MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) – State officials say hunters in the Upper Peninsula bagged fewer deer during firearm season but came away with high-quality bucks.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Friday that preliminary deer check station data shows a drop of about 13.5 percent through the season that ended Monday. Wildlife officials predicted a drop after three consecutive severe winters in the region.

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While the number of bucks being checked was down overall, check stations saw a high proportion of mature bucks.

The Escanaba station was down about 25 percent from last year; Marquette increased roughly 20 percent.

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Officials say a continuing warmer-than-average trend could help the herd recover.

Earlier this year, wildlife policy makers approved restrictions to antlerless deer hunting during bow season in the peninsula as the whitetail population plummeted.

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