FOR UPDATED NUMBERS AS OF JANUARY 3, 2024 AT 5:31 AM CLICK HERE

With just one week to go in Michigan's 2023 Whitetail Deer Season, the chances of matching or exceeding 2022's harvest are looking bleak. As of December 26th, 2023 at 5:15 am, a total of 260,043 were reported as tagged to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Related: Tradition is Killing Michigan's Whitetail Deer Season

The DNR has seen a decline in the number of hunters and deer tagged for several years (2020's COVID season being the exception) and this year looks to be another down season. Last year 303,082 whitetail deer were reported as harvested, leaving over 43,000 to be taken out of the woods to match 2022's total.

Michigan's Declining Hunting Population

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Ask any hunter and they'll tell you there's a reason it's called a 'hunting license' and not a 'deer shooting license'. In 2022, 586,323 hunters purchased a deer tag in Michigan. Based on the DNR's number of deer harvested in the same year, 283,241 licenses went unfilled, OR they weren't reported to the mandatory online system.

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Whether filled or not, deer license sales generated over $65 million in revenue for the DNR, which is earmarked for conservation, invasive species prevention, and habitat restoration.

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Michigan's whitetail deer season has been creating outdoor memories while also providing an influx of cash to the state economy since the first tag was sold in 1891.

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Preserving the sport and ensuring its accessibility to all Michiganders is essential to its survival. Until the number of hunters in the state of Michigan increases, expect to see more car/deer accidents, increased insurance premiums, and more crop damage suffered by Michigan's farmers.

Michigan's Dismal 2023 Deer Season: County By County Look A-Z

Things are looking bleak for a once proud sport. With just one week to go, Michigan whitetail deer hunters (as limited and aging as they are), have a lot of work to do even to come close to last year's total deer harvest. Here's an alphabetical look, county by county, comparing this season's year-to-date total to 2022s.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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