Deer Hunting: Let’s Talk About Shooting Does

The Natural Resources Commission is poised to approve the antlerless deer license quotas at their next meeting on July 11 in Lansing. This year, you will see some significant changes as will be explained below. These changes are detailed in the memo on the DNR’s website, this blog attempts to just hit the highlights.

Michigan manages its deer numbers through the issuance of antlerless licenses and if your area is open to antlerless licenses (purple or green below), the wildlife biologists making these recommendations are confident that by allowing hunters to take X many does, it will have a desired effect on the deer herd (be it increase, decrease, or stabilize the population).

2013 Deer Management Units–SLP Changes

2013_antlerless_digest_deer_units (2)

As you can see from the 2013 map of DMU’s above (click to enlarge), there have been some changes particularly in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP). Over the last decade, the goal of deer management here was to reduce or stabilize the deer population in this region.

Guess what? It’s working! Now its time to take our foot off the accelerator. By breaking down the multi-county DMU 486 into smaller scale units (see map for new SLP units in the 300 range), the DNR has the ability to direct management efforts towards distinct areas and reduce the public and private land quotas where it makes sense to do so.

Private land hunters will no longer be able to buy DMU 486 doe tags, but will return to having to choose which SLP DMU’s they plan to hunt in accordingly. Typically, these quotas are still generous enough to allow for over the counter purchases rather than requiring an application, but some units may have quotas close to anticipated demand so they could sell out. Public land hunters should still apply to be assured a public land doe tag in the desired DMU.

UP Recommendations

While a prolonged winter last year may have resulted in some adult deer mortality and low fawn recruitment, there will still be 6 of the 22 DMU’s open to doe harvest to address agricultural damage and forest regeneration issues in the southern U.P.

  • 5 units will be closed to public/private land doe harvest: Nissula (DMU 031), Amasa/Michigamme (DMU 036), Drummond Island (DMU 117), Gwinn (DMU 152), and Rock (DMU 252).
  • Decreasing public land quota in Menominee County (DMU 055) and Gladstone (DMU 155).
  • Decreasing private land quota for Crystal Falls Unit (DMU 022).
  • Decreasing total quota for LaBranche Unit (DMU 255)
  • Bay de Noc (DMU 121) and Norway (DMU 122) will remain open with the same quotas.

NLP Recommendations

With the recent controversy over the Northwest LP Antler Point Restrictions (APR) decided (in case you missed it, it was approved) and the continued situation with Bovine Tb in Northeast Michigan, eyes turned to the antlerless quotas in this region as well. Fruit farmers fumed over the APR, saying that the possible decreased take and bigger bucks was going to result in more damage to their fruit trees, while livestock producers still don’t think the DNR and hunters are doing “enough” to help Tb. Some hunters hissed that the APRs would increase the possibility of disease or take away opportunities from people who just want the meat for the freezer.

To all of these folks, the DNR said that maintaining or increasing doe harvest will help more than the APR might harm the health of the deer population, agriculture, and hunter opportunity. While MUCC staff had reservations about some of the significant quota increases initially proposed in some DMUs, the President of Michigan Quality Deer Management Association suggested that the antlerless recommendations were appropriate and perhaps even still conservative in some areas.

In the end, the DNR is recommending moderate increases in antlerless quotas throughout the NLP, but particularly in the Northwest where quotas have remained conservative for a number of years. 19 DMU’s will have increases, while 17 will remain the same. New public land antlerless opportunities will be found in the following counties: Antrim (DMU 005), Benzie (010), Charlevoix (015), Emmet (024), Grand Traverse (028), Kalkaska (040), Lake (DMU 043), Leelanau (045), Manistee (DMU 051), and Osceola (067) and Bois Blanc Island (DMU 149). This appropriately balances the opportunity to continue deer hunting and get a chance at a doe while you wait for the bucks to develop.

Won’t Shoot Does?

With all this talk of deer management, the bigger question that I would like to know is why some hunters are still “against” shooting does in this era of modern scientific wildlife management? It is saddening to hear the comments during APR discussions that people will just give up deer hunting if they aren’t allowed to shoot a spike because they “won’t shoot does,” even in areas over their population goals where antlerless tags are abundant.

To those hunters, we hope you won’t give it up—Michigan’s forests and fields hold so many possibilities.

