GRANDVILLE, Mich. — Michigan is home to eight million acres of public land for hunting, and several West Michigan hunters made use of that land on firearm deer season's opening day Sunday.
Hundreds of hunters made their way to Cabela's in Grandville, which is just one of many Michigan Department of Natural Resource (DNR) checkpoints across the state.
“Hunters bring their harvested deer here, and we'll look at the ratio of the bucks and the does,” said Mark Sargent of the DNR.
Sargent told FOX 17 that checkpoints are one of the many measures the state takes to protect the $22 million deer hunting industry.
“It gives us a chance to make sure we're not over harvesting and that the resources stability and make sure we are providing a long-term resource,” Sargent said. “We'll look at the age of the deer by tooth wear, and we’ll also look at antler diameter.”
Sargent said the DNR checkpoints are crucial to the state to ensure hunters are not over harvesting.
It's a resource hunter James Terry of Hastings says is important. Terry was lucky enough to check in a buck and a doe on opening day.
“I've been hunting my whole life on opening day, since the age of 14. It’s been a tradition for my family” Terry said. "[It's a good way to] get away from the cell phones and the TV's, the computers, and enjoy the outdoors."
Firearm season is not just a big hit with hunters and outdoor shops. It’s also a money-maker for the meat processing business.
“We average about 10 deer an hour,” said George Ensing of Van Balls Prime Beef on Plainfield Avenue in Grand Rapids.
Butchers at Van Balls say they're ready and eager for the season to begin.
DNR officials said they are concerned about chronic waste disease, which they continue to monitor in deer across the state. This year, there have been just four reported cases in Michigan, with the most recent case discovered in Lansing last week.
A DNR representative told FOX 17 hunters in West Michigan should not have to worry much about the disease. Ensing with Van Balls Prime Beef said he'll be monitoring the meat brought into his shop.