Deer cull results

Ottawa County parks officials consider the first deer hunt at North Ottawa Dunes a success.
Alex Doty
Dec 12, 2012


“I was pleased with how things went,” County Parks Director John Scholtz said.

A total of 16 deer were harvested during the two-weekend hunting event. Scholtz said 13 were taken during the first weekend, Nov. 17-18. The other three were taken Dec. 8-9.

“Because we are trying to reduce deer numbers, we were a little disappointed in the amount,” Scholtz said. “The weather played a role in that.”

More than 270 hunters applied for permits for the two weekends. Groups of 17 were chosen to hunt each of the two weekends.

Hunters were assigned specific zones inside the 500-acre park to hunt deer. This allowed hunters to have their own area without crossing paths.

“We identified 17 zones, and we had one hunter per zone,” Scholtz said.

Hunters were given safety instructions prior to the hunt, and efforts were made to ensure that the surrounding residential neighborhoods were safe.

The hunt was in response to concerns over deer population in the park area.

In 2007, the Ottawa County Parks Department and Grand Valley State University installed a deer exclosure to monitor the effects of the deer densities at the park. Analysis of the exclosure — along with exclosures placed at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Norton Shores — show there are more plants inside the area that deer can’t access when compared to the surrounding landscape.

According to parks officials, eliminating the understory plants threatens the regeneration of the park’s forest. It also threatens all animals needing the food and shelter provided by the growth.

Ottawa County Natural Resources Coordinator Melanie Manion said they plan to host another hunt next fall.

“In all of our education and literature, we’ve said this was a long-term project,” she said.

Manion said the ongoing management effort is in response to concerns about the compensatory rebound effect.

According to the Wildlife Education Coalition, compensatory rebound is a reproductive response of a species by which a sudden increase in food resources, due to a sudden decrease in the population, induces a high reproductive rate. When applied to deer, it means that when large populations are killed, the remaining deer benefit from enhanced food supply and begin to produce more deer.

“That is what happens if you just do a one-time hunt,” Manion said. “If you do another hunt, you don’t have compensatory rebound.”

Manion also noted that they’ve received mostly good feedback from area residents.

“The vast majority of feedback we’ve received was very positive and very supportive,” she said. “The people that have seen the history, they were really comfortable with it.”

Parks officials said they will take what they’ve learned and put it to use in future hunts.

“Learning from (hunts at) Hoffmaster and other organizations, we were able to make adjustments that helped us this year,” Manion said. “We’re putting out a survey today asking for more feedback.”



16 deer harvested is not remotely enough to consider this a success. The only success here, is showing the minority few whom opposed this hunt that bullets we not flying around their neighborhoods and deer were NOT running into cars on the roadways. Director John Scholtz and his team did a very nice job coordinating the perimeters for this hunt. However, next year, plan on actually harvesting deer instead of appeasing the very few opposing this hunt. 30-50 deer should be your target. Double the amount of hunters and put minimum 2 per zone to help initiate the heard movement. I would consider allowing bowhunters to hunt the entire season here, next year. A great opportunity to pass on the heritage to our kids as well as controlling the deer herd.


Not sure I agree with your first sentence as this looks to be a multi-year effort to ultimately be "successful". Nonetheless, it will be interesting to hear/read what those opposed to the hunt have to say, as you correctly point out, that NONE of their publicly stated fears were realized.


Renegade, point taken. My implication in challenging the term "success" was in direct relationship to the harvest amount of 16 deer which is very low. That is why I gave accolades to John Scholtz and his team on the coordination of the event to separate the two, but my opening statement does indeed, sound like I was referring to the entire event.


On going, organized hunting is what is needed to maintain the balance. Compliments to director Scholtz, and OCNRC Manion for a well planned and executed hunt in the face of hysterical opposition voices. Expanding the days of hunting or bowhunting the entire season would be good considerations for next year.

Compliments also to those hunters who took part in the hunt for demonstrating to all how to conduct a safe hunt. Those who opposed the hunt should take notice how these sportspeople took care to ensure the safety for other hunters and the private property that borders the North Ottawa Dunes area. I suspect they will only look for ways to further oppose or sensationalize this hunt. Sigh!


