BALDWIN — The last few months have been busy for Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists like Erin Victory of Baldwin.

Deer hunting season officially ends Jan. 1 when bow season comes to a close. Muzzleloading season concluded on Sunday.

“There don’t seem to be as many hunters out right now as there have been this time in previous years,” Victory observed. “This could be for a number of reasons, but because the rifle season was so successful for a lot of local folks, it may be that many have already filled their licenses. Deer hunters this time of year are probably not focused so much on getting a nice buck, but rather are trying to fill their tags and getting venison in the freezer before deer season ends.

“Muzzleloader season offers an opportunity to extend the firearm season a little, and a lot of people save their doe tags for it. This December has been very mild so far, with little snow and warmer temperatures. This has probably been a good thing for bow hunters, allowing them to get out more often and stay out for longer periods of time. The lack of snow does make it harder to track animals, though.”

The deer hunters aren’t the only diehards out there.

“There are still a few small game hunters out, though there are less and less after the start of deer season,” Victory said. “This time of year, grouse begin flocking up and trying to stock up on buds to get them through the winter months. Grouse hunting activity slows down some in order to allow grouse to get through the winter.

‘As deer season ends, we start seeing much more activity with trapping. In January and through the month of April, depending on the species regulations, is when we see the most activity for registering bobcat, otter, fisher and marten. Also, the last day to get a deer cooperator patch is Jan. 4, so there is still an opportunity for folks to get their deer checked and get their patch.”

Victory advises hunters to call the Baldwin Field office ahead of time to make sure someone from the Wildlife Division can be there.

On the fishing front, the DNR reports that the Pere Marquette River should still have some good steelhead fishing and fly fishermen seem to be catching more fish.

The Department of Natural Resources reports that anglers are reminded that large and smallmouth bass season closes on all waters of the state on New Year’s Eve. Many are looking for safe ice by the end of the year so ice fishing can get started.

Not much is happening in this region of the state, the Department of Natural Resources notes. Some lakes have a little ice, but there is no safe ice yet. Steelhead fishing is basically the only game in town right now.