With the 2023 deer rifle season in Michigan coming to a close, it’s worth taking a look at how this year compares to the previous.
Michigan deer hunters play a vital role in managing the deer numbers, however, the deer harvest has declined
One factor is that the number of hunters is going down in Michigan. Michigan Advance writes, “According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2022 Deer Harvest Survey, the total number of hunters declined by about 4% from 537,014 in 2021 to 516,336 last year. More significantly, the number of deer that were harvested dropped 14%, from approximately 395,000 in 2021 to just 339,189 in 2022.”
The number of hunters has been dropping for years. There was a small uptick in 2020 but that is mostly attributed to Covid making people spend more time outdoors.
There has been a decrease of hunting licenses sold since last year, there was an increase in the number of licenses sold to new hunters. But even with hunters taking nearly 400,00 deer it's nowhere close to the 600,000 animals that used to be harvested in the state in the 90’s.
There was also a 3 percent increase in the number of licenses sold to out-of-state hunters.
Things are not faring much better in the Upper Peninsula There has been a sharp decline in the number of deer taken above the bridge.
So far the Escanaba Daily Press reports that there have only been 4,800 bucks harvested compared to the 6,200 taken last year. There has also been an even sharper decrease in the number of does taken, 2,000 fewer does have been taken.
There are a couple factors experts are pointing to. There was a. Long winter last year. Also the opening days of deer season were unseasonably warm and caused less than ideal conditions.
A DNR report looked at the harvest numbers dropping, “This decline is due in part to a decrease in the number of deer hunters as well as more restrictive changes to buck harvest regulations,” the report said.