TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A mild winter and plentiful food have put Michigan’s deer herd in good shape, making for what wildlife officials expect will be a promising fall hunting season.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said in its annual forecast that conditions across the state are as good as those of 2019 or better. The season began with this weekend’s Liberty Hunt for those 16 and younger and hunters with disabilities.
A number of regulations have been changed to reflect what officials describe as an evolving hunting landscape. The revisions are intended to make the rules clearer, grant more flexibility in use of deer licenses and provide more value for time and money, the DNR said.
“The last 20 years have resulted in dramatic and sustained declines in hunter numbers,” said Chad Stewart, the DNR’s deer and elk program leader. “When combined with an abundant and resilient deer herd that continues to grow, and the added challenge of managing deer diseases, that shifting dynamic required some significant changes.”
Field staffers predict a slightly better season than last year’s in the Upper Peninsula, where hunters are advised to look for deer trails near oak trees that are producing a plentiful supply of acorns.
The northern Lower Peninsula also looks promising, with plentiful well-developed deer.
Numbers are high in southern Michigan, where hunters can take an antlerless deer with a deer or deer combo license during the early and late antlerless seasons and the archery, firearm and muzzleloading seasons.
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