Deer Management Unit Info

Click on a Deer Management Unit below to view information used to make management decisions for that DMU. Please note that this DMU information is updated every three years, and as a result, the map below will match the DMU map from the year they were last updated and may not match the current DMU map in the Hunting Digest

Complex map showing deer management unit boundaries. For assistance call 517-284-9453 or see the Wildlife Conservation Order at www.Michigian.gov/dnrlaws for a written description.

Select a DMU to view background management info for that area: 003, 005, 006, 007, 008, 009, 010, 013, 015, 016, 017018, 019, 020, 021, 022, 023, 024, 025, 026, 027, 028, 029, 030, 031, 033, 034, 036, 037, 038, 040, 041, 042, 043, 044, 045, 046, 047, 048, 050, 051, 053, 054, 055, 056, 057, 058, 059, 061, 062, 063, 064, 065, 066, 067, 069, 070, 072, 073, 074, 078, 081, 082, 083, 117, 121, 122, 127, 131, 149, 152, 155, 249, 252, 255, 273, 311, 332, 333, 341, 349, 361, 419, 452, 457, 487

 

DMU 003

Area Description

The Allegan County Deer Management Unit has a variety of suitable habitats for deer. There are early and mid-successional habitats that generate food and cover resources. Agriculture constitutes for about half of the private lands composition throughout the DMU with woodlots spread throughout. Soils in the area vary from heavy clays, muck and sandy mixes. These drier sandy soils tend to support mixes of oak, pines and red maple. It has roughly 50,700 acres of State Game Area (SGA) Land which is about 9 percent of the total acreage in the county. Allegan SGA has wetland complexes that are dominated by marsh species but some contain pockets of lowland conifers and shrub species.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. Ample hunting opportunities are provided because hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes.

Deer Managment Recommendations

Deer in this DMU have likely been increasing the last three years. Crop damage has increased, as have deer vehicle collisions. Antlerless tags for private land have been selling out earlier each year. Going back to 2009, the last year in which the Allegan DMU was an individual unit for private land antlerless licenses, 15,000 antlerless permits were available (12,000 for private land, 3,000 for public land). In 2013 the combined quota was reduced to 8,900 (8,000 for private land, 900 for public land). In 2017, to allow the deer population to continue growth, it was recommended that private land antlerless quotas be reduced to 4,000 with the public land antlerless quota set at 50. Over the last few years, hunter effort and antlerless harvest has declined while the population of deer appears to be increasing. For 2020, we propose to increase antlerless tags on private land to 10,000 and 750 for public land. We also propose to open the early antlerless season in this DMU. We expect the population in this DMU to continue to grow in some areas, but the overall goal for the DMU is to stabilize deer numbers to maintain quality hunting opportunities and limit human:deer conflicts.


DMU 005

Area Description

Antrim County Deer Management Unit (DMU 005) is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). The DMU consists of 503 square miles of land, consisting of 353 square miles of deer range (available habitat). Approximately 81% of the available deer range in the county is in privately held lands. The remainder (19%) is in public ownership.

The landscape is primarily private agricultural land mixed with forest in the central and western portions of the DMU. Agricultural lands include orchards and vineyards near the Lake Michigan shoreline. Other agriculture is dominated by variety of crops and pastureland where soils and landscape allow. Much of the non-agricultural private land is forested with a mixture of upland forests and swamp. The Jordan River is a major riparian area that runs through the DMU and the majority of public land is concentrated around the river and tributaries. Deer densities on private lands around the agricultural/forest interface tend to be higher than in the publicly held lands.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. In order to balance hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities with unwanted impacts such as crop damage, we review trends in data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Trends considered include deer harvest information from check stations, annual deer hunter survey results, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage, nuisance deer, and Deer Management Assistance permits).

This DMU has antler point restrictions (APRs), that limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves 1) APRs, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

The trends of deer population indices in this DMU indicate that deer numbers are likely stable or increasing. Several mild winters in a row have not hindered reproduction or recruitment of deer into the population. An increase in negative impacts to forest tree species regeneration on public lands has been observed in the last 5 years. A slight increase in nuisance deer complaints has been observed in more urban and agricultural areas in the last 4 years. Vehicle-deer incidents have historically been high and that trend has continued and increased slightly over the last 10 years. Hunting and harvest levels have remained steady within the unit over the last 10 years, while the statewide trend has been one of decline. During the same timeframe, antlered and antlerless harvest have been near or exceeded a 1:1 ratio.

The demand for public land antlerless licenses typically exceeds the number of licenses available. An increase in available licenses for antlerless deer harvest on public lands through an increased quota is recommended to address forest regeneration issues caused by heavy deer browse. On private lands, the demand for private land antlerless licenses has not approached available license numbers in recent years. In addition, the early and late antlerless seasons have been open for private lands in this DMU for the past several years. These two factors together suggest that an increase in available antlerless licenses for private land hunters would not necessarily impact hunter harvest of antlerless deer on private lands. Nuisance and crop damage permits, used to augment antlerless quotas in areas of higher deer densities on private lands, will continue to be issued in areas where there is a demand and hunting opportunities are limited.


DMU 006

Area Description

The Arenac County Deer Management Unit (DMU) 006 is in the Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP) Region. It has roughly 248,320 acres and consists of nearly 51% forested; 27% crop land, 3% pasture and idle grasslands. About 19 % of the land use is urban. Only 14 % of Arenac County is in public ownership, which is mostly limited to the western half of the county. Substantial human population growth has occurred along the Lake Huron shoreline and in the community of Standish during the past 15 years. Deer numbers are generally low in these urban areas due to increase housing developments, roads, and fragmented habitat.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU it includes crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Effort has been made to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Those data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health is monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance. Engagement with the public via public meetings, surveys, electronic communication and face-to-face interaction is an important part of deer management and the regulations establishment process.

Deer Management Recommendations

Arenac County (DMU 006) has a deer population that has been stable the past five years. There has not been a significant movement, up or down, in the number of crop damage complaints although there has been a significant increase in the number of Out of Season Kill Tags requested by individual farmers. Car-deer crashes have remained stable over the last four years. Harvest of antlerless deer over this same period has been stable.

Hunting opportunities in DMU 006 are plentiful. The 34,765 acres of public land provide suitable habitat for deer hunting and include ample hunter access. A casual deer hunter camp survey, on public land, has been conducted by DNR staff the past four years and indicates that hunting pressure on these public lands is slightly decreasing. On the 213,555 acres of private land the opportunities for hunting deer are also abundant, in fact there are many tracts of private land that are used explicitly for deer hunting.

We recommend an early/late private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 006 based on the occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. An early season will allow farms with antlerless tags to target deer on their properties where damage has occurred. The late hunt will help target deer that are more likely to have moved to better cover where they may not be vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. We are also recommending that antlerless licenses be made available to hunters for both private and public land with the only change being an increase of 100 public land antlerless tags for a total of 600 public antlerless tags available. Private land antlerless tag quota will remain at 7000. The strategy is to keep the deer population at the level it is at currently. Stabilizing these regulations for the next three years will manage deer numbers within acceptable levels for hunters as well as for forest health and agriculture.


DMU 007

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 007 is 1,788 miles2 in size and is comprised of the northern portions of Baraga and Marquette Counties, and the northwestern portion of Alger County. This unit has the most Lake Superior shoreline of any DMU which heavily influences the weather/winter severity and snow depths. Approximately 84% of this DMU is privately-owned land, with roughly 23% enrolled in the Commercial Forest Act, and about 16% held in public ownership (State or Federal).

Land use and habitat quality for deer in DMU 007 range from lowland conifer and wetlands to upland hardwoods, dry grassland openings and jack pine barrens, which provide relatively low to fair quality habitat for deer in much of this unit. Agricultural influence is very limited and primarily only a factor near traditional rural communities.

Management Guidance

The main goal guiding deer management in DMU 007 is to provide hunting opportunities. However, both deer densities and hunting success rates are below average in DMU 007 compared to the rest of the Western Upper Peninsula (WUP). Because of the relatively low deer numbers, antlerless permits have not been available for DMU 007 for many years if ever. There is very little agricultural activity due to the harsh winter conditions and generally sandy soil types found in this DMU. Outside of the deer wintering complexes, deer browse has not impacted tree regeneration.

This unit is in a high snowfall zone and deer in this unit experience harsh winter conditions compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (UP). Annual snowfall is generally 300 to well over 350 inches of snowfall due to the influence of Lake Superior. Consequently, deer in this unit exhibit relatively poor reproductive potential compared to other DMU’s in the UP.

Deer Management Recommendations

While the bucks harvested/mile2 has been increasing since the severe winters in 2013 and 2014, DMU 007 still consistently ranks as one of the lowest units for bucks harvested/mile2 in the UP (Fig. 1). In fact, over the last ten years (2009-2018) DMU 007 has averaged 1.0 buck harvested/mile2. This harvest rate signifies a relatively low deer herd compared to the rest of the WUP. Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, car deer accidents, deer management assistance permit, crop damage, and population projections) indicate that deer herd densities remain relatively low. While the deer in this unit seem to have recently recovered from the above average winter mortality in the past, the early snow cover in 2020 along with the high energy expenditure of navigating the landscape during periods of deep snow and poor the nutritional value of available food in this DMU during the winter will make it very difficult for the population to continue an upward trend. The 2019 mail survey data is not available yet; however, the camp survey data indicates that firearm buck harvest success rate has dropped from 34% in 2018 to 23% in 2019. Other indicators such as deer seen per hunter day and fawns observed per 100 does has also decreased in 2019.

Because of these indicators and the relatively low deer densities found in this DMU, it is recommended that DMU 007 should remain closed to general antlerless permits (private, public, or late season) for the next regulation cycle. Local deer density issues associated with agricultural operations is minimal in this unit and can be effectively dealt with by utilizing crop damage or deer management assistance permits.


DMU 008

Area Description

The Barry County Deer Management Unit (DMU) 008 is located in the Southwest Region and is mostly private property with less than 10% of the area being public land. The majority of public hunting opportunities in the Barry County DMU are available on the Barry State Game Area (16,755 acres), Middleville State Game Area (4,422 acres) and Yankee Springs State Recreation Area (5,200 acres). The public lands in this DMU are predominantly forested habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland). Greater than 90% of this DMU is private land which has a somewhat fragmented landscape. The private land mass has a large portion of agriculture intermixed with forested areas and wetlands. Topography for Barry County varies from rolling hills to relatively flat ground with soils that are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture.

Management Guidance

We have two goals that guide the deer management decisions within this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to the reduction of undesirable effects associated with high deer densities. Examples of undesirable deer impacts include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. We review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. This allows us to find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities, in addition to lessening the unwanted impacts. The data includes harvest numbers from deer check stations, annual mail survey information, deer-vehicle collision data, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of crop damage permits, reports from local hunters, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

From 2015 to 2018 total number of deer harvested has been steady. During this period 60% of the harvest was antlered and 40% antlerless. Over the last few years deer-vehicle collisions and the number of crop damage complaints seem to be increasing. These indexes show that deer numbers for the Barry County DMU are on the rise. Deer density varies in this DMU from high to moderate. To help reduce numbers in areas of high population, the number of available private land antlerless permits will rise from 7,000 to 10,000 and public land permits from 1,000 to 1,500 for this DMU. Crop damage permits will continue to be issued to help reduce losses as needed.


DMU 009

Area Description

The Bay County Deer Management Unit (DMU 009) is located in the Southern Lower Peninsula in the Saginaw Bay region of Wildlife Division’s Southeast Region management unit. Bay County, at 428 square miles, contains roughly 10,850 acres of public land comprised of properties owned and managed by the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division and Parks Division. Due to Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area also being an intensively managed waterfowl hunt area, deer hunts are regulated through drawings and occur in accordance with annual waterfowl seasons and area conditions; hunters interested in pursuing deer at this location will need to call the local field office at 989-697-5101 in advance for specific information.

Topography in DMU 009 is generally flat with lake plain soils that are well-suited to row crop agriculture. Outside of northwestern portions of the county, which contain some large contiguous blocks of private forest land, habitat in this DMU is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture. This DMU also contains urban areas of Bay City, and suburban and exurban areas of both Bay City and Saginaw. With the exception of State Game and Wildlife Areas, along with the previously mentioned private land forest stands, habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetlands) is relatively isolated and exists in small patches.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide deer management in this DMU:

  1. Impact management
  2. Hunting opportunities

Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, with examples being crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. In an effort to find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities, while trying to mitigate unwanted impacts, DNR reviews data from several sources to adjust harvest strategies as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and annual surveys, winter severity indices, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of crop damage permits issues, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population in this DMU has continued to increase, likely due to mild winters and ample food resources throughout the year. As such, issuance of deer management assistance permits (DMAP) and out of season permits (OSS) will be required to alleviate crop damage complaints.

While high deer densities continue to provide ample hunting opportunities, recommendations to increase antlerless harvest will remain. Based upon this, it is recommended that the private land antlerless quota remain at 3,000; the public land antlerless quota will remain at 200. It is additionally recommended that this DMU remain open for both early and late antlerless firearms seasons.


DMU 010

Area Description

The Benzie County Deer Management Unit (DMU 010) has roughly 62,000 acres of State Forest Land which is about 31% of the total acreage in the county. Topography is relatively flat (lake-border plains and sandy outwash plains) with small inclusions of hills. State Forest is concentrated in a north/south strip near the middle of the county.

Soils in the unit vary from well drained sand mixes to poorly drained peat and muck soils. The drier soils support mixes of pine, oak, aspen, and red maple on the outwash plains to the south and northern hardwoods on the moraine hills in the north. Poorly drained soils support various wetland communities. Row crop agriculture and orchards can be found predominately along the lakeshore.

The Grass Lake (or Bendon Swamp) in the southeast and the Deadstream Swamp in the northwest are the area’s most significant winter yarding complexes. Other traditional winter yarding areas occur along various riparian corridors including the Platte and Little Betsie Rivers and creeks such as Dair Creek. Riparian corridors also provide important travel routes for deer and other species. Herring Swamp is another sizeable yarding area but is situated entirely on private lands. Numerous pine stands provide thermal cover in upland areas as well.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 010 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves 1) APRs, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

Recent population trends would indicate a gradually increasing deer population. Probably due to repeated mild winters and a gradual but steady decline in hunters, or hunting effort. An increased deer population puts a strain on the resources available to deer, as evidenced by increased agricultural damage complaints and observations of substantial deer browse to forest regeneration. Past efforts to increase doe harvest (i.e. an increased antlerless quota) have brought the doe harvest numbers closer to that of the buck harvest, so it appears to be having the desired effect. However, there is still room for improvement in equalizing the doe and buck harvest, which is intended to move the population closer to a one-to-one doe to buck ratio.

Based on current trend analyses, we are recommending an increase to antlerless permits, specifically on public lands within this DMU. Creating additional hunting opportunities to harvest does specifically on public lands should help to mitigate loss of forest regeneration and to stabilize and eventually, slightly reduce the population, which is consistent with the APR management philosophy. Reducing the population will help with reducing deer-vehicle collisions.

We also recommend an early private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 010 based on the increasing occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. The early hunt will help target deer that are likely causing damage, while they are still in or near their summer range. Also, in some cases during the fall hunting seasons and after crops are harvested deer may move off of these harvested ag lands and open fields to better cover where they may not be as vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. While hunting is the primary method of controlling deer populations and preventing deer damage, producers can enroll in several programs to address significant out-of-hunting-season deer damage.


DMU 013

Area Description

The Calhoun County Management unit (DMU) 013 is located in the Southwest Region. Currently there are no public land hunting opportunities in Calhoun county. This DMU has an open agricultural landscape which is intermixed with forests and wetlands. DMU 013 is home to the city of Battle Creek which is a large metropolitan area in the Northwest portion Calhoun county and accounts for about 43 square miles of the landscape. Topography for Calhoun County varies from rolling hills to relatively flat with soils that are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with high deer densities. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples of undesirable deer impacts. To find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations, an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, reports for local hunter, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

From 2015 to 2018 total number of deer harvested has been steadily increasing. During this period the average harvest was 60% antlered and 40% antlerless. Over the last few years deer-vehicle collisions have been increased slightly but the number of crop damage complaints has in greatly increased. These indexes show that deer numbers for the Calhoun County DMU are on the rise. Deer density varies in this DMU from high to moderate. To help reduce numbers in areas of high population, the number of available private land antlerless permits will rise from 7,000 to 10,000. Public land permits will remain at 100 since there are few public opportunities for this DMU. Crop damage permits will continue to be issued to help reduce losses as needed.


DMU 015

Area Description

Charlevoix County Deer Management Unit (DMU 015) is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). The DMU consists of 440 square miles of land, consisting of 322 square miles of deer range (available habitat). Approximately 70% of the available deer range in the county is in privately held lands. The remainder (30%) is in public ownership. Large lakes, including Lake Charlevoix, make up a large portion of this county, and are not included in the description above. Human populations and developments tend to be near these large waterbodies and Lake Michigan.

The landscape is primarily private agricultural land mixed with forest and developed areas in the central and western portions of the DMU. Agricultural lands include orchards and vineyards near the Lake Michigan shoreline. Other agriculture is a variety of crops and pastureland where soils and landscape allow. Much of the non-agricultural private land is forested with a mixture of upland forest and swamp complexes. Forested public lands are scattered throughout the DMU, but lie primarily in the eastern portions. Deer densities on private lands around the agricultural/forest interface tend to be higher than in the publicly-held lands.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. In order to balance hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities with unwanted impacts such as crop damage, we review trends in data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Trends considered include deer harvest information from check stations, annual deer hunter survey results, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage, nuisance deer, and Deer Management Assistance permits).

This DMU has antler point restrictions (APRs), that limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves 1) APRs, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

The trends of deer population indices in this DMU indicate that deer numbers are likely stable or increasing. Several mild winters in a row have not hindered reproduction or recruitment of deer into the population. An increase in negative impacts to forest tree species regeneration on public lands has been observed in the last 5 years. A slight increase in nuisance deer complaints has been observed in more urban and agricultural areas in the last 4 years. Vehicle-deer incidents have historically been high and that trend has continued and increased slightly over the last 10 years. Hunting and harvest levels have remained steady within the unit over the last 10 years, while the statewide trend has been one of decline. During the same timeframe, antlered and antlerless harvest have been near or exceeded a 1:1 ratio.

The demand for public land antlerless licenses typically exceeds the number of licenses available. An increase in available licenses for antlerless deer harvest on public lands through an increased quota is recommended to address forest regeneration issues caused by heavy deer browse. On private lands, the demand for private land antlerless licenses has not approached available license numbers in recent years. In addition, the early and late antlerless seasons have been open for private lands in this DMU for the past several years. These two factors together suggest that an increase in available antlerless licenses for private land hunters would not necessarily impact hunter harvest of antlerless deer on private lands. Nuisance and crop damage permits, used to augment antlerless quotas in areas of higher deer densities on private lands, will continue to be issued in areas where there is a demand and hunting opportunities are limited.


DMU 016

Area Description

The Cheboygan County Deer Management Unit (DMU 016) is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). The DMU consists of 758 square miles of land, of which, 615 square miles is deer range (available habitat). Approximately 54% of the available deer range in the DMU is in privately held lands. The remainder (46%) is in public ownership. This DMU contains several large lakes including Burt, Mullett, and Black Lakes, as well as associated wetland and swamp complexes.

The landscape is primarily forested public and private recreational lands with inclusions of human developments including the towns of Wolverine, Indian River, Cheboygan, Mackinac City, and outlying areas. Agricultural lands including primarily row crops and pastureland are found in the northern and eastern portions of the county interspersed with forestlands. Much of the non-agricultural private land is forested with a mixture of upland forest and forested wetlands. Larger tracts of public lands can be found in this DMU and are managed by the Pigeon River and Gaylord Forest Management Units. Deer densities vary across the DMU and may be impacted negatively by harsh or long winter conditions. Higher concentrations of deer are located in the agricultural/forest interface and swamp/open lands, especially in the eastern and northern areas of the DMU.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. In an effort to find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Those data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health and disease prevalence are monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance.

Deer Management Recommendations

The trends of deer population indices indicate that deer numbers are likely stable to increasing in the DMU. Deer pressures on agricultural lands are continuing, with a slight increase in requests for damage permits in the last five years. Concerns regarding disease (i.e., bovine Tuberculosis) have increased in the DMU in recent years. The eastern portion of the DMU borders DMU 487, which is managed for disease concerns. An increasing number of deer-vehicle collisions has occurred over the last 4 years and deer-human conflicts have also increased. Hunting and harvest levels of bucks have increased within the unit over the last 10 years. Very slight increases in antlerless deer harvest have been seen more recently, though the buck to doe ratio in the harvest remains skewed to buck harvest.

There is a desire to increase the antlerless harvest levels to balance this ratio on both public and private lands and reduce deer densities, especially in the agricultural and human-populated areas. Hunting is the primary management tool to achieve identified management goals. Furthermore, hunting is an important social and cultural activity which annually brings families and friends together and provides sustenance for many. The local economy is also highly dependent upon hunting and other outdoor recreation.

The demand for public land antlerless licenses has been exceeding available license numbers in recent years. An increase in available licenses for antlerless deer harvest on public lands through an increased quota is recommended to address forest regeneration issues caused by heavy deer browse. On private lands, demand for antlerless licenses has also exceeded number of licenses available even with recent increases in the number of antlerless licenses available. The early and late antlerless deer seasons on private lands have been closed in this unit. An increase in private land antlerless permit availability and opening hunting during the early and late antlerless seasons are recommended. This will assist in providing additional hunting opportunities, assist in addressing negative deer impacts on the landscape, increase opportunities to monitor for disease like bovine Tuberculosis, and allow efforts working toward achieving a balanced buck to doe ratio. Nuisance and crop damage permits, used to augment antlerless quotas in areas of higher deer densities on private lands, will continue to be issued in areas where there is a demand and hunting opportunities are limited.


DMU 017

Area Description

DMU 017 is approximately 792 square miles in size and is located in eastern parts of Chippewa and Mackinac Counties, excluding Drummond Island. It extends from the Lake Superior shoreline to the Lake Huron shoreline. Most (~80%) of the land is privately-owned, while ~20% is state- or federally-owned. The DMU is characterized by a mix of forested and agricultural land. Most of the agricultural land consists of hay land and pasture fields for cattle and other livestock, and has lower productivity than in other areas of the state where row crops are present. Forests are diverse and range from lowland stands in clay loams and mucks to upland stands in sands. This DMU is primarily located in the moderate snowfall zone. Winter is a limiting factor for the deer herd, and they migrate (some many miles) to deer wintering complexes (DWC’s) where conifer cover provides some protection from winter conditions.  

Management Guidance

Since the early 2000’s deer harvest has generally decreased in the Upper Peninsula region following harsh winters and increased following milder ones, but harvest was on a decreasing trend through 2015. Antlerless license quotas generally decreased during this period, and antlerless harvest during archery season with regular deer licenses was suspended across the region in 2015 following 3 consecutive harsh winters and decreasing population indices. The regional buck harvest estimate in 2015 was the lowest in over 20 years. Buck harvest and other indices of the population have now increased to near average. Hunter numbers have decreased over time.  

Two main goals guiding deer management in this DMU are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) hunting opportunities. A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. Few damage complaints are received, and there is little evidence of over-browsing outside of deer wintering complexes (DWC’s). Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.  

Deer Management Recommendations

Population indices in this DMU have followed similar trends as those of the region; low buck harvest and hunter success were experienced in 2014 and 2015, but these have increased since then. Buck hunter success is comparable to 2006-2009 rates when antlerless licenses quotas were last in place, and daily deer sighting rates from the region’s Deer Camp Survey are higher. However, the buck kill per square mile has ranged from 1.6 - 2.1 since 2016 and generally remains below 2006-2009 rates. The average buck kill per square mile from 2016-2018 (1.7) was also below the rates of DMU’s open to antlerless harvest in the region (range 2.1 – 5.4) 

Winter conditions and impact to deer appear to be above average for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020). Impacts associated with deer over-abundance are generally low. Crop damage complaints are low and tend to be focused on parts of the DMU with higher deer densitiesagricultural land near DWC’s. These can continue to be addressed with tools such as Deer Management Assistance PermitsThere is currently little evidence of browse impacts outside of DWC’s where deer congregate during the winter monthsSome browse impacts inside DWC’s are anticipated even with relatively low population numbers and are considered acceptable in these areas.  

