PELKIE - Local deer hunters got to find out more about the Upper Peninsula Deer Advisory Team and plans for deer management at an open house at the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club Thursday night.
UPDAT, a citizen group that provides the DNR Wildlife Division with input from local communities on regional deer management issues, prepared a paper on recommendations for buck management options.
Currently, hunters have two options when they purchase deer licenses: an archery or firearm license allowing one buck with no restriction on antler points, or a combination license allowing one buck with three or more antler points on one side, and another with four or more.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Ashley Autenrieth, deer program biologist with the Department of Natural Resources wildlife division, presents options for buck management during an open house at the Ottawa Sportsmen’s Club in Pelkie Thursday night.
Another option considered in the report is a joint archery-firearm license for all seasons, which would still be kept to one buck with no antler point restriction. The combination license would be unchanged.
The regulation could also be rolled back to pre-2008 levels, which allowed two bucks - one with an antler of three or more inches long and another with four or more antler points on one side.
Those regulations are still in effect in southern Michigan and parts of the northern Lower Peninsula.
Three other options included one buck, two-point or three-point, none of which gained support among UPDAT.
In a survey of UPDAT members, the vast majority indicated their top choice would be to keep the regulations as is. However, it was learned in June the license structures would be changing, which, if hunter's choice stayed the same, would require moving to the joint archery-firearm license option, said Ashley Autenrieth, deer program biologist with the Department of Natural Resources wildlife division.
"We asked the team if option 5 would be something they could live with as their recommendation," she said.
"We did have everyone but one member agree to that."
Deer hunters in attendance were asked to fill out a survey Thursday, including an option to vote on their preference of the six options.
"It's really your opportunity to have input on this," Autenrieth said.
The rule change would not affect antlerless harvest, which is regulated based on previous winter conditions, said DNR Regional Wildlife Supervisor Terry Minzey.
The new license package would include the first fee increase since 1997. In addition to a base license fee of $11, hunters would pay $20 for a single deer license and $40 for a combination deer license.
Anyone who purchased a one-buck license would be unable to purchase the combination license later in the season.
Autenrieth said the new package had the support of numerous organizations, including U.P. Whitetails, Ducks Unlimited and Trapper and Predator Callers.
Starting this year, Autenrieth said, deer regulations will go into a three-year cycle, intended to create more consistency.
"By keeping a particular regulation consistent, we can try to measure whether or not that regulation is having any impact at all, and to take it a step further, if it's having the desired impact," she said.
Steve Store, an avid hunter from Ontonagon, came to find out about the regulations.
"I think it's pretty much the same as what we've got right now," he said. "It's a pretty good idea. I was concerned about everybody shooting two bucks, but (Minzey) said it's a very small percentage that use the second license."
Two more open houses will be held Feb. 4 in Newberry and Feb. 6 in Escanaba.
Mike Dudenas, a member of the Calumet-Keweenaw Sportsmen's Club and U.P. Whitetails of the Keweenaw, was already familiar with the new regulations. But he came to meet the local member of the UPDAT, as well as Autenrieth.
"My primary point was becoming familiar so I could call directly to the people that are involved," he said.
For more information on deer advisory teams and deer management, go to michigan.gov/deer.