Northern Lower Peninsula Deer Advisory Team

Next Meeting:

Saturday, February 16th from 9am-3pm at McGuire's Resort (7880 Mackinaw Trail, Cadillac) in Cadillac, MI


Team Members:

Larry Burcz, Canada Creek Ranch Association; Craig Grigonis, MI Building & Construction Trades Council (Primary); Michael Lynch, MI Building & Construction Trades Council (Alternate); Chad Janowicz, MI United Conservation Clubs (Primary); Paul Rose, MI United Conservation Clubs (Alternate); Ed Kleinjan, Abitibi Deer Management Cooperative (Primary); Steven Buerkel, Abitibi Deer Management Cooperative (Alternate); Fabian LaVigne, Abitibi Deer Management Cooperative (Alternate); James Maturen, MI Wild Turkey Hunters Assoc.; Ronald Shaver, Mid-MI Sportsmen’s Alliance (Primary); Lynn Gould, Mid-MI Sportsmen’s Alliance (Alternate); John Sullivan, MI Bow Hunters; Wayne Winslow, Hartwick HUNT; Richard Zook, Mid-Forest Lodge; Jeffrey Kala, Presque Isle County; Sherry Kohl, Alcona County; Chalres Mires, Crawford County; Tim Reis, Antrim County; Robert Semeyn, Ottawa & Mason Counties

Public Comments to the Northern Lower Peninsula Advisory Team

February 7th, 2013

I hunt in Alcona country were there is no bating. I have hunted there for over 25 years on my land and I have never seen a deer with TB.
I would like to see the ban lifted for that country.

Concerned hunter.
Thank You.

February 7th, 2013

Would like to see discussion of the Youth Hunt being set to a doe only hunt. Discussion of a "does only hunt" (no bucks at all) for one or two years to bring the doe to buck ratio back in line for Lake County area.

February 7th, 2013

I was raised on a farm near Tustin, Michigan and still have it today. I still do a little farming even though I am living in South Dakota. However, I plan to move back and build on the farm in the near future. I presently have a daughter, son-in-law and their three little children that moved from Oregon to live on the farm also. They have been hunting the farm and their 11 year old daughter killed her first deer this past fall. My family has hunted deer since the first Michigan season and before. We have always been primarily meat hunters and probably wouldn't hunt deer, if we didn't use the meat. We have never been trophy hunters. The only reason I can see for antler point restrictions is an attempt to save bucks to an older age when they have larger racks. My family and I, (I still have many friends and relatives in Michigan), are against implementation of any antler restrictions beyond the current 3 inch spike. Some of my reasons for having this opinion are as follows:

1. These restrictions will reduce the opportunity for young hunters to kill a buck. Many times their first deer. As all of us know from raising families and teaching them to love the outdoors, their excitement level and interest goes way up if they are successful. We need to encourage young people to join our ranks if we are going to continue to hunt in the future.

2. Winter forage is limited. In a bad winter we lose a lot of deer and the first ones to die are fawns. The next to go are breeding age bucks, (this includes 1 1/2 year olds), because they use up their fat reserves during the rut. Therefore, even if hunters pass up antlered bucks a lot of them will die to winter kill during bad winters and Michigan has plenty of those.

3. Breeding bucks are very vulnerable to being killed by vehicles due to their travels during the rut. Therefore, again even if hunters pass them up, a lot of these bucks will be killed anyway before they can reach an age where they have good racks.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts on the antler restriction issue. I think that before you take a drastic step like this that will adversely affect many local hunters and their children you should at least try to use a better method than you already used, to find out what a majority of local hunters really think. I may be a little out of touch today but I think a lot more northern Michigan residents are meat hunters rather than trophy hunters.

Jay R. Bellinger

February 7th, 2013

I hunt in Alcona country were there is no bating. I have hunted there for over 25 years on my land and I have never seen a deer with TB.I would like to see the ban lifted for that country.

Thank you.
Joe Bau

February 7th, 2013

Although I am all for involving young people in deer hunting, the timing of the early youth hunt is bad...because of limited hunting pressure many young people are able to take big bucks which affects the ability of adult hunters to obtain those breeding bucks during the regular firearms does not make sense to me to kill off the best bucks addition, the youth hunt does not reflect reality of deer hunting when deer are experiencing hunting pressure and buck sightings are more limited... restrict the early youth hunt to does only on public property, while allowing private land owners to decide whether or not to let their sons/daughter(s) or grandson(s)/daughter(s) take a buck and move the date back to the regular hunting season.(many schools have students take the the day before, on, or after off from school for deer hunting anyway)

Carl A. Woloszyk
Rogers City, MI

February 6th, 2013

For your discussion in Cadillac on the northern Michigan deer heard management.

