Rejection of buck limit proposals a popular decision Saturday, March 17, 2007 By Bob Gwizdz Two proposals that would have changed Michigan's deer limit from two bucks at any time during hunting season to one during archery season and one during firearms season were unanimously rejected by the Natural Resources Commission last week. The proposals -- one that would have applied to the Upper Peninsula only, the other that would have gone into effect statewide -- were largely the result of unhappiness by Upper Peninsula hunters following the 2005 season. NRC member John Madigan of Munising, who chairs the group's Fish and Wildlife Committee, proposed the change late last year after hearing from many dissatisfied hunters. But the NRC declined to act before the 2006 season, promising to take up the subject earlier in the regulations process this year. An improved 2006 season, however, dissipated much of the momentum for changing the regulations. And a recent mail survey sent to 9,000 deer hunters showed that of all the regulatory options available, the current rules had the most support. Currently, hunters have several license options, including buying a combination license, which features two buck tags. Hunters have the option of using those tags during whichever hunting period they choose. After the survey results were reported to the NRC, defeat of the rule change seemed a foregone conclusion; much of the commission's debate centered around whether the groups should even bother taking up the subject. Public testimony at the March 8 NRC meeting in Saginaw was largely against changing the limit. Hunting groups, including Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan Bow Hunters and Michigan Sportsmen's Congress, testified against the proposed change. Madigan, who said he supported the change, said the survey results didn't indicate enough support for it for him to pursue it any further. "I think a lot of people's opinions have changed," Madigan said. The defeat of the proposals was popular with the crowd at the meeting. "I think the combo tag is the best thing to come along and I'm glad they voted the one-buck proposal down," said Tom Lounsbury of the United Sportsmen Alliance. However, not everyone was pleased. Larry Holcomb of Olivet, an officer with the state chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association (which supported the statewide proposal), said hunters were not meeting the state's goals for antlerless harvest under the current regulations and changing the buck limit might convince more hunters to kill antlerless deer. "I think they made a mistake," Holcomb said. Although results of the mail survey were preliminary, almost 70 percent of those who responded noted that the current combination license was their preferred option.