Optimistic and excellent are a couple of the themes as the Michigan DNR shared their outlook for Michigan's 2015 big-game hunting seasons.

Deer Season

There is reason for optimism. Preliminary field reports indicate a good fawn crop and healthy-looking deer.

The deer harvest in the Upper Peninsula is expected to be low again following a series of difficult winters and the subsequent effects on the deer herd. The population may take longer to rebound due to the number of predators on the landscape. New regulation changes aimed at protecting antlerless deer have been enacted, which includes removing the antlerless option from archery season for license and combo license holders.

Prospects in southern Michigan may be improved because of a later-than-usual corn harvest last year. The progress of the corn harvest has an effect on early season hunting results, but the corn harvest is almost always complete by the end of the regular firearms season.

Bear Season

Bear hunting continues to be excellent in Michigan. With a population estimated to be in the 11,000 range (not counting cubs), the DNR has made 11,742 licenses available and anticipates a harvest of about 1,400 bruins.

Elk Season

Michigan’s elk population, which was above goal for a number of years, has been reduced to a level more in line with management goals. As a result, fewer licenses are available than in some recent seasons. A total of 100 licenses were issued by lottery. The early season is held largely outside the core elk range. In December, hunters are issued licenses for specific units within the core elk range, but hunters may opt to hunt outside the core area as well. If wildlife managers determine the harvest was insufficient to meet management goals, a January hunt will be held with additional licenses available to hunters who have already applied.