Antlerless permits in county about the same
The same number of antlerless deer permits will be available in Leelanau County for hunters this fall as in 2011, which sounds about right to Centerville Township cherry farmer Greg Williams.
The deadline to apply for a license was yesterday. The application fee was $4. A lottery will be held to determine their distribution.
Williams relies on orchards to make a living, and appreciates deer as a source of recreation. He expects the 300 antlerless permits that will be sold by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will be enough to keep the county deer herd in check.
“I don’t have a problem with the (anterless) permits, plus you have the option of getting a block permit if you really have a problem,” Williams said. He’s received block permits from the MDNR in the past to control deercaused damage in his orchards, but rarely had hunters use them.
Williams believes the Leelanau County deer herd benefited from a mild winter.
“I think we’re up a little bit, maybe slightly, but I have most of my orchards fenced. There were a lot of fawns born this year,” he said.
The fencing stops deer from nipping buds and branches from the bottom of cherry trees — and bucks from rubbing their antlers on smaller trees in new orchards. He mainly fences his younger orchards as the “browse line has already been established” in older orchards.
Williams said several older bucks near his orchards survived last hunting season. He expects antler growth was strong because of an early start to spring, and the lack of stress over a mild winter.
“I have to believe they are still out there. I just haven’t seen them,” Williams said.
Antlerless permits are only available for private land. Antlerless permits for public land have not been available in Leelanau County for several years.
Young hunters ages 9-16 may purchase one “junior antlerless” deer license over the counter until next Wednesday. However, a 9-year-old must be 10 by Saturday, Sept. 15. No application fee or drawing is required for junior antlerless licenses.
In all of Michigan, 708,650 antlerless deer licenses will be available in 2012, a decrease from the 756,200 available last year.
In Leelanau County, some 300 antlerless permits were made available from 2009-2011. In 2008 and for several years previous, 400 permits were allocated.
Three hundred antlerless permits for private land are also up for distribution in Grand Traverse and Benzie counties. Only 100 permits will be provided in Kalkaska County, while some 3,000 will be provided in Manistee County.
A process is underway to determine if quality deer management rules should be extended to those four counties and across much of northwestern Michigan. The rules are already in place in Leelanau, where the buck harvest is limited to deer with at least three points on one antler.