John UrbainJohn Urbain
, Michigan Department of Natural Resources big game specialist
, points out the many areas throughout Michigan that will be offering unlimited amounts of over-the-counter firearm antlerless permits this hunting season.Urbain
met with the Michigan Farm Bureau
Policy Development Committee last week to explain the new regulations.
..."This is designed to make it more challenging to fill both buck tags and to encourage the taking of does," explained John Urbain, DNR big game specialist.
During last year's harvest, Michigan hunters killed just shy of 600,000 animals - of which more than half were does."That's an all-time high," Urbain
said."About 315,000 of those deer were taken in the southern Lower Peninsula, which is just phenomenal, considering that there were only about 70,000 deer total in that region in 1972."
While the DNR
is still trying to estimate the size of this year's herd, officials say that it's slightly smaller than last year - but still too large.By measuring antler beams and the number of points on 18-month-old bucks, DNR biologists say the large deer population is affecting the health of the herd."We've been seeing smaller beams and fewer points, which indicate a less healthy population," Urbain
explained."The more points and bigger beams show a better balance with their habitat.And, if the bucks are healthier, so will be the does and fawns."
Mild winters combined with deer feeding practices have prompted a population explosion over the last few years that hunters are just starting to catch up with.
"It's easy for the DNR
to control increasing the population, but not so easy to downsize," Urbain
The department is increasing its effort to educate hunters on the many regulation changes that have occurred in the last three years."We can give hunters the tools, but because 97 percent of the land in southern Lower Peninsula is private, it's up to them to decide whether or not to utilize them."
Another obstacle created through history is the taboo around shooting does."Last year, for the first time, we switched from taking 40 percent does and 60 percent bucks, to taking 60 percent does and 40 percent bucks," Urbain
"Michigan has an abundance of deer," Urbain