September Firearm Deer Hunting Dates in Question
The Natural Resources Commission is now reviewing two options for the September firearm deer hunting dates, which includes the Early Antlerless Season, Youth Early Antlerless Season, and the traditional Youth Hunt.
First, we will remind you what all these special September seasons are:
- The Early Antlerless Season was established in 2008 as a 5-day hunt on private lands in certain Deer Management Units (DMU), which in 2011 included the Tb Zone, southern Michigan (DMU 487), and Antrim, Charlevoix, and Oceana counties (DMUs 005, 015, 064). This hunt has been fairly controversial among the hunting public and in 2011, MUCC passed a resolution asking the DNR to reevaluate and possibly eliminate this season altogether.
- The Youth Early Antlerless Season was established in 2010 as a 4-day weekday hunt to serve as a “bridge” between the Early Antlerless Season and the Youth Hunt, allowing additional opportunity for youth to help with additional harvest of does in areas that needed it. In 2011, it was open on public and private lands in southern Michigan (DMU 486).
- The Youth Hunt has been around for much longer, providing a 2-day hunt statewide at the end of September for youth under 16. In recent years, veterans who are 100 percent disabled or “individually unemployable” were also eligible to participate during the Youth Hunt.
Given the concerns expressed from our MUCC members and the new addition of Mentored Youth into our deer seasons, we are pleased that the DNR and NRC recognized it might be time to review these early seasons.
Two options are on the table right now (<—follow this link for the full NRC Order; note that the DMU Open/Closed status will be changing, new information will be posted when available):
- Option 1 would keep the three seasons in place within basically the same timeframe and locations. This would mean that there would be 11 days of hunting in September 2012: Early Antlerless 9/20-24; Youth Early Antlerless 9/25-28; and the Youth and Veterans with Disabilities 9/29-30.
- Option 2 would eliminate the Youth Early Antlerless season (during which fewer than 5,000 youth participated) and reduce the Early Antlerless Season to only a 2-day hunt, which would also move to be concurrent with the Youth Hunt. In Sept. 2012, this would mean that the Youth Hunt (statewide) and the Early Antlerless Season (private lands, same DMUs as noted in 2011) would take place on Sept. 22-23 due to the desire to not conflict with the small game opener and avoiding the weekend prior to archery deer season.
MUCC is supporting Option Two as it is moving in the right direction according to our member-approved policy; however, we would like feedback if you feel this would in any way hamper participation or success in the Youth Hunt if the Early Antlerless Season was held concurrently, or would hamper access to private lands, or if there are other alternatives you would like considered.
The MUCC Wildlife Committee is also offering alternatives including limiting the Youth Hunt to antlerless deer only and/or eliminating the Early Antlerless Season altogether. Any position on the Youth Hunt would need to be approved through a resolution at the next MUCC Annual Convention.
The NRC will vote to approve some version of these regulations at their next meeting in Lansing on June 14 (MSU Diagnostics Center for Population and Animal Health–click here for the full 2012 NRC meeting schedule).