by Peter Jakey-Managing Editor
The 2014 firearm deer season wrapped up at sunset in Michigan and the numbers appear to be down across the board, especially in the Upper Peninsula where heavy snowfall kept hunters from getting to their blinds and camps.
The weather also is being blamed on changing deer patterns. Deer that were there before the firearm deer season started were not there during the 15-day season.
The conditions did not seem to affect several lucky hunters who won contests at Onaway area businesses.
Trenton Lupu claimed prizes at Ma & Pa’s Country Store and Black River Party Store with his buck that had eight-points and a spread of 17 5/8 inches. He bagged two 8-pointers Nov. 16 and 17, but took the bigger of the two into the businesses to win the contests.
Roger McLean won at Havel’s Northland Bar with a six-pointer.
Vince Pipitone was the men’s winner at Parrott’s Outpost with a nine-pointer, while Ashley LaLonde won the women’s contest with an eight-pointer with a 16 3/4 inch spread.
In other news regarding the firearm deer season, two Presque Isle County deer came in as possible suspects of having bovine tuberculosis (TB), according to Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologist Jennifer Kleitch.
“Those are not the final numbers,” said Kleitch. “(TB) numbers come out in January and February, when they are released to the public.”
Kleitch believes one was shot in the Hawks area, “but the other one I don’t know,” she said. No other information was available.
Deer were brought into one of the four DNR deer check stations in Posen, Onaway, Atlanta and Alpena. The testing is conducted in the DNR’s East Lansing lab from deer heads voluntarily brought into the stations as part of the surveillance that has been going on for a decade-and-half. She said testing is not completed.
Overall, Kleitch said the quality of the bucks was very good this year, especially in the area of antler growth. “We had several big deer come through the check stations,” said Kleitch. “Not a ton of points, but a lot of mass.” She saw an eight-point “that was massive. We measure the bases of the antlers in millimeters and this one had a 40 millimeter base.”
The oldest buck was 6 years old and was brought into the Atlanta station, while the oldest doe was 12 years old and was brought to Alpena.
“I think it was a good and successful deer season,” said Kleitch.
In Onaway, DNR staff checked 201 deer, while Posen had 179. Atlanta checked 480 and Alpena was at 500.
“Alpena usually beats Atlanta solidly, but Alpena was down 20 percent this year,” said Kleitch. “The hunters were telling me they were seeing deer on their trail cams, and ‘we know they are out there.’ They did not show up for the party.”
The Mackinac Bridge Authority reported 1,866 deer Nov. 19, a decrease of 46 percent.
Kleitch said there were some complaints about the new license structure, but she reminded hunters that the additional dollars have funded additional conservation officers and work in the field.
“We really did not have many complaints,” she said. “If we did have them we pointed out that some of the additional dollars went to habitat work. We did opening maintenance that we have not been able to do in several years, food plots basically.”
For hunters still in search of that buck that eluded them during the firearm season they have the muzzleloading season through the end of the month. Weather patterns are expected to be more stable too.