Deer Forecast-Midwest

Jackson County

Many Michigan deer hunters head north in November, driving past the state's best big-buck habitat. Southern Michigan's Jackson County consistently produces the state's biggest bucks, says state deer specialist John Urbain. The county's 710 square miles are mostly private and contain woodlots, drainages and wetlands. Several thousand acres of public hunting lands are available at the Waterloo State Recreation Area. Other counties with trophy potential include Branch and Washtenaw in the south and remote Houghton on the Upper Peninsula. Following a series of relatively mild winters, Michigan's deer herd is an estimated 2 million animals. In 1999, the year for which the most recent figures are available, hunters harvested 542,000 whitetails. The abundance of deer has proven a mixed blessing, because whitetail management has been complicated by the discovery of bovine tuberculosis in whitetails in the northeastern portion of the Lower Peninsula (see sidebar, below). Restrictions on baiting and feeding deer, as well as increased antlerless harvests, are intended to reduce deer numbers in the affected area and control the spread of the disease.