Stakeholder input suggests limited support for increasing antlerless harvest opportunities. Increased antlerless harvest opportunities will be afforded by opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in the region, which seems to have more stakeholder support than an antlerless license quota. It is recommended that DMU 017 be closed to antlerless harvest quotas at this timeThe effects of antlerless harvest during archery season can be evaluated for future years. 


DMU 018

Area Description

Clare County Deer Management Unit (DMU) 018 is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). This County is 71% forested, 11% cropland, and 15% pasture and idle grassland. Approximately 4% of the land use is urban. The human population density is 14.7 persons per square mile. Many Clare County residents are seasonal, as the county ranks 2nd in the state for the number of second homes.

Most of the public lands are in the northern and western parts of Clare County. Approximately ¼ of the county is in public ownership (23%) and is mostly forested. The predominant forest species on state lands are mixed upland aspen, oak and jack pine. Jack pine represents 20% of the forest cover. Aspen is less prominent in Clare County compared to Gladwin County, but oak and jack pine compensate for early successional aspen and supports the current distribution and density of deer.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU it includes crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Effort has been made to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Those data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health is monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance. Engagement with the public via public meetings, surveys, electronic communication and face-to-face interaction is an important part of deer management and the regulations establishment process.

Deer Management Recommendations

Clare County (DMU 018) has a deer population that has been stable the past five years. There has not been a significant movement, up or down, in the number of crop damage complaints although there has been a significant increase in the number of Out of Season Kill Tags requested by individual farmers. Car-deer crashes have remained stable over the last four years. Department of Natural Resources Foresters have reported negative impacts to forest regeneration due to heavy browse by deer. Harvest of antlerless deer over this same period has been stable.

Hunting opportunities in DMU 018 are plentiful. The 84,640 acres of public land provide suitable habitat for deer hunting and include ample hunter access. On the 283,360 acres of private land the opportunities for hunting deer are also abundant, in fact there are many tracts of private land that are used explicitly for deer hunting. A casual deer hunter camp survey, on public land, has been conducted by DNR staff the past four years and indicates that hunting pressure on these public lands is slightly decreasing.

We are recommending an early/late private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 018. This recommendation is based on the number of deer damage complaints related to agricultural crops which will allow for an increased capacity for farmers/landowners to take antlerless deer. We are also recommending that antlerless licenses be made available to hunters for both private and public land with no changes. Public land antlerless tags available will remain at 1,000 and private land tags available will remain at 8,000. The strategy is to keep the deer population at the level it is at currently. Stabilizing these regulations for the next three years will manage deer numbers within acceptable levels for hunters as well as for forest health and agriculture.
 

DMU 019

Area Description

The Clinton County Deer Management Unit (DMU 019) is in the Southern Lower Peninsula Region (SLP). Between the Maple River and Muskrat Lake State Game Areas, Rose Lake State Wildlife Area, and Sleepy Hollow State Park, it has nearly 11,000 acres of public hunting land. The state land makes up almost 3% of the total acreage of the DMU.

Apart from the suburban areas around some of the cities, DMU 019 is relatively rural. Habitat conditions are excellent with relatively good soils and a mosaic of forests, riparian areas, and agricultural fields distributed across the DMU.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) disease management (chronic wasting disease); 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunities. Clinton county has had cases of chronic wasting disease confirmed in the southern tier of townships. Cases have also been confirmed in adjoining counties to the north, west, and south. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, spread of diseases, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples of undesirable effects of over-abundance. When one or more of these effects are present, it is appropriate for management direction to reflect efforts to reduce local deer abundance. Specifically, the presence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Clinton County and adjacent counties is of utmost concern and high deer densities can promote the spread of the disease in the local population and into surrounding areas.

Ample hunting opportunities are provided for hunters to harvest an adequate number of antlerless deer where overabundance is causing conflicts, particularly on private lands. This also gives private landowners the ability to manage the deer herd on a local scale.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 019 has been seeing a somewhat steady deer population increase over the last 6-8 years. High fecundity and survival rates coupled with a decrease in antlerless harvest over most of that time span is likely driving the recent increase in deer populations. Antlered deer harvest in 2018 (3,956) was 20% higher than the ten-year average (3,305). Despite a recent increase in harvest, antlerless harvest in 2018 (3,133) was still down 4% from the ten-year average (3,272) and was down 44% from the total antlerless harvest in 2009 (4,513). Total hunter numbers have also declined from a high of 12,053 in 2007 to 8,331 in 2018 – a 45% decrease.

It is recommended that the public land quota for DMU 019 remain at 1,600 antlerless tags as only 70% of the quota was sold in 2019. This should provide those without access to private lands ample opportunity to recreate and harvest a deer. With DMU 019 being in the CWD surveillance area, unlimited antlerless tags should remain available for private lands. In 2019, 5,499 private land antlerless licenses were sold. That is compared to 6,143 private land licenses being sold in 2009.

With deer population trends increasing over the last several years, continuing to increase antlerless harvest should be a focus for deer hunters in DMU 019 in order to mitigate negative consequences of deer over-abundance (disease impacts, crop damage, car/deer accidents, etc.). Looking back, the deer population in DMU 019 remained relatively stable between 2006-2011 with a sustained antlerless harvest of 4,000+ antlerless deer every year over that span.

Both early and late antlerless seasons should be open in this unit.

In 2012, DMU 019 saw a significant decrease in the overall deer population due to several localized die-offs as the result of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). While reduced antlerless harvest in some areas of the DMU were appropriate in the years following 2012, antlerless harvest has never rebounded since then despite the population recovering to numbers seen pre-EHD. In order to see a decreasing trend in the deer population again, hunters in DMU 019 should be targeting an antlerless deer harvest of well over 4,000 antlerless deer each year. Given the declining trend in hunter numbers over the last several years, this is going to be a challenge. However, with chronic wasting disease present in the DMU and adjacent DMUs, it will be imperative for hunters in the county to reverse the trend of increasing deer numbers in the coming years by significantly increasing antlerless deer harvest.


DMU 020

Area Description

Crawford County Deer Management Unit (DMU 020) is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP) and is roughly 563 square miles in size. There is approximately 234,200 acres of public land which is 65% of the total acreage in the county. The remaining 126,000 acres is in private ownership. Crawford County has the second most public land of any county in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It is also easily accessible as it is located on a major highway corridor. Consequently, hunting opportunities abound within this DMU. Topography is relatively flat throughout the DMU with some areas of rolling hills. Most of the soils in the area are well drained and consist of sand, sand/gravel, or sandy loams, with occasional inclusions of clay or organic soils, primarily along rivers and creeks. These drier sandy soils tend to support mixes of pine, oak, aspen, and red maple. The landscape consists of large blocks of both state and federal land. State owned land dominates a majority of the county while federal land is located in the southeast corner. These large blocks of land are dominated by forest and provide excellent habitat for deer. The private land consists primarily of forested habitat with better soils. The Au Sable River, Manistee River, Beaver Creek, and many associated feeder streams flow through this DMU. The local economy is highly dependent upon hunting and other outdoor recreation activities

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects (e.g., deer-vehicle collisions, over-browsed forest regeneration) associated with higher deer numbers. In an effort to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists, foresters, and conservation officers. Herd health is monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance. Engagement with the public via public meetings, surveys, electronic communication, and face-to-face interaction is an important part of deer management and the regulations establishment process.

Deer Management Recommendations

Recent population trends indicate a gradually increasing deer population. This trend is thought to be primarily due to repeated mild winters since 2013 and a gradual but steady decline in hunters and hunting effort. Smaller year-to-year changes are evident but antlerless harvest trends have remained steady and buck harvest has gradually increased since 2014. An increased deer population puts a strain on the habitat resources available to deer. Additionally, concerns regarding disease (i.e., bovine Tuberculosis) have increased in the DMU in recent years, especially in the eastern portions of the DMU that border DMU 487 which is managed for disease concerns.

Hunting is the primary management tool to achieve identified management goals. Despite recent increases in antlerless quotas in this DMU, the buck harvest trend has remained much higher and sometimes twice that of the doe harvest. The demand for antlerless licenses on both public and private lands has been exceeding available license numbers in recent years. Based on current trend analyses and a desire to equalize the doe and buck harvest to move the population closer to a one-to-one doe to buck ratio, we are recommending an increase in antlerless permits, mostly on public lands within this DMU. Creating additional hunting opportunities to harvest does, specifically on public lands, should help to mitigate loss of forest regeneration and to slow or stabilize population growth.

Historically this DMU has been closed to early and late antlerless hunting seasons, but, the current recommendation is to open the DMU for those seasons. Opening these seasons should provide additional hunting opportunity that will help address negative deer impacts on the landscape, improve regulation consistency across the Region, and provide additional opportunities for antlerless harvest which will possibly narrow the gap between antlered and antlerless harvest and increase opportunities to monitor for diseases such as bovine Tuberculosis.

Localized pockets of higher deer density that cause problems will be addressed through the issuance of Deer Management Assistance Permits, Crop Damage Permits, and Disease Control Permits.


DMU 021

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 021 is 1,464 square miles in size and in the central Upper Peninsula (UP). DMU 021 is predominately publicly owned land (71%) comprised of state and federal lands. Lying between Trenary and Germfask, this DMU is bounded on all sides by state highways M-28 and M-77, federal highways US-2 and US-41, and Lake Michigan. DMU 021 is dominated by forested cover types but also encompasses more productive agricultural areas found along the southern, eastern, and western borders of this large unit. Habitat quality for deer varies throughout the DMU and is driven by local soil productivity and subsequent cover types and related food availability. Generally, habitat capabilities for deer are moderate to low in most areas due to acidic, well drained soils. In certain areas, silt loam and other productive soils provide higher quality habitat types for deer. However, the overall carrying capacity of DMU 021 is limited by winter severity and the capabilities and management of winter range, as deer in this unit are obligatory migrators.

Winter deer migration in this unit is highly developed with a large portion of the deer moving into the southern portion of this DMU. Even though DMU 021 falls within the moderate snowfall zone, excessive snow depths cause deer to become highly concentrated within wintering complexes such as the Indian Lake Deer Wintering Complex as well as western portions of the Gulliver-Epoufette Deer Wintering Complex.

Management Guidance

Since the early 2000’s deer harvest has generally decreased in the Upper Peninsula region following harsh winters and increased following milder ones, but harvest was on a decreasing trend through 2015. Antlerless license quotas generally decreased during this period, and antlerless harvest during archery season with regular deer licenses was suspended across the region in 2015 following three consecutive harsh winters and decreasing population indices. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. The regional buck harvest estimate in 2015 was the lowest in over 20 years. Buck harvest and other indices of the population have now increased to near average. Hunter numbers have decreased over time.

Two main goals guiding deer management in this DMU are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) hunting opportunities. Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

Population indices in this DMU have followed similar trends as those of the region; low buck harvest and hunter success were experienced in 2014-2016, but these have increased since then. Since 2001, the highest buck hunter success was during 2017-2019. The 2017-2019 daily deer sighting rates from the region’s Deer Camp Survey were also the highest since 2001. The buck kill per square mile has ranged from 0.8 – 1.5 since 2016 which hovers around the average rate (1.2) for the DMU. The average buck kill per square mile from 2016-2018 (0.7) was below the rates of DMU’s open to antlerless harvest in the region (range 2.1 – 5.4).

Impacts associated with deer over-abundance are generally low. Crop damage complaints are few and tend to be focused on parts of the DMU with higher deer densities—agricultural land. These can be addressed with tools such as Deer Damage Permits and Deer Management Assistance Permits.

Stakeholder input suggests limited support for increasing antlerless harvest opportunities. Increased antlerless harvest opportunities will be afforded by opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in the region, which seems to have more stakeholder support than an antlerless license quota. To assist with a desired increasing herd trend, it is recommended that DMU 021 be closed to antlerless harvest quotas at this time. The effects of antlerless harvest during archery season can be evaluated for future years.


DMU 022

Area Description

DMU 022 is located in southern Iron and central Dickinson counties. It encompasses 897 sq. miles and has remained unchanged since 2006. Sixty-four percent of the unit is privately-owned land while 36% (323 sq. miles) is state or federally owned public land. CFR lands comprise 25% (144 sq. miles) of the private ownership. This DMU is located primarily in the “farm belt” of southern Iron and south-central Dickinson counties. The combination of farms interspersed with quality forest lands and private ownership provides for very good deer habitat conditions. Wood product mills located within or near the unit provide a ready market for timber products. Summer range and winter browse resources are largely dependent on the spatial and temporal characteristics of timber harvest activities. This unit is situated in the moderate snowfall zone. Deer numbers fluctuate to a greater degree than is normal in the high or low snowfall zones, building quickly in low snowfall years and dropping rapidly in high snowfall years. Snowfall totals in the Crystal Falls area have fluctuated widely over the last decade. The quality and quantity of the deer wintering complexes determine the unit’s ability to carry deer through winter.

Management Guidance

Since the early 2000’s deer harvest has generally decreased in the Upper Peninsula region following harsh winters and increased following milder ones, but harvest was on a decreasing trend through 2015. Antlerless license quotas generally decreased during this period, and antlerless harvest during archery season with regular deer licenses was suspended across the region in 2015 following 3 consecutive harsh winters and decreasing population indices. The regional buck harvest estimate in 2015 was the lowest in over 20 years. Buck harvest and other indices of the population have now increased to near average. Hunter numbers have decreased over time.

Two main goals guiding deer management in this DMU are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) hunting opportunities. A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. 3) disease, CWD is also a consideration as a portion of this DMU falls within the Core CWD unit. Management for this unit includes disease surveillance and response, which includes slowing the rate of transmission and monitoring disease prevalence within the herd. Implementing regulations that maintain lower deer numbers are important within this unit and include such actions as, sustaining antlerless harvest and removing antler point restrictions within the Core Surveillance Area. Enforcement of the ban on baiting and feeding should continue, as high deer concentrations caused by these activities may increase CWD transmission.

Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. Impacts associated with deer over-abundance are generally low. Crop damage complaints are low and tend to be focused on parts of the DMU with higher deer densities—agricultural land near DWC’s. These can continue to be addressed with tools such as Antlerless Permits, Deer Damage Shooting Permits, Deer Management Assistance Permits. There is currently limited evidence of browse impacts outside of DWC’s where deer congregate during the winter months. Some browse impacts inside DWC’s are anticipated and are considered acceptable in these areas. Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd while allowing some antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

Antlerless harvest opportunities are normally desirable in this unit for two reasons. Some local farms are impacted by agricultural crop damage and antlerless licenses are a tool to address this problem. Public and private land forest managers believe antlerless harvesting helps to reduce deer browse impacts on forest regeneration.

The DMU 022 deer herd has had time to recover from the previous difficult winters of 2012-2015, however, winter conditions and its impact to deer appear to have been above average for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020). Even after the winter of 2018-19, DMU 022 hunters participating in the 2019 Deer Camp Survey reported a buck hunter success of 42%, up from the long-term average of 40%. DMU 022 ranked 5th for bucks harvested per sq. mile in the U.P. region, averaging 2.6 bucks harvested per sq. mile between 2016-2018. The unit’s 2018 buck harvest of 2.8 bucks per sq. mile was slightly above the 3 year average, but still down from the long term average. Hunters interviewed during deer registration and during sportsmen’ s meetings are open to the issuance of a conservative quota of antlerless permits to provide harvest opportunity. In addition, it has been recommended that antlerless archery harvest be reinstated which will provide additional opportunity to take antlerless deer. Currently, the deer population is still below the desired level across the DMU so the antlerless quota should remain conservative to allow the deer population to rebound further. It is recommended that DMU 022 be “open” for the issuance of private and public land antlerless licenses @ 500 private land antlerless licenses with the public land antlerless quota set at 240.


DMU 023

Area Description

The Eaton County Management unit (DMU) 023 is located in the Southwest Region. There are about 700 acres of public land available for hunting opportunities in Eaton County with an addition 450 acres that will likely added this year. This DMU has an open agricultural landscape which is intermixed with forests and wetlands. DMU 023 is home to Delta Township which is a large metropolitan area in the northeast corner of the county. Topography for Eaton County varies from rolling hills to relatively flat with soils that are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with high deer densities. Examples of undesirable deer impacts include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. We review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. This allows us to find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities, in addition to lessening the unwanted impacts. The data includes harvest numbers from deer check stations, annual mail survey information, deer-vehicle collision data, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of crop damage permits, reports from local hunters, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

From 2015 to 2018 total number of deer harvested has been steady. During this period 56% of the harvest was antlered and 44% antlerless. Over the last few years deer-vehicle collisions have remained constant, but crop damage complaints have greatly increased in some areas of the DMU. These indexes show that deer numbers for the Eaton County DMU are stable or slightly increasing. Some locations in this DMU have higher densities of deer and are struggling to control crop damage. Deer density varies in this DMU from high to moderate. In 2018 a deer tested positive with Chronic Wasting Disease in this DMU. Private land antlerless quotas will remain unlimited to help reduce the spread of this disease. The number of public land permits will increase by 150, for a total of 250 permits available. This increase will accommodate the addition of 450 acres of public land opportunity in Eaton County. Crop damage permits will continue to be issued to help reduce losses as needed.


DMU 024

Area Description

Emmet County Deer Management Unit (DMU 024) is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). The DMU consists of 478 square miles of land, consisting of 365 square miles of deer range (available habitat). Approximately 68% of the available deer range in the county is in privately held lands. The remainder (32%) is in public ownership. Human populations and developments are primarily concentrated in the southern third of the DMU.

The landscape consists of rolling hardwoods and swamps interspersed with private inholdings and agriculture in the south and near the Lake Michigan shoreline. Agriculture is a variety of crops and vinyards. Much of the non-agricultural private land is forested with a mixture of upland forest and forested wetlands. Public lands are lie primarily in the northern third of the DMU. Deer densities on private lands around the agricultural/forest interface tend to be higher than in the publicly-held lands. Deer densities also tend to be higher along the Lake Michigan coastline. Deer numbers vary greatly in the upland hardwoods depending on available food sources. Large conifer swamps provide winter cover for deer.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer overabundance. Agricultural damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. In order to balance hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities with unwanted impacts such as agricultural and ecological damage, we review trends in data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Trends considered include deer harvest information from check stations, annual deer hunter survey results, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., forest condition; number of Crop Damage, nuisance deer, and Deer Management Assistance permits requested).

This DMU has antler point restrictions (APRs), that limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves 1) APRs, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM

Deer Management Recommendations

The trends of deer population indices indicate that deer numbers are likely increasing in much of the DMU. Northern hardwoods are showing signs of over-browsing in some areas of public and private lands, impacting the forest composition. Concerns regarding disease (i.e., bovine Tuberculosis) have grown in the last two years in the DMU. Deer pressure on agricultural lands are continuing, though no clear trends in requests for damage permits can be seen. However, an increasing number of deer-vehicle collisions has occurred over the last 4 years and urban deer complaints have also increased. Hunting and harvest levels of bucks have remained steady within the unit over the last 10 years. Increases in antlerless deer harvest have been seen more recently, with antlered and antlerless harvest near a 1:1 ratio. There is a desire to maintain or increase the antlerless harvest levels to maintain this ratio, on both public and private lands.

The demand for public land antlerless licenses has been approaching available license numbers in recent years. An increase in available licenses for antlerless deer harvest on public lands through an increased quota is recommended to address forest regeneration issues caused by heavy deer browse. On private lands, demand for antlerless licenses has also approached or exceeded number of licenses available in recent years. The early and late antlerless deer seasons on private lands has been closed in this unit. An increase in private land antlerless permit availability and opening hunting during the early and late antlerless seasons are recommended. This will assist in providing additional hunting opportunities, assist in addressing negative deer impacts on the landscape, increase opportunities to monitor for disease like bovine Tuberculosis, and allow efforts working toward achieving a balanced buck:doe ratio. Nuisance and crop damage permits, used to augment antlerless quotas in areas of higher deer densities on private lands, will continue to be issued in areas where there is a demand and hunting opportunities are limited.


DMU 025

Area Description

The Genesee County Deer Management Unit lies in the Southeast Region. This county is highly urbanized with less than 1/3 of the 633 square miles having suitable deer habitat. The city of Flint is located in this county which is the third largest city in the state. Even with the amount of development there are early and mid-successional habitats that generate food and cover resources and deer have easily adapted to these areas. The northern townships of this county contain several farms and orchards intermixed with forests and ravines offering travelling corridors for deer. There is no state land in this county and no open public hunting areas. Genesee county parks does offer opportunities at some of their parks for archery deer hunting and waterfowl hunting some is by permit only. This information is on their website.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and damage to native species due to over-browsing are examples. In this DMU most hunting takes place on private land which makes up 99% of the land base. Population numbers are difficult to control since hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has likely increased in this DMU in the last several years. The primary causes are the limited hunting opportunity due to lack of public hunting land, the declining number of hunters over the last 10 years, as well as the tradition of deer hunters going “north” to hunt. License quotas have always been liberal in this county and since 2013 have been undersubscribed. As this unit was formerly part of DMU 486, it is not possible to know the rate at which antlerless tags were filled from 2010-2012, but the trend since 2009 has been a steady decrease in the numbers of private land antlerless licenses that have been sold (approximately 20% decline). This decline in license purchases seems to fall in line with about the same 20% reduction in hunters for this area. Deer-vehicle collisions in this county have remained pretty consistent but have shown a slow steady increase since 2015. Many of these collisions are most likely under-reported, since reports are usually only made if there is a damage claim, or the person wishes to consume the meat. Starting in 2014 roadkill salvage tags became available online without needed to contact the local police or conservation officer. It is unknown how much people comply with the permit when picking up roadkill. Currently, the deer population is still above the desired level across the DMU so the antlerless quota should remain the same to allow landowners the flexibility to control deer on their property.


DMU 026

Area Description

The Gladwin County Deer Management Unit (DMU) 026 is in the Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP) Region. This County has roughly 337,920 acres and consists of nearly 66% forested (38% is in state ownership; mostly located east of M-30); 17% crop land, and 13% pasture and idle grasslands. About 3% of the land use is urban. Topography varies from rolling hills to areas that are relatively flat. Soils are primarily sandy and well drained. The eastern portion of the county is dominated by a large block of state land. This block is mostly forested and provides excellent habitat for deer. The private land consists of large blocks of agricultural land intermixed with forest. Gladwin County has a human population density of 51.2 persons per square mile and population levels are expected to remain stable through 2020. Gladwin County ranks 20th in the state for seasonal homes. The real estate market for recreational hunting properties is very active highlighting the importance of deer hunting to the local economy.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU it includes crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Effort has been made to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Those data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health is monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance. Engagement with the public via public meetings, surveys, electronic communication and face-to-face interaction is an important part of deer management and the regulations establishment process.

Deer Management Recommendations

Gladwin County DMU 026 has a deer population that has been slightly increasing the past five years. There has been an increase in the number of Crop damage complaints and the number of car-deer crashes over this period. Harvest of antlerless deer over this same period has been nearly stable.

Hunting opportunities in DMU 026 are plentiful. The 128,410 acres of public land provide numerous opportunities for deer hunting and include ample locations for hunter access. On the 209,510 acres of private land the opportunities for hunting deer are also abundant, in fact there are many tracts of private land that are used explicitly for deer hunting. A casual deer hunter camp survey, on public land, has been conducted by DNR Wildlife Division staff the past five years and indicates that hunting pressure on these public lands may be slightly decreasing.

We recommend an early/late private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 026 based on the occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. An early season will allow farms with antlerless tags to target deer on their properties where damage has occurred. The late hunt will help target deer that are more likely to have moved to better cover where they may not be vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. We are also recommending that antlerless licenses be made available to hunters for both private and public land with the only change being an increase of 200 public land antlerless tags for a total of 1400 public antlerless tags available. Private land antlerless tag quota will remain at 8000. The strategy is to increase opportunity to take antlerless deer that may help stabilize deer numbers. Stabilizing these regulations for the next three years will manage deer numbers within acceptable levels for hunters as well as for forest health and agriculture.


DMU 027

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 027 is 1,237 sq. miles in size and is primarily located in Gogebic County, along with portions of Iron, Houghton, Baraga and Ontonagon Counties. While primarily an interior unit the deer in this DMU are still heavily influenced by Lake Superior weather / winter severity. Very little of this unit is privately owned (23%) the remainder of DMU 027 is publicly accessible via state and federal ownership. Land use and habitat quality for deer in DMU 027 range from lowland conifer to upland hardwoods. Agricultural influence is very limited and primarily only a factor near traditional rural communities.

