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March 25 • 11:34 PM
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Saturday “firearm opener” and sound science


I love to hunt deer and will be after them in each of the seasons. I also like the idea of Saturday openers, for all of the different game openers, but especially for firearm deer. This would be a good move for hunters and more importantly it would be a good move for our deer herd, but only if we move in the right direction.

For hunters, it would increase recruitment as kids would not have to take time away from school for the first two days, which is a big problem for many. It would help to involve more young hunters, possibly even more so than the popular youth hunts. The DNR Hunter retention and recruitment committee agrees with the move to a Saturday opener, as it states here in excerpts from the Draft Resolution for MUCC Consideration;

"Saturday is the day that more people have available than any other day to hunt due to work, school, civic or sports commitments that typically run Monday through Friday and;

Whereas many have religious commitments on Sunday and;

Whereas many hunting and fishing seasons already successfully open on a Saturday including duck seasons, inland trout season, bass season, pike in the Lower Peninsula and walleye season in the inland Lower Peninsula and;

Whereas Michigan has seen an annual increase of typically 10% in the number of firearm deer license sold in a season that opens on a Saturday versus a previous year when deer season did not open on a Saturday over the past 50+ years according to DNR license sales data and;

Whereas the number of hunters and anglers in Michigan has declined over the past 20 years and the opportunity to hunt and fish during peak opportunity to see and harvest fish and game is crucial to participation in hunting and fishing;

Therefore be it resolved that MUCC work with the DNR to develop Saturday opening days for firearm deer season and other hunting and fishing opportunities."

They are right in moving it to a Saturday, but we need to consider the biology and what would serve the deer population the best. Moving the firearm opener later into the rut, or even after it, would allow more bucks to breed.

Therefore, the does would be bred in the shortest amount of time possible. The bucks that survive the hunting season would be in the best possible condition going into the winter. Then in the spring, the does would have their fawns earlier and in a shorter time frame; which would dramatically increase fawn survival rates by overwhelming the predators, dogs, coyotes, and etc. The fawns, having been born earlier, would have higher body weights going into the fall. This would help to improve the age/social structure of the deer herd. Those are a few of the reasons states like Ohio and Iowa have their gun seasons the way they do and it is obviously working for them!

Moving the opener the Saturday before Thanksgiving would make a lot of sense, as I doubt many would be willing to move it later. The reason being that many love having the long weekend to gun hunt and most of us would only need to take three work days off to have a solid nine days to hunt! The dates for the opener would be the 20th in 2010, the 19th in 2011, the 17th in 2012 and the 23rd in 2013.

This would also increase the chance for snow, which to me, adds to the magic that is opening day. Now with the new relaxed crossbow laws, just about everyone should be able to get out and enjoy the bow season and I hope they do. So, there really is no reason we should not do this as it is a win-win for hunters and the deer. Just let's be sure it is the right Saturday.

John Levora
August 26, 2009

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