BELLAIRE – Results of a random sampling of 1200 deer hunters in a 12 county area of northern lower Michigan, including Antrim County, showed most of those surveyed in favor of proposed mandatory antler restrictions on white tailed buck deer harvested during Michigan’s several deer hunting seasons, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The 960 returned surveys showed 68.5 percent in favor of laws requiring that deer hunters would only be allowed to harvest bucks with at least three points on one side during any of the area’s archery or firearm hunts, according to a report presented to the state’s Natural Resources Commission from Brent Rudolph, the DNR’s Elk and Deer Specialist, during the NRC’s monthly meeting held in mid-December in Lansing.
Under guidelines adopted by the NRC several years ago regarding the controversial subject of increased regulation of antlered buck harvest, mandatory rules proposed by sponsoring organizations, such as the Northwest Michigan Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association, in partnership with Leelanau Whitetails, which sponsored the current proposal, will only be implemented where a clear majority of 66 percent support among hunters in the proposed area is documented.
The QDMA group proposed the new rules be implemented beginning with the 2013 deer season in Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, and Lake Counties.
The survey, which was mailed late last summer and paid for by QDMA, was sent to deer hunters who indicated on the 2011 DNR deer harvest survey that they hunt in the area in question after a series of public meetings were held in the area on the proposal. None of those meetings were held in Antrim County.
It is unknown how many of those surveyed, if any, hunt in Antrim County.
Antler restrictions are already in place in Leelanau County, as is the statewide requirement that hunters taking two bucks must ensure that at least one of those animals be in possession of four or more antler points on one side.
Antlerless deer regulations within the proposed area would continue to be determined by the Department of Natural Resources.
The information presented by Rudolph will be reviewed by the Natural Resource Commission, who will vote in the spring on the matter.
The DNR has said they expect the measure to be approved.