The Department of Natural Resources released how a slew of circumstances puts the 2014 firearm deer hunting season at below average success. The severe weather from last winter and its impact on the deer herd, the early major snowfall in the Upper Peninsula in November, low deer numbers and perhaps lack of interest are the major points. Until the DNR gets its final survey input from hunters that will tell just how many days hunters spent afield and who hunted, a lot remains unanswered. The lack of interest from some, busy work schedules and the new license pricing that went into effect won’t be figured in until the final report, either.
The reasons hunters either didn’t have success or didn’t hunt at all are as varied as the hunters themselves. Some hunters skipped the season because of the new licensing structuring and its increased prices, while others simply couldn’t get the number of days off work they wanted. The traditional opener fell on a Saturday this year, which should have put more people in the woods, but if they didn’t have a successful weekend, many told me they just went back to work on Monday and tried to hunt before or after work. For more than a few of my friends and relatives, though, that’s easier said than done with one hour commutes each way making that near impossible. If you have to report to work by 7 a.m., that makes that pretty impossible.
I also heard more than a few grumblings from hunters who wished the corn had come down in time for the opener with cleared soy bean fields rimmed on neighboring properties by still-standing corn. Many corn fields were harvested just last week, so that just leaves the final two weeks of the season for the bow hunters to keep trying unless they are participating in the late antlerless firearm segment that runs Dec. 22-Jan. 1. Muzzleloaders in Zone 3 have until Dec. 21 to fill their tags.
The local buck poles also had fewer deer entered. Numbers vary year to year, but were at least 15-20 deer down from really successful years where upwards of 45 deer were crowded on the poles. Lots of people had a really good opening day and the racks were impressive on the deer. Others, though, were not interested in the contests, but in filling the freezer. They went after the plentiful doe herd.
Urban sprawl continues to be a problem for some, with parcels they used to hunt being sold and in some cases, no longer open to hunting. Loss of private land continues to be listed as a reason on numerous blogs. The blogs also were full of comments from old school hunters who continue to call today’s hunters lazy. Many quipped that hunters today are lazy and that you can’t expect to be successful by sitting in the woods for three hours. They maintain that you have to walk and move about to get the deer up and moving. That argument will go on and on. I talked with several other hunters around the buck poles and they said they grew tired of the stalking method because it only drove the deer off the property they were allowed to hunt on. They said they tried the sitting still method this year. Some had success, some just didn’t because the deer never came to them. So much for Plan B.
Let us know how your hunt went or how you feel about the new licensing structure. Send in your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Word limit is 400 words and you must include your name, hometown and phone number (phone number won’t be printed).