Deer hunters in 12 northwest Lower Peninsula counties will have to count antler points before they shoot a buck this fall.
The Natural Resources Commission enacted antler point restrictions (APRs) at its recent meeting in Lansing.
The regulation requires hunters to ensure antlered deer have at least one antler with a minimum of three points, with each point at least 1 inch long. A similar rule has been in effect in Leelanau County the last ten seasons.
The NRC approved the regulation under a process initiated after the Northwest Michigan branch of the Quality Deer Management Association proposed the rule more than a year ago. The process requires a DNR survey of deer hunters in the proposed area, which in this case found that 69 percent of hunters approved of the regulation.
Under the process, proposed APRs must protect at least 50 percent of the yearling bucks. This ensures that restrictions can have a meaningful impact on the number of bucks likely to survive their first hunting season, leading to a herd with more, older bucks in it.
The counties added under this restriction include Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford. Throughout Michigan, all hunters that harvest two antlered deer must ensure at least one has four or more antler points on one side, and this requirement will remain in place within these counties.
In addition, a group known as the Lower Peninsula Deer Management Initiative (LPDMI) has submitted two different APR proposals to be considered for implementation starting with the 2014 deer season.
Informational meetings are being held at a number of locations in June and July.