I have been hunting on public land on the Montmorency Otsego County line for the past 32 years. Apparently your goal to eradicate all the deer from the area to eliminate TB is working. In four days of hunting last year I didn't see a deer. Congratulations.

By the way I don't know anyone in the area or my relatives ever finding evidence of TB in a deer. I guess now we never will.

February 6th, 2013

These are my concerns and what I would like to see fixed.
No early doe gun season or early youth hunt (and I have children that hunt) or early gun for veterans. Basically deer are shot at from Sept - Jan which makes the deer extremely nocturnal and that's why it's hard to harvest a mature deer here in Michigan especially during bow season.
Baiting should be allowed (including spin type feeders). Give out fewer licenses and require at least 4 points on a side for bucks for a few years to get the mature buck population up.

Thank you,
Dan Charles Jr (Vice Pres.)
Dan Charles Agency, Inc.

February 4th, 2013

My recommendation would be a simple 3/4 pt antler restriction under the current combo tag across all of zone #2. The survey results of the recent 12 county proposal for the expansion of the DMU 045 antler point restriction received 69% support with 80 % return(95% confidence factor). The supermajority of hunters, want a better buck doe ratio with better age class among antlered deer. DMU 045 has the best hunter retention(youth included) in the NWLP under the current 3/4 pt restriction(in place since 2002), with outstanding hunter support(72% + after five year trial), all while maintaining antlered kill rates equal or higher than pre APR. This APR has(DMU 045) and will(12 proposed counties) result in better age class and ratio's, as demonstrated with 10+ years of kill data in DMU 045. The completed surveys should speak volumes to the RDAT members if your goal is to truly represent the hunters of NLP.

Thanks for your time and consideration

December 2nd, 2012

A year has passed since the suggestions for a split DMU for Antrim County and nothing has been done. 5000 permits is still too much, but if that cannot be changed, at least split the County East and West along US 131 and M66 or M-88. Can you us any logical reason why this county is not split? There is agriculture to the West and forested land to the East. Also, what used to be a peaceful muzzleloader season is now only 3 days of muzzleloading until the centerfire riles break out for the late antlerless season. You know as well as I, a percentage of shots from the centerfire rifles are going to kill several bucks and those hunters will claim they were shot with a muzzleloader. Will be waiting patiently for your ideas.

November 26th, 2012


I would like submit that a one deer tag for 30.00 be introduced for the Lower Northern region. This would be good for any buck or any deer as Ohio and most northern States do, and all have very nice big healthy deer both in numbers and size. Additional doe tags can be offered if deemed needed and revenue should remain the same.
Right off the bat we will reduce the buck harvest. Two is too many per person if we are trying to grow bigger and yes keep and see more deer. I have filled both tags in the past myself but would not mind one tag if deer are bigger or I would see more. The problem is, I hunt public land and if I don`t shoot the first legal deer I see, I probably won`t get any.
By reducing the buck harvest we both increase the availability of harvestable deer and increase quality by age as more survive.
Also, to put it bluntly, deer habitat sucks on public land. We need money to be circulated back into this. Private owners myself included, are creating great food plots, bedding areas, resting zones etc. while state land harvests timber - many areas of mature oak - then plants red pine or nothing. we should be creating DEER habitat as much as we do habitat for grouse, trout, woodcock etc.

