Hunters, Lawmakers React to Bill that could Extend Firearm Deer Season 10 days

A bill in the Michigan House could extend firearm deer season by 10 days.

If it passes, opening day would be pushed up to November 5 and continue through December 1.

Representative Gary Eisen from the Port Huron area proposed the change.

Some supporters of the bill say a longer season would mean more hunting opportunities, and more action for the northern Michigan economy.

“I think it’s a great idea to start the gun season earlier,” said Manistee County hunter Bob Kalis. “Actually having more access to the deer in more of the heart of the rut of the season because that’s when the deer are most active.”

Rodrigo Meirelles owns Hampel’s Gun Co. in Traverse City and says a longer season might help recruit and retain the next generation of hunters. The current season may be too short for the younger people in the workforce.

“[Hunting] is on a steady decline. I think part of that is a change in demographics, part of that is a lack of opportunity,” said Meirelles. “If you have a young generation that’s working, they basically only have two weekends to hunt.”

Meirelles stays busy before, during and after firearm season and he believes pushing up opening day could help his shop, and many industries across the state.

“Hunters travel, they spend on gas, they spend on hotels and motels food and things like that, so I think in general it would be a positive impact on the economy,” said Meirelles.

Opponents like Northern Michigan representative Michele Hoitenga said the bill “goes overboard” and the season is as long as it needs to be.

“First of all, we’re already dealing with the bait ban, so we need to see what effects will be like on the number of hunters that are going out into the woods the next couple of years,” said Representative Hoitenga. “We don’t want to make the season so long to make our deer extinct so there’s a fine line the DNR needs to manage it.”

The DNR declined comment to 9&10 news and Representative Rex Schlaybaugh from the Michigan Natural Resources Commission says the board will not take a stance on pending legislation, but they will have to comply if the bill is signed into law.

Until then, hunters like Bob Kalis are making most out of their season.

“This is the biggest buck I’ve shot. I’ve shot a lot of bucks in my life but this is the biggest,” Kalis said, while proudly holding his 13-point buck.