DNR releases Oscoda County hunting prospects; fines set for baiting
OSCODA COUNTY — Deer hunting rates in Oscoda County are expected to mirror totals from last year’s hunting season according to the 2009 Michigan Deer Hunting Prospects released by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
“Deer numbers haven’t been too bad,” Elaine Carlson, DNR unit biologist for Alcona, Crawford and Oscoda Counties, said.
Carlson said that last year’s harvest did not differ greatly from previous years, even though there were 1,500 more hunters in the area.
Last year, hunters harvested roughly 1,800 bucks and 1,800 does, according to Carlson.
“We probably can’t beat those numbers this year,” Carlson said.
While the harvest amounts have been at the status quo, Carlson said it did show that hunters had to work a little harder last year to keep harvest rates up even though there were more hunters in the woods.
Carlson also said that the hard winter last year could attribute to the inability of beating last year’s numbers.
She said that last year’s hard winter led to many fawn deaths. Carlson explained that when does are malnourished during their gestation period, it leads to weak fawns when they are born.
Even with stagnant harvest numbers, the DNR continued to push its antlerless licenses.
“We have liberal antlerless availability,” Carlson said.
Included in this availability is the creation of Deer Management Unit (DMU) 487.
DMU 487 was created to help address the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in the deer herd of Northeastern Lower Michigan.
The new unit consists of private lands in eight sections, and antlerless licenses issued for any of those eight sections can be used on any private land in the entirety of DMU 487.
The DNR will also be on hand in Mio to check harvested animals for TB throughout firearm deer season.
The check station will be open from Nov. 15-25, and again on Nov. 30.
Carlson said that hunters that harvest deer and would like them checked outside of the operational dates of the check station could call the Mio DNR office and set up an appointment.
The Mio office will only be checking for TB, not chronic wasting disease. However, Carlson said that if a hunter harvested a “funky looking deer” the office would happily take the carcass of their hands.
Even though the operations of the TB check stations have been reduced, TB continues to have a presence in the Oscoda County area.
Carlson said the Mio head collection station always has several animals test positive for TB. It also receives multiple lesioned carcasses every year.
“Mio will probably see several lesioned carcasses this year,” Carlson said.
She also reminded hunters to practice safety when field dressing an animal that could potentially have TB.
She said that TB could potentially be spread from carcass to hunter if the hunter’s knife cuts through a puss filled lesion and the hunter accidentally cuts their self with the contaminated knife.
Carlson also recommended that hunters cook any harvested meat thoroughly to help reduce the risk of any possible infection.
Besides TB and low kill numbers, hunters will also have to contend with the continuation of the feeding and bating ban in the Lower Peninsula.
Carlson said that Oscoda County has set a baiting first-offense ticket at $500.
State law defines bait as “a substance composed of grains, minerals, salt, fruit, vegetables, hay or any other food material, whether natural or manufactured, which may lure, entice or attract deer.”
Baiting was banned last year in response to the outbreak of chronic wasting disease in a privately owned deer herd in Kent County.