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Pandemic Not Expected to Impact Deer Season

While COVID-19 is affecting life in Michigan, experts don’t see the pandemic having an impact on deer season.

Chad Stewart, a deer, elk and moose management specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said there may actually be an increase in hunters this season.

“The decline of deer hunters is something that has been experienced and expected over the past several decades without the presence of COVID-19, so a decline in numbers wouldn’t be too surprising,” Stewart said. “Recent trends in spring turkey and fishing, which have shown higher participation this year … offer hope that deer hunter numbers may also see a slight increase in participation.”

State Rep. Gary Howell, chair of the House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee, agreed the pandemic shouldn’t affect hunting.

“I believe because people have been cooped up for so long and have not been able to get out due to the virus, the reverse of (a decline) will be true,” said the Lapeer County Republican. “I believe there will be just as many deer camps as there have ever been, with friends catching up, sharing stories and enjoying the ambience that only deer camp can provide.”

A bill introduced last year would extend deer season by 10 days, but Howell said the legislation won’t be discussed in his committee.

­“While I appreciate the introduction of Rep. (Gary) Eisen’s House Bill 5244 … it does not have the broad support of deer hunters or of my colleagues in the House of Representatives,” he said.