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Oh Deer…A Look at the Results of Firearm Deer Season in the Straits of Mackinac Since 1957

Since first opening in 1957, the Mackinac Bridge Authority has counted the number of deer taken south across the bridge during Michigan’s firearm deer season, which opens Friday, November 15 and runs through Saturday, November 30, 2020. This information helps the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) index the size of the deer herd as well as the success of the firearm deer season in the Upper Peninsula.

Over the past 60+ years, those counts collectively total 278,250 says Kim Nowack of the Mackinac Bridge Authority. The all-time high came in 1995, when 18,887 deer were tallied. Other prime years were 1959 (16,056 deer), 2000 (14,445), 1964 (13,335) and 1958 (13,065). More than 10,000 deer were also counted in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1996 and 2000.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (M-DNR) recently released its 2019 prediction report, which states that “with overall deer numbers being low in the U.P., buck sightings have been limited. Those that have been observed look very healthy and antler development appears average for the region.”

Overall, throughout Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, hunting (including deer and other mammals) is big business. The Michigan United Conservation Clubs report that the statewide economic impact of hunting is $8.9 billion (with 700,000 hunters) and combined with fishing put Michigan the top state in the Great Lakes region – generating more than $11.2 billion annually. This includes licenses, gear, clothing, hotels, meals and more.

According to the DNR, the 2018 hunting seasons (bow, firearm and muzzleloader) brought out more than 554,300 hunters statewide who spent a combined 7.5 million days afield and bagging more than 360,000 deer (bucks and does).

Mackinac Bridge Deer Crossing Totals

1957    9,224
1958    13,065
1959    16,056
1960    9,798
1961    5,962
1962    9,700
1963    11,894
1964    13,355
1965    11,050
1966    10,093
1967    9,528
1968    8,283
1969    7,250
1970    3,084
1971    4,251
1972    2,466
1973    2,885
1974    3,404
1975    3,784
1976    3,175
1977    2,618
1978    3,157
1979    2,841
1980    2,695
1981    3,313
1982    3,128
1983    3,393
1984    3,922
1985    5,378
1986    4,713
1987    6,036
1988    7,960
1989    9,279
1990    8,450
1991    9,361
1992    8,581
1993    7,328
1994    8,903
1995    18,887
1996    10,900
1997    4,992
1998    6,800
1999    9,703
2000    14,445
2001    8,073
2002    8,221
2003    8,091
2004    6,598
2005    6,098
2006    5,819
2007    6,346
2008    6,813
2009    3,942
2010    4,092
2011    5,731
2012    6,460
2013    4,207
2014    2,233
2015    1,500
2016    1977
2017    2991
2018    3317

Those looking to stay in Mackinaw City during the upcoming firearm deer season, or throughout the winter months, can visit MackinawCity.com/stay/ for a list of area hotels, motels and other lodging options.