Michigan's DNR has released disheartening harvest numbers for the 2014 hunting season.
Michigan DNR has released the 2014 hunting harvest report indicating that out of 615,000 hunters who bought tags, 329,000 deer were harvested.
These numbers signify a 15 percent drop from the harvest numbers in 2013. There are many contributing factors to the decline such as the harsh winter, hunting trend numbers, and deer population numbers.
Michigan experienced extreme winters both in 2013 and 2014, which lessened the deer population as well as discouraged or disabled hunters to be in the field.
"In the Upper Peninsula, winter started early with more than 3 feet of snow on the ground in some areas before the Nov. 15 opening of firearm deer season," said DNR wildlife biologist Brian Frawley. "Though not as severe as the previous season, this marked the third consecutive rough winter for the deer population in the U.P."
Only 84,099 hunters made it out in the Upper Peninsula during the 2014 hunting seasons, down about 19 percent from 2013.
Yet, the low numbers are part of the usual cyclical patterns deer hunting sees. Since the 1960s, the state's deer harvest numbers have fluctuated annually.
"The number of deer harvested hit a low in the early 1970s at below 100,000 statewide," Creagh said. "With mild winters and changing forest conditions, deer populations then rose and hunter harvest climbed to more than 400,000 by the late 1980s."
Only 39 percent of hunters said they were satisfied with their season but Michigan's DNR aims to improve the hunting experience and are optimistic about future season numbers. For the long-term, they are focusing on deer habitat improvement and protecting deer population numbers.
Positive news from 2014 include an increased number of youth licenses sold as well as rising female hunter demographics.
The DNR sent out a questionnaire to hunters who bought licenses with a 51 percent response rate. With this information, the Michigan DNR hopes to keep improving the deer hunter's experience in The Mitten State.