Deer season is a big deal in Michigan. The deer harvest is Michigan’s most popular game season, with 93 percent of all hunter’s acquiring a deer license. Already underway, the most popular segment, Firearm Season, is set to begin next week, on November 15th.
So many Michiganders participate in Deer Regular Firearm Opening Day that schools and workplaces in some parts of the state turn into ghost towns on the 15th. Currently, a bill is making its way through the State Legislature that would move Opening Day to the Saturday nearest the 15th. That way Michiganders won’t need to play hooky to go out in the woods. Don’t worry, hunters would still get a 16 day season.
Here are few most facts about Michigan deer hunting. You might find a few of them surprising.
1. In 2016, Michigan had the second largest deer harvest in the country. We were beat soundly by first place winner Texas where 722,044 deer were bagged compared to just 341,288 here.
2. Michigan’s deer hunting season is divided into seven segments, each with different rules. It begins in September with Early Antlerless Firearm. The Liberty Hunt is also held at the same time. It’s a special hunt specifically for youth and disabled hunters. The Independence Hunt in mid-October is also restricted to individuals with disabilities.
Archery Deer season begins October 1st and runs through November 14th, then resumes December 1st and continues until January 1st. Regular Firearm Season is November 15th through November 30th. Muzzleloading begins in December with dates varying depending on where you live in Michigan. The last season is Late Antlerless Firearm, beginning in mid-december. You can find complete information about deer hunting seasons on the Michigan DNR’s website.
3. Around 600,000 people will go deer hunting in Michigan this year.
4. Of all the regions, Northern Michigan has the highest number of deer hunting licenses per capita. The fewest licenses are in Wayne County, home to Detroit.
5. The largest deer population lives in Michigan’s southern lower peninsula, even though it’s Michigan’s most people populated region. The region’s abundant farmland provides food for the deer, helping them survive the winter.
6. In the Upper Peninsula, the deer population is well below normal due to several harsh winters in recent years. However, thanks to a mild winter in 2016, the DNR says the population is on the rise in the UP, as well as the rest of the state.
7. The DNR expects a slight increase in the number of deer harvested in 2017, because of increased populations.
8. More than half the deer harvested in Michigan are taken in the southern lower peninsula.
9. About 44 percent of all hunters harvest a deer.
10. While more deer over all are taken during firearm season, hunters actually have more individual success during bow season.
11. You’re most likely to bag a deer if you hunt in the central part of the southern lower peninsula, particularly Mecosta, Montcalm and Gratiot counties.
12. The northwest lower peninsula attracts the most hunters, despite the larger deer population and harvest in the southern lower peninsula.
13. Hunting adds about 2.3 billion dollars to Michigan’s economy each year.
14. Orange isn’t just a fashion choice. Michigan state law requires hunters to wear a cap, hat, vest, jacket, or rain gear in hunter orange.
15. Hunters can donate part or all of their deer harvest to help feed the hungry through the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger organization.