GUN PLAIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — State lawmakers have introduced a bill that would expand firearm deer season.
Michigan has recently seen a drop in revenue from hunting license sales and supporters of the bill believe it could help reverse that trend.
According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, deer license sales last year were down about 18% from 2008. The sales generate about $40 million for the state.
The bill would expand firearm deer season to Nov. 5 and Dec. 1. Currently, the season runs from Nov. 15-30.
Hunter James Wheaton, who was picking up venison from a processor near Plainwell, believes something needs to be done to increase participation.
“A lot of that is the younger generation is changing. They don’t want to hunt now, and I think a lot of it has to do with people finding places to hunt,” Wheaton said.
Deer processor Tim Oosting, owner of the Deer Barn in Gun Plain Township, sees pros and cons to the plan.
“I think it will be good because it will give us a break,” Oosting said. “It will spread that out a little bit, but also it’s giving them a lot more time to shoot with a gun.”
He says many deer processors have closed in recent years, and the volume coming into his business has gone up substantially. If it continues to increase, he says more people will have to process the deer themselves.
“Where are they going to take them?” Oosting said.
The processor must stop accepting deer for hours at a time just to catch up with demand.
Some hunters are not sure if the proposal will do enough to reverse the deer hunting decline.
“I think the only thing that would really help is if it was warmer at the beginning of the month compared to the end of the month. But still, then ORV’s and even the hunting licenses prices are up, so it just makes it a fortune to do either,” said hunter Jonathan Moored.
The bill was introduced into the Michigan House of Representatives. It has been transferred to the Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation.