Last year was nearly identical to 2011 for deer hunters in the Great Lakes State. An estimated 414,004 deer were harvested, which was roughly the same number as the previous year. While the antlerless kill was down 6 percent from 2011 (191,364), the antlered buck harvest was up about five percent (222,640).
With another mild winter, the whitetail population in the Lower Peninsula (LP) continued to increase in 2013. The winter started out mild in the Upper Peninsula (UP), but by mid-January the weather turned severe, with lingering snowfall well into spring.
"Some adult deer mortality and low fawn recruitment due to the prolonged winter are likely," said Brent Rudolph, deer and elk program leader for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "Hunters should not be surprised if antler development also appears a bit poorer than in recent years. Antlerless license quotas were decreased in most UP DMUs [Deer Management Units]. However, conditions in six DMUs supported issuance of antlerless licenses to provide recreational opportunity and aid in addressing concerns over forest regeneration and agricultural damage."
While most of the LP deer population is at or slightly above management goals, epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) killed thousands of whitetails in the southern LP, prompting the state to reduce antlerless quotas in the southern LP on both public and private lands. The MDNR has also created new DMU boundaries for the southern LP to direct management efforts toward areas on a smaller scale.
There is also new antler point restrictions in 12 counties located in the northwest LP. Any buck harvested must have at least three points on at least one antler.
While most public hunting land is found in the UP and northern LP, the Allegan State Game Area and Fort Custer Recreation Area both offer good deer hunting in the southern part of the state. If you're looking for a challenging do-it-yourself hunt, head to Marquette County in the UP.