Thank You,
Scott Johnston

November 24th, 2012

I have hunted in the NW corner of Wexford county for the last 30 years and all the deer I have harvested have come from this same piece of property. We have 3 generations hunting together. This is important in light of the decline in hunter numbers. There are 8 hunters in our camp and we hunt private property. We are against any point restriction being implemented. So many of the QDMA ideas would not be applicable in the Northern Lower. Our deer numbers could not sustain increased harvest of does. Between coyotes and winter our deer numbers aren't high and due to winter kill this region can't support deer numbers like in the Southern Lower. QDMA always talks about shooting more does and a small number of mature bucks. We don't feel comfortable shooting more than 2 does per year because deer numbers aren't high and couldn't sustain shooting more does. In regards to point restrictions there are at least 2 good reasons NOT to impliment them. From a purely practical standpoint it is very difficult to count points until a deer is dead and you can get a good look at it's rack. Much of our property is swamp and thick cut overs. This type of cover realy limits the ability to see a buck's rack for more than a few moments, let alone count points and then have time for a shot. I question if we would have ever shot a buck if we had to count points first. That may sound like an extreme statement but it is true. It is just VERY difficult if not IMPOSSIBLE to count points AND get a shot before a buck would be gone. From a biological standpoint number of points is not an indicator of age. The typical number of points on 1.5 year old bucks varys from year to year. Some years we see mostly spikes and small 4's. Other years we see mostly 6's and small 8's. We have also harvested 2.5 year old bucks with just 6 point racks. Proper QDMA would discriminate by age not point count. Antler point restrictions will result in more inferior bucks survivng their 1st year while the biggest 1.5 year old bucks get shot. It is the opinion of our deer camp that QDMA should be voluntarily implemented by land owners, NOT forced on all of us by law/regulation. There is a strong possibility that my dad [70 yrs old], would quit deer hunting if point restrictions are put in place. This recent craze involving QDMA has, I believe, resulted in and will continue to result in a decline in hunter numbers as only the die hard QDMA hunters will continue and the guys who just want to hunt and put some venison on the table will give it up. We enjoy hunting. While we all get excited at the thought of harvesting a big buck we are still excited when we get a chance to harvest any buck. The enjoyment of the hunt would be greatly diminished for the 3 generations in our deer camp if point restrictions were implemented.


March 10, 2012

The first thing the RDAT teams should suggest nay mandate is that the state of Michigan like so many other states should REQUIRE mandatory deer checks. This would take alot of the guess work out of what is actually being killed in our great state. How many deer dont get counted in the bed of pickups or that are hung then processed right in deer camp? Some states give you 24 hours some up to 72 hours. Whether it is done on a phone or internet it should be mandatory. The second thing would be stiff penalties to those who dont comply. Then and only then will you be getting solid harvest data which will then give us a better idea of how to manage our herds for all of the DMUs in Michigan.

Joe Dukes

NLP and SLP Hunter

December 3, 2011

Hunting attitudes are changing, too many folks today, especially on public land, look to acquire meat, not hunt – big difference! These massive amounts of Doe permits plus the combination tag (2 Bucks an a Doe - lets go!! - rule is what the Michigan rednecks call it) only encourages this poor behavior. Having had a cabin in N. Newaygo for 30 plus years, I can say without hesitation that we are seeing the fewest number of deer in any ones recent memory, send a DNR official or wildlife biologist to the Huron, Manistee or U.P to talk with locals, and the merchants and property owners .. the real experts, will tell you the same thing – their businesses are struggling, there are far fewer hunters because there are far fewer deer (I can not think of any hunting camp that I’ve visited - and I visit a lot every year - that have not had hunters make statements that several of their former members/partners (usually the most dedicated, educated and law abiding at that) are now hunting out of state). The massive doe permit give a way’s of the past years has been misguided regarding herd management and Buck/Doe ratio. Again, amateur hunters (as well as previously successful veteran hunters who only use to kill quality deer 10-15 yrs ago) are now looking for meat and a successful kill at any cost, not QDM, because of the stiff competition – this is not the mindset that Michigan needs to instill in its newest generation of hunters, which, by the way, I understand is declining every year, in large part (my opinion) due to discouragement based on too many unsuccessful hunts because fewer and fewer deer are being observed. During bow season, especially these past 2-3 years (since crossbows were allowed), I have noticed a dramatic, almost UnGodly increase in rifle/shotgun shots at dusk and dawn, ask any bow hunter and they’ll tell you the same. Die Hard firearm-only hunters are frustrated with the volume of mature Bucks being harvested during the (overly generous) early, youth and bow/crossbow seasons, and sadly, are taking matters into their own hands – this is not speculation or conjecture, rather, head out to any woods and you’ll see that it is hard core fact. Buck poles up north used to be just that – Buck poles. The past few years (6-7) I’ve witnessed a shocking number of Buck Poles populated with only Does and 1 ½ yr old or less Bucks, and even more sadly, the attitudes are changing in that firearm-only hunters are now considering any kill a successful hunt. 10 years ago it was a source of embarrassment to have a Buck Pole with more than 1 Doe or juvenile deer (usually only killed by a youngster, spouse or first time hunter), as most repeat veteran hunters considered this poor sportsmanship, poor stewardship and even somewhat shameful – not any more!!! Poaching and hunting violations have skyrocketed (and unlike the proverbial 10% cliché used in most negative comparisons, when it comes to hunting my past experience tells me that it more like 30% who wantonly violate in this one cliché arena only), in my opinion due largely to Michigan’s stressed economy and poor herd management, making it worth the gamble to many hunters to take the risk (I have no real suggestion on how to deal with that issue, other than stiffer fines and actively encouraging hunters and property owners to be more proactive in using the RAP hotline).

