Deer Management Units: Regulations and License Limits Up for Debate

Deer regulations are up for discussion at the Natural Resources Commission this month in Onaway. The NRC will be discussing the open/closed status of Deer Management Units (DMU) throughout the state, the regulatory units for issuing antlerless deer licenses on private or public lands.
This year, there are 84 DMU openings recommended for public antlerless deer licenses, all of which would also be open for private land licenses as well. In addition, there are 89 DMUs recommended to be opened for private land licenses. The recommendations by the DNR will affect DMUs in the Upper Peninsula and the Northern Lower Peninsula (follow this link for the full proposal).
In the UP, deer populations have continued to increase after experiencing their third mild winter in a row. Four DMUs previous not open for antlerless licenses last year are slated be open for private land antlerless licenses, but will not offer public licenses. These include the Sault Ste Marie, Manistique, Nissula and Amasa/Michigamme units. In addition, two units open strictly to private land licenses last year are recommended to include public licenses this year. These include the Gwinn and Rock units. Finally, three units previously not open for antlerless licenses last year have been recommended to open for both public and private licenses this fall. These include the Drummond Island, Bay De Noc and Round/Bois Blanc Island units. Overall, nine DMUs in the UP have been recommended to open for some form of antlerless license in the fall, increasing access to hunting opportunities.
In the Northern Lower Peninsula, Department data shows that deer populations have also continued to increase due to mild weather over the past winter. The DNR has recommended a total change of 15 DMUs for antlerless license availability. Eleven DMUs are recommended to include public land licenses rather than strictly private land licenses. Four DMUs that were closed to both licenses last year have been recommended to open to include both private and public land licenses. The NRC and the DNR have based these recommendations for both regions upon their most recent information available regarding license purchases and deer populations. Currently, the DNR has set aside 19 DMUs for further review and analysis before issuing any recommendations. The recommendations for these 19 DMUs will be revised on May 21, 2012.
In addition to the availability status of DMUs in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula, antlerless license limits are also up for discussion this month. Previous concerns regarding the overharvesting of deer on private lands led to regulations for license limits in specific DMUs. Most license limits have been established at 5 licenses per day, however, the Department has established that less than 1% of hunters purchase more than 5 licenses in an entire season.
The Department recommends that a season limit of five private antlerless deer hunting licenses per hunter would sufficiently facilitate management needs and act as a preventative measure against the overharvesting of deer.

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