Early indications show the Upper Peninsula’s deer harvest is down 21 percent this year.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses the annual Mackinac Bridge deer count to estimate the number of deer killed.
Toll workers at the Mackinac Bridge add up deer using a tally clicker each time a driver brings one across the bridge. Those totals help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources estimate the harvest from the Upper Peninsula.
This year the final number was 2,607, down 21 percent from last year.
Chad Stewart, the Michigan DNR’s deer management specialist, says the agency uses the unscientific count to determine trends.
"I think a lot of historical value in it that people look forward to hearing what that number is every year," Stewart says. "And the fact that it now has a little bit of I guess you could say weight behind it in terms of its ability to predict is kind of cool too.”
He says winter storms may have been a factor in the projected slimmer harvest.
“There was some pretty severe weather that hit the Upper Peninsula that certainly probably influenced participation or access to favorite hunting areas that certainly influenced overall harvest potential in the Upper Peninsula,” Stewart says.
The state DNR won’t report the final results of the deer harvest until the summer, after it conducts its survey.
The regular deer firearm season ended Nov. 30, but muzzleloading and antlerless firearm season continue in December.