The 2014 report compares kill statistics over years 2010 through 2012 from 36 states of the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast.
Interesting trends continue to evolve and Michigan appears to have reversed course by actually shifting its focus from sheer numbers to stronger, healthier deer strategies. Given that, some of the numbers are not bad, either.
Michigan hunters shot the most bucks by a large margin in the Midwest region. The figure of 222,640 represents about 10,000 more bucks taken than either of the past two years. Not all states in the region were able to boast these results with South Dakota and Nebraska taking 25 and 29 percent fewer bucks respectively.
Wisconsin topped the list of bucks per square mile at 2.5 with Michigan a close second reporting a figure of 2.3. What makes Michigan’s number of bucks startling is that in the summer of 2012, hemorrhagic disease accounted for substantial losses.
Michigan’s figures get even more interesting when delving into facts behind the numbers. When it comes to buck kills by age class, Michigan has ranked dead last in the nation with respect to its history of killing yearlings – adolescent 1 ½ year-old bucks. Some 53 percent of all bucks killed in year 2012 were yearlings – down from 59 percent in 2011. That’s good! However, when compared to the top state of Arkansas, which reports a miniscule 8 percent of its buck kill in the 1 ½ year class, we’ve more work to do. Several other states were below the 20-percent figure, as well.
The kill percentage of mature deer 2 ½ years old increased from 24 to 28 percent over the past year. The 3 ½ year-old class showed similar results with 19 percent of the total buck kill – up two percent over 2011. Again, we may be on the right track but we pale in comparison to Texas, which reports a staggering 67 percent of its buck kill being in the 3 ½ year class.
On the other hand, antlerless deer kill statistics show a drop of an average of 13,000 animals over the past two years. Much of this can be attributed to reduced quotas mandated, as a result of the hemorrhagic disease outbreak. Within the antlerless data is a breakdown of types of deer taken in the 2012 season: 68 percent were adult does, while doe and buck fawns accounted for 14 percent each of the antlerless kill. The missing four percent is most likely bucks that were killed after having shed their antlers.
One final analysis shows that archery kills were up 6 percent, while rifle kills were down the same amount compared to the previous year.
Obviously, deer populations cannot continue to grow as their habitat continues to shrink. But, being better stewards of the most sought-after game species in North America is always possible through sound science and management. With antler-point restrictions in 12 northwest Lower Peninsula counties for the first time this year, more young bucks are being afforded an opportunity to mature.
So, too, has Michigan’s hunting fraternity.
About Glen WunderlichCharter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM). Adjutant of Perry, Michigan Sons of Amvets Post 4064 and Chairman Perry (MI) Youth Hunt Extravaganza, a sanctioned event of Perry Sons of Amvets held the third weekend of September each year.