~Amy Trotter, MUCC Resource Policy Manager

  • Dan Macut

    I have no problem shooting does. My recipe for blackened backstrap works for either sex.

  • Dan Macut

    that’s the major problem with the Michigan deer hunter…”won’t shoot does, but will shoot spikes”…sad.

  • John Dragonette

    The best way to improve the deer heard.#1-A mandatory ONE(1)BUCK ONLY LIMIT.#2-A mandatory check in, of all harvested deer#3-No discharging of center fire,or muzzle loading, fire arms, at deer,until November 15.That means,the total elimination of ALL early hunts!#4-No baiting period,state wide!#5-In DMU,s with hi doe counts,you must earn a buck tag, by harvesting,and checking a doe in first.#6-No cross bows,accept for the proven handy capped,and people 55,and older.This would be a good start

    • Rork1

      Earn-a-buck (#5) was tried in Wisconsin. It lead to all kinds of shenanigans, and is a pain to administer. It did lead to road-killled does being promptly removed though, but often only temporarily. Officials started painting the noses of road-kills in defense. They stopped earn-a-buck a few years after starting it.

    • David

      Your comment tells me you hunt on private land and don’t bow hunt. A matter a fact you live north and live on that same piece of land. I agree with some of your comments . But you planting that food plot is the same as baiting .
      Sorry john you’re wrong in your thinking. You would be better off in just saying you got to apply for a buck tag in a lotto.

      • John Dragonette

        Actually Dave,I am a avid bow hunter, live in south eastern MI, hunt deer on both public,and private land(state wide).In fact,my favorite place to hunt,is on a tract,of state land.Never planted a food plot,but use to hunt,some nice public access farms…By the way.That is awesome buck, ya got there!

  • S. Easterling

    I can’t tell one bit of difference in taste between a buck or a doe so I shoot whichever comes in range. (Providing I have a permit, of course.) The antlers are just too tough for me to eat no matter how long I cook them so I guess they are a waste item.

  • pikemaster1

    How about “NO” Private land permits !! These so called farmers clear the land in the deers domain and plant food plots and then expect the deer to stay clear of their property unless they want to get shot . Then they complain and come up with the excuse to slaughter thousands of state deer that may come upon their lands.These deer are a product of the hunters dollars spent to provide hunting on state lands and NOT for the private consumption of the ones that own private lands. If these farmers want to keep the deer and other wildlife off the properties ,then put up deer proof size fences around the lands. If they can afford the luxury of owning private lands ,then they should be able to provide the fences.This is the ONLY way to start management of the deer herds . How can the deer be managed for antler size when if they cross on to the land owners property they get shot ? Until the “NO” private land permits are stopped,then the rest are useless.Lets start there.I for one have no problem with the taking of the smaller 3″ spike bucks that are now allowed. That should be my choice ,Not the DNR’s.I have passed on those deer at times and have taken some at other times,but it should be my choice.Antlers are nice for the bragging,but as far as I’m concerned there are many of us that can use the meat and really don’t care if the deer wheres the BIG Rack or not. Deer management is important,but for harvest numbers for the amount of land ratio to deer numbers and not the size of the antlers. I’ve hunted well over 40 yrs. in this great state ,and hope to have many more,but the worse thing I’ve seen in those years are the reduction of deer by the private land shooters ! Let start by STOPPING the deer slaughter. God bless.

  • Andrew

    The plan is working??? Are you serious about that comment????

    The number of doe permits have been reduced because some congressional members (Michigan) found out that the DNR is NOT using science to determine proper deer management doe quotas.

    Oscoda County two years ago had daily doe quotas of 10 per day on the 15 day gun season. Last year it was reduce by 5 deer per day. That’s not science and its certainly not a sport but a slaughter.

    Hence some legislators had to step in and point the DNR in the right direction (using science).

    Please stick with the truth and science regarding proper deer management. We don’t need to tell how great the DNR is. They already think they are!!!

    • John Dragonette

      Seems the DNR is more concerned with selling tags.Science research is to costly.I believe, the revenue, generated by sportsman, is being diverted.

  • Wayne Baumgartner

    As my dad told me exactly 55 years ago (I’m 71, don’t you know): “You can’t cook those horns! LOL