Hunters, Check Your Deer

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.

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