Take note in Michigan today and tomorrow of those northbound convoys of gear-laden trucks, many towing equally laden trailers and most showing flashes of hunter-orange clothing tucked here and there.
They no doubt are en route to far-flung camps in advance of opening day of the annual Big Event, Michigan s firearms deer-hunting season, which is Saturday. Up to 750,000 hunters are expected to participate before this “rifle season” ends on Nov. 30.
Northbound, he said? Check that. Maybe not.
Though the North Country of the lower peninsula and the fabled “U. P.” are the traditional deer-hunting regions, southern lower Michigan quietly has moved to the forefront in terms of deer production, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Last year for the first time the southern zone harvest was higher than that in the northern lower peninsula and upper peninsula combined.
It may happen again this year, MDNR biologists say. The agriculture-heavy southern zone already has a reputation for growing big bucks.
The pre-seasons herd this fall was estimated to be about 1.75 million deer, about the same as a year ago, though MDNR deer managers want to cut the herd size down to about 1.45 million to reduce crop damage and motor-vehicle collisions.
Hunters are urged to visit information and check stations. Three major stations will be open Sunday through Tuesday:
w Big Rapids, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, at the U.S. 131 rest area south of town.
w Birch Run, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, at the truck weigh-station along I-75/U.S. 10/U.S. 23 about 2.5 miles north of town.
w St. Ignace, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, at the bridge-view parking lot on Marley Street south of U.S. 2.
Hunters bringing in deer for a biological check will receive a 2003 Successful Deer Hunter patch.
Individuals wanting to share some of their venison with the needy can contact Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger, which since 1991 has been channeling venison donations to charitable agencies.
For details and a list of drop-off stations, call MSAH at 313-278-FOOD, or visit the organization Web site, www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org.
wThough the Ohio and Pennsylvania gun-deer seasons do not open until Dec. 1, some Ohio hunters already have been able to bag deer with firearms.
Tammy Becker of Toledo took a huge eight-point buck at a special hunt at the NASA Plum Brook Station near Sandusky, while hunting with her husband, Tim.
They were hunting under a permit that had been delayed since the fall of 2001, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
Tammy used a 20-gauge shotgun to bag this, her second buck.
It field-dressed at 208 pounds and its antlers had a 22-inch outside spread, said Tim. Oregon taxidermist Earl Wolfe is preserving the head, he added.
“She can t wait to get him back.”
Following on his wife s success, Becker bagged a doe on an antlerless-only day at the federal Ravenna Arsenal in northeast Ohio, this in another delayed-permit hunt.
Another huge buck that crossed Wolfe s shop door was a 15-pointer taken by Floyd Smith of Holland during the opening day of rifle season in Kentucky.
“Heavy beams, brow tines, just a big, big beautiful deer,” said Wolfe.
Smith said the buck s rack has a 193/4–inch outside spread and it dressed out at about 180 pounds.
He made a 90-yard shot with his .270 as the buck followed 20 yards behind a doe in the wooded hill country of Christian County.
wOn the radio - A new feature, “K-100 Outdoors with Steve Pollick,” with The Blade s outdoors editor, is being aired by WKKO, FM 99.9, Saturday mornings at 6 a.m.
The program presents a capsule of the outdoors column for Sundays in the Sports Section of The Blade.
This week s topic is the opening of Michigan s firearms deer-hunting season.
Today and tomorrow - Public trap and skeet shooting, 5 p.m., United Conservation and Outdoor Association of Hancock County, Township Road 243 north of U.S. 224, east of Findlay, Thursday shoots practice, Friday shoots practice plus protection trap; call Don Borkosky, 419-427-4236.
Tomorrow - Naturalists Camera Club of Toledo, 7:30 p.m., Secor Metropark Nature Photography Center, Central Avenue entrance, call Adele Shelton, 419-474-2911.
Tomorrow and Monday - Public trapshoot, 5:30 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen s Association, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2, Curtice; voice-activated traps now available; call Jim Lamb, 419-836-2431.
Saturday - Toledo Naturalists Association, annual meeting and dinner, Toledo Zoo Lodge, 5:30 p.m. social hour, dinner 6:30 p.m.; park in Anthony Wayne Trail lot, call Nancy Bucher for shuttle, 419-878-3141; program by Paul Cypher, Southeastern Michigan Raptor Research, on autumn hawk migrations.
Saturday - Volunteers to burn brush piles, 10 a.m., Kitty Todd Preserve, 10420 Old State Line Rd.; call The Nature Conservancy, 1-877-TNC_OHIO extension 42.
Sunday - Auto tour, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 14000 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor; call the refuge, 419-898-0014.
Sunday - Northwest Ohio Gun Dog Circuit, at WR Hunt Club, 5690 Sandusky County Road 237, Clyde; call the club, 419-547-8550.
Monday - Northwest Ohio Canoe and Kayak Club, 7 to 9 p.m., community room, Northtowne Mall, Defiance; program by Beartooth Mountaineering, Toledo; call Herb Delventhal, 419-784-3953.