Deer numbers look good in Northern Lower Peninsula, spotty in Eastern U.P.

GAYLORD — The annual statewide firearm season for white-tailed deer will begin just before sunrise on Nov. 15 as deer population trends in the Northern Lower Peninsula have generally been increasing in recent years while the Eastern Upper Peninsula has been experiencing lower deer numbers, according to Chad Stewart, deer, elk, and moose management specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

"Hunters in locations where good habitat exists are likely to have better numbers of deer than marginal habitat where deer may be more sparse" in the Northern Lower Peninsula, noted Stewart.

Generally, the Eastern U.P. has been experiencing lower deer numbers in recent years. There are still areas where hunters can have a quality hunt, but some hunters may not have the experience they are hoping to experience.

"Pre-season scouting and understanding local deer movements will definitely be key to determining in season success," added Stewart.

The gun season will close on Nov. 30. The archery or bow season got started on Oct. 1 and pauses on Nov. 14 before resuming Dec. 1 and ending on Jan.1, 2023.

"My last analysis showed that the reported (Northern Lower Peninsula) harvest thus far was over 21,000 deer with 57 percent antlered deer and 43 percent antlerless deer. In the Eastern U.P., about 1,300 deer have been taken with a majority of those animals being antlered deer thus far," Stewart said.

There is a forecast for snow in the region over the weekend. Stewart said the presence of snow is not very influential on the deer kill unless there is a lot that prevents people from participating.

"Snow is great for tracking and can certainly increase visibility of deer in the field, but calm, quiet, cold days can also give hunters an advantage because they can often hear deer coming through crunchy leaves. Ultimately, it’s a personal preference as to whether to hunt in snow or not," he said.

The legal hunting hours for Michigan's deer firearm season are 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Hunters are required to wear hunter orange as the outermost layer of clothing.

A hunter dressed in blaze orange seen hunting in a tree stand Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in the woods on public hunting land near Rose Lake in Bath Township, on the first day of Michigan's firearm deer hunting season.

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Stewart said baiting for deer is banned in the Lower Peninsula and in the core chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance area of the Upper Peninsula, which includes sections of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties.

Beginning this year, deer hunters are required to report a successful harvest within 72 hours or before transferring possession of the deer (to another person, a processor or taxidermist).

Contact reporter Paul Welitzkin at

Contact reporter Paul Welitzkin at

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Deer numbers look good in Northern Lower Peninsula, spotty in Eastern U.P.