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I just got back from Cadillac where the MDNR held their NW Region Deer Population Goals Meeting. Bob from BBT and I sat together and both voiced our thoughts.

The meeting was very well attended with about 3/4 of the high school auditorium (Class A high school) full of hunters from Mason, Manistee, Benzie, Mecosta, Oceana, Osceola, Wexford, Grand Traverse, Missaukee, Lake, Leelanau, and Newaygo Counties present. A couple of guys came from Midland to attend.

Below you'll find a quick synopsis of the comments. I'll use astericks to show you the support, as expressed both vocally and with applause from the audience
* tepid support
** mild support
*** moderate support
**** strong support
***** overwhelming support

Go back to the old DMU boundries rather than the present county-wide method.....****

We as hunters must take resposibility for pulling or not pulling the trigger....****

4 pts. on a side antler restriction.....**** (this one surpised me) These comments received the loudest applause from the present. I give it four stars rather than five because it was brought up by fewer hunters than some other issues, but still it seemed to garner a lot of support.

Overwhelming disappointment in the deer season just passed...*****

Mandatory deer check-in.....****

Limiting or eliminating doe permits for a period of time.....***** (those who voiced their concerns all used the phrase "doe permits"

Stop baiting....***

Protect young bucks and button bucks.....****

Alter or eliminate the Youth Hunt....*

Hunting seasons are too long.....*

Split Opening Days meaning having one day for the U.P. and another for the L.P......***

I'm sure as the days pass I'll think of some other issues that arose. These are the ones that I took notes on.
 

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I was at the meeting also. Whit you got away before I got a chance to introduce myself. I would second your assessment of the evening and add a couple more comments.

Audience confidence in the accuracy of the deer population estimates - (**).
NO one had any confidence in the accuracy of the size of the deer herd numbers presented. Most felt they were way overstated.

Also, I felt a bit sorry for the biologists for the way they were treated by some. They are trying to do a job, with a lot of political issues getting in the way and had to have a pretty thick skin to listen to many of the public comments. To say some of the crowd was a bit hostile would be somewhat of an understatement.

Was a good meeting though and I think they got a pretty good feel for the way the public is thinking.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
bucko12pt said:
I was at the meeting also. Whit you got away before I got a chance to introduce myself. I would second your assessment of the evening and add a couple more comments.

Audience confidence in the accuracy of the deer population estimates - (**).
NO one had any confidence in the accuracy of the size of the deer herd numbers presented. Most felt they were way overstated.

Also, I felt a bit sorry for the biologists for the way they were treated by some. They are trying to do a job, with a lot of political issues getting in the way and had to have a pretty thick skin to listen to many of the public comments. To say some of the crowd was a bit hostile would be somewhat of an understatement.

Was a good meeting though and I think they got a pretty good feel for the way the public is thinking.

Yes, you are correct about the audience members confidence in the data the DNR presents to the hunting public, their very hostile attitude, although it could have been worse, I've seen it at other, unrelated meetings such as those involving the Natural Rivers Act (that also being in Cadillac....Hmmm!..:lol: )

I also agree with feeling a bit sorry for the biologists and admire the way they took the flak with an unemotional, even, at times, humorous demeanor.

My wife was with me....she was out shopping for a couple of hours at the Super Walmart on the north edge of town...and we had agreed to leave at 9PM before the meeting was over. We had been gone from since since about 10AM doing stuff up in TC before we drove down to Cadillac for the meeting.

Bob of BBT and a long standing MS member and I were sitting together.

I always enjoy meeting other MS members. Maybe sometime in the future we can get together.
 

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bucko12pt said:
To say some of the crowd was a bit hostile would be somewhat of an understatement.
There is alot of agression in the Michigan hunting industry and its even getting pretty evident on this site.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You can find the date, time, and location of the goals meeting in your area of interest at this site.

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153--131646--,00.html

I'd urge you to attend and speak your piece. However, if the meeting is well attended (as they should be) you'll only have two minutes to speak so I'd sugget that you put your thoughts together in your mind ahead of time, focusing only on your most important points so as to save time.

Stay away from any rude comments these people have heard them before and you'll only detract from the message you're trying to convey.
 

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Do you remember who was talking for the State?
 
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Whit, what's your gut feeling about the DNR actually listening to the comments from the audience and responding in a positive way?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
2tundras said:
Do you remember who was talking for the State?
There were several DNR who spoke while I was there.

Rod Clute
Big Game Specialist

Penney Melchoir
NW Management Unit Supervisor

Jeff Green
Newaygo County Deer Biologist

There were other there, but for the 2 hrs. I was there, these did the bulk of the presentation. Their part took about an hour, maybe a bit less.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ed Spin04 said:
Whit, what's your gut feeling about the DNR actually listening to the comments from the audience and responding in a positive way?
Ed, it's hard to get a read, as you know. They did listen, but as to whether they would take to heart what was said I don't know. I think they are already working on, as shown by the lowered antlerless permits given out this past year, to the concerns the herd is too far below stated goals.

