Michigan’s deer hunting season has been pretty successful so far.
"Our harvest appears certainly up in the Upper Peninsula, and there are parts in the northern Lower and certainly southwest that appear up as well," says Chad Stewart, deer management specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Stewart says the DNR's predictions are still anecdotal, and they’ll have more concrete numbers in the spring.
Deer hunter numbers are declining by about two to three percent each year in Michigan, says Stewart, and this year was no different.
"What overall we see is an aging [hunter] population," says Stewart. "As those older hunters slowly get out of hunting, we don’t have the younger hunters in the numbers that we need to sort of backfill.
Fewer hunters mean fewer licenses sold, which indicates less money for environmental conservation and management. Nearly 1.3 million licenses were sold this year as of the end of November. That's around 15,000 fewer than last year.
The popular two-week firearm season ended last month. Deer can still be harvested with muzzleloaders.