For many, the changing leaves and cooler nights marks the beginning of fall. For others, it means deer hunting season.
Deer hunting season began on Sunday in Michigan. Bow hunting became legal on Sunday, and on Nov. 15, firearm deer hunting is allowed for two weeks.This year, new regulations exist due to increased cases of Chronic Wasting Disease among Michigan deer.
CWD is a fatal contagious neurological disease capable of infecting deer and elk. To prevent the disease from spreading, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has implemented new regulations for hunters who hunt out of state.
Beginning this season, it is forbidden to bring a full deer back to Michigan. According to the DNR website, hunters can only bring back parts of the deer such as hides, deboned meat, finished taxidermy products, and cleaned skullcaps or antlers.
Dave Wheeler, manufacturer of Lucky Buck mineral, a mineral used for deer baiting, said he doesn’t think the law will have a big effect on Hillsdale County.
“I don’t know a whole lot of hunters in the county who hunt out of state,” Wheeler said. “It hopefully shouldn’t be a big deal.”
According to the DNR, nine deer have tested positive for CWD in Michigan since it was first spotted in 2015.
Michigan now has two CWD management areas consisting of five counties in central Michigan. The areas where deer have tested positive is limited to 17 townships within those counties. Lansing is among those townships.
With no cases of CWD in Hillsdale County, residents are still preparing for the season.
Callie Edwards, manager of the Hillsdale branch of the Family, Farm and Home store, said she has noticed an uptick in hunting related purposes in the last month.
“People are definitely getting ready for hunting,” Edwards said. “Along with feed and bows, the hunting cameras have been especially popular lately.”
For many residents, hunting is a family activity. Hillsdale resident Chris Zahn, 17, said he hunts with his uncle.
“It’s a lot better to hunt with someone than by yourself,” Zahn said.
Zahn shot his first deer when he was 15. In the past year, he’s had to hunt for coyotes as well deer, in order to protect his family’s farm animals.
“It’s not as fun as it sounds. You’re outside at night in the pitch black for hours,” Zahn said. “It’s hard — they can smell and hear your every move.”