Michigan has safest firearm deer season ever.

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Michigan has safest firearm deer season ever.

By DEE-ANN DURBIN.

12/6/01 5:58 PM

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan enjoyed its safest deer hunting season ever this fall with only one reported fatality, state officials told the Natural Resources Commission Thursday.

But the season was a disappointing one for many hunters, who saw far fewer deer because of unseasonably warm temperatures. An estimated 283,000 deer were killed during the firearm deer season, 18 percent fewer than last year.

"You have to remember, deer are in their winter coats," said John Urbain, a big game specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources. "They don't want to move around. It's too hot."

An estimated 725,000 hunters took to the woods during the Nov. 15-30 hunt.

The numbers for the fall firearm season usually represent about 60 percent of the total number of deer that will be killed when all seasons end on Jan. 1. Urbain said the state expects a total harvest of just under 500,000 this year, far below earlier estimates of 527,000.

Richard Asher, chief of the DNR's law enforcement division, said there was one reported fatality during the season.

On Nov. 17, a stray bullet fired by a hunter from Eaton Rapids struck 78-year-old Lyone Hammond of Barry County as he sat in a blind on his property.

Asher said prosecutors might charge three Upper Peninsula hunters for killing wolves. Six hunters also received citations for spreading more than the 1-gallon bait limit in northeastern Michigan.

Commissioner Nancy Douglas of Menominee congratulated conservation officers for a safe deer season. She said Wisconsin suffered 13 casualties during this year's hunt.

Urbain estimated that 33,000 bucks and 14,000 antlerless deer were killed in Upper Michigan. In the northern Lower Peninsula, an estimated 67,000 bucks and 42,000 antlerless deer were killed, while in the southern Lower Peninsula about 67,000 bucks and 60,000 antlerless deer were killed.

Wildlife officials estimate hunt totals by using deer check stations and by counting the number of harvested deer on vehicles. Final figures are to be released in July.

Before then, there is ample opportunity for more hunting. Archery season continues until Jan. 1, while a late firearm antlerless deer season on private lands runs from Dec. 17 through Jan. 1. Muzzleloading season runs from Dec. 7-16 in the Upper Peninsula and from Dec. 14-23 in the Lower Peninsula.
 


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