Influenced by Lake Superior winter weather can be difficult for deer in DMU 027. Snow fall averages 100 inches per year. Snow is typically on the ground in this DMU from mid-December through April. Deer are obligated to migrate to deer wintering complexes in the winter.

Management Guidance

This unit is in a high snowfall zone and deer in this unit experience harsh winter conditions compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (UP). Many of the deer in this DMU receive supplemental food throughout the winter months. Despite this supplemental feeding, fawn recruitment and over-winter survival still tends to be low in this DMU compared to other DMU’s in the U.P.

Two main goals guiding deer management in DMU 027 are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) increase hunting opportunities.

A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. There is relatively little agricultural activity in DMU 027 and consequently the level of deer crop damage is extremely low. Outside of the deer wintering complexes deer browse has not impacted tree regeneration.

Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 027 consistently ranks as one of the lowest units for buck harvest per square mile in the UP. Over the last five years (2014-2018) DMU 027 has averaged 0.4 bucks harvested per square mile. This harvest rate is one of the lowest in the U.P. and signifies a relatively low deer herd compared to other areas of the UP. Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, deer management assistance permits, and crop damage) indicate that deer herd densities remain relatively low. Stakeholder input suggests limited support for an increasing antlerless harvest opportunity. In general, there is support for opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in DMU 027. Therefore, it is recommended that DMU 027 should remain closed to general antlerless hunting during the firearm season for the next regulation cycle.


DMU 028

Area Description

The Grand Traverse County Deer Management Unit (DMU 028) has roughly 69,000 acres of State Forest Land which is about one quarter of the total acreage in the county. Topography varies from areas of steep slopes to rolling hills to areas that are relatively flat. State ownership consists of basically six separate blocks of state land.

Most of the soils in the area are well drained and consist of sand, sand/gravel, or sandy loams, with occasional inclusions of clay or organic soils, primarily along rivers and creeks. These drier sandy soils tend to support mixes of pine, oak, aspen, and red maple. Row crop agriculture can be found predominately in the southeast portion of the county. Orchards become prevalent closer to the lakeshore.

The Weidenhamer Swamp in central Grand Traverse County is probably the area’s most significant winter yarding complex. Other traditional winter yarding areas occur along various riparian corridors including the Boardman River and creeks such as Parker, Yuba, Tobeco, Battle, and others. Riparian corridors also provide important travel routes for deer and other species. These yarding areas are distributed roughly 50/50 on public and private lands. Numerous pine stands provide thermal cover in upland areas as well.

Old Mission Peninsula, which divides Grand Traverse Bay, was formerly a separate DMU, due to being mainly a mix of agriculture and urban environments. With Traverse City at the base of the peninsula, Old Mission’s deer population is basically isolated from the rest of the deer in this DMU.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 028 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves 1) APRs, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal

buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

Recent population trends would indicate a gradually increasing deer population. Probably due to repeated mild winters and a gradual but steady decline in hunters, or hunting effort. An increased deer population puts a strain on the resources available to deer, as evidenced by increased agricultural damage complaints and observations of substantial deer browse to forest regeneration. Past efforts to increase doe harvest (i.e. an increased antlerless quota) have brought the doe harvest numbers close to that of the buck harvest, so it appears to be having the desired effect. However, there is a need to maintain an increased antlerless quota to continue pushing the harvest toward an equalized doe and buck harvest, which is intended to move the population closer to a one-to-one doe to buck ratio.

Based on current trend analyses, we are recommending an increase to antlerless permits, specifically on public lands within this DMU. Creating additional hunting opportunities to harvest does specifically on public lands should help to mitigate loss of forest regeneration and to stabilize and eventually, slightly reduce the population, which is consistent with the APR management philosophy. Reducing the population will help with reducing deer-vehicle collisions.

We also recommend an early private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 010 based on the increasing occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. The early hunt will help target deer that are likely causing damage, while they are still in or near their summer range. Also, in some cases during the fall hunting seasons and after crops are harvested deer may move off of these harvested ag lands and open fields to better cover where they may not be as vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. While hunting is the primary method of controlling deer populations and preventing deer damage, producers can enroll in several programs to address significant out-of-hunting-season deer damage.


DMU 029

Area Description

The Gratiot County Deer Management Unit (DMU 029) is in the Southern Lower Peninsula Region (SLP). Between the Maple River and Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Areas, it has over 17,000 acres of public hunting land. The state ownership lies in southern and eastern parts of the County and makes up almost 5% of the total acreage of the DMU. Topography is relatively flat across the entire DMU with nearly 80% of the land being in farms.

The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately-owned lands. Aside from public lands which are predominantly forested, habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland) is isolated and exists in small patches.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) disease management (chronic wasting disease); 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunities. Gratiot County has had recent cases of chronic wasting disease confirmed in multiple townships. Cases have also been confirmed in adjoining counties to the west and south. Impact management refers to the reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, spread of diseases, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples of undesirable effects of over-abundance. When one or more of these effects are present, it is appropriate for management direction to reflect efforts to reduce local deer abundance. Specifically, the discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Gratiot County is of utmost concern and high deer densities can promote the spread of the disease in the local population and into surrounding areas.

Ample hunting opportunities are provided for hunters to harvest an adequate number of antlerless deer where overabundance is causing conflicts, particularly on private lands. This also gives private landowners the ability to manage the deer herd on a local scale.

Deer Management Recommendations

Deer populations in DMU 029 have consistently been high but have remained relatively stable over the last decade. While antlered deer harvest in 2018 (3,454) was up 6% compared to the ten-year average (3,261), antlerless harvest in 2018 (1,870) was down 40% from the ten-year average (3,075). Total hunter numbers have declined 29% from a high of 9,958 in 2013 to 7,084 in 2018 and hunter effort during the firearm season has dropped from 52,409 days in 2009 to 27,391 days in 2018 – a decline of 48%.

It is recommended that the public land quota for DMU 029 remain at 2,200 antlerless tags as only 74% of the quota was sold in 2019. With DMU 029 being in the CWD surveillance area, unlimited antlerless tags should remain available for private lands. In 2019, 4,563 private land antlerless licenses were sold. That is compared to 5,111 private land licenses being sold in 2009.

Both early and late antlerless seasons should be open in this unit.

With the previous 10-year population being held relatively stable (Figure 1) with an average harvest of 3,075 antlerless deer, hunters in DMU 029 should target a doe harvest of a higher number than the previous 10-year average (3,075) to achieve a population reduction. With chronic wasting disease present in the DMU and declining hunter numbers, it will be imperative for hunters in the county reduce deer numbers in the coming years by significantly increasing antlerless deer harvest.


DMU 030

Area Description

The Hillsdale Deer Management Unit (DMU), or DMU 030, lies in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) region and covers Hillsdale County. The DMU consists of one percent public land. Public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available on Adams Township (180 acres), Somerset (800 acres), and Lost Nation (2500 acres) State Game Areas.

The topography of DMU 030 has been shaped by erosion and deposition during glaciation. Topography varies from undulating to steep, rolling to undulating, and nearly level to rolling hills; Hillsdale was named for its hills and valleys (dales). Headwaters for five of Michigan’s major rivers are located in the Hillsdale DMU; forest, and wetland vegetation types tend to be located along these waterways. Urban development is concentrated in the City of Hillsdale, toward the center of the DMU; however, the DMU is largely rural. The DMU is well suited for farming; nearly 60 percent of the land is in agriculture, with row crops (corn, soybeans, and wheat) being the main ag commodities.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. To find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, spotlight surveys, habitat assessments, input from hunters and Conservation Officers, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The estimated deer population remains over goal but has held steady over the last 5 years (2014-2018). Vehicle-deer accidents numbers have remained consistent over the last 5 years (2014-2018) and 2018 number was equal to the 10-year average. Deer damage complaints and permits issued for the area have remained steady with relatively no increase or decrease in complaints or permits issued. Therefore, it is recommended that antlerless licenses remain the same and are made available for public/private land and for early/late antlerless season. This will provide opportunities for increased antlerless harvest and recreation. Continuing the late antlerless season may help to address some crop damage, car/deer crashes and nuisance issues in the area, as well.

There is very limited public land (2%) in the Hillsdale DMU, so most the hunting opportunity is on private land. Based on this information, I recommend that the Public Land Quota remain at 400 and that the Private Land Quota be set to 12,000. Also, we recommend that this DMU is open for Early and Late Antlerless Firearm seasons on private lands.


DMU 031

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 031 is 818 sq. miles in size and is primarily located in central Baraga, southeastern Houghton and Ontonagon Counties. While primarily an interior unit, deer in this DMU are still heavily influenced by Lake Superior weather. This unit is roughly equally divided between privately owned and public ownership (state and federal). Land use and habitat quality for deer in DMU 031 range from lowland conifer to upland hardwoods including red pine barrens and open fields. DMU 031 has relatively high agricultural influence on deer.

Influenced by Lake Superior winter weather can be difficult for deer in DMU 031. Snow fall averages vary across DMU 031 ranging from 100-150 inches per year. Snow is typically in the ground in this DMU from mid-December through April. Deer are obligated to migrate to deer wintering complexes in the winter.

Management Guidance

This unit is in a high snowfall zone and deer in this unit experience harsh winter conditions compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (UP). Many of the deer in this DMU receive supplemental food throughout the winter months. Despite this supplemental feeding, fawn recruitment and over-winter survival still tends to be low in this DMU compared to other DMU’s in the U.P.

Two main goals guiding deer management in DMU 031 are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) increase hunting opportunities.

A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. There is a moderate amount of active agricultural activity in DMU 031 and therefore a low level of crop damage reported. Outside of the deer wintering complexes deer browse has not impacted tree regeneration.

Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 031 has one of the lower buck harvests per area rates compared with other DMUs in the UP. Over the last five years (2014-2018) DMU 027 has averaged 1.1 buck harvested per square mile. This harvest rate is one of the lower in the U.P. and signifies a relatively low deer herd compared to other areas of the U.P. Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, deer management assistance permits, and crop damage) indicate that deer herd densities are slightly increasing. Stakeholder input suggests limited support for an increasing antlerless harvest opportunity. In general, there is support for opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in DMU 031. Therefore, it is recommended that DMU 031 should remain closed to general antlerless hunting during the firearm season for the next regulation cycle.


DMU 033

Area Description

The Ingham County Deer Management Unit (DMU 033) is in the Southern Lower Peninsula Region (SLP). Between the Dansville and Grand River Gale Rd State Game Areas, it has just over 5,000 acres of public hunting land. The state land makes up just 1% of the total acreage of the DMU.

The northwest ¼ of the DMU is mainly urban and suburban with Lansing, East Lansing, and its suburbs making up a good portion of that area. Despite this portion of the county being highly developed, it still supports a large deer population. Apart from a few smaller cities/towns, the rest of the county is fairly rural. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately-owned lands. Habitat conditions are good with relatively good soils and many woodlots, wetlands, and agricultural fields distributed across the DMU.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) disease management (chronic wasting disease); 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunities. Ingham county has had cases of chronic wasting disease confirmed in Meridian Township. Cases have also been confirmed in adjoining counties to the north, west, and south. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, spread of diseases, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples of undesirable effects of over-abundance. When one or more of these effects are present, it is appropriate for management direction to reflect efforts to reduce local deer abundance. Specifically, the presence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Ingham County and adjacent counties is of utmost concern and high deer densities can promote the spread of the disease in the local population and into surrounding areas.

Ample hunting opportunities are provided for hunters to harvest an adequate number of antlerless deer where overabundance is causing conflicts, particularly on private lands. This also gives private landowners the ability to manage the deer herd on a local scale. Urban deer management decisions by municipalities are becoming more common as deer numbers in urban/suburban areas cause conflicts with residents.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 033 has had a slightly declining deer population over the last 10 years despite antlerless deer harvest dropping 27% in that same time frame and buck harvest dropping 5% (see

supplemental data sheet). Total hunter numbers have also declined from a high of 10,066 in 2009 to 6,644 in 2018 – a 34% decrease.

It is recommended that the public land quota for DMU 033 remain at 800 antlerless tags as only 76% of the quota was sold in 2019. This should provide those without access to private lands ample opportunity to recreate and harvest a deer. Unlimited antlerless tags should remain available for private lands. This will allow for landowners in areas of the county with high deer densities to be able to manage the population locally. This will also allow hunters throughout the DMU access to antlerless tags in order to continue harvesting an adequate number of antlerless deer to keep the population stable and not increase overall. With declining antlerless harvest and declining hunter numbers, it’s important that the remaining hunters continue to manage the herd and avoid a significant population increase. In 2019, 4,861 private land antlerless licenses were sold. That is compared to 5,948 private land licenses being sold in 2009.

Both early and late antlerless seasons should be open in this unit.

Chronic wasting disease has not been detected in the county since 2016 despite continued surveillance efforts. Surveillance will continue at levels recommended by the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab to monitor the presence of the disease in the county.


DMU 034

Area Description

The Ionia County Deer Management Unit has a variety of suitable habitats for deer. Majority of the forest is likely in late succession. The limited early and mid-succession habitats available do generate food and cover resources and likely fall within state owned land. Agriculture constitutes for about 80% of the composition throughout the DMU with woodlots and water systems spread throughout. Soils in the area vary but are majority loam with varying mixes of sandy and clay soils. These drier sandy soils tend to support mixes of oak, pines, maples and aspen. It has roughly 11,750 acres of State Game Area (SGA) Land which is about 3% of the total acreage in the county. The four SGAs also have small wetland complexes that are dominated by marsh species, but some contain pockets of lowland conifers and varying shrub species.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) disease management, 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunities. Disease management refers to utilizing the best-known tactics such as population reduction to limit the spread of disease, especially with Montcalm County having the highest concentration of positive CWD deer just north of Ionia County. It is important to do all we can to slow down and contain the spread of CWD. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as disease affecting herd health, crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Ample hunting opportunities are provided because hunters typically self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer due to a variety of factors. These reasons include, but are not limited to, the perception of too few deer, not enough time to hunt and the regulations are too complex to hunt. Success and harvest rates are likely thereby suppressed not by low deer numbers, but by hunter decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population remains high and has likely increased slightly in this DMU in the last three years. Although liberal antlerless license quotas are designed to allow for the potential of higher antlerless deer harvests, concerns about CWD and possibly EHD in the area may have changed hunter perceptions on the herd numbers and affected hunter efforts to kill antlerless deer. There has been a 41% loss in the total number of hunters within the DMU since 2008. As this unit was formerly part of DMUs 333,419 and 486 it is not possible to know the rate at which antlerless tags were filled from 2010-2017. Going back to 2009, the last year in which Ionia County was an individual unit without CWD regulations for private land antlerless licenses, 1,500 antlerless permits were available for public land and unlimited tags were available for private land. In 2018 Ionia shifted back to being on its own again and there were 1,200 public land antlerless licenses available and a nearly unlimited number of private land licenses. Currently, the deer population is higher than the desired level across the DMU. It is recommended that the antlerless quota should remain nearly unlimited on private lands. The public land quota should remain at 1,200 licenses to provide appropriate antlerless harvest on public lands. Early and late antlerless seasons should remain open within this DMU.


DMU 036

Area Description

DMU 036 is located in north Iron and Dickinson Counties, and includes portions of south Baraga and southwest Marquette Counties. It encompasses 987 sq. miles and has remained unchanged since 2006. Public land comprises 29% (286 sq. miles) of the unit and is almost entirely state owned with a small percentage federal forest along its western edge. Private lands make up 71% of this unit. CFR lands comprise 45% (316 sq. miles) of the private ownership. This DMU is largely forested with some private agricultural lands along the southern fringe of this unit. Hunting camps are common. Forested lands are diverse with uplands supporting northern hardwood species or aspen types and lowlands consist of conifers such as: cedar, hemlock, white pine, fir, tamarack and black spruce. This DMU receives medium to high snowfall and record setting cold winter temperatures compared to the rest of the U.P. Winter is a limiting factor for the deer herd and they migrate (some many miles) to deer wintering complexes (DWC’s). The quality and quantity of the deer wintering complexes determine the unit’s ability to carry deer through winter. During most winters, deer will be confined to deer wintering complexes comprised of a high proportion of conifer cover. Over winter losses of deer can be significant during winters that are long-lasting, snowy and extremely cold. Deer require a series of mild winters to rebound from difficult winters. This DMU has a history of boom and bust deer population cycles. Summer range and winter browse resources are largely dependent on the spatial and temporal characteristics of timber harvest activities.

Management Guidance

The buck kill per sq. mile in DMU 036 is typically low compared to other units in the region. It has averaged 1.1 bucks killed per sq. mile during the period 20016-18. Antlerless deer licenses have only been offered once in the past 10 years. A very light take, averaging 0.1 antlerless deer per sq. mile (primarily archery hunters), between 2006 and 2015, with essentially zero harvest (youth, independence and liberty harvest) between 2015 and 2019, due to elimination of harvest by archery hunters.

During the 2017-2019 firearm seasons, DMU 036 participants in the U.P. Deer Camp Survey observed 3.3 deer per hunter day, and 31% were successful in harvesting a buck. Hunters reported low fawn to doe ratios during that same period (47 fawns per 100 does) compared to southern U.P. units, where winters are typically mild. Hunters reported 1.1 bucks killed per sq. mile, which was quite low during the 2016-2018 period, compared to other DMUs in the region.

Two main goals guiding deer management in this DMU are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) hunting opportunities. A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing

effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. Few damage complaints are received, and there is little evidence of over-browsing outside of deer wintering complexes (DWC’s). Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is focused on increasing deer numbers including improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in a limited increase in antlerless harvest opportunities through reinstatement of archery harvest.

Deer Management Recommendations

Winter conditions and impact to deer appear to be above average for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020). Impacts associated with deer over-abundance are generally low. Crop damage complaints are non-existent as most of the unit is forested. If complaints do arise they can be addressed with tools such as Deer Management Assistance Permits. There is currently little evidence of browse impacts outside of DWC’s where deer congregate during the winter months. Some browse impacts inside DWC’s are anticipated even with relatively low population numbers and are considered acceptable in these areas.

Stakeholder input suggests limited support for increasing antlerless harvest opportunities. Increased antlerless harvest opportunities will be afforded by opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in the region, which seems to have more stakeholder support than an antlerless license quota. It is recommended that DMU 036 remain closed to antlerless harvest quotas at this time. The effects of antlerless harvest during archery season can be evaluated for future years


DMU 037

Area Description

The Isabella County Deer Management Unit (DMU) 037 is in the Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP) Region and is situated in the Gladwin Forest Management Unit. It has roughly 369,280 acres and consists mostly of large parcels of agricultural land. Crop land, pasture and idle grasslands make up over 60% of the land cover. About 12% of the land use is urban. Topography is relatively flat interrupted by river corridors. Soils consist mainly of loamy soils that dominate the farmed ground, whereas State land soils are sandy types that are well drained. The landscape consists of large blocks of land in private ownership. This private land consists of large blocks of agricultural land adjacent to forested habitat. There is only 2300 acres of State Forest in Isabella County. The State Forest is aspen, oak and upland deciduous forest types and provide excellent habitat for deer.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU it includes crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. When one or more of these effects are present, it is appropriate for management direction to reflect efforts to reduce local deer abundance. Specifically, the discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in nearby Gratiot County is of utmost concern and high deer densities can promote the spread of the disease in the local population and into surrounding areas.

Ample hunting opportunities are provided for hunters to harvest an adequate number of antlerless deer where overabundance is causing conflicts, particularly on private lands. This also gives private landowners the ability to manage the deer herd on a local scale. Effort has been made to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Those data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health is monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance. Engagement with the public via public meetings, surveys, electronic communication and face-to-face interaction is an important part of deer management and the regulations establishment process.

The City of Mount Pleasant has been challenged with an urban deer problem the past 5 years. Damage to vegetation at City Parks and private residences as well as high numbers of car/deer crashes within the city limits require that action be taken. Deer numbers have been reduced through the use of Deer Damage Shooting Permits (DDSPs). Each year this deer numbers reduction operation has been successfully conducted by the Mount Pleasant Police Department.

Deer Management Recommendations

After remaining relatively stable over the last decade, deer populations in DMU 037 appear to be rising in recent years. High fecundity and survival rates coupled with a decrease in antlerless harvest the last few years is likely driving the recent increase in deer populations. While antlered deer harvest in 2018 (4,097) was consistent to the ten-year average (4,193), antlerless harvest in 2018 (3,041) was down significantly from the ten-year average (3,849). Total hunter effort during the firearm season has dropped from 61,518 days in 2009 to 45,163 in 2018.

Hunting opportunities in DMU 037 are plentiful. The 2,300 acres of public land provide numerous opportunities for deer hunting and include ample hunter access. A casual deer hunter camp survey, on public land, has been conducted by DNR Wildlife Division staff the past three years and indicates that hunting pressure on these public lands may be decreasing. On the 368,980 acres of private land the opportunities for hunting deer are also abundant.

We recommend an early/late private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 037 based on the occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. An early season will allow farms with antlerless tags to target deer on their properties where damage has occurred. The late hunt will help target deer that are more likely to have moved to better cover where they may not be vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. It is recommended that the public land quota for DMU 037 remain at 100 antlerless tags as only 86% of the quota were sold in 2019. With DMU 037 being in the CWD surveillance area, unlimited antlerless tags should remain available for private lands. Hunters in DMU 037 should target a doe harvest of a higher number than the previous 10-year average (3,849) to achieve a population reduction. With chronic wasting disease present in an adjacent DMU and declining hunter effort, it will be imperative for hunters in the county to reverse the trend of increasing deer numbers in the coming years by significantly increasing antlerless deer harvest.


DMU 038

Area Description

The Jackson Deer Management Unit (DMU), or DMU 038, lies in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) region and covers Jackson County. The DMU consists of five percent public land. The majority of the public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available on Grass Lake (125 acres) and Sharonville (3,435 acres in DMU 038) State Game Areas and Waterloo State Recreation Area (21,400 acres in DMU 038).

The topography of DMU 038 has been shaped by erosion and deposition during glaciation. Topography varies from undulating to steep, rolling to undulating, and nearly level to rolling hills. Well-drained soils make up 60 percent of the DMU; just over 40 percent of the land is in agriculture, with corn, soybeans and wheat being the main cash crops.

The landscape supports a patchwork of cover types, with agriculture, forest, and wetland being most dominant. Urban development is concentrated in the City of Jackson, toward the center of the DMU; however, this is a populous county and development is ubiquitous throughout the DMU. There are six state highways, one interstate highway, and one U.S. highway that pass through DMU 038. This landscape configuration results in a strong interface between humans and the deer population. Although much of the private lands toward the outer edges of the DMU are in agriculture, private and public lands in the area support cover habitat for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland). Deer throughout the Jackson DMU have ample access to food, water, and cover and can meet all life requisites in every portion of the DMU.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) disease management; 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunities. With the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in a symptomatic adult doe in 2018, recommendations have focused on attempting to understand and mitigate the long-term impacts of the disease in Jackson County. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. To find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, spotlight surveys, habitat assessments, input from hunters and Conservation Officers, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The estimated deer population remains over goal; however, there has been declining trend for population growth over the last 5 years (2014-2018). Vehicle-deer accidents numbers have remained consistent over from 2014-2017 but, numbers increased above the 10-year average in 2018. Deer damage complaints and permits issued for the area have remained steady with relatively no increase or decrease in complaints or permits issued. It is recommended that antlerless licenses remain the same and are made available for public/private land and for early/late antlerless season on private land. This will provide opportunities for increased antlerless harvest and recreation. Continuing the late antlerless season may help to address some crop damage, car/deer crashes, nuisance issues and disease spread in the area, as well.

There is very limited public land (5%) in the Jackson DMU, so most the hunting opportunity is on private land. It is important that hunters have the ability and opportunity for recreation and management purposes. Based on this information, I recommend that the Public Land Quota remain at 1,600 and that the Private Land Quota to remain at 16,000. Also, we recommend that this DMU is open for Early and Late


DMU 040

Area Description

The Kalkaska County Deer Management Unit (DMU 040) has roughly 170,000 acres of State Forest Land which is about 47% of the total acreage in the county. Roughly 26,000 acres in the southeast part of the State Forest is Camp Grayling military lease land used for training. This area is open for public recreation. An additional 15,000 acres belongs to Camp Grayling and is open to public recreation unless otherwise posted by Camp Grayling. Topography varies from areas of steep slopes to rolling hills to areas that are relatively flat. The landscape consists of basically two large tracts of State-owned public land.

