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Michigan 2017 Deer Hunting Season

While the official numbers aren’t in yet, state officials expect another record season for deer hunters in Michigan.

The state plans to release statistics on the hunting season in late spring of 2018. But the expectation is that it will equal and perhaps surpass the 2016-2017 hunting season.

That year saw Michigan hunters harvest deer in the largest numbers since 2013. The state ranked second in the nation in harvest numbers. More than five out of every 10 hunters brought home at least one deer.

Texas ranked first with hunters taking 722,044 deer. That’s more than double the 341,288 taken in Michigan. But Texas also has more than double the number of deer - more than 4.3 million compared to 1.75 million in Michigan.

Anecdotal evidence seemed to back up state projections. Hunter Jason Rairigh, who got an 8-point buck near Jackson in southwest Michigan the first day of the season, told Michigan Live an increased number of deer made the chances of hunting success “a lot better than last year.”

In another sign of good hunting, both Bryan Fey and his son, Hunter, got bucks using bows in November in Van Buren County. The younger Fey, 19, told Michigan Live it was the first time he got a deer using a bow.

Deer hunting remains extremely popular in Michigan, including among the many people working for and with Michigan Builders License. More than half a million state residents hunted in the 2016-2017 season, and similar numbers are expected when the state makes its report next summer.

Overall, hunting has a $2.3 billion impact on the state.

Hot Spots

The Lower Peninsula continues to provide the best hunting grounds in the state. Part of the reason are harsh winters in three consecutive years between 2012 and 2015 that led to a reduced deer population in the Upper Peninsula.

However, the Michigan Department of National Resources (DNR) expected a higher number of deer in the Upper Peninsula because of milder recent winters. “Though overall deer numbers are still lower than many hunters like to see, some areas have begun to recover from previous harsh winters nicely,” the DNR reported.

Deer numbers in the Lower Peninsula looked strong as always. The DNR expected big deer harvest numbers especially in the northern Upper Peninsula. Even before the season began, residents reported sightings of many fawns, including many twins and some triplets.

Getting Ready For Next Year

Veteran hunters know one of the first things to watch for in the upcoming deer hunting season happens in the current winter. Harsh winters can impact how many deer flourish in the following year.

On practical issues, the state provides detailed information on how and when to obtain permits for deer hunting. Typically, applications are required for deer hunting season by July and August. Application times vary depending on the animal hunted, which can include elk and black bear.

As for the reasons why deer hunting remains popular, hunter Richard Braunz provided one to Michigan Live. He loves the “peacefulness” of being outdoors. He said, “It’s just relaxing. I like the woods.”