P.J. Hoffmaster State Park - Deer Hunt Results
Nov. 17-18: 0 harvested
Dec. 8-9: 2 harvested

Stating all facts = PRICELESS


Which goes to show the multi-year effort at reducing the herd at Hofmaster is having its intended effect. Less deer makes hunting more difficult, hence the reduced harvest. The same will be true at North Ottawa Dunes in a few years, which of course, is the goal of the management plan. CAT's pithy remark is symbolic of the urban elites with no interest or accountably to help balance the effects of their consumptive lifestyles on plants and animals. How about some other facts CAT? Like the fact there is a recovery occurring at Hofmaster SP of native plants. Next time, how about adding something more valuable to the discussion?


"Don't shoot the messenger." Enough said . . .


That's a bit lazy, don't you think? If only life was as simple, but it's not. These are immensely complicated issues, which ought to be subject to a rigorous pursuit of knowledge, truth and the intellectual give and take of well-intentioned discussion. Unfortunately, like so many on the left of the political spectrum, you simply want to emerge from under whatever electronic rock you hide beneath, hurl a simplistec view you believe serves your values, then retreat from the arena of ideas. So predictable, and so sad.


Your right Cat, and they said there were so many deer in that area, they have hunted them all out and the rest have died or moved on. The deer are not there anymore.


What is destroying the vegetation? Squirrels!! You do not have a clue about what you are saying.


I can't believe the comments from the County Parks Dept. Ms Manion has the whole compensatory rebound backwords, scary that these are the people who are giving out permits for hunting. According to Woodtv, the DNR thinks 15,000 deer died of disease this year, there may not be any hunting next year and that would be just fine. I also question why Alex keeps putting these articles on the front page of the paper, are the City or County paying extra for these articles???? Have you no other important news?


"Compensatory Rebound" as espoused by your ilk holds that it is futile to control deer populations through culling or hunting because the remaining deer will have more food that will lead to higher reproductive rates. To date, not a single poster has provided evidence to support that old exaggeration of unrelated scientific work. In fact, the author of a Florida study cited as proof of "compensatory rebound" had never even heard of the term until he was asked about it. Since hunting is alleged to increase deer populations, one would think after 7 years, deer would be over running Hoffmaster. Curiously, the opposite is true, no? Please be careful on your next trip across Lake Michigan. We wouldn't want you to fall over the edge.


Please explain "compensatory rebound" and cite a peer-reviewed journal/article where you got your information. Thank you or considering.


Clearly, JB & CAT have never hunted in this type of environment or hunted at all. The dunes provide a sanctuary for deer to hide. Deer can scale these sand dunes in less than 2 minutes, whereas, hunters with gear would take 45 min. to an hour. Combined this with the lack of allowed hunters and it is no surprise to me of the low harvest. This is a large area for a small amount of hunters to cover. This was my point in my earlier post. If your IQ level is telling you no harvest means there must be no deer problem then, I would suggest we get a city wide squirrel hunt on the books by this weekend and continue it until we manage this herd to the level of your thinking.


Dyankee, your exactly right and beat me to the punch regarding this dune environment. I have personally hunted those dunes for nearly 30 years before it was turned into a park. I have watch as these majestic animals watched me from above as I began to scale a dune and then within 2 minutes run two dunes away to stand, watch and wait for me to reappear sweating and sloughing along. Whole entire seasons where spend without the kind of harvest that occurred over the 2 two day hunts. 16 deer in 4 days is a huge harvest in this environment. I know for a fact, most years half that number was harvested out there from Oct 1st to Jan 1st.


Dear Grand Haven Tribune and Reporter Alex Doty,

In your story above, you cite the Wildlife Education Coalition as a source for a theory referred to as Compensatory Rebound. Who is this group? Where are they headquartered and how did you identify and qualify them as a source for your story? Thank you for considering these modest questions.


I do not know who this group is but this has been a fact proven over and over, if you were smart you would have looked this up and found it to be true, only the deer hunters want to say it's not true as it could lessen their chances of hunting.


Listen to yourself. "I do NOT KNOW who this group is", but what they are saying is "a fact proven over and over". If it has been "proven over and over", it should hardly required ANY effort to cite a peer-reviewed study that states the culling and hunting of deer has NO impact on their populations because the surviving deer will breed at a higher rate. What you and your ilk have yet to explain is how this impacts deer in our geographic location where deer are ALREADY at high reproductive rates. By your theory, these deer who are already having twins and triplets, are going to have quadruplets and more, right?


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