According to Kevin Swanson, DNR habitat biologist from the Cusino/Shingleton Field Office, while the data is not yet finalized, certain variables are pointing toward a successful U.P. hunting season. One of these variables has been the weather, he added.
“We’ve had three mild winters back to back now,” Swanson said. “We’ve seen a continuing trend upward in deer numbers and better antler development. That continued this year.”
With this mild weather contributing to good antler development, he explained larger bucks have been checkedin this season. Other factors, such as the deer’s successful evasion from predators like coyotes, wolves and bears, also come into play.
The increased traffic to check stations varies from place to place, but he explained most are experiencing the jump. While last year’s season was also good, Swanson said he expects the numbers from this year to overshadow that harvest.
“I would say that there are more deer being registered than last year,” he explained. “Some of the check stations, like Marquette, were up 30 percent over last year. Here at Cusino, we’re up about 20 percent over what we were last year.”
While the Cusino Field Office will no longer register deer now that the firearm deer season is over, Swanson said area hunters can still bring their harvest to the Newberry Field Office. He also noted that some area hunters may soon be receiving a survey regarding this year’s hunt.
The surveys will be sent out in the next month, he added, and will provide the DNR with data about hunter success rates, the average number of deer seen per day, and the fawn to doe ratio.
“That’s all important information for us to consider,” Swanson said. “We would like to get more people on that survey.”
Swanson also explained hunters can expect to see different antler restrictions for next year’s season, as the U.P. Deer Advisory Team is currently addressing the issue.
“They’re looking at many different ways to try to get more 2 ½ year old bucks in the population,” he said. “We can do a better job, there’s no doubt about it. We could get some older bucks in our age structure and that’s what we want to do.”
The team, made up of area sportspeople, will make a recommendation to the DNR following their meetings.
For more information on this year’s deer harvest, the U.P. deer camp survey, or the U.P. Deer Advisory Team, contact Kevin Swanson at (906) 452-6227, ext. 230.