Things to consider this deer hunting season

Over the last few years, around 700,000 individuals have purchased a license to hunt deer in Michigan. These hunters ultimately spend more than 9.6 million days afield and take more than 400,000 deer. Over 300,000 hunters participate in Michigan’s archery season, about 600,000 hunt with a firearm and 200,000 with a muzzleloader. Although surveys show that the leading reasons many individuals participate in deer hunting is simply the opportunity to spend time outdoors with friends and family, harvesting a deer is still very important to many deer hunters. No amount of hunting guarantees a harvest, but preparation and hard work are keys to producing the best chance to see and take deer, or to mentor a new hunter through a safe and enjoyable season. The 2012 deer season is expected to be a successful year for many hunters, and as always, will certainly offer the exciting challenge we call ‘hunting’.

Where to Hunt
There is no better way to locate deer than by getting out on the landscape and scouting. Learning where this year’s deer trails are, finding which oak trees are producing acorns, and discovering where a group is bedding down each night are often the keys to a successful hunt. Maps and computer-based tools are increasingly available to narrow in on the best locations to focus scouting efforts. Mi-HUNT is a DNR interactive web application located at www.michigan.gov/mihunt, to help you hone in on good habitat and potential hunting spots.

Bring your Deer to a Check Station
For many years, Michigan hunters have participated in a voluntary deer check system that produces one of the largest sets of data throughout the country on age and condition of harvested deer. The data collected at check stations helps the DNR monitor the health of the herd and make future management decisions; also, the time spent talking with hunters is invaluable to field staff. You can be a part of this important aspect of deer management by bringing your deer to a check station. In return, hunters receive a deer management cooperator patch. For a list of deer check station locations and hours of operation, consult the list posted at: www.michigan.gov/deer.
Can’t make it to a check station at the end of your hunt? You may bring the head of any deer you take (or remove the bottom jaw and keep the antlers of any bucks), along with information on the date and location of harvest, to any check station at some point later in the season. You may also bring in deer harvested by other hunters (or send your deer with them), as long as all of the necessary information can be related back to the appropriate deer. Finally, some local clubs or organizations arrange deer check events near the end of or right after the season closes. Your local field office may be aware of such special events or may be willing to establish another event if you are a member of a club or other network of individuals with such an interest. A list of field offices and contact information may be found at www.michigan.gov/wildlife.

Mentoring a Youth Hunter
Shared experience with family and friends is one of the most cherished aspects of hunting. We encourage you to share that heritage with a young person in your life. The Mentored Youth Hunting Program offers youth under the age of 10 an opportunity to hunt deer, turkey, and small game, trap furbearers, and fish for all species with a qualified youth mentor who is 21 years or older. Complete program details can be at: www.michigan.gov/mentoredhunting. A deer kill tag issued under the mentored youth license is valid for any deer in any deer management unit, except during the antlerlessonly season when only an antlerless deer may be taken.

Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger Program:
The Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger (MSAH) program is a wonderful way for hunters to share a part of their harvest this fall, or make a financial contribution to support the processing of donated deer. More than 1.1 million Michigan residents annually seek food assistance. Last year, the venison donated to local food banks and food kitchens throughout Michigan supplied enough meat to provide more than 100,000 meals with a source of nutritious protein.
When purchasing a fishing or hunting license, tell the license vendor you would like to make a monetary donation to the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger program. The vendor will simply add your choice of $1, $5, $10 or $20 donation to the overall purchase price. Hunters who would like to donate a deer should visit the MSAH website, www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org, to find the nearest participating processor.

Thank a Hunter or Trapper for their Contributions to Conservation
In Michigan, money raised from the sale of hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses pays for the bulk of fish and wildlife conservation, and those participating in these activities are justifiably proud of their reputation for paying their own way. But license fees aren’t the only dollars that support conservation in Michigan. September 2, 2012 marked the 75th anniversary of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (PR). PR is the program that directs funds raised from federal taxes on archery equipment, firearms, and ammunition back to state wildlife agencies to pay for wildlife conservation, restoration, and hunter education. Since its implementation in 1937, PR has provided more than $262 million to Michigan for wildlife management. Anyone who enjoys watching wildlife, hiking through forests, photographing birds or picking mushrooms is benefitting from people who have purchased hunting and trapping licenses. This year, take extra pride in your contributions, thank your fellow hunters and trappers, and spread the word about the way these activities support conservation of all wildlife that are so widely appreciated in Michigan.