ESCANABA - More than 400 deer kills have been examined at the Department of Natural Resources office in Escanaba during the first week of the firearm deer season, said a DNR employee commenting numbers are just a tad below last year's check-ins so far.
"It's been a little bit slower this year than last year at this time," said Vern Richardson, a wildlife technician with the DNR.
Richardson attributes the lower deer numbers to weather issues during this first week of the firearm deer season as well as the hard winter experienced by deer last year.
"We had a high harvest last year and a rough winter. I'm not surprised the numbers are down," said Richardson.
The wildlife technician also noted the deer kill numbers may not necessarily be down. Current statistics only reflect the number of deer which have been brought into the local check station from opening day to Friday morning.
Though the deer are brought in from Delta County and several surrounding counties, not all hunters check in their kills, he said. The success of the archery season may also affect the firearm deer season numbers, he added.
Other hunters may have had their deer processed first because of the warmer temperatures and will bring in the heads to be examined later, he said.
Common deer which have been checked into the Escanaba office average two-and-a-half-year-old six pointers, said Richardson. Antler growth has been healthy but smaller than the 2012 firearm season due in part to a lack of nutrition for deer last year, he noted.
"The highest deer concentrations are in the agricultural areas like Menominee County and Dickinson County," he said, adding that deer brought in have also been tagged in several surrounding counties.
Richardson said he expects the deer check-ins to jump this weekend due to weather conditions which are more conducive to hunting.
Last weekend's hunting conditions were pouring rain and warmer temperatures. This weekend's weather will improve for hunters with the presence of snow on the ground and cooler temperatures, he said.
Hunters are encouraged to bring in their deer kills to be examined at the DNR field office at 6833 U.S. 2 & 41 between Gladstone and Escanaba. The check station is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. this Monday through Wednesday and on Monday, Dec. 2.
A deer check station is also located at the Rusty Rail, 9074 Co. 426 L Road in Cornell, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 30.
Other deer check stations in the Upper Peninsula are in Marquette, Baraga, Crystal Falls, Bruce Crossing, Newberry, Shingleton, Wakefield, Sault Ste. Marie, and at the Mackinac Bridge.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org