You are on page 1of 9


The following article details areas of concern that

are affecting the growth, management and future
of sports hunting for Whitetail Big Bucks

Uriah Main
Ashley Mcqueen
Kevin Smith
Dravin Stockwell
Jon Tripp

MANAGEMENT Instructor Jay Gross

12th Grade English B

In Search of the Big Buck
Thursday, May 9, 2019
“That’s a pretty big rack” is probably the first thing hunters say and judge on a

Whitetail Buck. Unfortunately, hunters say and see this less and less during the hunting

season. This is caused by the result of how the deer herds are managed through the

licensing of hunters and the rules and laws that govern the sport. The three main causes for

the reduction in herd maturity and size can be associated to the licensing process, baiting

of the deer and disease. There are those that believe if the State of Michigan continues to

offer multiple licenses for Whitetail deer hunting the heard will remain at a manageable

size and that the diseases that are seen in the current deer population can be reduced. A

better idea would be to restrict the quantity of issued hunting licenses in areas that have

seen reduced numbers of mature deer. A Statewide approach for every area is not an

effective way to manage the deer herd.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Mi-DNR) is the governmental entity

that determines how many licenses each hunter can apply and receive during the hunting

season. This has a direct effect on herd size and is creating a reduction in the mature deer

population. In recent years hunters have been able to obtain more than one Whitetail buck

license. Everyone dreams of killing a buck with enormous antlers, yet many hunters seem

unable to resist shooting the first deer they see that has anything sticking above its

eyebrows (Sharp, E. (2008, Mar 06). This certainly has affected the ability for the herds

to reproduce and it has also created a shortage of mature bucks in the sport. The ratio of

doe to bucks is 15:1, 100 does to 20 bucks (Adams, Kip). The difference is staggering

and is clear and convincing proof of why there are less mature bucks being harvested

during the season.

Another reason to explain the declining numbers can be directly related to the

debate over baiting of deer. At first glance baiting seems to be a reasonable way to attract

deer during a hunt. Most believe that baiting should be allowed. Hunters argue that the

deer eat natural crops produced by farmers such as corn, wheat, soy beans, clover, acorns,

apples and other crops. So, because this is a natural order of food for the deer there

should be no issue with providing this type of nourishment in bait piles located in one

area. The down fall to baiting comes into play as deer will certainly search out easy

plentiful locations of food. Hunters use this advantage to seek out and cull any bucks that

arrive at the baiting locations. Bating also disrupts normal deer movement and violates

"fair chase" ethics (Smith, D. 2010, Feb 14). It creates an opportunity for hunters to have

a much easier ability to take more than one buck easily. This also could contribute to the

declining numbers of the mature bucks.

The third area of concern with deer population can be attributed to disease in the

herds. Over the last several years there has been a dramatic increase in a disease called

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Chronic Wasting Disease effects deer and other

animals like deer. It causes them to become very unstable when on their feet and they

loose drastic amounts of weight. Some animals may die from the disease. It is believed

that it is a Prion disease that affects animals at a cellular level and causes neurological

deficits. There are no known links between CWD in animals to humans. Although

humans can have Prion dieses. Considerable attention has been paid to modeling direct

transmission, but despite the fact that CWD prions can remain infectious in the

environment for years, relatively little information exists about the potential effects of

indirect transmission on CWD dynamics (Almberg, E. S., Cross, P. C., Johnson, C. J.,

Heisey, D. M., & Richards, B. J. 2011). Researchers believe that it might be linked to

baiting piles and that is why the restrictions against baiting is currently in effect. It is

arguable that the deer eat food from agricultural lands, and this is typically what the bait

piles are complied of. Hunters believe that because of this there is no direct link.

However, for this research paper it certainly effects the deer population in a negative

manner and has taken its toll on deer growing into mature animals.

Although there is convincing evidence to support the thesis that the deer

populations have drastically changed there are those that disagree. The Department of

Natural Resources indicate that there is close to a twenty-five percent drop in licensed

hunters in the last twenty years. Those who deny that the herd sizes and maturity have

declined based on factual data that shows there are less hunters in the woods. For that

argument one would conclude that less hunters equals more deer. There are some that

will argue that by controlling the licensing and allowing more male deer licenses, it will

control herd sizes and allow those herds to prosper and grow to a more developed age.

When it comes to the deer baiting debate there are many who believe that baiting is

harmful to the deer population. They will contend that processed foods that hunters buy

are treated foods and contain contaminants and preservatives. Baits include grains,

minerals, salts, fruits, vegetables, hay or any other natural or manufactured food

(Norman, K. 2008, Aug02). The manufactured foods are specifically what those appose

are concerned about. The fact that these deer will eat on these food plots and bait piles for

hours versus having a more diverse fresh diet and moving from one type of food to

another will certainly cause disease. Although the studies that are being performed on the

Chronic Wasting Disease has not determined the actual cause of why the deer

populations are being so drastically effected, some draw the conclusion that it has to do

with diet as no other change in environment has occurred over the years for them. This is

a similar argument that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) in human food is

believed to cause medical ailments.

To counter these theories one can simply break it down to common sense. First, if

there are less hunters purchasing licenses and going to the woods there should be more

mature deer and specifically more mature bucks. This is not the case and can be easily

observed during the actual hunting season. Hunters are seeing and shooting smaller less

aged deer every single year. If the adverse theory was correct hunters should see the

herds excel in size throughout the State. Some of the factors that may make this statistical

data seem to be false could relate to the cost of the tags that the State of Michigan sells.

