Bringing back the big bucks

Michigan State Roundup

Published January 1, 2005  | January 2005 issue

The deer season this fall was one of the worst in years, owing largely to unusually warm weather. But the low take also fueled a debate about the state's deer management policy, particularly in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.).

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering a new strategy for the U.P. called Quality Deer Management, already being tested in some areas.

A response to what hunters complain is an ever-decreasing population of antlered bucks, the strategy calls for increased protection of young bucks and a greater take of does. Hunters would be allowed to bag only a buck that has over three antler points on each side, greater than 1 inch in length.

The policy might also decrease the number of bucks hunters may harvest to one, from the current two.

The idea has strong support and opposition among hunters. Some hope it would increase the number of antlered bucks, and with that the value of the hunting season so vital to the local economy. Others worry it would discourage hunters from coming out at all or encourage overhunting of does.

The issue will not be settled until this spring, when the DNR tallies the results of a survey about the plan, which will be considered only if 66 percent of surveyed hunters and landowners approve it.

Joe Mahon