We joke that the ride to Michigan Tech to deliver our perfect-4-point-0 son will be quicker and less stressful this month — we won’t have to watch out for deer.
The Department of Natural Resources is again reminding hunters that the rules are different north of the Mackinac Bridge this fall because of a series of brutal winters in the superior state.
Intellectually, I understand what’s going on. Muscle memory might take over while sitting in an October tree stand, though.
For what seems like forever, hunters have had the option of taking an antlerless deer during the archery seasons that bookcase the Nov. 15-30 firearm season. Because of the devastation of the Upper Peninsula deer herd, that’s not true in most places this fall.
Archery deer licenses and both tags of the combo deer license, in all seasons, are bucks only in most of the peninsula. The DNR — and U.P. hunters — want to protect as many does as possible to restore the herd after three extraordinarily horrible winters and springs.
While eliminating the antlerless option from the archery tag sounds extreme, it could have been worse. Among options the Natural Resources Commission considered was not having a U.P. deer hunt at all this year.
Bow hunters will be able to take antlerless deer — they must have a private-land antlerless license – in the three deer management units. Those units, in the Lake Michigan watershed, are mainly in Menominee and Delta counties with slivers of their neighbors.
There are no public land antlerless permits for the Upper Peninsula this year. That includes commercial forest reserve land.
I wonder if there is any commercial forest land in Ingham County. There are a couple of state game areas.
The DNR would prefer you hunt antlerless deer there this fall. A third wild deer with chronic wasting disease has been found in Meridian Township. All three CWD-positive were found within a mile of each other, which is a good thing because it just might be possible to contain this horrible mess before it turns into a plague.
Or it could mean nothing at all. The DNR hasn’t begun looking too far afield.
“We have focused our efforts thus far in the area around the first case,” Steve Schmitt, a DNR wildlife veterinarian, said.
“We need individuals who have always hunted in Ingham County and surrounding counties to keep hunting. The DNR can’t fight this disease without their support,” he said. “Hunters need to have their deer checked and tested so we can determine if this disease is established over a broad area or just persisting in a local pocket.”
Meanwhile, Texas became the latest CWD victim.
Officials there confirmed that two deer in a deer breeder’s pens have the always-fatal disease. They’re considering what to do with the 200 or so deer on Robert Patterson’s ranch.
He wants the animals back.
This could get interesting. Deer breeding and fenced hunts are a huge industry in Texas, with 1,300 ranches in the business of growing trophy deer. Patterson says he has dozens of record-class animals in his pens.
But Texas also has 4 million wild deer, and hunting them is a big deal, too. A group called Texans for Saving Our Hunting Heritage want the breeding operations and fenced hunts closed down before a disaster happens.
Its members have probably heard Patterson speak.
He says Texas wildlife officials need to get over it. He says the disease is harmless and that there is no evidence any deer in Texas has ever died of chronic wasting disease.
We used to be able to claim that, too.
Contact Michael Eckert at email@example.com, (810) 989-6264, on Facebook @michaeleckert or on Twitter @michaeleckert.