BARAGA - Last year, an estimated 656,500 hunters took to the woods to bag a deer and this year, the hunt is expected to be better.
Firearm season kicks off Tuesday, and although the percentage of hunters decreased from 2009 to 2010 by about 4 percent, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is expecting this season to be better than the last, said Bill Scullon, a biologist with the Baraga DNR post.
"Hunting (in 2010) in our area was better than it has been for the last couple of years," he said.
Local DNR?officials expect the 2011 firearm deer season, which begins statewide on Tuesday morning, to be better than 2010. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Scullon said it helped the area had a moderate winter, as it promotes the winter survival of deer. This year, hunters should be expecting more deer on the landscape and the majority will be younger animals or ones that survived last winter.
"They will see more deer, perhaps by 5 to 10 percent," he said.
Across the state, about 44 percent of hunters harvested a deer in 2010, per the DNR's new white-tailed deer website. Additionally, about 418,000 deer were harvested statewide.
Firearm deer hunting begins one half hour before sunrise and a half hour before sunset, and for two weeks, hunters will be able to hunt deer with a valid license, which include firearms, combination, antlerless and the Deer Management Assistance Program. This year, the DNR will not be collecting deer heads for research, however, they will take an animal that appears sick, he said.
"We've scaled back our surveillance," Scullon said.
The bag limit is one deer per license for DMAP and this year, the ages include those 10 years or older. Youths 10 to 13 years old can hunt deer with a firearm only on private land or Commercial Forest Act lands, Scullon said, and youths 10 to 16 years old can hunt with a firearm license, junior combination license or antlerless license.
"There have been modifications to youth hunting this year," he said. "There's no significant changes as far as the normal tag structure."
As usual, hunter orange is required of all hunters.