Most of the soils in the area are well drained and consist of sand, sand/gravel, or sandy loams, with occasional inclusions of clay or organic soils, primarily along rivers and creeks. These drier sandy soils tend to support mixes of pine, oak, aspen, and red maple. The northeast corner of the county has some concentrations of northern hardwoods along the Grayling Ice Contact Ridges. Potato farms and hay fields dominate the agricultural production on the private lands that extend from the southwest to the northeast of the county.

DMU 040 contains several large swamp complexes and numerous smaller ones that serve as deer yards during harsher winters. Several of the more notable ones include Mecum Swamp, Black Creek Swamp, Maham Swamp, and the Manistee River corridor. Riparian corridors also provide important travel routes for deer and other species. These yarding areas are distributed roughly 50/50 on public and private lands. Numerous pine stands provide thermal cover in upland areas as well.

The overall less fertile soils and harsher winters of Kalkaska, compared to counties closer to the Great Lakes, typically produces the greatest over-wintering bottleneck for deer populations within the Traverse City Forest Area.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU include crop damage and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 040 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone.

APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves 1) APRs, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

Recent population trends would indicate a stable to gradually increasing deer population. Probably due to repeated mild winters and a gradual but steady decline in hunters, or hunting effort. An increased deer population puts a strain on the resources available to deer, as evidenced by sustained agricultural damage complaints and observations of substantial deer browse to forest regeneration. Past efforts to increase doe harvest (i.e. an increased antlerless quota) have recently brought the doe harvest numbers closer to that of the buck harvest, so it appears to be beginning to have the desired effect. However, there is a need to maintain an increased antlerless quota to continue pushing the harvest toward an equalized doe and buck harvest, which is intended to move the population closer to a one-to-one doe to buck ratio.

Based on current trend analyses, we are recommending an increase to antlerless permits, specifically on public lands within this DMU. Creating additional hunting opportunities to harvest does specifically on public lands should help to mitigate loss of forest regeneration and to stabilize and eventually, slightly reduce the population, which is consistent with the APR management philosophy.

We also recommend an early private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 040 based on the increasing occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. The early hunt will help target deer that are likely causing damage, while they are still in or near their summer range. Also, in some cases during the fall hunting seasons and after crops are harvested deer may move off of these harvested ag lands and open fields to better cover where they may not be as vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. While hunting is the primary method of controlling deer populations and preventing deer damage, producers can enroll in several programs to address significant out-of-hunting-season deer damage.


DMU 041

Area Description

The Kent County Deer Management Unit is relatively large geographically (862 sq. mi.) and includes a variety of suitable habitats for deer. The NW quadrant of Kent County is dominated by large tracts of orchard land and the east side of the county contains a significant mixture of agriculture lands and small woodlots. Major stream floodplains (the Grand, Rogue, Thornapple, and Flat Rivers) are found throughout Kent County and provide additional wildlife habitat and travel corridors. The City of Grand Rapids and adjacent suburbs constitute the second largest metropolitan area in the state and dominate the SW quadrant of the county. Most of the available deer range (96%) is in private ownership, but the Rogue River, Cannonsburg, and parts of Lowell-Saranac State Game Areas provide a mixture of upland forest and wetland corridors for public land hunters.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) wildlife disease management (Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD); 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage and deer-vehicle collisions. Kent County consistently ranks near the top of the vehicle/deer accident report list due to the large population center of Grand Rapids. Urban deer population increases are also becoming significant deer management issues. Ample hunting opportunities exist but hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has likely remained relatively stable to slowly increasing in DMU 041 in the last several years. As a result of the discovery of CWD in free-ranging deer in NE Kent County, this DMU has been part of the Core Area of the CWD Management Zone. The primary population management factors have been unlimited private land antlerless license quotas and liberal buck harvest regulations. Recognition of the extent of CWD spread and management of this devasting deer disease is the primary deer management issue in this area. Currently, the deer population is still stable at relatively high numbers in parts of the Kent County DMU. It is recommended that private land antlerless quotas remain unlimited and the public land antlerless quota continue at 1,400. Early and late antlerless seasons are recommended to remain open.


DMU 042

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 042 is 798 sq. miles in size and is located in the Keweenaw Peninsula which is the northern most DMU in Michigan and remains a relatively unproductive northern fringe of deer range. This herd is extremely vulnerable to Lake Superior weather / winter severity and snow depths. This unit is 33% privately owned, 35% corporate forest industry, and 30% in public ownership (State or Federal). Land use and habitat quality for deer in DMU 042 range from lowland conifer to upland hardwoods. Agricultural influence is very limited and primarily only a factor near traditional rural communities.

Influenced by Lake Superior winter weather can be extremely difficult for deer in DMU 042. Snow fall averages 300 inches per year and sometimes exceeds 350 inches. Snow is typically on the ground in this DMU from early December through the end of April. Deer are obligated to migrate to deer wintering complexes in the winter.

Management Guidance

This unit is in a high snowfall zone and deer in this unit experience harsh winter conditions compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (UP). Many of the deer in this DMU receive supplemental food throughout the winter months. Despite this supplemental feeding, fawn recruitment and over-winter survival still tends to be low in this DMU compared to other DMU’s in the U.P.

Two main goals guiding deer management in DMU 042 are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) hunting opportunities.

A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. Few damage complaints are received, and there is little evidence of over-browsing outside of deer wintering complexes (DWC’s).

Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 042 consistently ranks as one of the lowest units for buck harvest per square mile in the UP. Over the last five years (2014-2018) DMU 042 has averaged 0.7 bucks harvested per square mile. This harvest rate is one of the lowest in the U.P. and signifies a relatively low deer herd compared to other areas of the UP. Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, deer management assistance permits, and crop damage) indicate that deer herd densities remain relatively low. Stakeholder input suggests limited support for an increasing antlerless harvest opportunity. In general, there is support for opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in DMU 042. Therefore, it is recommended that DMU 042 should remain closed to general antlerless hunting during the firearm season for the next regulation cycle.


DMU 043

Area Description

Lake County Deer Management Unit is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region. It has approximately 200,000 acres of public land which is about half of the total acreage in the county. State land comprises approximately 60,000 acres, or about 17% of the total land area, and is concentrated to the east of M-37 and north of US-10 East. State land is primarily forested, with a high component of oak, red pine, jack pine, white pine, and considerable aspen acreage. Over 200 acres of alfalfa and rye plantings are actively maintained on state forest land by DNR staff. The remainder of the land is in private ownership. Little agriculture exists in Lake County; however, there are some row crops, concentrated in the eastern portion of the county. The east border, and to a lesser extent the west border, of the county are characterized by irregular moraine topography with well drained sandy or sandy loam soils. Sandy, well drained outwash plains are interior, with pockets of poorly drained peat and muck. The latter soil types are where the Bear, Voss and Baldwin-Luther Swamps are found; all important historic winter deer yards. Major river corridors include the Pere Marquette, Little Manistee, and Pine which have steep, highly erodible banks.

Management Guidance

The desired population trend in the DMU is to continue with a relatively stable population. Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, in this DMU these include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor deer health due to over population. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 043 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place can be part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves intentionally letting some bucks reach older ages, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population, at least in high productivity areas, appears to be increasing in this DMU following Antler Point Restrictions in 2014. Antlerless license quota in this DMU was increased as a result of CWD being found to the south. Most of these additional antlerless licenses were assigned to private land as these lands typically hold the highest deer population density. Antlerless harvest in this DMU typically lags buck harvest and public land antlerless licenses have been more restrictive in Lake County than most areas of similar habitat types. To address the lack of antlerless hunting opportunity on public land in this DMU, as well as the ongoing gap between antlerless and buck harvest, an increase in public land licenses is recommended while private land licenses will remain at current levels.


DMU 044

Area Description

The Lapeer County Deer Management Unit lies in the Southeast Region. The topography is generally, gently rolling to quite hilly in some areas. This county has many inland lakes including Barnes lake, Lake Nepessing, Big Fish Lake, and even the Holloway Reservoir. This county still has a about half of the private land in agriculture. Crops include corn, soybeans, hay as well as orchards and tree nurseries. Much of the land is also forested and less than 4% is in urban which offers fantastic deer habitat, food, and cover. Approximately 40% of the county is suitable for deer range. Most of the county is in private ownership but Lapeer State Game areas (approximately 9,000 acres) provides ample public hunting opportunity. Aside from the public land, which is primarily forested, there is also suitable deer habitat scattered throughout the county offering habitats that provide food and cover, with travel corridors between them.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and damage to native species due to over-browsing. In this DMU most hunting takes place on private land which makes up 90% of the land base. Population numbers are difficult to control since hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes. Farmers may not complain about crop damage on good production years but will have little tolerance for deer when their crops are impacted by poor weather years.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has steadily increased in this DMU in the last ten years. The primary causes are the limited hunting opportunity due to lack of public hunting land, the declining number of hunters over the last 10 years, as well as the tradition of deer hunters going “north” to hunt. There also appears to be a shift over the last 5 years to harvest less antlerless deer, since the data shows a much sharper decline in antlerless harvest compared to the buck harvest. This may be an indication of hunters opting to take larger bucks as attitudes have shifted to want to harvest deer in the older age classes, which take more effort and may lead to hunters not spending their time in the woods hunting bucks and passing on does.The decline in antlerless harvest in addition to decreased hunter overall in turn is allowing the population to increase over time.

License quotas have always been liberal in this county and since 2013 have been undersubscribed on both public and private land. As this unit was formerly part of DMU 486, it is not possible to know the rate at which antlerless tags were filled from 2010-2012, but the trend since 2009 has been a steady decrease in the numbers of private land antlerless licenses that have been sold though not as drastically as in the more urban southeast Michigan counties most likely due the amount of agriculture in this county. This decline in license purchases seems to fall in line with the approximately 15%reduction in hunters for this area.

Deer-vehicle collisions in this county have remained fairly consistent over the last ten year. Though deer vehicle collisions are not a great indicator and can depend on many factors, they can still provide a trend indicator for deer numbers. Many of these collisions are most likely under-reported, since reports are usually only made if there is a damage claim, or the person wishes to consume the meat. Starting in 2014 roadkill salvage tags became available online without needed to contact the local police or conservation officer. It is unknown how much people comply with the permit when picking up roadkill.

Hunters impacts and goals can have a drastic impact on harvest numbers. A large-scale shift in hunters’ decisions to target older deer and pass on younger bucks can result in reduced buck harvest numbers. In addition, there appears to show a drop in antlerless harvest which may indicate that hunters are choosing to take less antlerless deer, spend their time targeting older bucks, or spending less time hunting in general. Overall this county is showing less hunter effort across all seasons which would indicate a decrease in hunting overall which has shown to be a national trend.

Deer density in this county remains high and hunting opportunity is limited do to lack of access to public hunting land. The deer population is still above the desired level across the DMU therefore the antlerless quota should remain the same to allow landowners the flexibility to control deer on their property. It is also recommended that this DMU remain open for early and late antlerless seasons, to allows landowners more flexibility on harvest opportunities.


DMU 045

Area Description

The Leelanau County Deer Management Unit (DMU 045) has roughly 7,100 acres of State Forest Land which is about 3% of the total acreage in the county. Topography is predominately rolling hills with many small wetlands between hills and a small component of glacial till plains scattered about.

Most of the soils in the area are well drained and consist of sand mixes with occasional inclusions of clay or organic soils. The soils in this DMU typically supported northern hardwoods on the upland sites. Orchards dominate the agricultural scene in this DMU. Leelanau County is Michigan’s leading producer of cherries.

The Solon Swamp in central Leelanau County is the unit’s most significant winter yarding complex. Other traditional winter yarding areas occur along various riparian corridors including Bodus Creek, Shalda Creek, Leo Creek, and Houdek Creek. Riparian corridors also provide important travel routes for deer and other species. Many small wetland conifer stands can be found in between the rolling hills.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is headquartered in Empire, MI, and comprises almost half of the western shore of the Leelanau Peninsula. Leelanau County (DMU 045) has had Antler Point Restrictions (APR) in place since 2003. A second survey was conducted in the DMU after 5 years and the results showed enough support for the APR to keep them in place. Leelanau County deer population is somewhat isolated from other counties/DMUs because it is a peninsula.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 028 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves 1) APRs,

2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

Recent population trends would indicate a gradually increasing deer population. Probably due to repeated mild winters, a gradual but steady decline in hunters, or hunting effort, and minimal public land with some difficult access. An increased deer population puts a strain on the resources available to deer, as evidenced by increased agricultural damage complaints and observations of substantial deer browse to forest regeneration. Past efforts to increase doe harvest (i.e. an increased antlerless quota) have brought the doe harvest numbers close to that of the buck harvest, so it appears to be having the desired effect. However, there is a need to maintain an increased antlerless quota to continue pushing the harvest toward an equalized doe and buck harvest, which is intended to move the population closer to a one-to-one doe to buck ratio.

Based on current trend analyses, we are recommending an increase to antlerless permits, specifically on public lands within this DMU. Creating additional hunting opportunities to harvest does specifically on public lands should help to mitigate loss of forest regeneration and to stabilize and eventually, slightly reduce the population, which is consistent with the APR management philosophy. Reducing the population will help with reducing deer-vehicle collisions.

We also recommend an early private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 010 based on the increasing occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. The early hunt will help target deer that are likely causing damage, while they are still in or near their summer range. Also, in some cases during the fall hunting seasons and after crops are harvested deer may move off of these harvested ag lands and open fields to better cover where they may not be as vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. While hunting is the primary method of controlling deer populations and preventing deer damage, producers can enroll in several programs to address significant out-of-hunting-season deer damage.


DMU 046

Area Description

The Lenawee Deer Management Unit (DMU), or DMU 046, lies in the Southeastern Lower Peninsula (SLP) region and covers Lenawee County. The majority of public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available on Onsted State Game Area (700 acres) and Lake Hudson State Recreation Area (2,800 acres). The topography of the Lenawee DMU has been shaped by erosion and deposition during glaciation; and, ranges from nearly flat in the eastern and southeastern portions of the county to heavily rolling in the northwestern portion. The soils in the Lenawee DMU are well suited for agriculture. The soils in the southern and eastern portions of the DMU are rich and poorly drained (as evidenced by the ubiquitous ditches and tiles in the area); soils in the rest of the DMU are generally well drained. Approximately 70 percent of the land is in agriculture, with row crops (corn, soybeans, and wheat) being the main ag commodities. The landscape largely supports agriculture, the most dominant cover type in the DMU, followed by forest, then by developed areas. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately-owned lands. Aside from public lands which are predominantly forested and wetland/water, habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland) is isolated and exists in small patches.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer overabundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. In an effort to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, habitat assessments, input from hunters and Conservation Officers, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The estimated deer population has generally held steady over the last 18 years. Trends for this county indicate that buck harvest has been relatively level since 2013. Deer damage complaints and permits issued for the area have also been fairly level. Continuing the late antlerless season may help to address some crop damage, car/deer crashes and nuisance issues in the area. There is very limited public land

(1%) in this county so most the hunting opportunity is on private land. Based on the above information, we recommend that the Public Land Quota remain at 400 and that the Private Land Antlerless Quota remain at 7,500. We also recommend that this DMU is open for Early and Late Antlerless Firearm seasons.


DMU 047

Area Description

The Livingston County Deer Management Unit lies in the Southeast Region. This county has a fragmented landscape that varies from urban, to forest and agriculture. Agriculture makes up approximately 1/3 of the landscape and the topography varies from rolling hills to scattered small lakes. Approximately 40% of the county is suitable for deer range. Most of the county (90%) is in private ownership but public hunting opportunities are available at Gregory and Oak Grove State Game areas. Aside from the public land, which is primarily forested, there is also suitable deer habitat scattered throughout the county offering habitats that provide food and cover, with travel corridors between them.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and damage to native species due to over-browsing. In this DMU most hunting takes place on private land which makes up 90% of the land base. Population numbers are difficult to control since hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes. Farmers may not complain about crop damage on good production years but will have little tolerance for deer when their crops are impacted by poor weather years.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has likely increased slightly in this DMU in the last several years. The primary causes are the limited hunting opportunity due to lack of public hunting land, the declining number of hunters over the last 10 years, as well as the tradition of deer hunters going “north” to hunt. The decline in antlerless harvest in turn is allowing the population to increase over time.

License quotas have always been liberal in this county and since 2013 have been undersubscribed. As this unit was formerly part of DMU 486, it is not possible to know the rate at which antlerless tags were filled from 2010-2012, but the trend since 2009 has been a steady decrease in the numbers of private land antlerless licenses that have been sold (approximately 30% decline). This decline in license purchases seems to fall in line with the approximately 20% reduction in hunters for this area.

Deer-vehicle collisions in this county have shown some increase over the last couple years. Though deer vehicle collisions are not a great indicator and can depend on many factors, they can still provide a trend indicator for deer numbers. Many of these collisions are most likely under-reported, since reports are usually only made if there is a damage claim, or the person wishes to consume the meat. Starting in 2014 roadkill salvage tags became available online without needed to contact the local police or conservation officer. It is unknown how much people comply with the permit when picking up roadkill.

Hunters impacts and goals can have a drastic impact on harvest numbers. A large-scale shift in hunters’ decisions to target older deer and pass on younger bucks can result in reduced buck harvest numbers. In addition, a drop in buck harvest may indicate a shift in targeting antlerless deer especially by farmers. Overall this county is showing less hunter effort across all seasons which would indicate a decrease in hunting overall which has shown to be a national trend.

Deer density in this county remains high and hunting opportunity is limited do to lack of access to public hunting land. The deer population is still above the desired level across the DMU therefore the antlerless quota should remain the same to allow landowners the flexibility to control deer on their property. It is also recommended that this DMU remain open for early and late antlerless seasons, to allows landowners more flexibility on harvest opportunities.


DMU 048

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 048 is the largest DMU in the eastern Upper Peninsula (U.P.) and encompasses 2,023 square miles of land. Approximately 53% of the land is publicly owned (state and federal) while 47% is privately owned. Lying between Munising and Brimley, this unit is bounded on the south primarily by state highway M-28 and on the north by Lake Superior. Major land uses within DMU 048 are forest production and outdoor recreation. Hunting camps are common and scattered throughout the entire DMU. Much of the DMU is predominated by sandy soils that support less productive pine types and poor-quality grass openings, resulting in generally poor to fair summer habitat quality. Additionally, DMU 048 is located entirely in the high snowfall zone where deer are considered obligate migrators due to substantial snow depths received annually. Winter is a limiting factor for the deer herd, and deer travel vast distances to deer wintering complexes (DWC’s) predominately on the southern edge of the DMU, or outside of the DMU where conifer cover provides some protection from wintering conditions.

Management Guidance

The goals for this DMU are to grow the deer herd in a healthy and sustainable way and provide hunting opportunities.

Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting deer abundance in the high and moderate snowfall zones of the Upper Peninsula. In 2015, antlerless harvest during archery season was suspended across the region following 3 consecutive severe winters and decreasing population indices. Buck harvest and other population indices (buck to doe ratio, fawn to doe ratio, daily sighting rates) have since increased to near average levels for the DMU. Due to the need to expend considerable energy during extensive migration events, followed by poor habitat conditions, deer in this unit likely have reduced ability to successfully reproduce compared to many other DMU’s in the region.

With almost no agriculture in the DMU, no damage complaints have been received for this DMU, and there is minimal evidence of over-browsing occurring outside of DWC’s that impacts tree regeneration. Both deer densities and hunting success rates are historically below-average in DMU 048 as compared to the rest of the region. Because of this, antlerless permits have not been issued for DMU 048 for at least 20 years. While population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size, hunters express a united desire to increase deer numbers and are predominately strongly opposed to antlerless harvest of any kind in the DMU.

Deer Management Recommendations

Like the region, this DMU has followed similar trends with declining buck harvest and hunter success following severe winters of 2013, 2014 and 2015. Deer sighting rates, hunter success and bucks killed per square mile have been on an overall increasing trend since the lows of 2015. Average buck hunter success from 2016-2018 (26%) is comparable to the highs of 2006-2008 (23%) and daily deer sighting rates are currently higher (2.4 deer seen per day) than the long-term average (1.9 deer seen per day) for the DMU. However, the rates for this DMU were below average for the U.P. and well below the rates of DMU’s open to antlerless harvest in the region. The average buck kill per square mile from 2016-2018 (0.6) was substantially below that for DMU’s open to antlerless harvest in the region (range 2.1 -5.4) and was the second lowest of all DMU’s across the region.

Furthermore, winter conditions in the eastern Upper Peninsula appear to be above average for the last two years. The early deep snows and delayed snow melt of 2020 are likely to hinder continued deer population recovery. Although there is some interest in limited antlerless harvest, the majority of feedback from hunters has been strongly opposed to antlerless harvest in the DMU. It is recommended that this DMU remain closed to antlerless harvest quotas at this time. The impacts of antlerless harvest during archery season can be evaluated in future years and any agricultural damage issues that may arise can be addressed with damage permits.


DMU 050

Area Description

The Macomb Deer Management Unit (DMU) lies in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) region and covers all of Macomb County. The majority of public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available on private lands. Topography is relatively flat with soils that are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of residential and commercial development and agriculture on privately-owned lands, which constitute >98% of the DMU. Aside from public lands which are predominantly forested, habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland) is isolated and exists in small patches

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. In an effort to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, staff observations, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has likely remained stable in this DMU in the last decade and the deer density remains high relative to other regions of the state. In fact, density is likely high enough to continually require the issuance Deer Damage Permits throughout much of the unit, as harvest through the general hunting seasons is inadequate to relieve damage complaints. Hunting opportunities for people who have access to private lands remain robust due to the continued high deer density and limited public lands in this DMU. Hunters do seem willing to harvest antlerless deer at a rate similar to antlered bucks. Antlerless tags are available to accommodate hunters and continue the somewhat equal harvest of bucks and does in an attempt to maintain high quality buck to do ratio and maximize hunting opportunity.


DMU 051

Area Description

The Manistee County Deer Management Unit (DMU 051) has roughly 20,000 acres of State Forest Land which is about six percent of the total acreage in the county. DMU 051 is the only DMU in the Traverse City Forest Area that contains US Forest Service land, totaling about 34,000 acres or about 10% of the DMU. Topography is relatively flat to gently rolling hills with some more pronounced hills in the southern portion of the DMU. The ownership consists of a block of State land in the north central portion of the DMU and Federal land along the southern and eastern most townships.

Soils in the area consist of sandy moraine ridges, well drained sandy outwash plains, and poorly drained mucky lake plains. These drier sandy soils tend to support mixes of pine, oak, aspen, and red maple in the north and oak dominated forest types to the south. Field crop agriculture can be found on private lands in the central portion of the county. Orchards become prevalent closer to the lakeshore.

In general, this DMU lacks any large swamp conifer complexes, although it is not lacking in wetlands in general. Most of Manistee’s wetland complexes are dominated by deciduous species that contain pockets of lowland conifers. However, being a Great Lakes shoreline county and the southernmost county in the Traverse City Forest Area tends to lessen the severity of winters here. Traditional deer wintering areas occur along the Dutchman, Lemon, Big Bear Creeks drainage area, the Manistee River corridor, and the Little Manistee River corridor. Numerous pine stands provide thermal cover in upland areas as well.

The Manistee River State Game Area (SGA) is located along the Manistee River just upstream of Manistee Lake and the City of Manistee. This SGA encompasses over 4,000 acres. Deer hunting is popular at the game area, which is predominately floodplain forest with only a minor component of lowland conifers.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting

experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 051 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves 1) APRs, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

Recent population trends would indicate a gradually increasing deer population. Probably due to repeated mild winters and a gradual but steady decline in hunters, or hunting effort. An increased deer population puts a strain on the resources available to deer, as evidenced by increased agricultural damage complaints and observations of substantial deer browse to forest regeneration. Past efforts to increase doe harvest (i.e. an increased antlerless quota) have brought the doe harvest numbers closer to that of the buck harvest, so it appears to be having the desired effect. However, there is still room for improvement in equalizing the doe and buck harvest, which is intended to move the population closer to a one-to-one doe to buck ratio.

