2017-11-30 / Outdoors

Two hunters duplicate 2016 success as quiet firearm season rolls on

By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

JASON MORIO tagged a 10-point Sunday in the “southern part of Leelanau County.” JASON MORIO tagged a 10-point Sunday in the “southern part of Leelanau County.” Jason Morio of Kasson Township had seen a lot of small bucks — spike horns, 4-points and smaller 8-points.

“I really haven’t talked to anyone who’s done well this year,” Morio said. “It’s been kind of slow, that’s what I’ve heard from people I’ve talked to. I felt fortunate to finally get a nice one.”

Morio from about 38 yards on Sunday connected with a 10-point in the “southern part of Leelanau County.”

The buck had made frequent appearances on Morio’s trail cam.

“That was the first time he showed up in the light,” said Morio, who dropped the deer at about 5:10 p.m.

Morio said he also shot a 7-point from the same blind 364 days prior.

It was a similar story for Don Szilagyi, who shot an 8-point from his blind on private property in Solon Township for the second straight year.

DON SZILAGYI shot this 8-point in Kasson Township Nov. 16. DON SZILAGYI shot this 8-point in Kasson Township Nov. 16. Szilagyi tagged his buck on Nov. 16 this year.

“That was the third time I saw him,” said Szilagyi, who was about 225 yards out when he pulled the trigger. “I saw him opening morning, but couldn’t get a shot. I saw him the second morning, but it was dark. I heard something, saw a flash and there he went again. That afternoon at 4 o’clock I saw him for the third time — and he was mine.”

Szilagyi said the woods seem to be unusually quiet this year.

He said he counted fewer than 10 shots the first several days.

“Everybody’s saying it’s been relatively slow,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with the weather. We had some really brutal windy days, and they lay low until after it gets dark. A few of my buddies, most of us have our deer a few days after opening. Nobody’s gotten anything yet. It’s kind of sad, kind of depressing. They like to fill their freezers with venison. When you’re going this long into the season, it almost comes down to luck.”

Steve Griffith, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources Traverse City Customer Service Center, provided a similar report when asked about firearm-season success thus far.

“Everyone we ask says it’s been fairly quiet when it comes to the number of shots they’ve heard,” Griffith said Tuesday morning.

Action picked up at the check station in Traverse City on Monday, Griffith said, although it usually does the Monday following Thanksgiving.

Through Monday, he said, firearm deer numbers at the check station were down 7 percent from last year.

“Must be a few more hunters this year couldn’t resist some of the Black Friday savings,” Griffith said.

Among bucks brought to the check station from Leelanau this season have been “several gorgeous 10-pointers,” Griffith said.

Many hunters have reported seeing more bucks this year.

“We don’t hear a lot from Leelanau since we don’t have that Platte River office but, in general, people are seeing a closer-to-even buck-to-doe ratio,” Griffith said. “Guys are reporting a lot of yearling bucks, which makes sense with the antler point restrictions.”

Griffith said the DNR remains vigilant in its effort to track various diseases, including Chronic Wasting Disease and bovine tuberculosis (TB).

“We’re still concerned about collecting any deer near the CWD management areas or any deer from the northeast in the TB zone,” he said. “The more deer heads from those areas we can sample, the better. We encourage people to bring their deer in. If you’re making a trip into TC, bring it then. That helps support the current management.”

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