BARAGA - This year's deer hunting has been up slightly over last year, said a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist.
Check-ins at Baraga have been up about 7 percent over last year, said Bill Scullon, wildlife biologist with the DNR in Baraga.
There have been a lot of two-and-a-half-year and three-and-a-half-year deer, along with a few four-and-a-halfs, he said.
"As we anticipated, hunters are seeing a lot more of the younger animals ... because we've seen two good winters back to back," he said.
The snow has created good tracking conditions across the west end of the Upper Peninsula.
Scullon has heard no reports of hunters following deer to the highlands yet; he expects that will happen by muzzle-loading season. So far, he said, most hunting has taken place near agricultural lands.
"Those are the most productive parts of the landscape; that's where they're going to spot more deer," he said.
While deer may be up, Scullon said hunters have been reporting fewer hunters in the field, with a decrease in out-of-the-area traffic.
"Especially further west, it's been pretty slow, a lot of local guys out," he said.
Unlike recent years, the DNR is not collecting deer heads to test for chronic wasting disease. However, they will still check deer for signs of abnormalities if requested. Scullon said there have been no signs of unhealthiness.
This is the first firearm deer season after the state's push to encourage child hunters. Scullon said it's hard to say whether there's been an increase in the area.
"We've had more first-time successful hunters coming in ... those are both adults and hunters who are hunting for the first time," he said.