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Posted on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : noon

2011 deer hunting season disappointing for many

By Rick Taylor


Rick Taylor is lucky to have harvested this 8-point buck that will feed his family over the coming winter months.

photo courtesy of Rick Taylor family

The 2011 whitetail deer hunting season was fruitful for some and highly disappointing for many. I've heard the same story of disappointment from a multitude of hunters in our area and across the state.

So, what happened to all the deer this year? Some farmers say they're still here living and feeding in the standing corn yet to be harvested. Other local farmers say they haven't seen many deer at all this entire year.

Matt Koenn, a local farmer saw so few deer this year on his farm that he didn't apply for a "crop damage" permit this summer. Periodic phone calls to Matt only verified the low deer numbers on his farm.

Is this bad or good news for Matt and farmers like him? Well, it's all in the way you look at it. Hunters will certainly be frustrated by low deer numbers, but farmers like Matt will have less crop damage leading to higher profit margins for a change.

I've often written about my Dexter "Honey Hole" over the years and how it consistently produces deer. Well, this year has proven to be amazingly unproductive. I haven't seen a single deer the last four times I’ve been out there this fall.

Furthermore, there isn’t a rhyme or reason for this. There are very few hunters in the area, the weather patterns are similar and their food source remains unchanged.

If you take anything away from this article then remember this: There's a reason why the DNR needs an accurate accounting of harvested deer in your area. I strongly believe that hunters need to let their local DNR office know harvest numbers so they can more accurately forecast deer numbers the following year.

These numbers will help determine the number of antler less deer permits given to hunters.

I have worked hard to ensure many hunting locations in our area. This gives me greater opportunity to increase my odds of success. I’d recommend that all hunters should have at least three different hunting locations to increase your odds.

Opportunity did knock on opening morning of the 2011 Firearm Season, in which, I shot a dandy 8-point buck. It would have been a 10 point but 2 tines were snapped off from fighting with other bucks.

The reason for my success on this hunt came from never hunting this location during the archery season.

I drove to my hunting location and slowly walked to my treestand without the use of a flashlight. I slowly climbed to my treestand and secured my safety harness. Trickles of light slowly turned the darkness into a glorious sunny morning. Black and white hues were slowly replaced by color, and shooting light was upon me.

I saw many squirrels but no deer to speak of. I began to see the fog brew over the swamp and watched the wind bring it in my direction. It was such a beautiful morning.

A spike horn buck finally came into view and meandered in front of me at only 15 paces away.

Soon thereafter, I could hear the sounds of a deer coming from behind me but knew any movement on my part would spook the spike that had its eyes locked on me. I don’t know what I did to get "busted," but I was caught.

Curiosity was killing me, and I knew I had to see if it was a buck or not getting closer and closer. I finally turned my head and saw a monster buck with antlers the size of baseball bats. Unfortunately, the spike bolted from my movement which made this buck take off as well.

The monster buck was already 50 yards from me by the time I swung my 12 gauge and pulled the trigger. Boom! I shot two more times and was angry with myself for not turning sooner to see that majestic buck.

I had to get down and see if I hit this buck, because it was the right thing to do. I gave it about 10 minutes and slowly made my way to where I last saw this brute of a deer. No blood. I missed him clean, as I thought.

I just stood there, near the edge of a swamp catching my breath and being thankful for the opportunity even though it didn’t work out. I tilted my head back and let the sun warm my face and took a couple of slow deep breaths.

"Braaah, braaah," the loud grunt of a buck erupted less than 50 yards in front of me. I snapped into hunting mode again and frantically looked for my grunt call but it was nowhere to be found.

I couldn't see the buck through the Russian Olive trees but knew this buck was amazingly close. I loosely put my hand over my mouth and grunted twice in the direction of the deer.

WIthout hesitation, the sound of breaking branches erupted as the buck charged towards me. I leveled my shotgun in the direction and flipped off the safety waiting and hoping for a shot.

The buck made it through the brush and almost ran me over before he put on the brakes at 20 yards.

Slow motion takes over at this time, and I don’t feel the recoil or hear the report as my shotgun slug drops the buck in his tracks.

Holy cow! Or, should I say holy buck — what a morning. My dad always said "I'd rather be lucky than good."

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Your story ideas and comments are always warmly welcomed. You can reach Rick Taylor at 734-223-5656 cell or by email at



Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 6:33 p.m.

Oh I saw *lots* of deer - in my game cameras, at night, and on the roads, also at night. Seriously, lots of deer. But they were only out at night. I think they decided to come out after dark to avoid the mosquitoes, and after the mosquitoes were gone we were well into hunting season, so they just stayed nocturnal. It was a bumper crop year for mosquitoes - and some of them could have passed for chickadees.


Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

I'll start this by saying I don't live in southeast MI, but I'm a Taxidermist in Southwest MI. Our deer herd was hit by EHD last October. The DNR gave a figure of 10% herd lost, while the local game warden said it was closer to 80%. All I know is that I have 3 Cuddeback trail cameras that I run year around. In 2010 I got 145 pictures of about 12 different bucks. In 2011 I got 14 pictures of 4 different bucks. Thats quite a drop! Even with this massive drop in our deer herd, the DNR did not cut back on doe permits in my area. It's all about money.


Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

We've seen more, and larger deer in our yard this year. They are more aggressive too, knocking down a metal fence. Wish hunting was allowed in our part of Superior Township!

Jeff Renner

Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.

The number of deer in our yard in Scio Township seem as high as ever. I quit hunting years ago, but I sure feel tempted sometimes! They are bold as brass. Anecdotal evidence aside, it will be interesting to learn what the DNR harvest report is when it comes out.

Jim Pryce

Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

Yeah, My season was unproductive. I saw deer in the backyard during the Summer, but once the calendar hit October I only saw one shadow at dark & that was night 2 of the firearm season. Not giving up yet, still a chance for an antlerless deer or maybe a buck with the bow. The deer just need to show themselves.