Despite favorable weather and a weekend opening, the number of deer checked in by hunters at the DNR office in Baraga dropped significantly this year.
31 deer were brought to the Baraga office over the first three days of the season. That’s 23 percent below last year, and 16 percent under the average for the past decade.
That was the most significant drop in the U.P., although the check-in stations at Crystal Falls, Escanaba, Marquette, Newberry and Norway also trended lower compared to last year. Crystal Falls, Marquette and Newberry’s numbers were better than the 10-year average.
Heavy snowfall in the eastern U.P. has caused challenging hunting conditions there, and some camps are not accessible.
Officials say some hunters may not have checked their kills because they didn’t realize the stations are open on weekends.
DNR staffers say that most of the deer checked in have been bucks. The average age is older this year than last year. They have exhibited good body condition, and average antler development.
All deer brought to the Norway checkpoint are being tested for chronic wasting disease, after an infected deer was found in the region in September of 2018. CWD testing is optional for deer brought to the other stations, as state officials try to limit the spread of the malady. If you hunt in the affected area in the southern U.P., DNR wildlife biologist John DePue suggests that you have the deer processed in that area…
Deer check-in at DNR offices is voluntary.