My STRONGEST POSSIBLE suggestion is to:

Feel free to contact me at:

Thanks for listening,

November 24, 2011

To the RDAT for the Northern Lower Peninsula,
As others have pointed out, there are vast differences in areas of counties, specifically in Antrim.  Seperate DMU's must happen immediately.  In this county, the west side has much more agriculture than the east.  Having hunted both sides of the county for several years, I believe that we need to stop killing antlerless deer in archery or firearm season until the herd size increases.  There have been several clearcuts on the east side of the county in the past decade that can support a higher population of deer and in fact has supported a higher population in past years.   The deer were healthy even when the population was higher with fewer food sources.  Multiple food plots across the county have created more nutrition for the deer. Five thousand antlerless permits is too extreme in my opinion.  In addition, a one buck rule (while not a perfect scenario) would likely help satisify many hunter's goals.  Thank you for your consideration.
Mike Anger

November 18, 2011


I interact with a lot of hunters in the Northwestern LP, and at least from those comments there appear to be many more deer west of US-131 and US-31, versus east of those roads.  I do most of my hunting in Emmet County, and have observed a similar trend.

Please consider combining Emmet, Charlevoix, and Antrim into two DMU's, with a dividing line of US-31 in Emmet County and a dividing line of US-131 in the remaining portion, and assigning anterless quotas accordingly.

Also, we may want to think about bringing back the "Second Firearm" and "Second Archery" tags, for those pessimists who only purchase the single tag, then end up bagging a buck in early season.  As long as we enforce the two buck tag limit and continue to improve habitat while monitoring Antlerless quotas carefully, I believe we can still maintain decent deer numbers without "turning away" those hunters who decide later on that they would like a second buck - but can't buy another tag.

At present I see no advantage to penalizing hunters for not buying the Combo tags ahead of time - and to be frank we could put those additional license sales to good use for more habitat management and Conservation Officers.

Thank you for your valuable time and service on this group.

Andy Evans

November 6, 2011

Myself and many others hunt in Mancelona and the surrounding areas.  This year, 5000 antlerless permits were issued (lowered from 5500).  It is still too many antlerless permits.  I would like to see the DMU for Antrim County to be split up.  There is agriculture on the west side of the county, but very little on the east side.  Bordering counties Otsego, Crawford, Kalkaska and Grand Traverse offer little to no antlerless permits.  There is no scientific reason why the east side of the county should be treated any different than these other counties.  For the most part, areas east of M-88 should not be allowed to purchase antlerless permits (or any area in Mancelona Township).  Years ago, M-66 was a dividing line for antlerless quotas and this worked well also.
Thanks, Steve

October 16, 2011

To Northern Lower deer management team:

I am a hunter who spends most of my time hunting in Missaukee county’s Clam Union Twp. Our local deer herd seems to be at a sustainable level, our woods are in the best shape they have been in since I started hunting on this property 20 years ago. Our biggest frustration is the inability to balance the buck side of the population. We can get a couple 2 ½ year olds using the property every year but to our knowledge have never had an older deer than that in recent history. I hunted in Iowa last year and was amazed at how many Michigan hunters were leaving the state to hunt  a resource we have right here, most of them paying hundreds of dollars per tag for nonresident tags. I also know several hunters who have lost interest in Michigan and are choosing to spend their time and money in other states. Quite honestly I look at the money and time I spend on habitat management with little improvement and am tempted to do the same thing. Here are a few ideas I have thought about that could help Michigan balance the buck side of the population.

1.       Offer a combo tag that is both tags restricted to 4 pts on 1 side and as an alternative 1 single license that could be used for any deer. This would allow the serious hunter to purchase 2 tags so they can spend more time in the field without restricting the hunter who hunts a couple days per year, shoots a buck every few years and wants to be able to shoot a buck if they get the opportunity.

2.       Increase license fees on deer tags (second tag for sure) to increase funding so the DNR can manage the resource more aggressively. According to the list I saw Michigan has one of the cheapest resident licenses in the country.

3.       Offer a draw for second buck tags to a certain percentage (25-33%) of license purchasers and go to a one buck limit for anyone who is not successful in the draw.

4.       Go to a one buck limit

5.       Move the firearm season back so it is after the peak of the rut

Thank you to all team members for putting your efforts toward improving the management of Michigan’s whitetail deer herd!

Randy Koetje