| 2 min read | from Michigan Department of Natural Resources |
The 2019 deer season is quickly approaching. DNR biologists have been out observing the deer herds in their areas and looking at the food sources that will sustain deer this fall. Based on their observations, we offer the following predictions for the upcoming deer hunting season, along with some tips for a successful season.
Deer hunting forecast – Upper Peninsula
Numbers: Despite some areas that saw record-breaking snow levels, overall the winter of 2018-2019 was considered average for the U.P. Luckily, snowmelt occurred quickly throughout the region, and it appears that few deer succumbed to harsh winter conditions. Observations indicate that deer numbers appear similar to last year.
Food: Most areas are reporting good to great production of soft mast (fruit with a fleshy interior), especially wild apples. A couple of areas in the U.P., especially around Shingleton, are reporting good acorn production as well.
Bucks: With overall deer numbers being low in the U.P., buck sightings have been limited. Those that have been observed look very healthy, and antler development appears average for the region.
Deer hunting forecast – northern Lower Peninsula
Numbers: It was a mild to average winter for the northern Lower Peninsula, which allowed deer populations to continue to increase across much of the region. Fawning conditions appear to have been average, with observations being similar to last year.
Food: Growing conditions have been very good across the region, with good rainfall during the early summer months. Thus far, it appears to be an average year for production of both acorns and wild apples. Scouting to find these areas will be crucial.
Bucks: Observations of bucks have been similar to last year across the entire northern Lower Peninsula. With the average winter this year and previous winters not taking a major toll on the herd, deer numbers have been increasing. Nutrition has been good, leading to healthy deer body conditions and good numbers of bucks.
Deer hunting forecast – southern Lower Peninsula
Numbers: Winters generally have little impact on deer in the southern Lower Peninsula, and this past winter was no exception. Deer numbers appear to be similar or higher than last year, and there seems to be excellent fawn production. The deer are in great shape.
Food: Rainfall totals were high for nearly all of southern Michigan, causing many crops to be planted late or not at all. Harvest will undoubtedly be late this year, which may have a direct impact on the number of deer taken. The amount of fallow and unplanted fields also may affect deer movement this fall. Thus far, it appears to be an average to above average year for production of both acorns and wild apples. Again, scouting to find these areas will be important, and we recommend contacting your local DNR office to get staff perspective on the area.
Bucks: Deer, including bucks, are abundant in many areas. Observations coming in show buck numbers and condition are similar to last year. Bachelor herds are being seen with some nice 2.5- and 3.5-year-old deer in them.
Tips for a successful deer hunting season
Take time to scout
Scouting probably has the biggest impact on hunting success. Keen observation and an understanding of how and why deer move on the landscape are important. Watch for signs like deer trails, bedding and feeding areas, and rubs and scrapes. See more detailed tips on how to prepare for the upcoming hunting season.
Review the current regulations
In the Lower Peninsula, a deer baiting and feeding ban went into effect Jan. 31 of this year in an effort to reduce the risk of spreading CWD. This ban applies to both public and private land. Bear baiting is still allowed, as long as the bait is inaccessible to deer.
In the Upper Peninsula, deer baiting and feeding are banned in the Core CWD Surveillance Area. The rest of the peninsula remains open to deer baiting and feeding.