Based on current trend analyses, we are recommending an increase to antlerless permits, specifically on public lands within this DMU. Creating additional hunting opportunities to harvest does specifically on public lands should help to mitigate loss of forest regeneration and to stabilize and eventually, slightly reduce the population, which is consistent with the APR management philosophy. Reducing the population will help with reducing deer-vehicle collisions.

We also recommend an early private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 010 based on the increasing occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. The early hunt will help target deer that are likely causing damage, while they are still in or near their summer range. Also, in some cases during the fall hunting seasons and after crops are harvested deer may move off of these harvested ag lands and open fields to better cover where they may not be as vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. While hunting is the primary method of controlling deer populations and preventing deer damage, producers can enroll in several programs to address significant out-of-hunting-season deer damage.


DMU 053

Area Description

The Mason County Deer Management Unit is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region. Only 17% of the land base is public land, most of which is federal. State land consists of Ludington State Park, Pere Marquette State Game Area, and other small parcels managed by the Parks and Recreation Division for river access. U.S. Forest Service land is primarily concentrated on broad expanses of glacial outwash plains in the eastern part of the county and on lake plain to the northwest. Cover types consist primarily of upland oak and pine, some aspen, and lowland deciduous and conifer inclusions in areas along outwash channels. Agriculture is a major component of Mason County. Farmland consists of row crops, orchards, and specialty crops including carrots, squash, pumpkins, and asparagus. Farming is concentrated on the fine textured glacial till plains and flat end moraine ridges in the central and western portions of the county. Orchards are found on the moraine ridges along the lakeshore. Topography varies; most of the county consists of flat outwash plains or flat moraine ridges, though some end moraines provide steeper relief. River systems include the Big Sable, Lincoln, and Pere Marquette. These river corridors provide important lowland cover and migration routes for deer and other species.

Management Guidance

The desired population trend in the DMU is a slight reduction paired with an increase in annual harvest. Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, in this DMU these include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor deer health due to over population. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 053 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place can be part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves intentionally letting some bucks reach older ages, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population appears to have increased over the past five years as a result of a series of mild winters and a steady reduction in hunter numbers. An increased deer population puts a strain on the resources available to deer, as evidenced by increased agricultural damage complaints and observations of substantial deer browse to forest regeneration. Deer-vehicle accidents have also increased over this time period which is a good index of deer population. Past efforts to increase doe harvest (i.e. an increased antlerless quota) have brought the doe harvest numbers closer to that of the buck harvest and in some years resulted in a generally equal harvest ratio.

An increase in antlerless licenses is recommended to provide enough to address an increasing deer population and maintain balanced sex ratios. The goal is to provide a slight reduction in the population followed by stabilization at a new, slightly lower level where there is abundant natural nutrition for the deer population, and agricultural damage and deer-vehicle accidents are reduced. The increase in licenses is on private land to place additional harvest where productivity is high, and problems are most likely to arise. As hunter numbers continue to decline in this DMU additional antlerless harvest opportunities will likely be needed to keep up with the deer population.


DMU 054

Area Description

Mecosta County spans the ecological transition zone with the north portion of the county characterized by mesic pine, maple, oak forests on outwash moraines dominated by loamy sand soils. The southern portion of the county is characterized by a mix of sandy hills of mixed hardwoods, loamy fertile fields, and tiled lowlands converted to farming. Cover is provided in scattered woodlots and along abundant riparian corridors. Good deer habitat abounds with a mix of cover, farmland and rural community development across the entire county. M-20 divides the county east to west, and anecdotally, deer numbers are somewhat higher south of M 20 compared to north of M 20. 96% of the county is private land, while the 4% of public land includes two state game areas and a few parcels of U.S. Forest Service lands in the southwest portion of the county. Deer hunting is an important part of the social fabric of Mecosta County, with multiple organized deer co-ops present and engaged with DNR WLD.

Management Guidance

Three main goals that flow from the Wildlife Division Deer Plan include: 1) managing the deer herd to be in balance with the habitat to support them 2) Deer disease and herd health, and 3) hunting opportunities. Goal 1. includes reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Goal 2. is largely associated with managing chronic wasting disease (CWD). No wild deer have been detected in the county, but one deer from one captive farm in the county has been CWD positive, and immediately adjacent to the south of Mecosta is Montcalm County, which does have a widespread presence of CWD in wild deer. Hunting opportunities are in abundance on private land and public land, with liberal permits available for antlerless deer.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has likely remained steady or slightly increased in the last five years. A series of wild winters has resulted in excellent fawn recruitment over that time. Liberalizing antlerless quotas has helped somewhat to increase harvest, however, even in the face of CWD concern, it is a challenge to encourage hunters to take more antlerless deer. It appears that fewer 1.5 year old bucks are being harvested during the last five years. Crop damage remains a concern; and due to disease issues; recent years have seen incentives such as Disease control permits used to increase harvest. The county is opento early and later antlerless seasons. The decline of hunter numbers is likely affecting the ability of remaining hunters to harvest enough does to keep the population in check.

Given the likely continuance of mild winters and a slightly higher than desired overall population, I recommend a private land antlerless quota of 8,000, which will ensure that all hunters will be able to get a permit, i.e. basically unlimited. The existing quota of 400 public land is recommended, give the small amount of public land in the county. I recommend keeping the early and late antlerless seasons. There are pockets in the county where deer number are less abundant than average, however, overall, there are other areas (agricultural zones) with too many deer. Keeping the harvest up in face of declining hunter numbers seems to be the biggest challenge on the horizon.


DMU 055

Area Description

The Menominee County Deer Management Unit is 917 sq. miles and has a variety of suitable habitats for deer. It has roughly 159 sq. miles (17%) of State Forest land, and eighty three percent of the unit is privately owned. The presence of oak (acorn) provides quality habitat for deer within state forest lands along the western boundary of the unit. The interspersion of farm fields and forest cover throughout the unit provides excellent food and cover for deer. A portion of this unit is included in the Chronic Wasting Disease Core Surveillance Area.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. Agricultural crop damage is a significant deer management issue in this unit due to the large number of farming operations present and the sizeable deer population. Forestry professionals consistently express concerns over tree regeneration. Ample hunting opportunities are provided because hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

Over the past 5 years the buck hunter success rates, deer sighting rates, and buck kill per square mile indicate a relatively stable population. The long-term average kill of 5.2 bucks per sq. mile signifies a sizeable deer population, following above average snow-depth winters and during lower deer numbers it fell just below 5.0 bucks killed per sq. mile. Camp cooperators in DMU 055 have regularly reported observing 3-4 deer per day and observed a 20 year high of 6.0 deer seen per hunter day during the 2017 season. Buck hunter success rates typically range from 30-40%, and 2 of the past 3 years have been over 40%.

Current data indicates the deer population in DMU 055 is stable. For the regulation cycle 2020-2022 it is recommended that private land antlerless quotas be set at 7,000 with the public land antlerless quota set at 1,200, providing a tool to address agricultural crop damage and forest regeneration concerns and to afford hunter opportunity on state forest lands. Antlerless harvest provides additional means to monitor wildlife health, specifically to collect samples for chronic wasting disease.


DMU 056

Area Description

The Midland County Deer Management Unit (DMU) 056 is in the Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP) Region. It has roughly 333,440 acres and consists of large portions of forested tracts. Crop land, pasture and idle grasslands make up over 50% of the land cover. About 12% of the land use is urban. Topography is relatively flat interrupted by river corridors. Soils consist mainly of sandy types that are well drained. The landscape consists of large blocks of state land that dominate the central and western portions of the County. These large blocks of State land are dominated by forest types and provide excellent habitat for deer. The private land consists of large blocks of agricultural land adjacent to forested habitat. The real estate market for recreational hunting properties is very active and demonstrates the importance of the area for deer hunting.

DMU 056 is situated in the Gladwin Forest Management Unit. Forest cover is predominantly shade intolerant trees comprised mostly of aspen, oak and mixed upland deciduous. Early successional forests are common west of M-30. These forests, by design, have been managed for wildlife with a focus on deer and upland game birds.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance and in this DMU it includes crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. When one or more of these effects are present, it is appropriate for management direction to reflect efforts to reduce local deer abundance. Specifically, the discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in nearby Gratiot County is of utmost concern and high deer densities can promote the spread of the disease in the local population and into surrounding areas.

Ample hunting opportunities are provided for hunters to harvest an adequate number of antlerless deer where overabundance is causing conflicts, particularly on private lands. This also gives private landowners the ability to manage the deer herd on a local scale. Effort has been made to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Those data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health is monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance. Engagement with the public via public meetings, surveys, electronic communication and face-to-face interaction is an important part of deer management and the regulations establishment process.

The City of Midland has been challenged with an urban deer problem the past 5 years. Damage to vegetation at City Parks and private residences as well as high numbers of car/deer crashes within the city limits require that action be taken. Deer numbers have been reduced through archery deer hunting within the city limits. Deer Damage Shooting Permits are used at DOW Gardens where deer are trapped and then euthanized. Each year these deer numbers reduction operations have been successful in lowering deer numbers within the Midland city limits.

Deer Management Recommendations

After remaining relatively stable over the last decade, deer populations in DMU 056 appear to be rising in recent years. High fecundity and survival rates coupled with a decrease in antlerless harvest the last few years is likely driving the recent increase in deer populations. While antlered deer harvest in 2018 (3328) was consistent to the ten-year average (3222), antlerless harvest in 2018 (2589) was down significantly from the ten-year average (3030). Total hunter effort during the firearm season has declined considerably from 58,394 days in 2009 to 39,866 days in 2018.

Hunting opportunities in DMU 056 are plentiful. With over 42,000 acres of public land there are numerous opportunities for deer hunting and include ample hunter access. A casual deer hunter camp survey, on public land, has been conducted by DNR Wildlife Division staff the past three years and indicates that hunting pressure on these public lands may be decreasing. On the over 290,000 acres of private land the opportunities for hunting deer are also abundant.

We recommend an early/late private land antlerless firearm season for DMU 056 based on the occurrence of deer damage to agricultural crops. An early season will allow farms with antlerless tags to target deer on their properties where damage has occurred. The late hunt will help target deer that are more likely to have moved to better cover where they may not be vulnerable during regular hunting seasons. It is recommended that the public land quota for DMU 056 remain at 1500 antlerless tags as only 88% of the quota were sold in 2019. With DMU 056 being in the CWD surveillance area, unlimited antlerless tags are recommended for private lands. Hunters in DMU 056 should target a doe harvest of a higher number than the previous 10-year average (3,030) to achieve a population reduction. With chronic wasting disease present in the DMU and declining hunter effort, it will be imperative for hunters in the county to reverse the trend of increasing deer numbers in the coming years by significantly increasing antlerless deer harvest.


DMU 057

Area Description

Missaukee County Deer Management Unit is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region. It has over 100,000 acres of state land, just over a third of the county, mostly found to the north of M-55 and along the eastern border. Cover types on state land include northern hardwoods, oak, aspen, and lowland conifers. Generally state land is found along the outwash plains, but the county is a mosaic of these outwash plains, moraines, and small ice contact ridges. Soils range from excessively well drained sands and loamy sands on moraine ridges to poorly drained peat and muck on the outwash plains. The northeast corner of the county is the location of the Deadstream Swamp consisting of over 11,000 acres of primarily lowland conifer including a high percentage of northern white cedar. This is the largest historical deer yarding area in the northern Lower Peninsula. The Muskegon River headwaters are associated with the Deadstream Swamp, and as the river winds its way to the south along the eastern border of the county, the riparian floodplain gives rise to conifer and deciduous swamps, shrub thickets, and cattail marshes. There is no federal land in the county; the remainder of land is in private ownership. Agriculture is common in Missaukee County, and while it can be found throughout, it is mainly concentrated to the south of M-55. Livestock makes up a high percentage of farm revenue, and large dairy farms on the southern border of the county farm row crops for silage.

Management Guidance

The desired population trend in the DMU is a stabilization paired with an increase in annual harvest. Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, in this DMU these include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor deer health due to over population. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 057 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place are part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves intentionally letting some bucks reach older ages, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population appears to have increased over the past five years as a result of a series of mild winters and a steady reduction in hunter numbers. An increased deer population puts a strain on the resources available to deer, as evidenced by increased agricultural damage complaints and observations of substantial deer browse to forest regeneration. Deer-vehicle accidents have also increased over this time period which is a good index of deer population. Past efforts to increase doe harvest (i.e. an increased antlerless quota) have brought the doe harvest numbers closer to that of the buck harvest but still lags a growing buck harvest.

An increase in antlerless licenses is recommended to provide enough to address an increasing deer population and maintain balanced sex ratios. The goal is to provide a slight reduction in the population followed by stabilization at a new, slightly lower level where there is abundant natural nutrition for the deer population, and agricultural damage and deer-vehicle accidents are reduced. The increase in licenses is on focused on private land to place most of the additional harvest where productivity is high, and problems are most likely to arise, while also providing additional opportunity for hunters on state land. This DMU is recommended to be included in the Early and Late Antlerless seasons to facilitate additional harvest and provide simplicity in regulations across the region.


DMU 058

Area Description

The Monroe County Deer Management Unit (DMU 058) lies in the Southeast Region and boarders Ohio to the South and Lake Erie to the East. The majority of public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available on the East side of the county in the Lake Erie coastal zone. (8,786 acres). These game areas are predominantly wetlands but they do have upland deer hunting opportunities. Topography for the DMU is relatively flat with soils that are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately-owned lands. Aside from public lands which are predominantly wetland; habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland) is isolated and exists in small patches.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) increasing the overall population; and 2) hunting opportunities. The deer herd population in 058 is still below the population goal that was established in 1999. Compared to other counties and DMU’s there is not much in the way of social issues (e.g. crop damage requests, DMAP requests, or increases in car deer collisions). In an effort to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

Monroe County is mostly agricultural land. We would like to continue to increase deer numbers in DMU 058. Antlerless deer quotas are recommended to remain the same in DMU 058. We had 2 crop damage complaints in 2018 and 1 in 2019 in this DMU. The deer population has likely slightly increased in this DMU in the last five years. Deer trends remain below goal, especially relative to other DMU’s in the Southern Lower Peninsula. DMAPs and Deer Damage Permits are basically a non-issue, as harvest through the general hunting seasons is adequate to relieve damage complaints. Hunting opportunities are widespread across the county; the DMU receives high pressure from hunters with adequate cover being the main limiting factor for the deer herd. Based on all of the above information, we recommend that the Private Land Antlerless Quota remain at 1,000 and we recommend that the Public Land Antlerless Quota remain at 100 I recommend that the DMU be open to early antlerless and late antlerless on private land only.


DMU 059

Area Description

The Montcalm County Deer Management Unit has a variety of suitable habitats for deer. The majority of the forest cover is likely in mid to late succession. The limited early and mid-succession habitats available do generate food and cover resources and likely all fall within State Land. Agriculture constitutes for about 65% of the composition throughout the DMU with woodlots and water systems spread throughout. Soils in the area vary but are majority loamy sand with varying sand mixes and muck. These drier sandy soils tend to support mixes of oak, pines and red maple. It has roughly 23,850 acres of State Game Area (SGA) Land which is about 5% of the total acreage in the county. The five SGAs also have small wetland complexes that are dominated by marsh species, but some contain pockets of lowland conifers and varying shrub species.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) disease management; 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunity. Disease management refers to utilizing the best-known tactics such as population reduction using regulations to limit the spread of disease to protect the surrounding counties not already affected from CWD contamination. Montcalm County has the highest concentration of positive CWD deer in the State of Michigan. It is important to do all we can to slow down and contain the spread of CWD. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as disease affecting herd health, crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Ample hunting opportunities are provided because hunters typically self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer due to a variety of factors. These reasons include but are not limited to the perception of too few deer, not enough time to hunt and the current regulations are too complex to hunt. Success and harvest rates are likely thereby suppressed not by low deer numbers but by hunter decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population remains high in this DMU. Although liberal antlerless license quotas are designed to allow for higher antlerless deer harvests, concerns about wildlife disease outbreaks in the area have changed hunter perceptions on the herd numbers and affected hunter efforts to kill antlerless deer. There has been a 30% loss in the total number of hunters within the DMU since 2008. As this unit was formerly part of DMUs 329, 354, 359 and 486 it is not possible to know the rate at which antlerless tags were filled from 2010-2017. Going back to 2009, the last year within this cycle that Montcalm County was an individual unit without CWD regulations, 1,500 antlerless permits were available for public land and 19,000 were available for private land. In 2017 Montcalm was added to the CWD Management zone (DMU 359 & 354) where the public land quotas varied from previously set regulations. In 2018 Montcalm shifted back to being on its own again and had 1,600 tags for public land available while there were 40,000 tags available for private land. Currently, the deer population is higher than the desired level across the DMU. It is recommended that the antlerless quota should remain at 40,000 deer on private lands. The public land quota should remain at 1,600 licenses to achieve appropriate antlerless harvest on public lands in this unit. Early and late antlerless seasons should remain open within this DMU.


DMU 061

Area Description

The Muskegon County Deer Management Unit includes a variety of diverse habitat types. The south central and SE part of the county has a large agricultural component (row crop, orchard, and blueberries) mixed with small woodlots. The northern tier of Muskegon County is completely different with large tracts of boy scout and other seasonal camps as well as 14,000 acres of Manistee National Forest (oak dominant). Urban centers like the City of Muskegon and the Whitehall/Montague area in NW Muskegon County are experiencing population growth, especially along the Lake Michigan lakeshore. The main landscape feature in the county is the Muskegon River floodplain which divides the county into northern and southern halves. The wetland complexes and upland wildlife habitat along the river provide a major travel corridor for local and migrant wildlife. A large part of the corridor includes approximately 11,000 acres of the Muskegon State Game Area (MSGA). Even with the public land base, 88% of the deer range in the county is privately owned.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management; 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunities. At this point, CWD has not been found in the Muskegon County deer herd. However, Muskegon County is part of the CWD Management Zone and concerns continue because of the common boundary with Kent County (where CWD has been established). Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. The public land base provides ample hunting opportunities, but private land hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population in this DMU is relatively low but has likely increased slightly in the last several years. Unlimited private land antlerless license quotas have slowed the rate of population growth, consistent with the overriding CWD concerns. Currently, the deer population is still at low levels in parts of DMU 061, but the unlimited private land antlerless permits should continue as part of the effort to recognize and mitigate the spread of this devastating disease. It is recommended to maintain the public land antlerless quota at 800 permits. Both Early and Late antlerless seasons should remain open.


DMU 062

Area Description

Newaygo County spans the ecological transition zone with the north portion of the county characterized by mesic forest of mixed pine and oak on generally infertile soils, but with some and beech maple forests on better soils. There are a few pockets of farmland on better soils in the northern portion of the county. Approximately 71 % of the county is private land, with 29% public land. Public land included both Manistee National forest (in north and central portion of the county) and state game area in Bridgeton Township, in the southern portion of the county. Deer numbers tend to be less on average in the norther portion of the county. However, deer concentrate on living near the farmlands, so even though the deer population may be at a good density overall, farmers have crop damage because deer live near the best forage. The southern portion of the county is characterized by a mix of loamy fertile fields, rolling hills of oak and maple on sandier soils, and other hardwoods interspersed with riparian corridors: including the Muskegon River. Historically, deer densities and crop damage complaints were much more common in the south half of the county; due to more abundant agriculture, more private land, and milder winters compared the north portion of the county. In the last decade or so, this delineation is not so sharp, and with the decline of harsh winters that may affect reproduction; deer numbers are even enough across the county to manage Newaygo County as one DMU. Deer hunting is an important part of the social fabric of Newaygo County, with multiple organized deer co-ops present and engaged with Wildlife Division.

Management and Guidance

Three main goals that flow from the Wildlife Division Deer Plan include: 1) managing the deer herd to be in balance with the habitat to support them 2) Deer disease and herd health, and 3) hunting opportunities. Goal 1. includes reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Goal 2. Is largely associated with managing chronic wasting disease (CWD). No wild deer have been detected in the county, but deer from one captive farm in the county has been positive for CWD, and immediately adjacent to the south of Newaygo is Montcalm County, which does have a widespread presence of CWD in wild deer. Hunting opportunities are in abundance on private land and public land, with liberal permits for antlerless deer.

This will be the first recommendation for deer quotas in Newaygo as a “stand alone” DMU in many years. Since about 2009 Newaygo has been lumped with other counties to create larger management units. i.e. Unit 486, and more lately Unit 361. Newaygo was then added to the CWD core area in 2018, which opened the entire county to basically unlimited antlerless hunting in 2018 and 2019. Antlerless harvest and buck harvest were slightly up in 2018, compared to 2017.

Deer Management Recommendations

It appears that in recent years the overall deer population has been steady or slightly increasing. The population is robust even with an apparent boost in antlerless harvest since 2016. Car deer accidents have steadily risen the past several years. Despite issuing abundant crop damage permits, both DMAPs and out of season tags during the last 10 years, the level of crop damage has remained fairly consistent to date.

Harvest has been liberalized in recent years by issuance of abundant antlerless tags, crop damage tags and encouraging harvest for CWD surveillance. We have also opened Newaygo to the early and late antlerless seasons as well in the past few years. A series of mild winters has resulted in excellent fawn recruitment over the last five years. it is a challenge to encourage hunters to take more antlerless deer. However, despite fewer hunters on the landscape, Newaygo County hunters appear to be close to harvesting adequate numbers of deer to keep the population somewhat steady. Crop damage remains a concern on private lands. I recommend we maintain the 2009 recommendation of 1 000 public land antlerless tags; and 8,000 private land tags; which should exceed demand. I recommend keeping the early and late antlerless seasons.


DMU 063

Area Description

The Oakland County Deer Management Unit is highly urbanized with only approximately 1/3 of the 888 square miles having suitable deer habitat. Even with the amount of development there are early and mid-successional habitats that generate food and cover resources and deer have easily adapted to these areas. Agriculture constitutes less than 15% of the private land composition throughout the DMU and approximately 40% of the entire county is closed to hunting. The forested areas consist of mixed oak hardwoods and the county has a wide variety of lakes and wetlands that make up approximately 11% of the land base. This county has 6 state recreation areas, 3 state parks, 2 mini game areas that are all open to hunting. It also has 2 Huron Clinton Metroparks which offer limited hunting opportunity.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and damage to native species due to over-browsing are examples. Most hunting takes place on private land since only approximately 7% of the land is in public ownership. Population numbers are difficult to control since hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has likely increased in this DMU in the last several years. The primary causes are the declining number of hunters over the last 10 years, as well as the tradition of deer hunters going “north” to hunt. Though hunting on public land is popular for many, the public land quota remains undersubscribed. Antlerless license quotas have always been liberal in this county. As this unit was formerly part of DMU 486, it is not possible to know the rate at which antlerless tags were filled from 2010-2012, but the trend since 2009 has been a steady decrease in the numbers of private land antlerless licenses that have been sold (approximately 30% decline). This decline in license purchases seems to fall in line with about the same 30% reduction in hunters for this area. Deer-vehicle collisions in this county have remained pretty consistent, and many of these collisions are most likely under-reported, since reports are usually only made if there is a damage claim, or the person wishes to consume the meat. Starting in 2014 roadkill salvage tags became available online without needed to contact the local police or conservation officer. It is unknown how much people comply with the permit when picking up roadkill. Currently, the deer population is still above the desired level across the DMU so the antlerless quota should remain the same to allow landowners the flexibility to control deer on their property.


DMU 064

Area Description

Oceana County is located on the shore of Lake Michigan which provides an excellent climate on the west shore of the county for fruit orchards on the rolling sandy hills interspersed with asparagus and other crops on fertile soils. The northern inland portion of the county is mainly forested rolling hills of sand or sandy loam, with mixed oak dominant forest types. The southern portion of the county is characterized by a mix of rolling hills of oak and maple on sandier soils, interspersed with pockets of agriculture with wooded cover provided by numerous riparian corridors: including the White River. About 75 % of the county is private land, with much of the remaining 25% of public land concentrated in the north half of the county. The Manistee National Forest makes up most of the public land; with the Pentwater State Game area the largest portion of huntable state land. The entire county represents good to excellent deer habitat.

