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Was thinking a little about this yesterday and decided I’d throw it out there. I’ve seen a large number of comments about lower numbers of folks during gun season, though this is seems to be a greater factor the further north you go.

So why would that be the case? Well some might say the pandemic hunters didn’t last more than a season. Others the decline in hunter numbers. But I’m wondering if the pandemic is the driver, and here’s why. Gun season of course started on a Monday which makes it harder for working folks to get out if they hunt that way - but perhaps this drove people to more aggressively pursue taking deer via bow. I also wonder about how the pandemic over the past year changed how people were forced to take their annual leave. In talking to a bunch of people I know their leave was spent visiting family, or caring for kids with all the school outages earlier in the year, or taking a family vacation. Thus my guess is for folks who weren’t retired or very dedicated/family tradition, dedicating several days for deer camp wasn’t on the cards in light of work or family. Perhaps instead, those who couldn’t make it hunted closer to home in the south of the state, or didn’t hunt at all, leading the apparent drop in hunter numbers. Will be interesting to see the DNR stats coming out this year of county harvest, and if true the expectation for next year would be a bounce up again.

Would be interested in others perspectives.
 

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Lot of guys spend more time bow hunting and some even tag out before gun season.
Lower deer numbers up north translates to few hunters as well. A lot of guys have access to private land in the SLP where deer numbers are much higher and a chance at a wall hanger are much better.

Where we hunt in the NELP there are some gun hunters but nothing compared to what it used to be. And bow hunters….in the week I was up I saw only a couple hunters parked that I assume were deer hunting and that was over several square miles. It’s like having 10s of thousands of acres of your own hunting land.


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There is several things
The Pandemic was little reason why as most do Hunt whether Bow or Firearms or Both! Seems some are using the Pandemic as an lame reason for deer Hunters not getting out is just a misnomer. They Claim Meat Prices but who is all that Successful there first 5 years of Deer Hunting To score some Meat and could it have CWD / TB or something other? Might be the changes to Deer Hunting and Regs, Maybe that Some Can't get their deer Tested for CWD or free Testing as they can for TB? Then Add in that Deer Hunting has been losing Hunters for years now and maybe then the Cost of Gas to get There? When You wonder You are at a Forum with most hard Core Hunters but some have moved away from this Forum or post a Lot Less! As the way things Are Mutating and as I see It Not for the Better Management of Our Michigan Natural Resources, and most of the Time little Common Sense is Now used and seems the NRC / NRC Lack a lot and playing Catch Up too Often. Like why State Wide Antlerless Permits. How can that be Better Management over DMU Specific Allotment of Permits!
So Much as To Better Management Decisions and Now Look at who the Members are on the NRC and who they are associated with that says It All...
Newaygo1
 

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Lot of guys spend more time bow hunting and some even tag out before gun season.
Lower deer numbers up north translates to few hunters as well. A lot of guys have access to private land in the SLP where deer numbers are much higher and a chance at a wall hanger are much better.

Where we hunt in the NELP there are some gun hunters but nothing compared to what it used to be. And bow hunters….in the week I was up I saw only a couple hunters parked that I assume were deer hunting and that was over several square miles. It’s like having 10s of thousands of acres of your own hunting land.


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I will go with this also the last few years deer have disappeared fast around me during the archery season .I hear barely a gunshot during the gun season .It's easier to take deer during the archery season than it used to be .
 

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Was thinking a little about this yesterday and decided I’d throw it out there. I’ve seen a large number of comments about lower numbers of folks during gun season, though this is seems to be a greater factor the further north you go.

So why would that be the case? Well some might say the pandemic hunters didn’t last more than a season. Others the decline in hunter numbers. But I’m wondering if the pandemic is the driver, and here’s why. Gun season of course started on a Monday which makes it harder for working folks to get out if they hunt that way - but perhaps this drove people to more aggressively pursue taking deer via bow. I also wonder about how the pandemic over the past year changed how people were forced to take their annual leave. In talking to a bunch of people I know their leave was spent visiting family, or caring for kids with all the school outages earlier in the year, or taking a family vacation. Thus my guess is for folks who weren’t retired or very dedicated/family tradition, dedicating several days for deer camp wasn’t on the cards in light of work or family. Perhaps instead, those who couldn’t make it hunted closer to home in the south of the state, or didn’t hunt at all, leading the apparent drop in hunter numbers. Will be interesting to see the DNR stats coming out this year of county harvest, and if true the expectation for next year would be a bounce up again.

Would be interested in others perspectives.
If firearm season participation was in fact lower than would be expected for a Monday opener, your theories about the pandemic's impact certainly could be in play.

Long term, firearm season participation is likely to continue to decline, just as it has for decades. It's the rare deer hunter under 50 who would choose firearm season over archery. Firearm season simply isn't the big deal that it once was.
 

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Hunter numbers have been projected to keep falling in spite of the pandemic. I have to bethat they are correct in their assessment.

Less hunters means more liberal hunting opportunities are coming. Someone has to do the heavy lifting for deer control.

The easy button was pushed years ago by allowing bows with training wheels, next crossbows were introduced next air bows will be allowed to boost Hunter numbers.
 

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Making hunting "easier" by more "archery" season inclusion will not increase hunter numbers or retention.

Develop more land, lose more access, and lose hunters.

Combine that with the fact that public land hunting, for the most part, sucks.

I mean, how am I gonna keep a kid interested in deer hunting by taking him out to the Allegan woods for days on end and not seeing a single deer? Well, answer is... I'm not.

