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Mixed reviews on deer season; Florence County harvest markedly down

Outdoors Report

First time out, with one shot, Josh Williams bagged a four-point buck at his family camp in Hardwood on Nov. 16.

IRON MOUNTAIN — Windy, wet and snowy weather is expected for the end of the firearm deer seasons in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Today is the final day for Michigan’s 16-day hunt, while Wisconsin’s nine-day season wraps up Sunday.

At Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township, John Grier said he’s heard mixed reviews.

“Some hunters say it’s been a fairly good season, others haven’t seen a thing,” he said. “It depends on where you are.”

Reported harvests have included plenty of six- and eight-pointers, along with a nine-pointer, but so far nothing bigger, Grier said.

The total kill was down nearly 50% in Florence and Forest counties for Wisconsin’s opening weekend, the Department of Natural Resources said in a preliminary report.

In Florence County, 518 deer were taken Saturday and Sunday, including 385 bucks, the DNR said. That compares with 1,024 total deer in 2018, which included 646 bucks.

Forest County’s totals were 389 deer this year, including 322 bucks, down from 745 in 2018, including 637 bucks.

Those totals were down 49% overall for Florence County and 48% in Forest County.

In the northern zone of Marinette County, the total harvest was 826, including 664 bucks, down 41% from 2018, when the total was 1,388, including 979 bucks.

Statewide the harvest total was down 27%, which the DNR said was due to the rut being well past its peak. Last year the season began on the earliest date possible, Nov. 17, which was closer to the height of the rut and the accompanying deer movement. This year’s opener was on the latest possible date.

The Michigan DNR has estimated the Upper Peninsula harvest was up about 12% through the first 10 days of the firearm season, although the Crystal Falls and Norway check stations both saw 9% fewer deer than a year ago.

Grier said local anglers were trying their luck this week at a few locations.

No fishing reports were offered by DNR officials, although they cautioned recent warm temperatures have resulted in lingering open water.

With 6 to 12 inches of snow predicted this weekend, ice conditions may remain sketchy.

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