Deer numbers tend to be less on average in the northern portion of the county. However, deer concentrate on living near the farmlands, so even though the deer population may be at a good density overall in some areas, farmers often have significant crop damage because deer live near the best forage. Crop damage is especially present along the US 31 farm communities/small towns such as Hart and Shelby. Orchard owners and other farmers continue to fence off more acreages to exclude deer and land clearing for more farm acreage continues. These practices put more deer foraging pressure on unfenced agricultural lands in the county. Deer hunting is an important part of the social fabric of Oceana County, with multiple organized deer coops present and engaged with Wildlife Division.

Management Guidance

Three main goals that flow from the Wildlife Division Deer Plan include: 1) managing the deer herd to be in balance with the habitat to support them 2) Deer disease and herd health, and 3) hunting opportunities. Goal 1. includes reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. Goal 2. Is largely associated with managing deer numbers to minimize disease spread. Oceana County is not a CWD surveillance county, but is adjacent to Newaygo, which is a surveillance county. No wild CWD positive deer have been detected in the county, nor have any captive deer farms been identified with CWD. Hunting opportunities are in abundance on private land and public land, with liberal permits for antlerless deer harvest.

Deer Management Recommendations

It appears that in recent years the overall deer population has been slightly increasing. This is despite having liberalized antlerless tags and annually issuing hundreds of DMAP permits in the county. In some areas of poor-quality habitat, the deer population appears to be somewhat stable, but the population is probably growing slightly in agriculture areas to push the county average toward a growing herd. Harvest has been liberalized in recent years by issuance of abundant antlerless tags, crop damage tags and encouraging harvest for CWD surveillance. We have also opened Oceana County to the early and late antlerless seasons as well in the past few years. A series of mild winters has resulted in excellent fawn recruitment over the last five years, contributing to herd growth. it is a challenge to encourage hunters to take more antlerless deer. I recommend we increase the 2019 private land quota from 5,500 to 6,000 for the next cycle, and to maintain 1,000 public land permits without change. I recommend the early and late antlerless seasons continue.


DMU 065

Area Description

Ogemaw County Deer Management Unit is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). It has roughly 99,000 acres of public land which is about 27% of the total acreage in the county. The remainder of land is in private ownership. Topography varies from rolling hills to flat outwash plains. Soil types consist mainly of sandy types that are well drained. The landscape consists of large blocks of state and federal land. The state land is concentrated in the northwest part of the County while the federal land is primarily in the north central and northeast regions. Those large blocks are dominated by forest land and provide excellent habitat for deer. Much of the state-owned land is located on sandy outwash plains in the northwest portion of the county and is dominated by jack pine forests. The private land consists of residential developments and agricultural land amongst forested habitat. The agricultural lands are concentrated in the southwest, southeast and central portions of the county. Many small inland lakes are scattered throughout the DMU which see heavy recreational use.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, and in DMU 065 includes crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. To find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health is monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance. Engagement with the public via public meetings, surveys, electronic communication and face-to-face interaction is an important part of deer management and the regulations establishment process.

Deer Management Recommendations

During the last 10 years the deer population in this DMU has been stable overall. Smaller year-to-year changes are evident and due to factors discussed above. Extremely severe winters can negatively affect deer populations and those effects can last for several years. The effects of severe winters in this DMU are somewhat moderated on agricultural lands as deer tend to congregate near dairy operations and associated feed storage areas. This frequently causes conflicts due to feed loss and concerns of disease transmission. Private land impact management within Ogemaw County is centered on working with landowners who are experiencing damage and providing permits as appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, maintaining liberal private land antlerless quotas is critical to keeping the deer population within biological and social carrying capacity.

Public hunting opportunities abound within this DMU with extensive tracts of both State and Federal land open to hunting. Hunting is the primary management tool to achieve identified management goals. Furthermore, hunting is an important social and cultural activity which annually brings families and friends together and provides sustenance for many. The local economy is also highly dependent upon hunting and other outdoor recreation. Upon public lands, the focus is to limit over browsing of forest regeneration, especially negative impacts to the oak resource which is important to deer and other game species for fall nutrition.

The effects of the severe winter of 2013-2014 on the deer herd were mitigated by a 16% reduction of antlerless permits over the following three years. That reduction did not appear to have a measurable effect on the antlerless harvest, which in most years, is nearly identical to the harvest levels of antlered deer. Within the last 5 years, deer damage complaints have been steady. Recently, Deer Disease Permits have been made available to cattle herd operations and adjacent property owners. Initial interest in those permits has been high. Historically Ogemaw County has been closed to early and late antlerless hunting seasons, but, the current recommendation is to open the county for those seasons to provide additional hunting opportunity, improve regulation consistency across the Region, and provide another tool for landowners to address disease and crop damage concerns. Localized pockets of higher deer density that cause problems will continue to be addressed through the issuance of Deer Management Assistance Permits, Crop Damage Permits, and Disease Control Permits.


DMU 066

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 066 is 863 sq. miles in size and is primarily in Ontonagon County and the Northeast portion of Gogebic County. This unit has significant Lake Superior shoreline and therefore is heavily influenced by Lake Superior weather/winter severity and snow depths. Forty-three percent of this DMU is publicly accessible via state, federal or CFA ownership. Land use and habitat quality for deer in DMU 066 range from lowland conifer to upland hardwoods. Agricultural influence is very limited and primarily only a factor near traditional rural communities.

Influenced by Lake Superior winter weather can be extremely difficult for deer in DMU 066. Snow fall averages 200 inches per year. Snow is typically on the ground in this DMU from early December through April. Deer are obligated to migrate to deer wintering complexes in the winter.

Management Guidance

This unit is in a high snowfall zone and deer in this unit experience harsh winter conditions compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (UP). Many of the deer in this DMU receive supplemental food throughout the winter months. Despite this supplemental feeding, fawn recruitment and over-winter survival still tends to be low in this DMU compared to other DMU’s in the U.P.

Two main goals guiding deer management in DMU 066 are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) increase hunting opportunities.

A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. There is relatively little agricultural activity in DMU 066 and consequently the level of deer crop damage is extremely low. Outside of the deer wintering complexes deer browse has not impacted tree regeneration.

Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 066 consistently ranks as one of the lowest units for buck harvest per square mile in the UP. Over the last five years (2014-2018) DMU 066 has averaged 1 buck harvested per square mile. This harvest rate is one of the lowest in the U.P. and signifies a relatively low deer herd compared to other areas of the UP. Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, deer management assistance permits, and crop damage) indicate that deer herd densities remain relatively low. Stakeholder input suggests limited support for an increasing antlerless harvest opportunity. In general, there is support for opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in DMU 066. Therefore, it is recommended that DMU 066 should remain closed to general antlerless hunting during the firearm season for the next regulation cycle.


DMU 067

Area Description

Osceola County Deer Management Unit is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region. It is largely privately owned; no federal land exists in the county and state land comprises approximately 18,000 acres, or 8% of the total land area. State land consists of one large block of state forest that is centrally located, and other smaller satellite parcels in the corner of the county. This largest block of state land is found on steep moraine ridges with well drained loamy sands. Topography ranges from these central steep ridges to flat stretches of broad moraines. Oak and aspen are dominant stand types on state land, and high-quality aspen. Agriculture is a major land use in Osceola County. Private land supports vast tracts of agriculture, largely on the flat moraine ridges, consisting of row crops and hay. Soils are well drained sand, loamy sand, and loam. The Muskegon River cuts through Osceola County on its way south. Another major river in the county is the Hersey River, a tributary to the Muskegon River.

Management Guidance

The stable population is desired in this DMU paired with an increase in annual harvest. Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, in this DMU these include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor deer health due to over population. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 067 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place can be part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves intentionally letting some bucks reach older ages, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population appears to be increasing in this DMU following Antler Point Restrictions in 2014 and increases in antlerless licenses and additional antlerless seasons. An increase in the deer population puts a strain on the resources available to deer, as evidenced by increased agricultural damage and observations of substantial deer browse to forest regeneration. Deer-vehicle accidents have increased during this time as well. Past efforts to increase doe harvest (I.e. an increase in antlerless license quota) have been somewhat successful in this DMU but buck harvest continues to top antlerless harvest most years. Unsold antlerless licenses were leftover suggesting hunter behavior and opportunity are limiting the antlerless harvest in this DMU rather than license numbers. As hunter numbers continue to decline additional antlerless harvest opportunities will likely be needed to keep up with the deer population in the higher production areas. The antlerless license quotas in this DMU are recommended to be stable for this cycle as a further increase in private land licenses is unlikely to provide any benefit at this point.


DMU 069

Area Description

The Otsego County Deer Management Unit (DMU 069) is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). The DMU consists of 520 square miles of land, of which 431 square miles is deer range (available habitat). Approximately 65% of the available deer range in the DMU is in privately held lands. The remainder (35%) is in public ownership. Topography varies from rolling hills in the northwest part of the county to relatively flat in the south and east parts of the county. Soil types consist mainly of well drained sandy types.

The landscape is primarily forested public and private recreational lands with inclusions of human developments including the city of Gaylord and outlying areas. Agricultural lands including primarily row crops and pastureland are found in the central portions of the county interspersed with forestlands. Much of the non-agricultural private land is forested with a mixture of upland forest and forested wetlands. Larger tracts of public lands can be found in this DMU and are managed by the Pigeon River and Gaylord Forest Management Units. Deer densities on lands around the agricultural/forest interface and swamp/open lands tend to be highest.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. In an effort to find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Those data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health and disease prevalence are monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance.

Deer Management Recommendations

The trends of deer population indices indicate that deer numbers are likely increasing in much of the DMU. Deer pressure on agricultural lands are continuing, though no clear trends in requests for damage permits can be seen. However, concerns regarding disease (i.e., bovine Tuberculosis) have increased in the DMU in recent years, especially in the eastern portions of the DMU that border DMU 487 which is managed for disease concerns. An increasing number of deer-vehicle collisions has occurred over the last 5 years and deer-human conflicts have also increased. Hunting and harvest levels of bucks have tripled within the unit over the last 10 years. Slight increases in antlerless deer harvest have been seen more recently, though the buck to doe ratio in the harvest remains skewed to buck harvest.

There is a desire to increase the antlerless harvest levels to balance this ratio on both public and private lands and reduce deer densities, especially in the agricultural areas and eastern parts of the DMU near DMU 487. Hunting is the primary management tool to achieve identified management goals. Furthermore, hunting is an important social and cultural activity which annually brings families and friends together and provides sustenance for many. The local economy is also highly dependent upon hunting and other outdoor recreation.

The demand for public land antlerless licenses has been exceeding available license numbers in recent years. An increase in available licenses for antlerless deer harvest on public lands through an increased quota is recommended to address forest regeneration issues caused by heavy deer browse. On private lands, demand for antlerless licenses also exceeds number of licenses available even with recent increases in the number of antlerless licenses available. The early and late antlerless deer seasons on private lands have been closed in this unit. An increase in private land antlerless permit availability and opening hunting during the early and late antlerless seasons are recommended. This will assist in providing additional hunting opportunities, assist in addressing negative deer impacts on the landscape, increase opportunities to monitor for disease like bovine Tuberculosis, and allow efforts working toward achieving a balanced buck to doe ratio. Nuisance and crop damage permits, used to augment antlerless quotas in areas of higher deer densities on private lands, will continue to be issued in areas where there is a demand and hunting opportunities are limited.


DMU 070

Area Description

The Ottawa County Deer Management Unit includes a variety of diverse habitats for deer and a variety of challenges. The county was formerly an agricultural dominant area, but the last several decades have brought on rapid human population growth in the corridor from western Grand Rapids to the Lake Michigan lakeshore. Agriculture continues to dominate the orchard lands of NE Ottawa County, as well as the nurseries and blueberry farms of south central and south western Ottawa. The lower stretches of the Grand River floodplain also provide good wildlife habitat and travel corridors. However, public land is limited in Ottawa County (98% private land deer range). The small upland parcels mixed with the wetland complexes of the Olive and Blendon Township State Game Areas (SGAs), Grand Haven SGA, and the Bass River Recreation Area offer some critically needed public land deer hunting opportunity.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone and disease management guidelines; 2) impact management; and 3) hunting opportunities. While no free-ranging deer infected with CWD have been found in Ottawa County, it shares a common boundary with Kent County where CWD has been established. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage and deer-vehicle collisions. Vehicle/deer accidents have been rising along with the human population of the county. Ample private land hunting opportunities are available, but hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has likely been relatively stable in this DMU in the last several years. The primary causes are unlimited private land antlerless license quotas and the more liberal buck harvest regulations of the CWD Management Zone. As the population grows, increasing suburban landscape, home garden, and municipal complaints are also expected to increase. However, the devastating effects of CWD are the deer management issue of our time and deer quotas reflect this. The recommendation is to maintain the current status of unlimited private land antlerless permits and a public land quota set at 450 permits. The early and late antlerless seasons should both remain open.


DMU 072

Area Description

Roscommon County Deer Management Unit is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). It has roughly 205,000 acres of public land which is about 55% of the total acreage in the county. The remainder of land is in private ownership. Topography varies from rolling hills to areas that are relatively flat. Soil types consist mainly of sandy types that are well drained. The landscape consists of large blocks of state land. The state land is well distributed throughout the County except for a large portion of Nester Township West which contains a large private association. These large blocks of land are dominated by forest land and provide excellent habitat for deer. Several large swamp complexes including the Dead Stream Swamp, Long Crossway Swamp, Ninemile Hill Swamp, and the Hudson Creek Swamp provide deer with important winter thermal cover. The private land within the county consists of residential developments and recreational properties amongst forested habitat. The County contains 3 large inland lakes, Houghton, Higgins, and St. Helen, which see heavy recreational use.

Management Guidance

Three main factors guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; 2) hunting opportunities; and 3) maintaining a healthy deer herd. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, and in DMU 072 includes deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. To find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. Those data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual mail survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, Disease Control Permits, residential property damage, Deer Management Assistance Permits, forest regeneration assessments, surveys run by cooperators, etc.). Herd health is monitored through the collection of specimens obtained from deer hunters, deer permit holders, and targeted surveillance. Engagement with the public via public meetings, surveys, electronic communication and face-to-face interaction is an important part of deer management and the regulations establishment process.

Deer Management Recommendations

During the last 5 years, the deer population in this DMU has been stable overall. Smaller year-to-year changes are evident and due to factors discussed above. Extremely severe winters negatively affect deer populations and those effects can last for several years. Roscommon County has the most public land of any county in the Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It is also easily accessible as it is located on two major highway corridors and is within 2 hours travel time of 3 large population centers. Consequently, hunting opportunities abound within this DMU. Hunting is the primary management tool to achieve identified management goals. Furthermore, hunting is an important social and cultural activity which annually brings families and friends together and provides sustenance for many. The local economy is also highly dependent upon hunting and other outdoor recreation.

Most of the deer impact management within Roscommon County is centered on addressing forest regeneration problems and landscape damage. Those issues have been significant within the last 10 years. After the severe winter of 2013-2014, antlerless permits were reduced to allow the population to positively respond. Harvest data and vehicle collision information indicate the deer population recovered after that winter and has stabilized at current levels. Consequently, antlerless quotas have been held steady to maintain current population levels. Within the last 5 years, deer damage complaints have eased. However, in certain portions of the county, damage caused by deer remains a concern. Historically Roscommon County has been closed to early and late antlerless hunting seasons, but the current recommendation is to open the county for those seasons to provide additional hunting opportunity, improve regulation consistency across the Region, and possibly narrow the gap between antlered and antlerless harvest. Localized pockets of higher deer density that cause problems will be addressed through the issuance of Deer Management Assistance Permits, Crop Damage Permits, and Disease Control Permits.


DMU 073

Area Description

The Saginaw County Deer Management Unit (DMU 073) is located in the Southern Lower Peninsula in the Saginaw Bay region of Wildlife Division’s Southeast Region management unit. DMU 073 includes all lands of Saginaw County, minus the parcels that make up DMU 273*. The majority of public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available on 20,322 acres located on two state properties managed by the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division: Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area and Crow Island State Game Area. DMU 273 is a specially managed DMU located wholly within the confines of DMU 073 and is comprised of the entirety of Shiawassee River State Game Area and portions of Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. All hunting DMU 273 is completed through a pre-registered lottery system.

Topography in this DMU is generally flat lake plain to lightly rolling as you near tributaries of the greater Saginaw River with soils that are well-suited to row crop agriculture. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately owned lands, which constitute ~60% of the DMU, in addition to the DMU fully containing the urban center of Saginaw. With the exception of State Game Areas, habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland) is relatively isolated and exists in small to medium-sized patches on private land.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide deer management in this DMU:

  1. Impact management
  2. Hunting opportunities

Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, with examples being crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. In an effort to find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities, while trying to mitigate unwanted impacts, DNR reviews data from several sources to adjust harvest strategies as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and annual surveys, winter severity indices, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of crop damage permits issues, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population in this DMU has continued to increase, likely due to mild winters and ample food resources throughout the year. As such, issuance of deer management assistance permits (DMAP) and out of season permits (OSS) will be required to alleviate crop damage complaints. The number of DMAP and OSS tags issued from 2014 through 2019 are located in Figure 1 and Figure 2, respectively.

While high deer densities continue to provide ample hunting opportunities, recommendations to increase antlerless harvest will remain. Based upon this, it is recommended that the private land antlerless quota remain at 6,500 licenses for the 2020-2022 seasons; the public land antlerless quota will remain at 200. It is additionally recommended that this DMU remain open for both early and late antlerless firearms seasons.


DMU 074

Area Description

The St. Clair County Deer Management Unit (DMU) lies in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) region and covers all of St. Clair County except for Islands in the St. Clair Flats (DMU 174). The majority of public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available on Port Huron State Game Area (SGA), St. Clair Township SGA and Algonac State Park. Topography varies from rolling hills to relatively flat with soils that are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately-owned lands, which constitute >97% of the DMU. Aside from public lands which are predominantly forested, habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, grass/shrub/brush, and wetland) is isolated and exists in small patches. Although most of DMU 074 is rural, development south of I-69 is slightly higher than portions of the county north of the interstate. Private lands north of I-69 are generally less fragmented than lands to the south.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. In an effort to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population has likely remained stable in this DMU in the last decade and the deer density remains high relative to other regions of the state. In fact, density is likely high enough to continually require the issuance Deer Damage Permits throughout much of the unit, as harvest through the general hunting seasons is inadequate to relieve damage complaints. Hunting opportunities for people who have access to private lands remain robust due to the continued high deer density and limited public lands in this DMU. Hunters do seem willing to harvest antlerless deer at a rate similar to antlered bucks. Antlerless tags are available to accommodate hunters and continue the somewhat equal harvest of bucks and does in an attempt to maintain high quality buck to do ratio and maximize hunting opportunity.


DMU 078

Area Description

The Shiawassee County Deer Management Unit (DMU 078) is in the Southern Lower Peninsula Region (SLP). The only public hunting land in the DMU is 932 acres within the Rose Lake State Wildlife Area. The state land makes up less than 0.3% of the total acreage of the DMU.

Apart from the urban/suburban area of Owosso/Corunna, DMU 078 is rural. The landscape is dominated by agricultural fields with scattered woodlots. Some riparian areas throughout the DMU offer good deer habitat as well.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, spread of diseases, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples of undesirable effects of over-abundance. When one or more of these effects are present, it is appropriate for management direction to reflect efforts to reduce local deer abundance. The presence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in counties to the west and northwest of the DMU is concerning. Reducing deer numbers may also help reduce the risk of CWD spreading into and throughout the DMU.

Ample hunting opportunities are provided for hunters to harvest an adequate number of antlerless deer where overabundance is causing conflicts, particularly on private lands. This also gives private landowners the ability to manage the deer herd on a local scale.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 078 has had a relatively stable deer population over the last 10-15 years but has seen a steady rise over the last 5 years after a couple of years of decline. Antlered deer harvest in 2018 (2,995) was essentially the same as the ten-year average (2,977) (see supplemental data sheet). Despite a slight, recent increase in harvest, antlerless harvest in 2018 (2,547) was down 14% from the ten-year average (2,971) and was down 45% from the total antlerless harvest in 2009 (4,629). Total hunter numbers have also declined from a high of 11,724 in 2006 to 7,391 in 2018 – a 37% decrease.

It is recommended that the public land quota for DMU 078 remain at 200 antlerless tags due to the small amount of public land acreage in the DMU. Unlimited antlerless tags should remain available for private lands. This will allow for landowners in areas of the county with high deer densities to be able to manage the population locally. This will also allow hunters throughout the DMU access to antlerless tags in order reverse the trend of increasing deer numbers to slightly lower the population. With declining hunter numbers, it’s important that the remaining hunters continue to harvest an adequate number of antlerless deer to manage the herd and avoid a significant population increase. In 2019, 5,628 private land antlerless licenses were sold. That is compared to 6,309 private land licenses being sold in 2009.

Both early and late antlerless seasons should be open in this unit.

With deer population numbers increasing over the last several years, continuing to increase antlerless harvest should be a focus for deer hunters in DMU 078 in order to mitigate negative consequences of deer over-abundance (disease impacts, crop damage, car/deer accidents, etc.). Looking back, the deer population in DMU 078 remained relatively stable to slightly decreasing between 2006-2011 with a sustained antlerless harvest of 3,500-4,500 antlerless deer every year over that span. In 2012, DMU 078 saw some localized die-offs as the result of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and a hard winter in 2013-14 resulted in some winter kill in areas with poorer quality habitat. While reduced antlerless harvest in some areas of the DMU were appropriate in the years following that population decline, antlerless harvest has not fully rebounded since then despite the population recovering to numbers seen pre-EHD. In order to see a decreasing trend in the deer population again, hunters in DMU 078 should likely be targeting an antlerless deer harvest of at least 3,500-4,000 antlerless deer each year. Given the declining trend in hunter numbers over the last several years (Figure 2), this is going to be a challenge. However, it will be imperative for hunters in the county to reverse the trend of increasing deer numbers in the coming years by significantly increasing antlerless deer harvest.


DMU 081

Area Description

The Washtenaw Deer Management Unit (DMU), or DMU 081, lies in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) region and covers Washtenaw County. The majority of public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available on Chelsea (650 acres), Goose Lake (200) and Sharonville (1,065 acres in DMU 081) State Game Areas and Pinckney (7,272acres in DMU 081) and Waterloo (7,366 acres in DMU 081) State Recreation Areas. Topography varies from nearly level to steep, with soils that are generally well-suited to agriculture (corn, wheat, soybeans other grains, and hay). Approximately 40 percent of the DMU is in agriculture; the dominant land cover type.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. In an effort to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, spotlight surveys, habitat assessments, input from hunters and Conservation Officers, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The estimated deer population remains over goal and has slightly increased over the last three years (2016-2018). The primary causes are the limited hunting opportunity, declining number of hunters and hunter effort days. Vehicle-deer accidents numbers have remained consistent over the last three years (2016-2018) and are slightly below the 10-year average. Deer damage complaints and permits issued for the area have increased, and the population is still over goal. Therefore, it is recommended that antlerless licenses are made available for public and private land and for a late antlerless season. This will provide opportunities for increased antlerless harvest and recreation. Continuing the late antlerless season may help to address some crop damage, car/deer crashes and nuisance issues in the area, as well.

There is very limited public land (4%) in this the Washtenaw DMU, so most the hunting opportunity is on private land. Based on this information, I recommend that the Public Land Quota remain at 1,500 and that the Private Land Quota be set to 15,000. Also, we recommend that this DMU is open for Early and Late Antlerless Firearm seasons on private lands.


DMU 082

Area Description

The Wayne Deer Management Unit (DMU 082) lies in the Southeast Region and boarders Lake Erie to the East and includes Celeron and Stony Islands in the Detroit River. The majority of public hunting opportunities in DMU 082 is available on the southeast portion of the county and includes the far northern portions of the Pte. Mouillee State Game Area. Topography is relatively flat with soils that are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture in areas that are not developed. The landscape is highly fragmented Wayne County is home to more people than any other county in the State. Because of this growth, residential and commercial development has consumed most townships except the bottom 3 in the Southwest corner of the County. 55% of the county is developed with only 42.8% in land cover that can support deer habitat. For comparison Monroe County has 89.2% of its land cover that can support deer habitat. Habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland) is isolated and exists in small patches mainly in the southwest portion of the county. A large percentage of the county has municipal ordinances outlawing the discharge of firearms. In most cases bow hunting is still allowed but if you are hunting in this DMU check with the local township or municipality to determine the laws in your area.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) urban deer and impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Urban deer management includes social impacts and issues on top of Impact management which refers to the reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Landscape and garden damage, crop damage, and deer-vehicle collisions are examples. Hunting opportunities is a major issue in this county due to hunting restrictions and limited public hunting land. In an effort to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

We would like to continue to decrease deer numbers in the Wayne DMU due to social factors such as Deer Vehicle collisions, agricultural, and landscape damage. This deer herd is also limited by suitable habitat and can quickly overpopulate an area. Antlerless deer quotas are recommended to stay the same in DMU 082. In most cases the general hunting seasons should be adequate to relieve damage complaints. Wayne County DMU is unique in its social dynamic and its deer herd is managed different than most other DMU’s. Based on the above information, I recommend that the Private Land Antlerless Quota remain at 1,200 and that the Public Land Antlerless Quota remain at 100. I recommend that the DMU be open to early antlerless and late antlerless on private land only and the continuation of the late urban archery deer season on public and private land.


