Michigan: 2011 Whitetail Forecast

Michigan: 2011 Whitetail Forecast
Michigan: 2011 Whitetail Forecast
Michigan has lots of deer and lots of hunters, and the state wants to keep it that way. Brent Rudolph, Michigan's deer and elk program leader, said herd management in his state is "certainly geared toward abundance of deer."

But that doesn't mean abundance at the expense of everything else. "Our focus is on trying to figure out what the appropriate number of deer is given both the positive and negative impacts deer can have," he said.

"Appropriate" also means quality animals, which Rudolph said are managed on an "area-by-area basis." And with a high number of Boone and Crockett entries, plus no shortage of hunter opportunities, the state seems to be doing things right.

Deer Population: 1.7 million

Economic Impact of Deer Hunting: $700 million


Best Areas


Numbers

Michigan is divided into the Upper Peninsula (UP), the northern portion of the lower peninsula (LP) and the southern LP. The southern LP has the most deer but the least amount of public land.

Quality

Bigger and older deer can be found in the UP – on federal and state forest land – but deer numbers are lower because of harsher winters. Then again, hunter numbers are lower too. "If you get into some of those remote areas you might be more likely to find that buck that made it through an extra couple of years," Rudolph said, "but you may have to hunt pretty hard to find that."


Current Status of the Deer Population: 1-5 scale with 1 being poor and 5 being optimal

"We've been experiencing some [deer population] declines in the northern regions but have relatively stable numbers in the southern part of the state," Rudolph said. "We have enough deer for hunters to pursue, so I'd put it at a 4 or so."

He added that Michigan has "the classic problem: We have the greatest number of deer where it's hard to get to them."


Status 5 Years From Now

Rudolph expects it will be status quo (a 4) about five years out, but noted a couple factors he can't forecast. A big one is hunter numbers. "We've had declines in hunter numbers, and a lot of that is competition for limited resources," he said. "It's also increasingly hard in some areas of our southern region to get access to hunt deer."

Biggest Factors Over the Next 5 Years

Along with urbanization's basket of deer issues, Rudolph listed a couple issues going forward. "Probably one of the biggest is just trying to keep hunting seen as a valued activity – whether from the standpoint of serving as a tool to help mange deer in suburban settings or spending time outdoors. It's a value we don't want to see constrained by other people's differing viewpoints."

He's also concerned about habitat: "Areas that were in private timber production are becoming less and less utilized, and that means that habitat is aging." To address that, his department is "trying to focus on spreading out habitat improvement over time" instead of promoting wanton cutting.

Any Doom and Gloom?

Rudolph doesn't see any sort of crash coming, but "like many wildlife populations, deer go through cycles. It's unrealistic to think you'll always have lots of deer around. At some point you will have fewer. It's simply a fact of life."

That said, he noted the aforementioned habitat declines plus the possibility of harsh winters as factors that could possibly affect short-term deer numbers in the northern part of the state.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Mustad

Mustad's Inkvader Octopus Live Jig

From big fish to small, just about any saltwater game fish out there will love the new Mustad Inkvader Octopus Live Jig that Mustad's Russ Whisler shows to OSG's Lynn Burkhead.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the cooler.

By Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

No longbeards, but entertainment aplenty with forming Texas tornado!

Texas Turkey Hunting With a Spring "Twist"

Lynn Burkhead - April 27, 2020

No longbeards, but entertainment aplenty with forming Texas tornado!

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working? Conservation & Politics

Revisiting the Light Goose Conservation Order

M.D. Johnson - March 30, 2020

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working?

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos Gomez. In this article, Gomez recounts his experiences from his first nighttime poaching bust. Stories

Behind the Badge: A Warden's First Night-Poaching Bust

Game & Fish Online Staff - July 30, 2018

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos...

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now