2012-11-15 / Community

DNR survey outlines 2011 hunting season

LANSING – The Department of Natural Resources conducted a survey of deer hunters following the 2011 hunting seasons. The survey outlines hunter participation, harvest, and hunting effort.

Questionnaires were initially mailed during mid-January 2012, and two follow-up questionnaires were mailed to non-respondents. To increase the number of questionnaires returned, respondents that returned their questionnaire promptly became eligible to win a firearm or bow. Although 51,288 people were sent the questionnaire, 1,277 surveys were undeliverable resulting in an adjusted sample size of 50,011. Questionnaires were returned by 27,443 of people receiving the questionnaire, a 55 percent response rate.

RESULTS

In 2011, 691,215 people purchased a license to hunt deer in Michigan. The number of people buying a license in 2011 declined by about 1 percent from 2010 (697,529 people purchased a license in 2010). Most of the people buying a license were male (90 percent), and the average age of license buyers was 43 years. Nearly 10 percent (67,785) of the license buyers were younger than 17 years old. About 2 percent (10,928) of the license buyers were younger than 12 years old, which represented 16 percent of the hunters younger than 17 years old.

The number of people buying a license in 2011 declined by about 14 percent in ten years from 2001 (801,436 people purchased a license in 2001). There were fewer license buyers for most age classes between 14 and 49 years of age in 2011, compared to 2001.

However, there were increased hunter numbers among the youngest and oldest age classes in 2011. The increased hunter numbers in the oldest age classes likely represented the rising share of older people in the population as the baby-boom generation aged and life expectancies have increased. In addition, legalization of crossbow use during the archery season probably increased participation among hunters in the oldest age classes. The increased participation among the youngest hunters likely reflected the lowering of the minimum age requirements. In 2011, it was legal for 10 and 11 year olds to hunt deer with a firearm; while the hunters had to be at least 12 years old to participate in 2001.

The number of 2011 deer harvest tags sold for all license types combined decreased about 1percent from 2010. License buyers were issued an average of 2.2 harvest tags. About 89 percent of the license buyers obtained three or fewer harvest tags, and greater than 98 percent had five or fewer harvest tags. Hunters most frequently obtained antlerless and combination harvest tags. About 45 percent of the license buyers purchased at least one antlerless license (314,122 people), and greater than 98 percent of antlerless license buyers purchased three or fewer antlerless licenses, public and private licenses combined.

The antlerless license quota on private lands decreased 3 percent from 704,400 in 2010 to 683,700 licenses in 2011. The quota for public land antlerless licenses increased less than 1 percent from 72,100 to 72,500 between 2010 and 2011. The number of antlerless licenses sold declined 4 percent between 2010 and 2011.

About 93.7 ± 0.3 percent (648,127 hunters) of the people buying a license in 2011 actually spent time hunting deer. Most hunters (578,855) pursued deer during the regular firearm season. Statewide, the number of people hunting deer during all seasons combined decreased 1percent from 2010.

A significantly greater number of people hunted during the late antlerless (26 percent), early antlerless (18 percent), and archery (5 percent) seasons during 2011. In contrast, significantly fewer people hunted during the regular firearm (-2 percent) season. The number of people hunting in the muzzleloader, early youth, youth, and disabled hunter seasons were nearly unchanged between 2010 and 2011.

About 47 percent of the days hunters spent pursuing deer throughout the state occurred in the archery season. About 39 percent of the hunting effort occurred during the regular firearm season. Nearly 13 percent of the hunting effort occurred in the muzzleloader and late antlerless seasons combined. Statewide, hunters devoted an average of 15.3 days afield hunting deer during all seasons combined. Archers had the greatest number of days available to hunt deer (77 days) and devoted the greatest number of days afield.

For all seasons combined, hunting effort statewide was nearly unchanged between 2010 and 201. Hunting effort increased significantly during the late antlerless (30 percent) but decreased significantly during the regular firearm (-5 percent) season. Hunting effort was unchanged during the archery, muzzleloader, early antlerless, early youth, youth, and disabled seasons between 2010 and 2011.

Nearly 422,000 deer were harvested in 2011, an increase of about 1 percent from the number taken in 2010 (Figure 12). Statewide, the harvest of both antlerless and antlered deer in 2011 was nearly unchanged from 2010 (Table 5). Between 2010 and 2011, deer harvest increased significantly during the early antlerless (29 percent) and archery (12 percent) seasons. While harvest decreased significantly in the muzzleloader season by 12 percent. Deer harvest in the regular firearm, late antlerless, early youth, youth, and disabled seasons did not change significantly between 2010 and 2011.

About 51 percent of the deer harvested (sexes combined) in 2011 were taken during the regular firearm season. Nearly 43 percent of the antlerless deer and 60 percent of the antlered bucks were harvested in the regular firearm season. Hunters took 32 percent of the harvested deer (sexes combined) during archery season. During the archery season, hunters took 30 percent of the antlerless deer and 33 percent of the antlered bucks harvested. Few antlered bucks (5 percent) were taken in the muzzleloader season. The early and late antlerless and muzzleloader seasons combined accounted for about 26 percent of the antlerless deer harvested.

About 87 percent of the animals harvested (sexes combined) in 2011 were taken on private lands (Table 7). Statewide, most of the antlerless deer (89 percent) and antlered bucks (84 percent) were harvested on private lands.

Statewide, 45 percent of deer hunters harvested at least one deer (all deer seasons and sexes combined) in 2011 (Figure 15, Table 8), compared to 44 percent success in 2010. About 24 percent of hunters took an antlerless deer, and 30 percent took an antlered buck in 2011. About 15 percent of deer hunters harvested two or more deer.

Hunters were most successful in taking a deer during the archery (34 percent successful), regular firearm (33 percent), youth (32 percent), and early antlerless (29 percent) seasons. Nearly 22 percent of hunters took an antlered buck and 14 percent harvested an antlerless deer during the regular firearm season. Hunter success was lowest in the disabled hunter (23 percent), muzzleloader (16 percent), and early youth antlerless (15 percent) seasons.

Deer hunters were asked to report how satisfied they were with (1) number of deer seen, (2) number of antlered deer [bucks] seen, (3) number of deer taken, and (4) their overall hunting experience. Statewide, less than 45 percent of hunters were satisfied with numbers of deer seen, bucks seen, deer taken, and their overall hunting experience in 2011. Statewide levels of satisfaction were little changed for all measures between 2010 and 2011; however, satisfaction generally increased among UP and NLP hunters and decreased among SLP hunters.

Statewide, about 51 percent of hunters supported the antler point restrictions on buck harvest implemented for the UP, and about 56 percent of the hunters that preferred to hunt in the UP supported the antler point restrictions. Statewide support for the antler point restrictions was about the same in 2010 and 2011.

About 118,573 hunters used a crossbow during the archery season, and they harvested about 54,902 deer with the crossbow. The number of archers using a crossbow increased 31 percent from 2010, and harvest of deer by archers using a crossbow increased 43 percent. About 39 percent of these archers using a crossbow in 2011 harvested a deer with a crossbow. Hunters using a crossbow to hunt deer were required to obtain a crossbow stamp, unless they were a disabled hunter that already had a DNRissued crossbow permit. About 52 ± 1 percent of the archers using a crossbow during the archery season in 2011 had obtained the required crossbow stamp in 2011. However, 68 ± 1 percent of the archers using a crossbow during the archery season in 2011 had obtained a crossbow stamp during at least one year during 2009- 2011.

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