According to Boone & Crockett’s trophy search in 2013, four of the top eight states — No. 1 Illinois, No. 2 Indiana, No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 7 Ohio — share our borders.
Yet Michigan is nowhere to be found among the list of best places to kill a nice buck.
A local group, the Lower Peninsula Deer Management Initiative, is doing its best to change this. Its members hope to enact regulations that would require all antlered deer harvested in the lower part of the state to have at least four antler points on one side.
Those restrictions are being considered starting with the 2014 season.
Opponents of this aggressive plan feel that this takes away from the ability for those who hunt for meat to fill their freezers each fall, and puts way too much emphasis on trophy hunting.
Proponents point to the fact that more than half the bucks harvested in the southern Lower Peninsula — 67 percent — are yearling bucks. That number is 58 percent in the northern Lower Peninsula, where proposals are in place calling for a three-point-a-side restriction.
Not only would these restrictions give Michigan hunters a better chance to harvest a nice buck, they would also go a long way toward making Michigan a viable destination for hunters across the Midwest looking to hunt for trophy whitetails.
Currently, a nonresident can buy an over-the-counter firearms or archery deer tag for $138.
In Illinois, the cost of a nonresident deer archery permit is $410 — and that’s only after you go through an application process to get a license. For gun hunting, that cost drops to $300.
Indiana has a nonresident deer hunting bundle that allows hunters to kill two antlerless and one antlered deer — notice the emphasis on trimming the doe herd — for $295.
These states are drawing hunters from all over, because hunters will pay big bucks and drive a long way for the chance to hunt trophy whitetails. That’s why all the big deer at local taxidermy shops these days come from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, along with Saskatchewan and other Canadian provinces.
There are plenty of deer in Michigan. If in doubt, just ask landowners in Grand Haven, who can’t keep their hostas safe during the summer months.
But in order to develop a better balance of population, to create stellar hunting opportunities and to lure a lot of dollars into our state, the Natural Resources Commission should strongly consider adopting these proposed antler point restrictions.
If the bucks are here, then the bucks — as in dollar signs — will surely follow.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to email@example.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.