Osceola County and bagged an 11-pointer on opening morning.

“I could hear some noise behind me,” he said. “Four or five deer ran by. The first four were doe. I kept watching and the buck came up behind them.”

He also shot a 3-pointer.

“In the last few years, I’ve seen fewer deer but a higher percentage of bucks,” he said. “I came up on (Nov. 13), saw 15 deer and at least seven were bucks. We’ve hunted up here every year for about 33 years. Twenty years ago, I remember seeing 101 deer. One was a buck and 100 were does.”