NRC Proposes Changes to Muzzleloading and Antlerless Deer Seasons

For those who are a muzzleloading or black-powder deer hunter, life may get a little easier for those living in hunting and trapping zone 2 of the Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP). After the harsh and severe Whitetail_doe 22013 winter, several citizens brought before the DNR a request to standardize the start of muzzleloading deer season with that of zone 1 in the Upper Peninsula (UP).
Currently zone 1 and zone 3 of the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) start before zone 2 due to the earlier snow fall in the UP and the higher deer densities found in the SLP. The change then would result in zones 1 and 2 to start 10 days from the first Friday in December to nine days thereafter (this year it would be Dec. 5-14, 2014). Zone 3 will still have a longer muzzleloading deer season, starting 17 days from the first Friday in December to 16 days thereafter (Dec. 5-21, 2014). The goal of these recommendation is to alleviate confusion and go back to a standardized start date for hunting and trapping in zones 1 and 2 and while still allowing zone 3 a longer season.
In general, MUCC supports this change in concept through a resolution from 2011 as it allows for simplification of the hunting regulations by having a common start date. However, MUCC's 2014 Annual Convention delegates will be faced with a proposal to not only have a common start date but to also have the muzzleloader season begin just after the regular firearm deer season and continue for 10 days, making it December 1-10 for all zones. MUCC will be making a final decision on their proposed policy on June 21-22.
Another upcoming change to deer seasons concerns areas to be open or closed for early and late antlerless seasons. The Natural Resources Committee recommends the addition of both early and late antlerless seasons for the NLP region starting 2014-2016. These areas include Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Manistee and a portion of Arenac County that was previously closed. The inclusion of these areas was proposed to address the localized deer damage on properties in the counties.
For the southwest portion of the state, the Department is recommending for the 2014-2016 seasons that all counties close the 2-day early antlerless season. Back in 2011, MUCC members asked via resolution that the DNR biologists reevaluate this early antlerless season. It is widely felt that due to aggressive management and outbreaks of diseases, the low deer numbers are affecting the quality of the hunt. The DNR will continue to issue deer damage and deer management assistance permits to landowners who need to address deer concerns, to make up for the loss of the 2-day hunt.
This also coincides with the fact that the early antlerless season participation sees much lower participation rates according to the 2012 Deer harvest Survey Report. Numbering around 30,000 hunters, the early antlerless season is dwarfed by the 75,000 hunters participating in the late antlerless season. Hunters will still have plenty of opportunities to harvest antlerless deer, although license quotas will not be finalized until July.
The NRC is proposing to take action on these two measures, and many others, at their monthly meeting on June 12th. For more details and a link to the orders visit this website.

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