DNR: Extra deer hunt a success despite extreme cold

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The state received more than 60 deer after the first round of extra firearm hunting days in parts of Ionia and Montcalm counties.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said 67 deer heads were submitted after the Jan. 4 through Jan. 7 hunt. The specimens are being tested at the DNR’s lab in Lansing for chronic wasting disease, a deadly neurological disorder affecting West Michigan herds.

Participation wasn’t as high as the DNR expected, likely because of the extremely cold temperatures, said John Niewoonder with the DNR Flat River State Game Area.

“Those who participated were mostly successful,” Niewoonder told 24 Hour News 8 Monday. “More participation is expected in the second hunting season.”

The second hunt will be held from Jan. 11 to Jan. 14.

Map: The hunts will be held in Easton, Ionia, Keene, Lyons, North Plains, Orleans, Otsico and Ronald townships in northern Ionia County and in Bloomer, Bushnell, Crystal, Day, Evergreen and Ferris townships in eastern Montcalm County.

Details from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on licensing, tagging and other rules for the hunt:

  • “Licenses, including a deer license, combination deer license, private-land antlerless deer license for DMU 354 or DMU 419, or a public-land antlerless deer license for DMU 354 or DMU 419, are valid.
  • “Antlerless deer may be tagged using the deer license or combination deer license. All other license restrictions apply.
  • “All rules and regulations for the firearm deer season apply.
  • “As a reminder, baiting is not allowed after Jan. 1. Bait cannot be used during this extended season.”

The DNR says the January hunts were scheduled so hunters could help the state gather more data about chronic wasting disease, a contagious illness that causes neurological degeneration and then death in deer. At least one deer killed earlier this year in Montcalm County tested positive for CWD.

Anyone who takes a deer during the extra hunting days will have to turn in the animal’s head to the DNR within 72 hours to be tested for CWD.

The Flat River State Game Area Office at 6640 Long Lake Road near Belding will be open to check deer from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Jan. 17. Hunters can also drop off heads for testing through Jan. 17 at:

Anyone with questions about checking deer or the drop boxes can call 616.794.2658.

After you turn over the deer’s head, you should get the rest of the animal processed as usual, but don’t eat the meat until test results come back. CWD has never been found in humans, but federal health officials advise against eating the meat of infected animals as a precaution.