Firearm hunting slow so far

Published 9:59 pm Friday, November 21, 2003

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
The first full week of firearm deer season is coming to a close and so far results have been mixed.
According to Joe Guntle, owner of Guntle's Outdoor Outfitters in Dowagiac, things have been slow for hunters over the first few days.
Firearm deer season began last Saturday morning. Guntle said that he has had five deer brought into his business, but he has heard that there have been several possible trophy bucks taken this season.
He has yet to see one though.
Among the deer that have been killed, Guntle said that many are does.
Guntle also noticed that ammunition sales have been down at his store, however, the sale of licenses has increased.
With the forecast calling for warm temperatures through the weekend, Guntle doesn't expect things to pick up. He thinks that over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is when hunters will start driving the deer and things will improve.
Even those hunters who travel north each year for the first week of the season have come back with mixed results.
Steve Chadwick, a DNR Wildlife Biologist from the Crane Pond State Game Area near Jones, said that on opening day the number of successful hunters was up from the previous year.
Chadwick, who happened to be in Berrien County on Wednesday, said that the deer check station at Crane Pond has been pretty steady and he has seen some nice bucks.
Chadwick agreed with Guntle that the fact that nearly half the corn is still standing in fields has helped the deer remain hidden in the early part of the season.
He noted that the amount of corn still standing in the fields is up from the past couple of years and "that certainly could play a factor in whether or not people are seeing deer."
Personally, Chadwick said he has seen quite a few deer in the woods when he has been out hunting, even with corn still standing in the fields nearby.
Going into the season, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said that in the Southwest Management Unit, which includes Cass, Van Buren and Berrien Counties, the deer population had generally stabilized.
According to the report issued by the DNR, "…localized area may have slightly more or slightly fewer deer than last year. These localized changes may be sufficiently large enough that hunters may notice the changes."
The report went on to say that deer numbers in parts of Cass County "… may have higher than desired deer populations."
The report also predicted that corn harvest dates should be nearly normal, however, wet conditions late in the fall disrupted that schedule. Also noted in the report was that fruit and berry were plentiful and that the apple trees had "an excellent crop."
The 2002 deer harvest was slightly up from 2001, credited in part to cooler temperatures and excellent weather conditions for hunters. Conversly, the harvest in 2001 was down due to weather issues.
Lori Mizwicki of Decatur, who took a huge nine-point buck on opening day, said that from her view the season seems pretty normal.
Mizwicki agreed that there is still a lot of corn standing, but not where she bagged her biggest buck to date.
Mizwicki, a hunter since around the age of 12, took a 212-pound, nine-point buck which had a green score of 166 7/8 according to Commerative Bucks of Michigan.