I actually think the liberalizing of "archery" season was detrimental to recruitment. It filled the woods with hunting pressure and made "bow" season a dang mess. Not something that will encourage recruitment. Finding a tree stand in every reasonably good area you come across.

CWD is also a factor. The WHO (like em or not) is very concerned about CWD. And strongly advises keeping infected game out of human consumption. It creeps my wife out.

The testing process is a huge pain. And the myriad of rules around where you shoot a deer and where you can take it and in what condition is a ridiculous read.

2018 was my last year deer hunting. CWD testing was a pain, and I lost my rifle opener spot, and my privates spots here in SW Mi were very small and sightings went to almost nothing.

So I guess to sum up my windbagged diatribe:

1. Loss of access.
2. Low deer numbers on available access.
3. Disease.
 

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Making hunting "easier" by more "archery" season inclusion will not increase hunter numbers or retention.
Actual hunter numbers have completely disproven your theory. Archery hunters exploded when it got easier, which was the point where compound bows became popular. By the late 90's there were 380,000 archery hunters in MI. Last year by comparison archery season participants were 322,000. Meanwhile, firearm season numbers have dropped from 750,000 to 490,000.

The ease of archery season is a major factor in retention, as both of the popular weapon choices (compounds and crossbows) are easy to become proficient with and the season includes hunting opportunities at the best time of year to experience peak deer movement.
 

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I would love to know where these spots are with lower numbers of hunters. This year there was by far more hunters up north than I’ve seen in the 10 years I’ve hunted up there.
Me speaking personally, I’m referring to Alcona county in the Glennie area. I’m sure there are plenty of hunters throughout the county but our area is generally pretty light.
Part of that I’m sure is because of low deer numbers and not a ton of prime habitat but I’ll take it because there are decent bucks to be had if you put in the time.


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I hunt swlp, public land.
hunters number where down.
Could it be due to the Virus? or has inflation hit the hunter hard that hunt public?
we have a combination of many things.
First is bad habitats on public land.
second the trophy attitude
third cost to even get into hunting
forth inflation on every front.
the cost of rent is threw the roof. most people have to either work overtime or a second job just to afford a place to live.
last is weather.
yep weather has not been the best most of the season to get hunters in the mode to hunt.
I can say I seen alot of deer and good bucks during archery season this year, but can't figure out what happen during rifle season as everything just vanished. with the little pressure I seen the deer should of been on a pattern.
I tried my pressure pattern when that did not work, went back to the oaks. that has not work.
I am studying the maps looking at the land and doing what I know of to figure them out this year. was not the rain, some how my area the ground stood pretty dry. unlike a few years back when it turned into a lake.
so last low deer numbers will keep people from the woods.

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Actual hunter numbers have completely disproven your theory. Archery hunters exploded when it got easier, which was the point where compound bows became popular. By the late 90's there were 380,000 archery hunters in MI. Last year by comparison archery season participants were 322,000. Meanwhile, firearm season numbers have dropped from 750,000 to 490,000.

The ease of archery season is a major factor in retention, as both of the popular weapon choices (compounds and crossbows) are easy to become proficient with and the season includes hunting opportunities at the best time of year to experience peak deer movement.

DNR published a report a few years back that showed an increase in bowhunters whic correlated almost exactly with a decrease in gun hunters.

Essentially full inclusion was a net ZERO.

If I can find the report back I'll post the link
 

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Tough one to find. Found a similar one here which kind of describes the trade from gun season to archery

 

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Nothing wrong with that, IMO! :)
 

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Agree with many different thoughts from you all. But as someone who has hunted the same large parcel in central LP since 1972, my opinion is the biggest change is archery hunter numbers have grown enormously in that time. According to the DNR, almost as many archery licenses as gun licenses are sold now. Where we used to see tons of hunters on surrounding farms the first 3 days of gun season, we hear very few shots now even on Nov 15th. By noon on the 15th most are done. Gun season just isn't the "holiday" it once was. And it's mainly because so many are hunting with a crossbow now. Why wait until Nov 15th, when the weather is colder, when you have all of October and early November to basically use a "gun" to bowhunt? Very simple to use very effectively. As easy as a gun albeit the effective range is less. The crop of hunters is completely different now. It is what it is, but it's VERY noticeable to an old timer like me
 

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Agree with many different thoughts from you all. But as someone who has hunted the same large parcel in central LP since 1972, my opinion is the biggest change is archery hunter numbers have grown enormously in that time. According to the DNR, almost as many archery licenses as gun licenses are sold now. Where we used to see tons of hunters on surrounding farms the first 3 days of gun season, we hear very few shots now even on Nov 15th. By noon on the 15th most are done. Gun season just isn't the "holiday" it once was. And it's mainly because so many are hunting with a crossbow now. Why wait until Nov 15th, when the weather is colder, when you have all of October and early November to basically use a "gun" to bowhunt? Very simple to use very effectively. As easy as a gun albeit the effective range is less. The crop of hunters is completely different now. It is what it is, but it's VERY noticeable to an old timer like me
the crossbow did bring some hunters with it, but I believe my compound was an easier weapon for me to kill a deer with.
for me I could hide in a tree alot easier, less bulk.
if I was not disabled and could effectively practice and still use my bow I would over the crossbow on most days.
the only advantage I found with the crossbow is during the late hunts when it is freezing out.
bow or crossbow I keep all shots within 30 yards, so I gained no yardage advantage.
heck most spots I hunt during firearm my max range is 50 yards.
for me hunting is getting close to the animals. Never cared for shooting an animal that are at a distant. I did not earn that kill.

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