Hunters start opening day with a bang

Courtesy: Bob Gingerich, Camp Grayling Conservation Club

Hunters throughout northern Michigan hit the woods today for the first day of firearm deer hunting season.

At the Department of Natural Resources checkpoint in Gaylord, they checked deer in one by one. The DNR tells 7&4 News that this year is one of the best years hunters have experienced in recent history.

Hunters are reporting seeing more deer than the past couple years, and generally hunters are in good spirits, the DNR says.

In Grayling, the 54th Annual Grayling Buck Pole is off to a running start.

Jack Milikin, owner of Skips Sport Shop, said traffic has been "pretty good."

"With the opener next to the weekend, it makes for an ideal long hunting weekend," Milikin said.

The first hunter to arrive with a buck was fifteen year old Erin Messerschmidt of Grayling, at 8:45 AM. Right behind Erin was twelve year old Parker Learman. Parker is a seventh grader at Grayling Middle School with school was closed for opening day.

When asked if he would brag at school about his buck, Parker smiled and said "maybe."

The largest rack of the day went to Jason Krause who bagged a buck weighing 170 pounds and had the largest rack score at 149 3/4 inches.

Day one of the Buck Pole ended with eighteen bucks, which matches the number last year.

There are limits for hunters throughout the southern part of the Lower Peninsula, however.

Hunters in that part of the state can't kill as many deer as usual because of an insect-spread deer disease.

The new limits on antlerless deer hunting are a response to epizootic hemorrhagic disease. The state Department of Natural Resources has collected reports indicating thousands of deer have died from the disease in Michigan this year.

Wildlife officials decided that stricter limits on antlerless deer licenses would help populations bounce back faster in hard-hit areas.

The disease isn't a threat to humans.

Firearm deer hunting season started Thursday and runs through Nov. 30.