FIREARMS Season Ends with One Hunter Killed
Detroit Free Press, MI
BY ERIC SHARP
FREE PRESS OUTDOORS WRITER
Deer kill expected to be down a bit from 2002
December 4, 2003
After Michigan completed 15 days of the firearms deer
season without a fatal shooting, a hunter apparently killed himself with
his handgun on the 16th and final day.
Police said Ivan Renkiewicz, 43, of Gaylord was hunting
near his home Sunday when he apparently tripped and triggered the gun as
Relatives heard the shot about 8:30 a.m. but did not look
for Renkiewicz until about 5 p.m.
Lt. Suzanne Koppelo, head of the state Department of
Natural Resources' safety office, said 16 other hunters were wounded in
accidental shootings during the Nov. 15-30 season.
The firearms season produced complaints from hunters who
spent time in northern Michigan and not only didn't kill a deer but
didn't see many.
"Awful, just awful," was Greg Phillips' assessment of the
The Lansing hunter spent five days near Baldwin in an area
he had hunted for nine years, "and I saw two does the whole time I was
in the woods," he said.
"I was out there four hours in the morning and three hours
in the afternoon for five days. We got a little snow one
afternoon, so we took a walk looking for sign. There were hardly even any deer
"When we first set up that camp, we'd see 10-20 deer every
day, but it has been going downhill steadily ever since. The DNR
started handing out antlerless tags like they were cheese samples in a
supermarket, and the deer numbers just dropped out of sight."
Phillips' complaint seemed representative of many hunters
in the northern
Lower Peninsula and eastern and central Upper Peninsula.
The statewide kill probably will be slightly smaller than the 2002
harvest of about 480,000 for all the deer seasons, including archery and
Tommy Dennis of Mt. Pleasant had a slow season, but he
blames it on an excess of hunters, not so much a dearth of deer.
"It just seemed like there were orange suits everywhere,"
Dennis said of his hunting area in Missaukee County. "Maybe it was the
Saturday opener, but I don't think I've ever seen so many people in the
woods the first two days. I sure heard a lot of shooting going on."
Expectations of a decreased kill were reflected in
preliminary information collected by Michigan United Deer Hunters, an
organization formed to share information between hunters and the DNR.
Richard Heathcock said most of the early responses
reported fewer deer sightings than in years past. Dramatic decreases were most
evident in much of the northern Lower Peninsula, Upper Peninsula and
parts of the central Lower Peninsula.
That didn't surprise Rod Clute, the DNR's big-game
specialist. He was still collecting the final figures Wednesday to provide to
Resources Commission today. Clute said he expected that
the kill would be down slightly from 2002, when firearms hunters killed
288,000 whitetails out of a herd of about 1.7 million.
"The southern Lower will be pretty much the same, but in
the northern Lower, we have been successful in bringing the deer
numbers down in many areas, and the harvest will reflect that," Clute said.
Firearms hunters account for about 60 percent of the deer
killed in Michigan each year. Archery hunters kill about 25 percent,
another 10 percent are taken in the December black-powder season, and
special hunts and crop-damage permits account for the final 5 percent.