Deer hunters head out for firearm season Monday

More than 550,000 deer hunters heading into Michigan woods

Photo of Angela Mulka
FILE - Ken Haustein of Midland and his daughter Corie Oberson of Auburn admire the three-point buck Haustein shot as the pair hunted together in Midland County in 2020.

FILE - Ken Haustein of Midland and his daughter Corie Oberson of Auburn admire the three-point buck Haustein shot as the pair hunted together in Midland County in 2020.

Steve Griffin | for the Daily News

Monday marked one of the most eagerly anticipated mornings of the entire year: Opening day of the firearm deer hunting season.

This year, more than 550,000 deer hunters are heading into the woods and fields of Michigan to try their luck at bringing home tasty venison to feed their families, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.

Though the number is high, it's down from last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed people out of offices, movie theaters and restaurants and into the outdoors.

In 2020, nearly 675,000 people took to their deer blinds in Michigan, which was an increase of 5.5% for a pastime that has endured a quarter-century of declining participation, according to reporting by Bridge Michigan, meaning participation has decreased roughly 18% compared to last year.

Additionally, hunters have until Nov. 30 to use regular firearms, with bow hunting beginning again on Dec. 1 until Jan. 1.

"We want to remind hunters to be safe in the field and back at deer camp," the DNR Wildlife Division stated in a press release. "If you are staying at a camp with folks outside your household and aren’t vaccinated, remember to wear a mask if you are indoors or can’t be 6 feet apart, and sleep in separate rooms, tents or trailers, if possible. Sanitize hands and surfaces regularly, stay well and have fun."

Hunters are an integral part of Michigan’s heritage and economy, per a study released recently by Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

The study estimates that hunting and fishing in Michigan generate $11.2 billion each year, with the state's hunters contributing $8.9 billion — about 80% — of those dollars.

Findings show 171,000 jobs are created and supported annually across Michigan by hunting and fishing, putting those related activities in the top 10% of the state’s job-creation industries. The greatest impact occurs in Southeast Michigan.

Regional economic impact determined by number of individual hunting and fishing licenses purchased in each region.

Regional economic impact determined by number of individual hunting and fishing licenses purchased in each region.

Graphic provided/MUCC

The study also shows that for every $1 million spent on hunting- and fishing-related purchases in Michigan, 19.61 jobs are created for residents. Michigan tops the Great Lakes states by this measurement, followed by:

  • Ohio, where every $1 million spent on hunting- and fishing-related purchases creates 19.58 jobs
  • Minnesota, where every $1 million spent creates 19.48 jobs
  • Pennsylvania, where every $1 million spent creates 19.35 jobs
  • New York, where every $1 million spent creates 18.89 jobs
  • Indiana, where every $1 million spent creates 15.13 jobs
  • Illinois, where every $1 million spent creates 15.03 jobs, and
  • Wisconsin, where every $1 million spent creates 15.01 jobs

Hunters can use the DNR's "Michigan Hunting Digest" to find license information, hunting zones and hours, rules and more. The digest is available online here and at michigan.gov/dnr.