The hourly countdown until 6:59 AM on October first is officially underway. Cooler temperatures are here, the hint of the color change is upon southern Michigan, and ready or not - hunting season is upon us! While this is reason for celebration, let’s make sure we take a minute to make sure we are prepared for the season. Make sure you have the proper tags for what you are hunting, know the hunting regulations for your area, and understand the possible impacts of disease near you.
While I would love to jump on the bandwagon of sheer joy for this coming season, I also feel very strongly that we need to remember that as responsible hunters, we need to be cognizant of chronic wasting disease (CWD). This blog is mostly for the folks who live in the Ingham, Clinton, and Shiawassee Counties, but all other hunters, please take note.
Take every precaution NOT to bring CWD into your woods, and understand that there is a serious cost to those who hunt in CWD areas. Be aware of what types of attractants/lures you are using to draw deer in. Think about the possible disease consequences of baiting. Understand and follow the regulations pertaining to bringing out of state game back into the state. Above all, keep hunting and promote the value of protecting the species we all love, the white-tailed deer.
If you are like me and live in the CWD core zone, there are additional regulations you need to know. I will summarize them here, but for more details, please see the Hunting and Trapping Digest and the DNR’s CWD webpage.
CWD is a brain disease found in deer, elk and moose. The disease attacks the brain and results in death. Once contaminated with the disease, it can take 18 months or so to show any sign they carry the disease and can still transmit the disease via saliva, urine, blood, and feces. There is not any proof that this disease can transfer to humans, however, precautions to protect yourself from the disease should be taken (details can be found in the Hunting and Trapping Digest).
If a deer is in the advanced stages of CWD, it will exhibit poor body condition, with drooling and excessive salivation apparent. The deer would be tame, and appear very unaware of its surroundings. These symptoms can also be similar to other ailments deer face, however, if you see a deer with these symptoms, please contact the Report all Poaching (RAP) Line at 1-800-292-7800. Do not attempt to contact, disrupt, kill (outside of hunting season or without a license), or remove the animal.
If you harvest a deer (hopefully multiple deer) in DMU 333 (also known as the CWD Core Zone), you must register the entire deer carcass at a DNR check station within 72 hours. At the check station, directions will be provided for hunters who wish to take their state out of the DMU to have their deer processed or would like to take it to a taxidermist. The check stations will also have disposal sites for left over parts of the deer (bones, brain, backbone, guts, etc.). DNR will then test your deer for CWD, and you will be able to find the results on that testing on their website within a couple days. DNR will work with you to protect your antlers/skull should you want to mount your deer.
If you live outside of DMU 333 and you would like to have your deer tested, you simply need to take it to your nearest check station and request the testing be done for CWD. Check stations can be found here.
If you hunt in Clinton, Shiawassee, or Ingham County, note that it is illegal to bait in those three counties. Also, in each of those DMUs, along with DMU 333, antlerless deer licenses are discounted 40%, and there is no quota limit on antlerless deer.
All this being said, LET’S GO HUNTING!