IRON MOUNTAIN - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported the first few days of firearm deer season have been typical of recent years.
Hunter success is similar to last year statewide, though a reduction in the number of DNR deer check stations makes it difficult to gauge. Deer are in good to very good body condition, though antler development is sub-par in the northern two-thirds of the state.
Hunter numbers are about the same, though Upper Peninsula personnel report a slight decrease, especially in the west end.
With specific regard to the U.P. the DNR said hunters have brought in a large number of two and one-half year-old bucks, though a number of them have been spikes or small fork-antlered deer. The number of deer checked is down. Some hunters have complained of low deer numbers. License agents report high sales of firearms licenses compared to combination licenses.
Firearms deer season continues through Nov. 30 with archery season resuming Dec. 1.
Locally, many hunters are reporting not seeing many deer, though there have been stories of success, too.
"There's not too many deer being seen," said Tom Bean at Crystal Bait. "I heard of a couple of eight-pointers being taken, but not much else."
Some suspect the warm weather has kept deer from moving around.
The report from John Grier's Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township was brisk license sales but few deer.
"It's been a lousy first week," said Don Ciochetto at the Sport Shop in Iron River. "The only success story I have was a family of four from Wisconsin who each had an eight-pointer while hunting in the Ottawa National Forest."
Dean Lindblom at Country Bait and Tackle in Iron Mountain said he's sold a lot of bait and scent, but he didn't yet have any great success stories to share.
Wisconsin's nine-day regular gun deer season opened this morning and runs through Sunday, Nov. 29. State wildlife biologists are anticipating a statewide deer harvest that will be lower than last year for a number of reasons.
"We're not sure what to expect," said Pattie Teske at Florence Sport and Bait said. "Haven't heard much of anything."
There are more areas of the state, especially in northern and northeastern Wisconsin, where recent efforts to reduce deer numbers, combined with below average fawn production, have resulted in deer numbers at or below established population goals.
Wisconsin hunters are reminded that the free antlerless permit that comes with a deer hunting license is only valid in herd control units, so these permits may not be used across most of northern and central Wisconsin.
Few reports of fishing were submitted this week, hunting obviously taking priority. Most anglers are awaiting ice.
Michigan DNR reported the following fishing conditions for the Upper Peninsula:
Black River - In Gogebic County was producing some lake trout.
Lake Gogebic - Had good walleye fishing with some limit catches reported.
Little Bay De Noc - Walleye action was slow and fewer fish were marked. Those trolling at night did manage to catch a few fish just off the East Bank near Kipling in 22 to 40 feet of water. Those jigging minnows and crawlers or trolling crank baits during the day found a few fish in 25 to 40 feet of water. Good pike action just off the Narrows when trolling crank baits in 10 to 15 feet of water. A fair number of perch were caught out from Brach's Cabins in 10 to 14 feet of water. Most anglers were jigging minnows.
South Manistique Lake - Those still fishing reported a fair number of walleye being caught.