The outlook has shot up for the upcoming firearm deer season. Hunters head into the woods on Thursday, November 15.
"I think it's going to be exceptional compared to the last couple of years," said Brian Reynolds, the president of the U.P. Whitetails Association. "We've had three easy winters in a row; it's given the deer a chance to rebound a little bit."
Brian Roell, a wildlife biologist at the Department of Natural Resources office in Marquette, reports seeing excellent antler growth in young bucks.
"We saw that last year, but even more so this year, I'm seeing younger bucks with branched antlers, so that year-and-a-half old deer that was typically a spiked horn, we're seeing those as more four horns, even some fives and small sixes," said Roell.
The recent below normal temperatures could increase the deer movement.
"There's a lot of trail cameras out there now, and everybody's getting some pictures of bucks," Reynolds, a 40-year hunting veteran, said.
Reynolds predicts hunters will do well in areas with a lot of oak trees because this year has seen a good crop of acorns.
"That's where there's a lot of food for those deer, and they're going to be there," he said.
Sections of the eastern U.P. could see less deer, according to Reynolds.
"If you're in an area where you have a large pack of wolves, the deer population in those areas is going to be down a little bit, too," he said. "There are going to be spots where deer season won't be great, but I think overall, through most of the U.P., I think deer season is going to be a real good one this year."
If you bag a buck, the DNR encourages you to bring it to one of their check stations. You can download a list of the 2012 deer check stations .
Before you even head out to the woods, stop by your local DNR office and talk to a wildlife biologist or technician about local conditions. The DNR has hunting guides and digests posted on their web site .
Hunters are also invited to join the DNR for a one-hour online video forum on Tuesday, November 13 at 7 p.m. eastern time. The forum is designed to answer questions about the deer population, hunting seasons and regulations.
The public is invited to submit questions in advance by posting them on the DNR's Facebook page, sending them via Twitter to @MichiganDNR using the hashtag #DNRlive, or by sending an email to email@example.com , no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, November 12.
The video event will stream live on the DNR's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/miDNR. You do not need a Facebook account to access the page and watch the livestream event.
Tuesday's forum will include a panel of DNR experts, such as the Wildlife Division's deer and elk program leader Brent Rudolph and wildlife veterinarian Steve Schmitt, along with Law Enforcement Division Assistant Chief Dean Molnar. More information on the forum is available here .