Source: Sherman Publications

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Firearm deer season, a family affair for some

by David Fleet

November 14, 2012

Dan and John Bradburn with a buck.
John Bradburn, 56, has been hunting in the Atlas Township area and other regions of Michigan for about 40 years.

"Its been a family tradition that dates back many years," said Bradburn.

"We've had a lot of success over the years in the Genesee County area and Manistee. We've taken a lot of nice deer. But the true measurement of a good hunt is quality family time and safety. It's all about atmosphere—there are a lot of northern Michigan attributes you just don't find down here in the southern part of the state. Granted I've done better down here, but when you're out hunting you hear dogs barking, lawn mowers running and finding suitable property down here is always a challenge."

The Bradburns will be among about 650,000 Michigan deer hunters that headed to the woods statewide as the firearm deer seaon opened on Nov. 15. Similar to other years, the mid-week start to the popular season has sparked controversy between hunters who want to retain the traditional date and those who want to change it to a Saturday.

The Bradburn family has been hunting for multiple generations. Currently John's three sons, John, 28, Michael, 26 and Daniel, 21, continue to participate in hunting activities.

"We need to encourage our youth," he said. "With all the challenges for our youth today, the ability for them to go out and enjoy the outdoors safely is paramount. The idea regarding the youth hunts is not just to increase the number of hunters, but also teach the appreciation of nature."

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, southern Michigan has the overall highest deer densities in the state, compared to the northern counties and Upper Peninsula. However, the deer population has been stable to decreasing during the last five to 10 years.

A series of mild winters have kept local deer populations level over the last few hunting seasons, say Department of Natural Resources officials. But a new factor may be thrown into the mix as the general 2012 Michigan firearm deer season opens.

"The deer numbers are creeping up in the northern areas; however, in the southeastern region, which includes Oakland and Genesee counties, the real wild card in deer population is EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease)," said Brent Rudolph, Michigan Department of Natural Resources big game specialist.

EHD is an acute, infectious, viral disease found in wild ruminants like white-tailed deer. EHD is transmitted from deer to deer through the bite of a midge (small fly) called a biological vector. EHD does not affect humans, so edibility of the venison is not impacted by this disease. There is no evidence that humans can contract the EHD virus either from the midge or from handling and eating venison.