This is shaping up to be a disappointing season for firearm deer hunters in the Upper Peninsula.
An early-season storm and lake effect combined to dump more than three feet of snow in parts of the U.P. last week.
Russ Mason is the chief of the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division. He says the deep snow is preventing hunters from reaching deer in the U.P.
“You would need a four-wheeler with tracks or a snow machine, and guys just aren’t prepared for that,” says Mason. “I expect the U.P. numbers are going to be way down this year.”
An early winter blast is bad news not only for the hunters, but also the deer.
Mason says those hunters who are bagging bucks in the U.P. are showing up at deer check stations with older deer. He says there’s a noticeable decline in the number of bucks less than two years old. Mason says that may be a sign that two prolonged winters may be taking a toll on the younger deer.
“What kills deer is early winters that last a long time,” says Mason. He’s concerned this may be a third bad winter in a row in the Upper Peninsula.
Another problem is predators.
The DNR’s Russ Mason insists when he uses the word “predators," that’s not code for “wolves." Mason says coyotes are becoming a serious problem for the Upper Peninsula’s deer population.
Mason says the deer harvest is average in southern Michigan.