By LISA M. HOFFMANN
IRON MOUNTAIN - Deer harvest numbers are up in Michigan and Wisconsin for the 2012 firearm season.
Monica Joseph of Crystal Falls, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, checks a hunter’s deer at the Crystal Falls DNR field office in Crystal Falls. The Crystal Falls office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.. to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 and Nov. 22; Nov. 26-30; and Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through December.
Vernon Richardson, wildlife technician at the Escanaba DNR Field Office, said that in general the number of harvested deer are up as far as what's checked in.
"So far, we checked 437 deer at the Escanaba location," he said.
Richardson added the 10-year average is exactly 100 less than that number, which means more deer have been checked at the Escanaba location than is normal for the season.
"But it is certainly a good thing to see more deer checked in than less," he said. "Deer that come in are in pretty good shape and really nice deer. The biggest was 11 points."
Although it is not mandatory to register deer in Michigan, Richardson said those who do register their deer receive a collectible patch for their effort.
The DNR has been giving out the patches since 1972.
As of Monday, some 486 deer, including 419 bucks, have been registered in the Eastern U.P., while 974 - with 774 bucks - have been registered in the Western U.P., DNR officials said.
Bill Scullon, biologist at the Norway DNR Field Office, said deer are not registered at that location, but hunters have said they are very satisfied with what they are seeing.
"They have passed on smaller bucks and are seeing more deer in the woods in the southern part of the Dickinson County," Scullon said. "In the northern portion of the county, the deer numbers have dropped off."
Monica Joseph, wildlife biologist at the Crystal Falls DNR field office, said that location has registered 148 deer so far, the same number as last year at this time.
"It looks quite similar to last year," she said this morning.
While that number is the same, Joseph said that local meat lockers are already full and are not accepting any more venison at this time.
"That may be more telling," she said.
Joseph said that DNR officials will have a better handle on deer numbers after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the statewide deer harvest during opening weekend was up more than 19 percent from last year.
Hunters harvested and registered 134,772 deer during opening weekend of Wisconsin's nine-day deer gun season. That tally is based on preliminary call-in numbers collected from registration tables by DNR staff.
DNR wildlife management program director Tom Hauge says the final opening weekend tally will likely be larger, after all the registration stubs are entered into the database over the next couple of months.
The DNR says registration increased in all regions.
Because of warm weather, some hunters likely registered their deer immediately instead of letting the deer hang at camp, which probably bumped up the numbers.
Some hunters did report low deer sightings, primarily in northern counties, officials said.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.