DNR proposes deer regulations to Natural Resource Commission


MASON COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is looking to make some changes for state deer hunters.

On Thursday, the DNR presented research to the Natural Resource Commission, which approves the changes in regulations and has authority to regulate the taking of game and sportfish.

Every three years, the commission re-evaluates regulations as a way to update any restrictions and regulations.

Dozens filled the West Shore Community College conference building in Scottville for the meeting.

“We had several [recommendations] for southern Michigan that related more to chronic wasting disease, some in the northern area relating to antler point restrictions and a few that were changing the disease management in area 487 where bovine tuberculosis is,” said DNR Deer Program Biologist Ashley Autenrieth.

In 2013, the DNR put an Antler Point Restriction in place for 12 counties in the northwest part of the state. Some of those being Mason, Manistee, and Benzie Counties.

At that time, a survey showed more than 60 percent of hunters in the area wanted antler restrictions.

“The three-point antler restriction was put in place and we were at the point where we have done the re-survey of that area and it achieved 76 percent survey approval," said Autenrieth. "So we are moving forward to recommend that that be permanently in place."

The DNR suggested expanding those to several more counties in the northeast part of the state.

“There are areas where you can buy a single tag and a single tag allows you to harvest a buck with one horn three inches or longer but those are typically young bucks,” John Matonish, Chairman of the NCR said. “For those in favor of point restrictions, they do not want those young bucks harvested, they would rather have an older buck harvested."

Some Michigan Hunters at the meeting explained that they want those antler point restrictions to be regulated statewide.

“A lot of these guys have struggled with the brown it’s down mentality,” said Rachel Titus, one of nearly two dozen members of the “Let Them Go, Let Them Grow” organization that attended Thursday’s meeting.

“We want [the bucks] to grow, it enriches the experience, you get to watch more natural behavior of the deer because you're not shooting that first young buck that steps out first," Titus said. "You're watching what's going on and it improves the age structure of the bucks."

Although the DNR did not recommend extending the antler point restrictions statewide, the NRC still has the final say whether to put it in place.

The commission will meet June 8 when they will make final decisions on any changes to restrictions and regulations for hunters.

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