DMU 083

Area Description

Wexford County Deer Management Unit is in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region. Topography varies from rolling hills to areas that are relatively flat. A moraine ridge bisects the county from northeast to southwest, with most of the rest of the county consisting of glacial outwash plain. Soil types associated with the higher elevation ridges are mainly well-drained sandy soils of moderate fertility, while outwash plain soils range from well drained sands to pockets of poorly drained peat and muck. Lowland swamps tend to dominate the latter. The northern third of the county is largely influenced by the Manistee River watershed; this river catchment consists of coarse-textured high banks and well-drained sandy and sandy loam outwash plain through which numerous tributaries flow. The landscape consists of large blocks of both state and federal land totaling approximately 112,000 acres, or one third of the total land in the county. State land is concentrated in the northern portion of the county along the Manistee River, while federal land is in the southern half. The remainder of the land is in private ownership. These large blocks of public land are dominated by a mix of aspen, red and white pine, lowland conifer, and some northern hardwood that provide excellent habitat for deer. Private land consists of islands of agricultural land amongst forested habitat.

Management Guidance

The desired population trend in the DMU is to continue with a relatively stable population. Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, in this DMU these include crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor deer health due to over population. Hunting opportunities refers to providing a large enough deer population to meet hunters’ criteria for what they consider a quality hunting experience. A third factor that needs to be considered is that DMU 083 is within the NW Antler Point Restriction (APR) Zone. APRs limit which antlered deer (bucks) can be harvested by hunters to provide a mechanism for yearling bucks to graduate into older age classes. The APRs in place can be part of a strategy called Quality Deer Management (QDM), which involves intentionally letting some bucks reach older ages, 2) maintaining deer numbers below the biological carrying capacity, and 3) striving for an equal buck to doe ratio in the deer population. Antlerless deer (doe and fawn) harvest is recommended under QDM as a means of reaching achieving the second and third principles of QDM.

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population appears to be stable in this DMU following Antler Point Restrictions in 2014 and an increase in antlerless licenses soon after. Deer-vehicle accidents have remained relatively stable as have agricultural damage complaints. Wexford county stands out as it has achieved approximately an even buck to antlerless harvest every year since 2014 which should lead to well-balanced sex ratio. Antlerless license numbers will remain stable for this cycle. In order to provide simplicity in regulations and additional choice in when to utilize existing antlerless licenses, Wexford County is nominated for inclusion in the early and late antlerless seasons.


DMU 117

Area Description

The Drummond Island DMU is located in far southeastern Chippewa County. It lies at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River in northern Lake Huron. It is approximately 135 square miles in size, with 57% of the island in public ownership (state forest) and 43% in private ownership. Most of the island is forested. Dominant forest types include aspen, cedar, and northern hardwoods. Drummond Island is in the moderate snowfall zone, but generally receives less snow than the mainland nearby. Winter is a limiting factor for the deer herd, and they migrate (some many miles) to deer wintering complexes (DWC’s) where conifer cover provides some protection from winter conditions.

Management Guidance

The DNR assembled the Drummond Island Writing Team (DIWT) in 2011 to serve as an advisory committee to the development of a management plan for Drummond Island. Management plan development was a result of various but potentially conflicting public recreational interests involving state-managed resources. The DIWT included representatives from eight organizations representing conservation, hunting, fishing, forest management, recreational, economic development and tourism interests as well as a member representing the general public and three representatives of the DNR representing wildlife, forestry, and public safety interests. The DIWT developed a series of recommendations regarding the future management of resources on the island. In 2012, the DIWT presented a report of the recommendations to the NRC wherein recommendations were made to improve the island’s deer herd. These recommendations included limiting deer harvest on the island to 1 deer per hunter per year and an antler point restriction (APR) of at least 3 points on one antler. The DIWT’s recommendations were used by the DNR as a resource to develop the Drummond Island Comprehensive Resource Management Plan, which was approved on November 5, 2015, following a public review and comment period. Two public meetings were held on the island in 2016 to allow additional public input on the deer recommendations. During those meetings, public input received favored limiting deer harvest on the island to 1 buck per hunter per year and the 3 point APR.

Deer harvest since the early 2000’s generally decreases in the Upper Peninsula region following harsher winters and increases following mild winters, but was on a decreasing trend through 2015. Antlerless quotas generally decreased during this period, and antlerless harvest with archery equipment was suspended across the region in 2015 following 3 consecutive harsh winters and decreasing population indices. The regional buck harvest estimate in 2015 was the lowest in over 20 years. Buck harvest and other indices of the population have now increased to near average. Hunter numbers have decreased over time.

Two main goals guiding deer management in this DMU are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) hunting opportunities. A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. Few damage complaints are received. Evidence of browsing is mainly associated with DWC’s. Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd, and limit antlerless harvest. Input here is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There appears to be little public support for increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

Population indices in this DMU have followed similar trends as that of the region; low buck harvest estimates and hunter success rates were experienced in 2015, but these have increased since then. Population indices since 2016, including the hunter success rates as well as daily deer sighting rates from the region’s Deer Camp Survey, are generally above those from 2012 and prior when antlerless quotas were available most years (unit was closed in 2011 and 2013-2019). However, the average buck kill per square mile from 2016-2018 (2.0) was below the rates of DMU’s open to antlerless harvest in the region (range 2.1 – 5.4). Winter conditions and impact to deer appear to be above average for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020). Although winter conditions tend to be milder here than on the mainland, deer migrate to DWC’s and winter is a limiting factor for deer here.

Impacts associated with deer over-abundance are generally low although need to be monitored. Some browse impacts inside DWC’s are anticipated even with relatively low population numbers and are considered acceptable in these areas. Crop damage or other deer complaints are low, but there is very little agriculture on the island.

Stakeholder input suggests very low support for increasing antlerless harvest opportunities. Increased antlerless harvest opportunities will be afforded by opening antlerless harvest during archery season in the region, which seems to have more stakeholder support than an antlerless quota.

It is recommended that the current harvest limit and antler point restrictions in DMU 117 remain in place. Under current regulations, the harvest limit is 1 buck per hunter per year, and bucks must have a minimum of 3 points on one antler to be legally harvested. It is also recommended that DMU 117 remain closed to antlerless harvest quotas at this time. The effects of antlerless harvest during archery season can be evaluated for future years. These recommendations are consistent with the Drummond Island Comprehensive Resource Management Plan approved in 2015, and input received during three public meetings held since 2015.


DMU 121

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 121 is comprised of the Stonington, Nahma, and Garden Peninsulas in the south-central Upper Peninsula (UP) and is bounded on the north by federal highway US-2 and the south by Lake Michigan. DMU 121 encompasses approximately 291 square miles that is 43% public (state and national forest) and 57% private land. DMU 121 has a mixture of both agricultural and forested land that are often inter-mixed. The agricultural land consists of row-crops, hay production, and livestock pasture. The row-crops are primarily grown in the southern portion of the Garden Peninsula. Forests are diverse and range from lowland stands in clay loams and mucks to upland stands in sandy soils. DMU 121 falls within the low snowfall zone. Deer in this DMU are obligatory migrators and travel to either deer wintering complexes (DWC’s) in the southern portions of the unit or most notably along the Lake Michigan shorelines, where contiguous conifer stands provide protection from winter conditions. Excessive snow depths cause deer to become highly concentrated in these areas and mortality can increase during severe winters.

Management Guidance

Since the early 2000’s deer harvest has generally decreased in the Upper Peninsula region following harsh winters and increased following milder ones, but harvest was on a decreasing trend through 2015. Antlerless license quotas generally decreased during this period, and antlerless harvest during archery season with regular deer licenses was suspended across the region in 2015 following three consecutive harsh winters and decreasing population indices. The regional buck harvest estimate in 2015 was the lowest in over 20 years. Buck harvest and other indices of the population have now increased to near average. Hunter numbers have decreased over time.

Two main goals guiding deer management in this DMU are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) hunting opportunities. A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Deer damage complaints are received in agricultural areas in this DMU. There are minor concerns regarding the impact of deer on forest regeneration, mainly focused within concentration areas during the winter months. Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd while providing opportunity for antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks.

Deer Management Recommendations

Both deer densities and hunting success rates are historically above average in DMU 121 as compared to the rest of the DMU’s in the UP. Population indices in this DMU have followed similar trends as those of the region; lower buck harvest and hunter success were experienced in 2014-2016, but these have increased since then. Buck hunter success greatly increased during the 2017-2019 seasons and daily deer sighting rates from the region’s Deer Camp Survey were also high during this time, despite antlerless quotas being in place. The buck kill per square mile has ranged from 2.7-4.0 since 2016. These buck kill per square mile rates are above average for the region, which indicates a healthy deer population in this DMU.

The antlerless kill per square mile from 2017-2018 has ranged from 1.3-1.6 with quotas being 200 public/400 private (2017) and 300 public/600 private (2018). Other indicators (fawns seen per 100 does, spring fawn to adult deer survey) suggest a stable to increasing deer population that is currently providing above-average recreational viewing and harvest opportunities compared to the rest of the UP Region.

Impacts associated with deer over-abundance are common for this DMU, regardless of winter severity. These concerns can continue to be addressed with tools such as antlerless harvest licenses, Deer Damage Shooting Permits, and Deer Management Assistance Permits.

Stakeholder input suggests continued support for antlerless harvest opportunities. Increased antlerless harvest opportunities will be afforded by opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in the region. It is recommended that DMU 121 be open to antlerless harvest quotas for this cycle (500 public and 800 private).


DMU 122

Area Description

DMU 122 is located in south Dickinson County and includes a small portion of west central Menominee County. It encompasses 163 sq. miles and has remained unchanged since 2002. Public land comprises 9% (15 sq. miles) of the unit. Private lands make up 91% of this unit. CFR lands comprise just 7% (11 sq. miles). This is one of two units, in the U.P., that has been managed under Quality Deer Management (QDM) regulations since 2001. Bucks must have at least three points on one side to be legal, in this unit. Agricultural damage complaints are common in this unit. DMU 122 is located primarily in the “farm belt” of southern Dickinson County. The combination of farms interspersed within quality forest lands and extensive private ownership, coupled with relatively mild winters, provides for excellent deer habitat. The towns of Iron Mountain, Kingsford, and Norway fall within the boundary of DMU 122 and provide a productive refuge. DMU 122 falls in the low snowfall zone and winter weather is typically mild compared to most of the U.P. As a result, over-winter survival and fawn recruitment are usually high. The majority of the DMU 122 has been delineated as the CORE CWD unit since 2018 when the index case of CWD was first identified in the area. This delineation has temporarily changed the regulations within the unit, in an effort to reduce deer numbers, prevent disease spread and expand testing.

Management Guidance

Since the early 2000’s deer harvest has generally decreased in the Upper Peninsula region following harsh winters and increased following milder ones, but harvest was on a decreasing trend through 2015. Antlerless license quotas generally decreased during this period, and antlerless harvest during archery season with regular deer licenses was suspended across the region in 2015 following 3 consecutive harsh winters and decreasing population indices. The regional buck harvest estimate in 2015 was the lowest in over 20 years. Buck harvest and other indices of the population have now increased to near average. Hunter numbers have decreased over time.

Two main goals guiding deer management in this DMU are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) hunting opportunities. A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. 3) disease, CWD is also a consideration as the majority of this DMU falls within the Core CWD unit. Management for this unit includes disease surveillance and response, which includes slowing the rate of transmission and monitoring disease prevalence within the herd. Implementing regulations that maintain lower deer numbers are important within this unit and include such actions as, sustaining antlerless harvest and removing antler point restrictions within the Core Surveillance Area. Enforcement of the ban on baiting and feeding should continue, as high deer concentrations caused by these activities may increase CWD transmission.

Population indices suggest that winter conditions remain the primary factor affecting the deer population in this DMU. Deer damage complaints are common and there is evidence of over-browsing outside of winter functional cover. Antlerless harvest opportunities are normally desirable in this unit for several reasons. Local farms are impacted by agricultural crop damage and antlerless licenses are a tool to address this problem. Secondly, forest managers believe antlerless harvesting helps to reduce deer browse impacts on forest regeneration. Lastly, the majority of sportsmen and landowners in this DMU supported continuation of their Quality Deer Management program. APR rules that require hunters to bypass bucks with less than 3 points on a side to allow them to grow older were suspended in the majority of this DMU for CWD management.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 122 regularly ranks as one of the top 3 units for buck harvest in the U.P. region, averaging 5 bucks harvested per sq. mile between 2016 and 2018. This level of historic buck harvest indicates high deer densities compared to other units in the region. An average harvest of 1.8 antlerless deer per sq. mile was sustained during the period 2016-2018, ranking as the 3rd highest in the U.P. This harvest is reduced from the long-term average of 3 antlerless deer per sq. mile, due to difficult winter’s impacts on deer densities, discontinuation of antlerless harvest using archery equipment and reductions in antlerless quotas within this unit. Harvest was likely down in 2019 due to lack of hunters purchasing antlerless licenses and regulations that did not allow the feeding and baiting of deer due to CWD concerns.

Winter conditions and impact to deer appear to be above average for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020). Levels of fawn production and recruitment may have been negatively impacted. Impacts associated with deer over-abundance are generally moderate. Crop damage complaints are moderate and tend to be focused on parts of the DMU with higher deer densities—agricultural lands and surrounding functional winter shelter stands. These can continue to be addressed with tools such as Deer Management Assistance Permits, Deer Damage Shooting Permits and Private and Public Antlerless licenses. Deer Management Assistance Permits (DMAP’s) have been used to address sylvicultural and crop damage, and urban deer issues. The cities of Iron Mountain and Kingsford have participated in an urban deer removal program, in recent years, in an attempt to reduce deer numbers, associated deer-vehicle accidents, and herbivory issues.

Stakeholder input suggests limited support for increasing antlerless harvest opportunities to the levels desired to combat CWD. Antlerless licenses were not sold out last year, with only 11% of available license purchased by hunters. Increased antlerless harvest opportunities should be bolstered by opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in the region. It is recommended that DMU 122 be open to antlerless harvest with the issuance of 300 public land antlerless licenses and 1000 private land antlerless licenses.


DMU 127

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 127 is 328 sq. miles in size and is found in far western Gogebic County surrounding Ironwood, Bessemer and adjacent rural communities. This unit has significant Lake Superior shoreline and therefore is heavily influenced by Lake Superior weather / winter severity and snow depths. The bulk of this unit is (65%) privately owned. However, much of this is owned by Gogebic County and is managed as a working forest which is also accessible to the public. Land use and habitat quality for deer in DMU 127 range from lowland conifer to upland hardwoods. Agricultural influence is very limited and primarily only a factor near traditional rural communities.

Influenced by Lake Superior winter weather can be difficult for deer in DMU 127. Snow fall averages 200 inches per year. Snow is typically on the ground in this DMU from early December through April. Deer are obligated to migrate to deer wintering complexes in the winter.

Management Guidance

This unit is in a high snowfall zone and deer in this unit experience harsh winter conditions compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.). Many of the deer in this DMU receive supplemental food throughout the winter months. Despite this supplemental feeding, fawn recruitment and over-winter survival still tends to be low in this DMU compared to other DMU’s in the U.P.

Two main goals guiding deer management in DMU 127 are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) increase hunting opportunities.

A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. There is relatively little agricultural activity in DMU 127 and consequently the level of deer crop damage is extremely low. Outside of the deer wintering complexes deer browse has not impacted tree regeneration.

Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 127 consistently ranks as one of the lowest units for buck harvest per square mile in the U.P. Over the last five years (2014-2018) DMU 127 has averaged 0.7 bucks harvested per square mile. This harvest rate is one of the lowest in the U.P. and signifies a relatively low deer herd compared to other areas of the U.P. Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, deer management assistance permits, and crop damage) indicate that deer herd densities remain relatively low. Stakeholder input suggests limited support for an increasing antlerless harvest opportunity. In general, there is support for opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in DMU 127. Therefore, it is recommended that DMU 127 should remain closed to general antlerless hunting during the firearm season for the next regulation cycle.


DMU 131

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 131 is 538 sq. miles in size and is primarily in northeastern Ontonagon County and Northern Houghton County. This unit has significant Lake Superior shoreline and therefore is heavily influenced by Lake Superior weather/winter severity and snow depths. The bulk of this unit is under private ownership however much of this private land is enrolled under the Commercial Forest Act, the remainder (17%) is publicly owned (State or Federal). Land use and habitat quality for deer in DMU 131 range from lowland conifer to upland hardwoods. Agricultural influence is very limited and primarily only a factor near traditional rural communities.

Influenced by Lake Superior winter weather can be extremely difficult for deer in DMU 131. Snow fall averages 300 inches per year and sometimes exceeds 350 inches. Snow is typically on the ground in this DMU from early December through the end of April. Deer are obligated to migrate to deer wintering complexes in the winter.

Management Guidance

This unit is in a high snowfall zone and deer in this unit experience harsh winter conditions compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.). Many of the deer in this DMU receive supplemental food throughout the winter months. Despite this supplemental feeding, fawn recruitment and over-winter survival still tends to be low in this DMU compared to other DMU’s in the U.P.

Two main goals guiding deer management in DMU 131 are 1) a healthy, sustainable deer herd, and 2) increase hunting opportunities.

A healthy, sustainable deer herd includes impact management, such as reducing effects from over-abundance. Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting the population here. Few damage complaints are received, and there is little evidence of over-browsing outside of deer wintering complexes (DWC’s).

Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. Hunter input suggests a desire to maintain or increase the deer herd and limit antlerless harvest. Public input is typically focused on improving harvest opportunities for bucks, particularly mature bucks. There is some interest in increasing antlerless harvest opportunities.

Deer Management Recommendations

DMU 131 consistently ranks as one of the lowest units for buck harvest per square mile in the U.P. Over the last five years (2014-2018) DMU 131 has averaged 0.8 bucks harvested per square mile. This harvest rate is one of the lowest in the U.P. and signifies a relatively low deer herd compared to other areas of the U.P. Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, deer management assistance permits, and crop damage) indicate that deer herd densities remain relatively low. Stakeholder input suggests limited support for an increasing antlerless harvest opportunity. In general, there is support for opening antlerless harvest during archery season on regular deer licenses in DMU 131. Therefore, it is recommended that DMU 131 should remain closed to general antlerless hunting during the firearm season for the next regulation cycle.


DMU 149

Area Description

Bois Blanc Island Deer Management Unit (DMU 149) is managed out of the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP), though it is part of Mackinac County in the Upper Peninsula. It lies southeast of Mackinac Island and almost due north of the city of Cheboygan. The island is approximately 34 square miles and has 6 lakes. It has roughly 8 square miles (5,107 acres) of public land which is slightly less than 25% of the total acreage in the DMU. The remainder of land is in private ownership. Topography is relatively flat. Soil types consist mainly of poorly drained soil. The landscape is primarily forested public and private recreational land.

The landscape consists of diverse forest types, including lowland deciduous and coniferous forests and mixed upland forests influenced by geology and the island’s logging history. The island sits atop limestone bedrock with shallow, often rocky, soils, giving predominance to cedar associations in the lowlands. Bois Blanc Island’s logging history played a significant role in shaping the uplands across the island, which are now dominated by sugar maple and beech associations with a significant birch component. Access to the island is by commercial ferry (operating seasonally), personal watercraft, or airplane (there is one air strip on the island). Deer hunting on this island provides important economic benefits to the local economy through transportation, lodging, and supply purchases. Hunters are not only vital to the local economy, but also play an important role in controlling deer populations.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) landscape impact management; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer overabundance. On the islands this can be seen primarily with over-browsing effects on forest understory. Due to the island nature of this DMU, impacts of continuous deer browsing can be magnified over time. Antlerless deer hunting opportunities should be promoted to manage the deer population in order to work toward a more balanced buck to do ratio and limit deer browse impacts.

Deer Management Recommendations

This DMU is unique in comparison to units on the mainland in that some traditional indices used to gauge population growth or decline are not necessarily applicable (e.g., deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, number of Crop Damage, nuisance deer, and Deer Management Assistance permits requested). Regardless, deer-vehicle collisions, landscape damage, and runway hazards at the airstrip can occur. Landscape impacts and hunter harvest data collected from an annual hunter survey are the primary means of monitoring the population.

Impacts have been documented through systematic state-owned land forest inventory conducted and completed over a 10 year cycle. The inventory suggests that the impacts of deer browse have simplified the subcanopy by eliminating structure and species diversity. Forest understory regrowth and forest regeneration are impacted by deer browse in most forested stands on state-owned lands. Deer browse impacts reduces biomass, affects forest resilience to pests, disease, and a changing climate. Over time, reduced forest regeneration can result in altered forest types. Deer harvest numbers are very dependent on weather and island access during the November firearm hunt. In recent years, hunter surveys indicate that harvest is increasing, though the majority of the harvest is skewed toward bucks.

Hunting is the primary management tool available to achieve identified management goals. Antlerless harvest and deer population in the DMU are limited by extrinsic factors (e.g., accessibility, costs of travel, hunter participation in antlerless hunting). Antlerless license availability on both public and private lands slightly exceeds demand for antlerless licenses by hunters on the island. Conversations with the Bois Blanc Island Wildlife Association president indicate a desire to reduce antlerless harvest rather than increase it, and participation in early and late seasons on private lands would likely be very limited. Therefore, changes in the current antlerless deer hunting regulations (i.e., antlerless license quotas, early and late seasons) will likely not alter the number of antlerless deer harvested and are not recommended at this time. Promotion of the island for antlerless deer hunting, and education on the benefits of managing for a balanced buck to doe ratio in the future may increase harvest and is recommended.


DMU 152

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 152 is 386 miles2 in size and is primarily found in southwestern Marquette County. This DMU falls within the moderate snowfall zone and does not see the heavy snow fall amounts influenced by Lake Superior as seen in DMU’s to the north. This unit is 60% publicly owned with much of it held in State ownership.

Land use and habitat quality for deer in DMU 152 is heavily influenced by industrial timber management. Traditionally timber management emphasis has been on hardwood and aspen production. Agricultural influence is very limited and primarily only a factor near traditional rural communities. Since 1978 the availability of deer wintering habitat has remained stable in this DMU.

Management Guidance

The main goal guiding deer management in DMU 152 is to provide hunting opportunities and both deer densities and hunting success rates are good in DMU 152 relative to other DMU’s in the Western Upper Peninsula (WUP). The number of permits and whether they are available for private and public land depends on the previous winter weather and deer herd population trends. There is very little agricultural activity in this area and consequently the level of deer crop damage is extremely low. Outside of the deer wintering complexes deer browse normally has not impacted tree regeneration. Because of this no public or private land antlerless tags have been available in this DMU since 2012.

Winter weather is moderate compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (UP). Only about 200 inches of snowfall typically occurs each year in the southern part of this DMU. More snowfall occurs in the northern part of this DMU but typically not the 300+ inches found in areas influenced by Lake Superior. Consequently, fawn recruitment and over-winter survival tends to be high in this DMU.

