The firearm deer season is well under way and it's shaping up to be an OK season - probably a little better than the past few campaigns.
At least that's the early word from many hunters and state game managers across the Upper Peninsula. However, reports of success - or the lack of - also appear to vary depending on which area of the U.P. you're hunting in.
A couple of things about the deer herd certainly do appear to be fact: There are a lot of young deer in the woods and the bucks that are being shot have good antler growth.
Both these aspects of the herd are undoubtedly the result of the relatively mild winter of 2009-10, which ended early and allowed deer to come into the spring in good health.
The weather thus far, while quite pleasant for sitting or walking in the woods, has been too mild to really get the deer moving, although this appears to be changing.
While I had the first few days off work to spend in the woods hunting and visiting other deer camps to see how the action is, I've been stuck in the office since Wednesday - anxiously waiting for Saturday to arrive and a full 10 days off to scour the woods in search of a buck.
In the interim, though, there's a new website that I've been using to keep up on what's going on across the northwoods.
The site can be found at deer.fw.msu.edu/ and offers not only updates on how the hunting is going in different regions of the state, but has a whole lot of other information about deer hunting.
The new site is a collaboration between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment's Wildlife Division and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University.
Here's a sampling of what DNRE wildlife biologists are reporting:
- Eastern U.P. - "Hunter numbers are about the same, maybe fewer than last year. Hunter perception of deer sightings is that the deer population may be about the same or slightly more; they are seeing more fawns. ... The bucks are showing really good antler development. Most of the bucks brought in are 3.5 years or older."
- Western U.P. - "Good weather for people to sit, and let their deer hang. ... COs report low hunting pressure, but in sections of public land where there have been reports of hard pressure ... Body size and antler size are average to good, better than last year. ... Hunter attitudes are most happy. Deer numbers are reportedly higher than last year, as far as fawns go, especially in agricultural areas. There are plenty of 'cold' spots in the forested area where sightings of deer remain depressed or poor."
I found these observations, as well as others from around the state, interesting to glance at, especially because I wasn't out in the woods myself.
Included in other deer hunting related topics on the site are deer management, deer regulations, weather reports, photos that have been submitted (yes, you can submit yours), check stations, and links to a host of other topics.
As mentioned earlier, I'm looking forward to getting back out in the woods and seeing first-hand how the hunt is looking in my neck of the woods, but spending a little time browsing the DNRE-MSU website keeps you abreast of what's going on until you can get back out there.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His e-mail address is email@example.com.