The price has continued to rise and the effect of that means that there are probably more

hunters violating and poaching because of the cost of the licensing. These hunters are not

being counted by the State and are more then likely taking deer outside of the season

which would affect the herd maturity. The baiting argument as it relates to ending baiting

is invalid as well. The baiting piles do nothing more then bring the deer into areas that are

accessible and safe to shoot. Deer eat the same foods in fields every day. They herd up

and eat for hours in the same spot on the same fields and on the same crops. The bait that

is used by hunters is mostly grown by local farmers and sold locally. This is the same

food harvested from the same locations that deer typically eat on their regular feeding

habits. The same chemicals and sprays a farmer use throughout the growing season is the

same items that would be found in the bait that hunters purchase. The bait pile foods are

not be processed in a factory with additional or other chemicals and preservatives, which

is some people’s argument about CWD.

The first item that needs to be addressed and corrected is the licensing portion of

the problem. The State will need to create a more appropriate process. Each area of the

State will need to have an individual review of how many, what types and the quantity of

Deer tags to be issued. This will by far began the correction process of the herds, the

maturity and size. There are many States that process their licensing differently to help

manage the Deer population. Michigan should take a deep look into how those other

successful States are performing this task and what the success rates are. When it comes

to the baiting debate the State of Michigan will need to allow baiting in almost all the

hunting areas. In the past there has been rules that allowed baiting with some restrictions.

This certainly allows hunters to see more Deer which will help those hunters choose

better selections of which Deer they would shoot and harvest. In most cases because

hunters cannot find many Deer during the season, they will just shoot the first one that

comes across their sights. The final issue relating to the Chronic Wasting Disease needs

to take a forefront of research for the Department of Natural Resources. CWD is an

extremely dangerous not only to the Deer but to the sport itself. Michigan depends

heavily on the fall Deer season for revue and travel. The economy especially in the

Northern Counties see a large uptick in travel, purchase and sales as the hunters come to

those areas by the thousands. If the CWD issue is not studied deeply and quickly it could

create an extreme down turn in Michigan economics. The herds could be in danger of

becoming so unhealthy that they will not longer be hunted. The herds would then

continue to be very unmanageable and would create additional issues throughout the


Finding a trophy buck is what most White tail Deer hunters in Michigan seek on

opening morning in November of every year. They travel, spend money and simply

become very excited about the possibilities of that “Big One” this year. The fact that they

see less of those mature Deer is certainly creating a disinterest in the sport. The reduced

herd sizes can be attributed to the regulatory licensing of the State, which currently

allows for more than one Whitetail buck license per year. This fact contributes to hunters

taking these bucks from herds way before they can become mature in size and age. There

are those that believe more licensing will promote more hunters to the woods, help

manage the herds and create revenue. Unfortunately, this process has only diminished the

maturity of the Deer herds. A more appropriate solution would be to issue fewer buck

tags and allow the male deer to regrow in population. This factor is compounded by laws

that have eliminated baiting. Hunters are no longer allowed to bait Deer so they in turn

see less Deer. When a hunter sees a Deer, they are more apt to harvest it as they are

concerned that they will not see any better choices in the season. In a lot of cases that

means that a smaller Deer, such as a buck will be taken even though it would have been

more appropriate to let it go for another season. Hunters must know what they want:

quality deer management or trophy management (Zlotricki, M. 2006, Oct 19). Those that

feel that baiting is unfair and is causing the Deer disease due to the processing of the bait,

feel strongly that not allowing baiting is a responsible rule for hunting. However, there

are no direct links to baiting that can be made which are causing the Deer to become sick.

The foods are like that of what the Deer eat in the wild each day. The final area that

contributes to the problem lies with the CDW. This is affecting the Deer, hunters and

season in many negative ways, as more herds become sick with CDW. This area of the

issue is something that must be studied and a solution discovered and implemented

throughout the entire State of Michigan.

It is important for many reasons to have a healthy, well managed and mature herd.

Hunting is a staple of our State and brings in visitors and revenue that is dependent of our

financial wellbeing. The most important thing is to make sure that hunters of all types and

ages have an experience that continues to bring them back to the woods to find that

trophy, the big one, the huge rack. This and only this enthusiasm will continue to

maintain a healthy well managed herd.


1. Sharp, E. (2008, Mar 06). Detroit free press eric sharp column: The point is, buck
hunting rules must change. McClatchy - Tribune Business News Retrieved from

2. Adams, Kip. “The Reality of Doe:Bucks Ratios QDMA. “Quality Deer

Management Association, 15 July 2016,

3. Norman, K. (2008, Aug 02). Baiting deer. McClatchy - Tribune Business

NewsRetrieved from

4. Smith, D. (2010, Feb 14). Almanac: Ban proposed on recreational feeding of

deer.McClatchy - Tribune Business News Retrieved from

5. Almberg, E. S., Cross, P. C., Johnson, C. J., Heisey, D. M., & Richards, B. J.
(2011). Modeling routes of chronic wasting disease transmission: Environmental
prion persistence promotes deer population decline and extinction. PLoS
One, 6(5)

6. Zlotnicki, M. (2006, Oct 19). Take a doe and help the herd. McClatchy - Tribune
Business News Retrieved from