GENESEE COUNTY — One of the biggest days of the year in Michigan, November 15, is the opening of firearm deer-hunting season. Tomorrow, several communities and businesses mark the occasion with buck poles that open at daybreak and close at 8 p.m. Throughout the day, hunters will be looking to hang their big bucks of the day, and scores of curious onlookers will stop by to see what’s been wandering through the woods each day.
The Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources reports that over the past few years, around 700,000 individuals have purchased a license to hunt deer n Michigan. Hunters spend more than 9.6 million days afield and take more than 400,000 deer. More than 300,000 hunters participate in Michigan’s archery season, about 600,000 hunt with a firearm and 200,000 with a muzzleloader. The DNR also noted that Southern Michigan has the overall highest deer densities in the state, but the deer population in that zone has been stable to decreasing over the last five to 10 years.
“The Department has desired to reduce deer numbers in much of the region, while still maintaining suitable densities to provide ample hunting opportunities. Populations in a number of locations are likely now at or closer to goal than they have been for some time,” the DNR said in its yearly preseason deer hunting prospect report.
Genesee County hunters will fill the parking lot of Madden’s Lounge in Davison, as Madden’s will host the 14th annual buck pole. It’s the second pole of the season for Madden’s, which also hosts a youth hunt pole contest every September during the state’s youth hunt, usually the third full weekend of the month. Prizes will be awarded for biggest buck by weight and points, first buck entered and first by a youth, woman and oldest hunter. Entries must be in by 8:30 p.m. Among the prizes are a muzzleloader and shoulder mount, as well as deer processing by Mark Thomas. Sponsors include Madden’s, Williams Gun Sight, Safari Club International-Flint Chapter, Church and Sons, and D&M Painting.
In neighboring Lapeer County, Ray C’s Extreme Store on Imlay City Road in Lapeer will host its eighth annual Lapeer County Buck Pole, with proceeds again benefiting Wheelin’ Team 457 of North Branch. Food, music, warming pits and lots of vendor booths will help everyone fill in the time during the day, and prizes, including shoulder mounts, will be given for biggest buck and runner-up, as well as youngest, oldest, first 20 and first woman to hang a buck. Any hunter hanging a buck receives a commemorative T-shirt and will be entered on-line for the statewide Q1 Buck Pole prizes. The Wheelin’ Team also is selling raffle tickets for three prizes: a Cannon Gun Safe, a Yamaha EF2000iSC generator and a $100 gift certificate to Ray C’s.
The Village Taxidermist in Metamora had a buck pole the last couple of years, but because that business closed up shop, hunters will have to visit one of the other poles.
The North Branch Area Business Association will host its fifth annual buck pole at the North Branch Food Center/Self Serve Lumber parking lot, 3820 Huron St. Hunters there will be entered into a $100 lottery drawing held at dusk. Hot dogs and brats will be available at the concession stand, and free coffee and donuts are available in the tent. A chili cook-off party will be held from 4-6 p.m.
The bucks must be registered by 7:30 p.m. and a shoulder mount also will be awarded to the largest buck, measured by width and points, sponsored by Hampton Taxidermy and the NBABA. There will also be $50 cash prizes for first buck, youngest hunter, oldest hunter and first woman hunter. A raffle drawing will be held at buck pole closing, with $5 tickets available at more than a dozen businesses throughout North Branch.
Deer check stations also open
Michigan hunters are reminded to take part in the 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 helps the DNR monitor the health of the herd and make future management decisions. Wildlife officials add that the time spent talking with hunters is invaluable to the field staff.
In return for helping our the state biologists as part of this important aspect of deer management by bringing deer to a check station, hunters receive a deer management cooperator patch.
Can’t make it to a check station at the end of your hunt? Hunters may bring the head of any deer they 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. Hunters can also help out their friends by bringing in deer harvested by other hunters, or vice versa, as long as all of the necessary information can be related back to the appropriate deer. A list of field offices and contact information may be found at www.michigan.gov/wildlife.
Locally, the Lapeer State Game Area, 3116 Vernor Rd, in Lapeer serves as a deer check station. It’s open Nov. 16; Nov. 19-21; Nov. 26-30, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. It’s closed on all state holidays.
Holly Wildlife Area, 8100 Grange Hall Rd., is open Nov.15-16, Nov. 19- 21 ad Nov. 26-30, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., closed state holidays.