With a herd of 1.7 million deer, Michigan is looking for another solid harvest like last season’s total of 497,000. The muzzleloader hunt saw a big jump in 2003, to 43,000 deer killed-nearly a 50 percent increase.
The mecca for Michigan trophy bucks has traditionally been the western Upper Peninsula, including Baraga, Gogebic and Ontonagon counties. While these areas still grow some massive deer, “We have as big a buck in southern Michigan today as we have in the U.P.,” says Rodney Clute, DNR deer biologist. He adds that with milder winters and abundant agricultural forage, “southern Michigan bucks can obtain that large antler development one to two years ahead of U.P. bucks.” The bottom two tiers of southern counties are producing impressive numbers of big bucks.