I have two of these "report" threads going, one in this forum and the other in the Whitetail Hunting Forum and I forget what I've said in follow-up posts....CRS..you understand I'm sure, but the young whipper snamppers may not.....:lol:

Penny Melchoir made the only really "exceptional" reaction to to a comment when a fellow who hunts in the U.P. mentioned that he crossed the bridge on the Sunday following the Opener the deer check-in station was closed and the DNR missed a perfect opportunity to collect data. Penny gave a very obvious "whince" as if to agree with the guy.
 

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Whit - thanks for a great report. I wish I could have been there. Thanks for taking the time to writeup such a nice synopsis.

Did you happen to notice if Frank Wheatlake, Bob Garner or Keith Charters were there?

Thanks, Chuck
 

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Whit - thanks for the great summary of the meeting. Wished I could have attended that one since that is my area for hunting. It sounds like some of the education efforts are taking hold without much controversy or public gnashing.

Thanks again.

Swamper
 

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Swamper, I think you misunderstand. When Whit puts five stars by Overwhelming disappointment in the deer season just passed, he means almost everyone there was pissed. I believe I was the only one with a full positive endorsement of MDNR and another 2 guys said that MDNR was at least doing some things right. Overall, the crowd was very hostile IMHO and I'm sure the MDNR and NRC folks wanted a drink as soon as they left. ;) One guy even compared MDNR deer management to the Detroit Lions! Now that's low! :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I had forgotten about the comparison of the DNR's management of the deer herd to that of the Lions. Everyone had a good chuckle from that one, including the DNR guys and gals.

Bob, as you read through whatever I've said so far and if your impressions differ please say so.

By the way, I read through your written remarks today and am impressed. Although I don't agree with them all.....most of them, but not all....I do feel its time for the MDNR to make a break from TDM as it's been in Michigan for years and begin to enter the 21st Century. The box is broke so let's think outside that broken box.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ibow said:
Did you happen to notice if Frank Wheatlake, Bob Garner or Keith Charters were there?

Thanks, Chuck
I think Frank Wheatlake was there. BobBBT knows those people much more than I do so he'd be the guy to ask.
 

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Whit, I'm just throwing "out of the box" ideas out there to see if any stick. I think having a peak rut firearm opener is probably the worst thing Michigan has going for it, even worse than baiting. For example, there's lots of ways to do a split firearm opener that makes everyone happy, even Yoopers. You easily could do the UP opening on Nov. 15 and the LP opening on the first Friday in December. If you only offered one firearm buck tag, simply ask the customer when buying "do you want this to be for the the UP or LP for regular gun season". If you pick a UP tag, your gun buck tag is good for only the UP for regular firearms season and vice versa. Muzzleloader seasons would be open to anyone, anywhere statewide.
Or, you could open the UP regular firarm season on Nov. 15 and have a special one day muzzleloader season with it's own separate $15 license in the LP on Nov. 15 and make the tag "antlerless" or a total of 8pt's or better if a buck. Anyone who hunts the LP would end up staying in his hunting grounds on Nov. 15. Bow season would re-open in the LP on Nov. 16 and end when firearms seasson starts on the first Friday in Dec. Add the fact 400,000 hunters now bow hunt and would love to have a super archery season during the last 2 weeks of November and I see no increase of hunters crossing the bridge to gun hunt there on Nov. 15.
The UP should open around Nov. 15, the NP should not. It's too early in the rut. And if you end the LP season on the following Sunday, it'll be a 9 day season. 15 days of regular firearms is too long in an age where we no longer desire maximum buck harvest.
Anyways, it's time for some creative thinking about how to make the needed changes. But a statewide Nov 15 gun opener, set around peak rut to maximize buck kill and the UP Winter migrations, when the UP was THE place to be 40-50 years ago is an almost insane rule, when you think about it. It'd be like basing a national energy policy on whale oil or basing the future Michigan economic policy on 1 in 3 jobs being based around autos. It's fighting the last war.
Deer seasons aren't holidays for hunters, they're management tools for game managers. We need to accept that and not get attached to opener dates origionally picked for a reason that only made sense 20-50 years ago.
 

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I totally agree with changing the dates of the rifle opener. The past however many years of our current "management by tradtion" practice is old, outdated, and it's time we change it for the sake of the deer herd. While Nov. 15th is a holiday to many hunters, I feel most will still show up if it started on the Monday after T-giving or whatever date in and around that time makes sense as far as trying to preserve young bucks that act stupid during the peak rut. Give them a week or so to relax and be a little smarter. If the guys that insist that opening day remains as is and refuse to hunt because it ain't that day anymore, I have to say, "too bad". You're probably the one who set up a blind 50 yards from me on Nov. 14th anyways. Gee, I'll miss you...
 

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The response to the Antler Resrtrictions does not surprise me. I hunt in Leelanau County and we have been under the 3 points-on-a-side rule for three years. There were some dandy bucks shot in our area this year. The processor at Bunting's Market in Cedar said he has never cut so many heads off deer for mounting. There are alot of guys that hunt in our core area who were opposed to the restrictions when they came out. However, many have changed their opinios after this past season. Even the guys that did not harvest a deer this year were not that upset, since they saw what the potential could be from some of the deer taken. I hope they send me a survey to renew the AR, because I will vote to keep them
 
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