LANSING, MICH. (WLNS) — The orange army is getting ready to hit the woods of Michigan. Deer season gets underway Friday morning, but this year the Michigan DNR said there will be fewer hunters.
“It’s pretty big in the fall here, ya know, it’s huge actually,” said Tom Hosler. He has 45 years of deer meat processing skills under his belt and is the owner of rives quality meats.
Hosler said, “We’ve been busier than we’ve ever been with it so I assumed everybody would be, but they’re not.”
Other meat processors are seeing less hunters during bow season. which means their getting less business and less money in their pockets.
“At one point we had well over 900,000 hunters in the state of Michigan,” said DNR Deer Management Specialist Chad Stewart. ” We have loss more hunters in the state of Michigan than some states currently even have.”
Now, there are only about 550,000 licensed deer hunters across the state according to DNR.
Steward said this number goes down two to four percent each year. Fewer and fewer people are buying their hunting license, which is about $20 a person. The DNR relies on that money.
“Without some of that money coming in there’s less money available for other habitat projects, staff, jobs or initiatives that we work on,” said Stewart.
“A lot of our hunters now are in the 50, 60, 70 year old age bracket and as those hunters slowly get out of hunting due to age or health concerns the number of younger hunters backfilling in is not as high.”
Stewart said the impacts of the diminishing hunters population will really be seen in the next 10 to 20 years.
“We’ll notice it,” Hosler said. “I’m sure, eventually.”
The DNR is now focusing their efforts on not only recruiting new hunters, but focusing on keeping the hunters they already have.