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Hunters, Check Your Deer

September 28th, 2011

Heard of Chad Stewart? He’s the top deer biologist in Indiana, who once told me that the smartest guy in the world is the deer biologist one state over (a quote that Mike Tonkovich of Ohio’s DNR openly wishes he had thought of first).

Anyway, both those guys oversee deer management in states with mandatory check-in of harvested deer. Here is what they don’t like about that system: They have no idea what the compliance rate is. None. It could be 2 percent of hunters who don’t check in their deer, or it could be 20 percent. They have their suspicions, but they’ll be the first to say they just don’t know for sure.

What they say about us might surprise you. That’s right, the two smartest guys in the world admire Michigan’s deer survey system. You know, the one we always complain about? Yeah, that one.

Deer taken to check stations are poked and probed to determine their age, health and location, and those particulars are combined with information from the voluntary hunter surveys the DNR mails. Then all the information is fed into a fairly complicated formula that extrapolates the size and robustness of the herd statewide.

It’s important for 2011 deer hunters to participate anywhere they can, because more information is always better than less, and the better armed wildlife managers are, the better they can make decisions that affect the herd.

To the lay person the system can seem like a lot of hocus pocus, but folks familiar with statistics say it’s a pretty solid way to keep track of the herd. The deer guys in Ohio and Indiana think so, too.

And they’re the smart ones.

For a list of check stations, visit this Michigan DNR website.

  • Kurick

    I grew up in Indiana, have lived and hunted in Michigan for 13 years. I prefer Indiana’s method, they are able to set target harvest numbers for each county based on real numbers. Stations are set up all over the state, including most processors. I believe the numbers to be more accurate, and based on fact instead of statistics. Hunter surveys are a good tool, and maybe there is enough participation. Uf participation is that good, then my opinion could be easily swayed. Tradition and dollars(check in stations are more expensive to man) will be the deciding factor, as evidenced by not changing the Nov. 15th opener of firearms season. I’m okay with tradition though.

  • Billsap

    i just got back from ohio, shot a great buck checked it in by phone. a bit complicated but an exellent system.michigan system is no system….one buck rule excellent there whole system is excellent . there deer are huge and big racks are a daily occurance.saw more trophy bucks in a week than most michigan hunters see in a life time.every time i go out of state to hunt same deal well run dnr huge bucks great hunts always a great time .how many out of state hunters come to michigan.let me see less hunters every yearin michigan , prettty easy to figure that out.big bucks promote big interest not a bunch of silly programs.dnr is only interested in money from more license sales, why do i pay four or five hundred for an out of state license with pleasure,because they have great deer.michigan has more potential than any state but they dont have a clue in lansing.i should run the deer program, a real hunter not a bureaucrat.

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