June 26 ē 10:54 PM

Who wants to shoot a deer in September?

August 01, 2008
It will come as a surprise to most Woods-N-Water News readers that Michigan's Natural Resources Commission voted at its May meeting to hold a special five-day antlerless-only firearms deer season in southern Michigan, the five TB counties in northeast Lower Peninsula and Iosco County.

The hunt is scheduled for September 18-22, 2008 and approved for a period of three years.

This is not the first time the DNR has gone to early antlerless-only hunts in an attempt to curb growing populations in problem areas. In past years, the DNR held week-long antlerless hunts in Menominee County in September and in the TB zone in October. Those seasons were ineffective and eventually abandoned as it appeared they did not result in enough additional deer taken to curb population growth and they did not have substantial support from hunters.

So, after holding early season deer hunts that basically failed, why would the DNR want to hold a much larger hunt in Michigan's prime big buck country of southern Michigan?

It is my opinion that the other hunts failed for two primary reasons: (1) Rifle hunting for deer has not had a strong following in Michigan during warm weather. Few hunters want to swat mosquitoes while hunting deer, or deal with other warm weather related problems like sweating your buns off while dragging deer. (2) Savvy deer hunters who harvest deer for table fare do not want to deal with the headache of gutting, cleaning, butchering and cooling meat; most early season hunters discovered they can wait until regular gun season and harvest meat under much better weather conditions to help cure the meat for excellent eating.


My question to you is—who wants to shoot deer in September? Fact is, damn few hunters are interested in taking deer during warm weather when meat quickly spoils and flies and bees immediately swarm over the fresh kill. I've shot deer during hot weather and it is not a pleasant situation. First, you better gut and clean them fast and the hide should be quickly removed to allow the meat to chill and blood spoiled areas must be trimmed immediately. If you are lucky there is a butcher shop close that will process your deer but it can be expensive. The State has placed excessive pressure on most butcher shops that handle deer and across the state most have gone out of business. In my neck of the woods, Lansing area, there are very few establishments that will take whole deer because of the TB scare. That is exactly why most Michigan hunters process their own meat.

In the case of a September kill you can not let the meat hang very long in warm temperatures; it will spoil at an alarming fast rate. To chill fresh killed venison most hunters bone out the critter ASAP and place it in the family refrigerator. It is a messy job, requires plenty of sweaty work and you don't make many points when you unload family foods to make room for raw venison. I prefer to hang my venison, let the meat properly cure so it is tender and good tasting. Once you have gone through the hassle of properly caring for venison during hot weather, you will forget future hot weather hunts and harvest deer when the weather is colder.


I know no hunters that are begging to take deer in September. In addition, it is the responsibility of the DNR to promote sportsmanlike conduct and not invite poachers to destroy our valuable resources. For years the DNR has upheld that gun season starts AFTER bow season. Poachers who are eager to kill trophy bucks with firearms are held at bay by throngs of lawful archers who roam the woods. Bowhunters are our eyes and ears to keep poachers from shooting deer out of season, period. I'm certain that buck poachers are happy with the new deer season. Now, they can roam the woods and shoot deer with no archers to supervise their illegal activity.

Most deer hunters know that September is a time when bucks gather in open fields in bachelor groups, big boys are relatively easy to scout and locate prior to the buck break up in late September or early October. If the DNR thinks that plenty of big bucks will not fall during a September gun hunt they are simply misinformed. It is my opinion that the early antlerless-only hunt will open a whole new can of worms for trophy hunters eager to drop Bullwinkle.


I spend more time afield in search of deer for photographs than an army of DNR employees. It is my opinion that the deer herd in most of southern Michigan is not over-expanding. In fact, there are many areas where deer populations have been over-harvested, have few adult deer and my deer spotting figures are way down from last year. I refuse to accept that southern Michigan deer populations have grown in recent years to support such drastic measures as a September killing of does. What about fawns? Most will only weigh about 40 pounds in September. Is the DNR so misinformed or overanxious to kill deer that they expect sportsmen to kill fawns that still have spots and are itsy, bitsy critters? Can't they give a fawn a few more months to grow?

Then there is the biggest problem with September hunts: the woods are too thick to make trimming the deer herd a possibility. Ever try to spot deer in September? I have with camera and it is a real chore because the leaves are still on the trees or brush, ferns are still standing and the woods is simply too thick to spot the sneaky critters. Deer hunting in the September woods would be like diving for apples in the dark.


Perhaps the biggest complaint I have about the early September doe slaughter is it violates the traditional opening of gun season on November 15. Has anyone in the DNR ever wondered why it is called "OPENER or OPENING DAY?" Well, that is because it is a statewide, long established beginning of a huge hunting celebration where sportsmen take to the woods with guns. It is the beginning of gun hunting and any special season prior to the 15th violates this special hunting heritage that sportsmen have strongly supported. That is exactly why hunting with gun prior to the 15th is considered" OUT OF SEASON" by those who cherish the sanctity of this special event that has a legacy well worth preserving. You see, Nov. 15 are when we all start gun hunting and so it has been for centuries and so should remain, free from political bull. Who has the arrogance, blindness to change this valuable tradition?


I'm boycotting the early special antlerless-only September deer hunt. I refuse to buy a license and I hope you will do the same. Hey, is this another plot to get more dollars out of Michigan sportsmen? Don't know and really do not care. I choose to harvest deer during "season" when temperatures are more conducive to properly caring for meat and I can enjoy the tradition of deer camp with friends and relatives without swatting mosquitoes.

If the DNR wants deer harvested would they please select a realistic time. Bow hunters can not be excited about rifle hunters getting the jump on them. How about extending gun season? Or allowing hunters to take a doe before they harvest a buck like Wisconsin hunters? Is a September doe gun hunt a valuable tool for managing whitetail deer? If so, I'd love to see some supportive data.

Hey, DNR have you ever heard of tradition? If you need deer harvested please do not resort to drastic measures that ruin hunting for everyone.

In addition, the NRC decided which DMUs will be open to doe hunting this fall. There will be 67 Deer Management Units open for antlerless gun hunting in southern Michigan on both private and public lands, 18 will be private land only and 12 that will be closed. Four DMUs that were on private land only in Roscommon, Clare, Gladwin and Arenac counties, will have antlerless tags available for private land this fall. Two counties that were closed last year, Lake and Wexford, will have antlerless licenses available this year.



I'm also certain that most WNW readers are not aware that the DNR issued deer killing permits to farmers in the TB zone and hundreds of deer have already become victims. Did you also know that Federal Officers are killing deer and getting paid $250 a head? Then, it should come as no surprise that does are being shot and their fawns are simply left to die from starvation without fresh milk from their mothers. How is killing deer and leaving meat to rot and allowing fawns to die conservation?

Whitetail deer are Michigan's most valuable natural resource and deer hunters contribute millions of dollars to the State's economy. It is a puzzle to this Outdoor Writer why the DNR is hell-bent on using such drastic measures to manage populations, without considering the impact it has on local business like hotels, motels and restaurants. It is my opinions that recent decisions by the NRC violate the trust we have in that agency to properly oversee our valuable natural resources. A recent study ranked Michigan's DNR 48th out of 50 states regarding how they manage our resources. I'm certain recent desperate deer management policies will now give Michigan a rank at the bottom of the barrel. Guess I'll have to keep saving my money so I can hunt out-of-state again this year, where deer herds are properly managed.

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