Nik Rajkovic /

Michigan DNR reports about 216,000 deer harvested so far this season, but biologist Chad Stewart says that’s down from the same time last year.

“Probably by about 14 percent,” he says. “It’s kind of what we’re seeing across several other states. Wisconsin just put out a press release, they’re down a little bit this year. Minnesota is down. So, it seems to be kind of a down year for deer harvest across the northern Great Lakes States.”

Stewart says hunter participation also continues to trend lower.

“We still have over a half-million deer hunters in the state of Michigan alone. Granted those numbers are down quite a bit from 20 years ago, but still a lot of people who participate in deer hunting,” he says.

“There’s a strong tradition. There’s a strong culture here in Michigan. It’s been estimated in the billions of dollars in terms of the economic impact.”

Stewart says 21 days of rain in October discouraged early hunters, and a later corn harvest provide more hiding spots for deer.

Deer gun season wraps up Thursday, with muzzle-loader season beginning Friday through the New Year.