Deer Management Recommendations

In DMU 152 the bucks harvested/mile2 has been increasing since the severe winters in 2013 and 2014. The bucks harvested/mile2 in this DMU consistently rank relatively high when compared to other DMU’s in the UP. Over the last ten years (2009-2018) DMU 152 has averaged 2.5 bucks harvested/mile2. This harvest rate signifies a relatively healthy deer herd compared to the rest of the WUP. Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, car deer accidents, deer management assistance permit, crop damage, and population projections) indicate that deer herd densities remain on an overall upward trend. While the deer in this unit seem to have recently recovered from the above average winter mortality in the past. The early snow cover in 2020 along with the high energy expenditure of navigating the landscape during periods of deep snow during the winter may make it very difficult for the

population to continue an upward trend year after year. The 2019 mail survey data is not available yet however the camp survey data indicates that firearm buck harvest success rate has dropped from 36% in 2018 to 18% in 2019. However, DMU 152 also has one of the higher three year (2016-2018) average hunter densities in the WUP (6.1 hunters/mile2) which likely contributes to the slightly lower hunter success rate. In fact, DMU 152 has the fifth highest hunter density reported in the WUP, which suggests this area is producing and retaining a good deer population. Other indicators such as deer seen per hunter day and fawns observed per 100 does has also decreased slightly in 2019.

Even though deer in DMU 152 remain on an overall upward trend, they have not fully recovered from the severe winters in 2013 and 2014. Because of this, it is recommended that DMU 152 should remain closed to general antlerless permits (private, public, or late season) for the next regulation cycle. Local deer density issues associated with agricultural operations is minimal in this unit and can be effectively dealt with by utilizing crop damage or deer management assistance permits.


DMU 155

Area Description

DMU 155 is located in western Delta and southeastern Marquette counties and totals 265 sq. miles. This unit is at the northern end of a “farm belt”, and the combination of farm fields and forest cover provide excellent habitat for deer. A portion of the Deadhorse-North Perkins Deer Wintering Complex (DWC) lies in the northeast portion of DMU 155. Eighty-six percent of the unit is privately-owned land, which includes about 36 sq. miles of commercial forest land. State Forest land comprises about 14% (36 sq. miles) of the unit. State land is comprised of numerous small compartments occurring most frequently along the east side of the unit.

Management Guidance

The two main goals that guide deer management in this DMU are: 1) hunting opportunities and 2.) population impact management. Ample hunting opportunities are provided because hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes. Antlerless harvest opportunities are supported by hunters, farmers, and forest managers. Population impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. Antlerless harvest opportunities on both private and public land are the main tool for accomplishing both beforementioned goals within DMU 155.

Deer Management Recommendations

Population indices in this DMU have followed similar trends as those of the Upper Peninsula region; lower than average buck harvest and hunter success were experienced in 2014-2016, but these have increased since then. The seasons of 2017 and 2018 had the highest buck harvest per sq. mile (6 and 6.7; Michigan Deer Harvest Survey) and deer observed per hunter day (7.3 and 6.2; U.P. Deer Camp Survey) since 2008.

Deer population indicators for DMU 155, such as buck kill per sq. mile (10 yr. average of 5.0) and deer observed per hunter day (10 yr. average of 5.0), are consistently among the highest in the U.P. region due to its southern geographic location and the interspersion of agricultural land.

For the regulation cycle 2020-2022 it is recommended that private land antlerless quotas be 1800 with the public land antlerless quota set at 400.


DMU 249

Area Description

DMU 249 lies along the Lake Michigan shoreline and is comprised largely of Mackinac and Chippewa counties with a small portion of southeastern Luce County in the northwestern portion of the DMU. The unit was once part of DMU 049 and was split out in 2009 due to differing levels of deer abundance and harvest rates between eastern and western portions of the old DMU. This DMU is 859 square miles and consists of 27% state land, 51% federal land and 22% private land. The landscape is dominated by forested types that are typically less productive for deer with only a small amount (~5%) of agricultural land in the unit on the eastern border. Hunting camps are less common in the DMU due to the large amount of public ownership which is predominantly part of the Hiawatha National Forest. The DMU is located primarily in the moderate snowfall zone. Winter is a limiting factor for the deer herd, and most deer migrate to deer wintering complexes (DWC’s) present in the DMU where conifer cover provides some protection from wintering conditions.

Management Guidance

The goals for this DMU are to grow the deer herd in a healthy and sustainable way, provide hunting opportunities, while dealing with over-abundance issues with permits or antlerless harvest as the need arises.

Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting deer abundance in the high and moderate snowfall zones of the Upper Peninsula. In 2015, antlerless harvest during archery season was suspended across the region following 3 consecutive severe winters and decreasing population indices. Buck harvest and other population indices (buck to doe ratio, fawn to doe ratio) have since increased to near average levels for the DMU.

With little agriculture in the DMU, few, if any, agricultural damage complaints are typically received annually for this DMU, and there is little evidence of over-browsing occurring outside of DWC’s that impacts tree regeneration. Both deer densities and hunting success rates are historically below-average in DMU 249 as compared to the rest of the region. Because of this, antlerless permits have not been issued since its inception in 2009. Population indices suggest that a limited increase in antlerless harvest would not greatly affect the population size. However, there appears to be little support for antlerless harvest opportunities based on feedback from hunters and other stakeholders.

Deer Management Recommendations

Like the region, this DMU has followed similar trends with declining buck harvest and hunter success following severe winters of 2013, 2014 and 2015. Deer sighting rates, hunter success and bucks killed per square mile have been on an overall increasing trend since the lows of 2015. Buck hunter success from 2016-2018 (27%) was higher than that of the 2011-2013 seasons (22%) which followed three mild winters, and daily deer sighting rates are higher currently (1.7 deer seen per day) than the long-term average for the unit (1.1 deer seen per day). However, these rates are low when compared to other units in the region. The average buck kill per square mile from 2016-2018 (0.8) was substantially below that for DMU’s open to antlerless harvest in the region (range 2.1 -5.4) and was the third lowest of all DMU’s across the region.

Furthermore, winter conditions in the eastern Upper Peninsula appear to be above average for the last two years. The early deep snows and delayed snow melt of 2020 are likely to hinder continued deer population recovery. Crop damage complaints have been non-existent, and browse evidence is low outside of deer wintering complexes. These could be addressed with permits if the need arose. Although there is limited interest in antlerless harvest of some kind, most of the feedback from hunters has been opposed to antlerless harvest in the DMU. It is recommended that this DMU remain closed to antlerless harvest quotas at this time. The impacts of antlerless harvest during archery season can be evaluated in future years.


DMU 252

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 252 is 297 miles2 in size and is primarily in southeastern Marquette, southwestern Alger and northwestern Delta County. This DMU falls within the moderate snowfall zone and does not have the heavy snow fall influenced by Lake Superior as other DMU’s to the north. Forty-five percent of this unit is held in public ownership, most of which is held by the State.

Land use and habitat quality for deer is influenced by industrial timber management. Traditionally timber management emphasis is primarily on aspen and lowland conifer production. There is a moderate amount of agricultural in DMU 252 compared to other DMU’s in the western Upper Peninsula (WUP). The combination of farm crops and forest cover provides excellent habitat for deer in the southern and eastern parts of this DMU. Deer wintering habitat particularly north of the town of Rock has seen a marked reduction since 1978. However, the traditional wintering complexes to the west of Rock in southern Marquette County have fared much better.

Management Guidance

The main goal guiding deer management in DMU 252 is to provide hunting opportunities and both deer densities and hunting success rates are generally good compared to some of the other DMU’s in the WUP. Traditionally, antlerless permits have been available for this DMU. However, the number of permits and whether they are available for private and public land depends on the previous winter weather and deer herd population trends. Because of the type of agricultural activity (generally hay crops) in this area, the level of deer crop damage is low. Outside of the deer wintering complexes, deer browse normally has not impacted tree regeneration. Because of the low number of deer damage complaints, no public or private land antlerless tags have been available in this DMU since 2013.

Winter weather is moderate compared to other portions of the Upper Peninsula (UP). This DMU has a marked variation in snow fall from north to south. About 200-250 inches of snow typically falls in the northern parts of this DMU near Gwinn and roughly 150-200 inches of snowfall occurs in the southern parts near Rock each year compared to 300+ inches in areas influenced by Lake Superior. Consequently, fawn recruitment and over-winter survival tends to be relatively good in this DMU.

Deer Management Recommendations

The bucks harvested/mile2 has seen a general upward trend since the severe winters in 2013 and 2014. However, despite the mosaic of farm and forested land in the southern and eastern portions of DMU 252 and the milder winter weather conditions, the bucks harvested/mile2 is relatively low when compared to other DMU’s in the WUP. In fact, the yearly bucks harvested/mile2 results consistently ranks just below the Upper Peninsula (UP) average. The harsh winters (2012 – 2014) played a significant role in deer survival across the UP, yet DMU 252 had a significant increase in bucks harvested/mile2 in 2014. This significant increase was sandwiched between the two lowest recorded buck harvest rates in the last 18 years. We do not fully understand the cause of this increase, but it was likely caused by the heavy November snow fall which made deer more vulnerable to harvest along migration trails and some deer were unable to reach traditional wintering areas.

Current reported local herd indicators, (camp survey, car deer accidents, deer management assistance permit, crop damage, and population projections) indicate that deer herd densities remain on an overall upward trend. The early snow cover in 2020 along with the high energy expenditure of navigating the landscape during periods of deep snow during the winter may make it very difficult for the population to continue an upward trend year after year. The 2019 mail survey data is not yet available. However, the camp survey data indicates that the firearm buck harvest success rate has dropped from 25% in 2018 to 18% in 2019 and deer seen per hunter day also decreased slightly in 2019.

Even though deer in DMU 252 appear to be generally trending upward, they have not fully recovered from the severe winters in 2013 and 2014. Because of this, it is recommended that DMU 252 should remain closed to general antlerless permits (private, public, or late season) for the next regulation cycle. Local deer density issues associated with agricultural operations is minimal in this unit and can be effectively dealt with by utilizing crop damage or deer management assistance permits.


DMU 255

Area Description

The LaBranche Deer Management Unit is covered by forested upland ridges, oriented northeast-southwest, interspersed with lowland conifer forest. Agriculture is found within the southeast portion of the unit. The unit is located primarily in northern Menominee County and totals 463 sq. miles, half of which is within Chronic Wasting Disease Core Surveillance Area (210 sq. miles). The Core Surveillance Area was created in 2018, following the first confirmed chronic wasting disease positive white-tailed deer. About 90% of the unit is privately owned land, roughly half of which is publicly-accessible corporate commercial forest land. It has roughly 46 sq. miles of State Forest land.

Management Guidance

Three main goals guide deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; 2) disease response; and 2) hunting opportunities. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. Agricultural crop damage is a minor deer management issue in this unit and tend to be focused in parts of the DMU with higher deer numbers. A large amount of land is owned by corporations whose missions are commercial timber production and regeneration. Forestry professionals consistently express concerns over tree regeneration, and ask that deer impacts to forest regeneration be considered when developing deer management decisions. Management for this unit includes disease surveillance and response, which includes slowing the rate of transmission and monitoring disease prevalence within the herd. Implementing regulations that maintain lower deer numbers are important within this unit and include such actions as, sustaining antlerless harvest and removing antler point restrictions within the Core Surveillance Area. Ample hunting opportunities are also provided because hunters may self-regulate harvest of antlerless deer for a variety of factors such as a perception of too few deer. Success and harvest rates are thereby suppressed not by population decline, but by human decision-making processes.

Deer Management Recommendations

Long-term indicators for DMU 255 describe a deer population that is of medium size compared to other units in the U.P. Population indices in this DMU have followed similar trends as those of the Upper Peninsula region; lower than average buck harvest and hunter success were experienced in 2014-2016, but these have increased since then.

Deer hunting camps and mail survey report indicate reasonably good deer sighting rates, buck kill success, and fawn-to-doe ratios relative to other DMU’s in the region. The unit produces a moderate buck kill per sq. mile (10 yr. average of 2.0; Michigan Deer Harvest Survey) and deer observed per hunter day (10 yr. average of 4.2; Deer Camp Survey).

For the regulation cycle 2020-2022 it is recommended private land antlerless quotas be 1000 with public land antlerless quota set at 600 and antler point restrictions be removed within Core Surveillance Area, maintaining tools for addressing impacts and responding to disease.


DMU 273

Area Description

The Shiawassee Flats Deer Management Unit (DMU 273) is located in the Southern Lower Peninsula in the Saginaw Bay region (Saginaw County) of Wildlife Division’s Southeast Region management unit. DMU 273 is a specially-managed DMU located wholly within the confines of DMU 073 and is comprised of the entirety of Shiawassee River State Game Area and portions of Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. All hunting in this public land DMU is completed through a pre-registered lottery system.

Topography in this DMU is generally flat lake plain with soils that are well-suited to row crop agriculture. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately owned lands, which constitute ~60% of Saginaw County (DMU 073), in addition to the county fully containing the urban center of Saginaw. Habitat suitable for deer is plentiful in this DMU, with habitat on both the State and Federal land being managed for healthy native species vegetation complexes, thus contributing to ideal habitat for deer.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide deer management in this DMU:

  1. Impact management
  2. Hunting opportunities

Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance, with examples being crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. In an effort to find a middle-ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities, while trying to mitigate unwanted impacts, DNR reviews data from several sources to adjust harvest strategies as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and annual surveys, winter severity indices, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of crop damage permits issues, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

Deer herd and harvest management in this DMU will revolve around using twice-annual aerial winter count surveys and post-hunt harvest surveys. There is a goal for a herd size of 600-800 animals, on average, during the aerial winter survey. This range was developed as an ideal target to limit negative effects of state and private land crop damage issues while still allowing sustained high-quality hunting opportunities.

DNR works cooperatively with staff from Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to develop annual harvest recommendations based on previously mentioned aerial winter surveys and harvest indicated on post-hunt harvest surveys. Annual permit allocations will be adjusted to maintain herd size at desired levels through either sex and/or antlerless-only hunts.


DMU 311

Area Description

The Keeler Deer Management Unit (DMU 311) lies in the Southern Lower Peninsula (SLP) region and covers Van Buren, Berrien, and Cass counties. The majority of public hunting opportunities in this DMU are located at Crane Pond, Boyle Lake, Cornish and Keeler State Game Areas. Topography varies from rolling hills to relatively flat with soils that are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture and fruit production toward the lakeshore. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately-owned lands, which constitute approximately 98% of the DMU. The public and private lands are generally regarded as decent deer habitat with interspersed shrubland, forests, and wetlands among the agricultural lands.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU are: 1) to provide quality hunting opportunities; and 2) impact the deer population through management. Impacting the population through management, in this context refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance. Crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing are examples. To find a middle-ground in which deer numbers, provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities, and mitigate unwanted impacts; we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population was gradually declining in this DMU while hunter numbers had remained relatively constant until a sharp decline recorded in 2012 (most likely due to outbreak of EHD across the DMU). In 2014, we decreased the number of antlerless tags to 10,700 (700 public land tags and 10,000 private land tags) with the intent to keep it reduced for the duration of the 3-year management cycle to see if there was a change. While there certainly had been some local population recoveries in the DMU, the population was still quite low in some areas and below goal for the DMU collectively. In 2017 we recommended a 20% reduction in permit numbers across the board. The result was 8,000 antlerless tags for private lands and 560 for public lands in the DMU.

For 2020, we have seen an increase in population numbers throughout the DMU. Crop damage complaints have risen over the last three years, as have deer vehicle collisions. We have also seen antlerless tags sellout over the counter in September. At the same time, there has been a decrease in percent antlerless harvest, and a decrease in hunter effort. We recommend an increase in antlerless tags in order to stabilize the deer population. We recommend 14,000 tags for private land, and 600 tags for public land in the DMU. We also recommend that early antlerless season be open. Our goal is to stabilize the deer population to maintain quality hunter opportunity and prevent further increase in human-deer conflicts.


DMU 332

Area Description

The Greenleaf Deer Management Unit (DMU 332) covers Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties. The vast majority of public hunting opportunities in this DMU are available at 12 state game/wildlife areas and 11 mini-state game areas totaling 57,754 acres. Portions of Sleeper State Park and Port Crescent State Park are also open to hunting. Topography varies from rolling hills in the central portion of the DMU to relatively flat lake plain generally within 15 miles of the Lake Huron shoreline. Soils are generally well-suited to row crop agriculture across most of the DMU. The landscape is highly fragmented due to the predominance of agriculture on privately-owned lands, which constitute >96% of the DMU. Except for State Game and Wildlife Areas and private lands along and south of the Cass River drainage, habitat providing cover for deer (e.g., woodlots, shrub/brush, and wetland) is relatively isolated and exists in small patches.

Management Guidance

Two main goals guide the deer management in this DMU: 1) impact management; and 2) recreational opportunities including hunting and viewing. Impact management refers to reduction of undesirable effects associated with deer over-abundance such as crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and poor forest regeneration due to over-browsing. In an effort to find a middle ground in which deer numbers provide ample hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities and mitigate unwanted impacts, we review data from several sources to adjust the harvest strategy as needed. These data include deer harvest data from check stations and an annual survey, deer-vehicle collision data from the Michigan State Police, and deer-related information collected by regional wildlife biologists (e.g., number of Crop Damage Permits, population models, habitat assessments, etc.).

Deer Management Recommendations

The deer population in the Greenleaf DMU is stable and has been increasing steadily since 2009. In 2014, the deer population decreased due to the severe winter that year; since then the population has been increasing significantly and deer density remains high relative to other regions of the state. Out of season kill (OSK) permits and deer-vehicle collisions have increased the last three years indicating that pockets of over abundant deer remain throughout the DMU. Hunting opportunities remain robust due to the continued high deer density but hunting effort and deer harvest has declined resulting in an increasing population. The goal for the Greenleaf DMU is to reduce deer numbers, thus, we recommend that 35,000 private land antlerless deer permits, and 5,200 public land antlerless permits be made available to help achieve that goal. The DMU will be open to early and late season antlerless firearm deer hunting.


DMU 349

Area Description

DMU 349 lies along the lake Michigan shoreline in western Mackinac county with small portions of southern Luce county and southeastern Schoolcraft county. The unit was once part of DMU 049 and was split out in 2009 due to differing levels of deer abundance and harvest rates between eastern and western portions of the old DMU. This DMU is 468 square miles, with state land encompassing 40% of the DMU while 60% consists of private land including extensive tracts of corporate forest land and a large (~35,000 acre) private hunt club. Hunting camps are common and scattered throughout the entire DMU. DMU 349 has several blocks of productive agricultural lands (row crops and livestock) that generally support higher deer numbers than state forest lands. The DMU is located predominately in the moderate snowfall zone. Winter is a limiting factor for the deer herd, and most deer migrate to deer wintering complexes (DWC’s) present in the DMU where conifer cover provides some protection from wintering conditions.

Management Guidance

The goal for this DMU is to grow the deer herd in a healthy and sustainable way, provide hunting opportunities, while dealing with over-abundance issues with permits or antlerless harvest as the need arises.

Population indices suggest that winter conditions are a primary factor affecting deer abundance in the high and moderate snowfall zones of the Upper Peninsula. In 2015, antlerless harvest during archery season was suspended across the region following 3 consecutive severe winters and decreasing population indices. Buck harvest and other population indices (buck to doe ratio, fawn to doe ratio, and deer sighting rates) have since increased to near average levels for the unit.

Few to no agricultural damage complaints are received for this DMU annually, and there is little evidence of over-browsing outside of DWC’s that impacts tree regeneration. Relatively low hunter success rates and bucks killed per square mile compared to other DMU’s in the region indicate that this unit might not be ready for antlerless quotas despite decent daily sighting rates. Additionally, hunter input suggests a desire to increase deer numbers with some limited interest in antlerless harvest.

Deer Management Recommendations

Like the region, this DMU has followed similar trends with declining buck harvest and hunter success following severe winters of 2013, 2014 and 2015. Deer sighting rates, hunter success and bucks killed

per square mile have been on an overall increasing trend since the lows of 2015. However, the average buck kill per square mile from 2016-2018 (1.3) was considerably below that for DMU’s open to antlerless harvest in the region (range 2.1 -5.4) and was in the bottom third of all DMU’s across the region. Similarly, hunter satisfaction for 2019 (16%) was far below the average (35%) for units open to antlerless harvest.

Furthermore, winter conditions in the eastern Upper Peninsula appear to be above average for the last two years. The early deep snows and delayed snow melt of 2020 are likely to hinder continued deer population recovery. Crop damage complaints have been non-existent, and evidence of browsing damage is low outside of deer wintering complexes. These potential issues could be easily addressed with permits if the need arose. Although there is some interest in antlerless harvest of some kind, most of the feedback from hunters has been opposed to antlerless harvest in the DMU. It is recommended that this DMU remain closed to antlerless harvest quotas at this time. The impacts of antlerless harvest during archery season can be evaluated in future years.


DMU 452

Area Description

The Core TB Zone Deer Management Unit (DMU) is a multi-county DMU created to address bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). This DMU includes portions of Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, and Oscoda Counties. DMU 452 is approximately 570 square miles of which about 7% of the total acreage is public land. The remainder of land is in private ownership. Topography varies from rolling hills to areas that are relatively flat. The landscape consists primarily of large private hunt clubs managed for deer hunting with interspersed agricultural lands and blocks of public land, especially in the eastern part of the unit. The large hunt clubs are dominated by forest land and provide excellent habitat for deer. Some forested habitat has been negatively impacted by high deer numbers and historic use for cattle pasture. The agriculture lands are used for pasture and row crops.

Management Guidance

One goal guides the deer management in this DMU: bTB eradication. Tuberculosis surveillance in deer continues to be an important activity in this unit. There has been little change in bTB prevalence in deer in recent years in the bTB core area. It is important to maintain a management program that keeps deer numbers low to minimize bTB transmission with the ultimate goal of eradication. Enforcement of the ban on baiting and feeding should continue, as high deer concentrations caused by these activities increase bTB transmission. Sustained antlerless harvest should occur to keep deer populations from expanding. Other tools aimed at increasing deer harvest include an early and late antlerless deer season as well as liberal use of Disease Control Permits, Deer Damage Permits and Deer Management Assistance Permits in the DMU.

Deer Management Recommendations

In the ongoing effort to control bTB in deer and given that DMU 452 is a multi-county DMU created to address bTB in the NLP, it is recommended that availability for public land antlerless tags remain libreal in this DMU. Encouraging the harvest of deer in this unit remains very important for bTB management. This means offering effectively unlimited antlerless licenses (maintaining the same level of antlerless deer quotas), continuing to offer a late and early antlerless season on private lands, maintaining a feeding and baiting ban, and offering DCPs to those willing to use them. DCP’s provide cattle farmers and adjacent landowners with a tool to address potential deer and cattle interaction, either directly or at cattle feed sources. This program should continue to be available to farmers that desire to protect cattle in this manner.


DMU 487

Area Description

Deer Management Unit (DMU) 487 is a multi-county DMU created to address bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in the Northern Lower Peninsula Region (NLP). This DMU includes Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda, and Presque Isle Counties. These are the counties that surround DMU 452 which is the core bTB area. DMU 487 is approximately 3,035 square miles in size of which about 37% of the total acreage is public land. The remainder of land is in private ownership. The landscape consists primarily of large private hunt clubs managed for deer hunting with interspersed agricultural lands and blocks of public land, especially in the southern and western part of the unit. The large hunt clubs are dominated by forest land and provide excellent habitat for deer. Some forested habitat has been negatively impacted by high deer numbers and historic use for cattle pasture. The agricultural lands are used for pasture and row crops.

Management Guidance

One goal guides the deer management in this DMU: bTB eradication. Tuberculosis surveillance in deer continues to be an important activity in this unit. Because there has been little change in bTB prevalence in deer in recent years in the bTB core area, it will be important to maintain a management program that keeps deer numbers low to minimize bTB transmission with the ultimate goal of eradication. Enforcement of the ban on baiting and feeding should continue, as high deer concentrations caused by these activities increase bTB transmission. Sustained antlerless harvest should occur to keep deer populations from expanding.

Deer Management Recommendations

In the ongoing effort to control bTB in deer and given that DMU 487 is a multi-county DMU created to address bTB in the NLP, it is recommended that public land antlerless availability remain libreal in this DMU. Encouraging the harvest of deer in this unit remains very important for bTB management. This means offering effectively unlimited antlerless licenses (maintaining the same level of antlerless deer quotas), continuing to offer a late and early antlerless season on private lands, maintaining a feeding and baiting ban, and offering DCPs to those willing to use them. DCP’s provide cattle farmers and adjacent landowners with a tool to address potential deer and cattle interaction, either directly or at cattle feed sources. This program should continue to be available to farmers that desire to protect cattle in this manner in ddition to permits. Other tools aimed at increasing deer harvest in the DMU include Deer Damage Permits and Deer Management Assistance Permits in the DMU.