Deer Season Prospects ReportNovember 12th, 2012
Deer season is upon us with opening day this week. As hunters gear up, there has been a lot to talk about this season. Fear not, this update is on a positive note.
The Department of Natural Resources released the 2012 season status and prospect report last week, providing hunters some insight as to what they can expect and where they might be able to catch that big buck this season.
An initial look showed that license sales increased by 4% this year and are expected to rise just prior to the opening of firearm season. The number of deer that have been brought to check stations is lower than expected. Noticeably fewer deer have been seen in EHD-stricken counties. Check the emergency deer regulations before you go out.
The Upper Peninsula experienced a mild winter, creating favorable conditions for spring fawn production. The deer population has benefited from mild winters for the past three years, leading to the increase in the number of antlerless permits available this year. There should be increased sighting of yearling and 2 ½ year old bucks.
More deer can be expected in the southern areas of the UP. Due to drought conditions this past summer, mast production has suffered and it is recommended that scouting efforts are emphasized this year.
In the Northern Lower Peninsula, the deer population is expected to be higher than last year. New for 2012, Deer Management Units in Cheboygan, Otsego and Roscommon have antlerless permits available for private and public. Mast production is variable in the region, less scare than the UP so areas should not be difficult to scout.
The NLP has had reports of EHD related mortalities, but not to the extent of the Southern Lower Peninsula. Hunters can view the map to determine which areas might be affected.
Habitat in the Southern Lower Peninsula is strongly conducive to large deer populations. The SLP has the highest deer densities in the state despite a declining population trend. Deer populations, however, have been hard hit by EHD this year. Over 13,000 deer have been reported dead, primarily in the SLP region.
Those hunting areas with known EHD cases will see reduced numbers of deer while those within a few miles should not experience any changes. Hunters in areas hard hit by EHD are encouraged to limit antlerless harvest. In addition, the NRC has implemented emergency regulations in response to the disease.
Prospects for the 2012 deer season vary by region, but the DNR expects hunter success to remain stable this year despite low mast production and significant EHD outbreaks. To read the DNR’s full 2012 prospect report, click here.