Long awaited November 15 finally almost here

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November 15 in Michigan is, without a doubt, a very popular day for many deer hunters, myself included. Of all the state’s hunting seasons, the annual opening of the firearms deer season represents the highest number of participants venturing out in hopes of tagging a deer. It also accounts for the majority of the state’s annual deer harvest, and when you count the high number of hunters venturing into the “deer antlers” on the same day, you know things are about to be. produce!

There are many traditions and festivities associated with Opening Day, including deer camps, lots of camaraderie, “poles” and numerous big money contests statewide. Back then, deer hunters who ventured out on opening day were referred to as the Red and Black Checkered Army, but since the requirement for Hunter Orange, which emerged in the early 1970s, they were called “the army of pumpkins.” “

More and more women across the country have taken up hunting, which I think is fantastic, and a number of states are now including fluorescent pink as a safety color for hunters. This almost became a fact of life for Michigan in 2017, when Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill allowing fluorescent pink, but it was struck down by the NRC, which has final say on matters, and until present fluorescent orange (according to Michigan 2021 Hunting Digest) remains in effect. Likewise, hunting gear and clothing that targets the growing number of female hunters is often pink in color today.

A sad fact, however, is that the number of hunters overall is steadily declining nationwide. I remember when not that long ago there were about 750,000 deer hunters in Michigan, but today there are generally less than 600,000 hunters. However, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic with all of its restrictions, in 2020 there was a 5% increase in the number of Michigan deer hunters.

Obviously going out in the fresh air was obviously a much healthier atmosphere than being isolated indoors, and it certainly worked for me. Practicing good social distancing while hunting is usually not that difficult either. Whether or not that higher number of participating deer hunters wins this year, only time will tell.


According to the 2020 Michigan Deer Harvest Survey, 540,174 deer hunters that year spent 8.5 million days in the field and harvested 411,000 deer, a 13% increase, and 51% of hunters managed to score a deer. There was also a 26% increase in antlerless harvest, 35% of hunters tagged one buck with antlers, and 18% of hunters tagged two or more of any type of deer. Only 6% of deer hunters statewide scored two dollars.

This year, combo buck tags can also be used (in areas where this is permitted) to tag an antlerless deer, and up to 10 antlerless deer tags can be purchased per hunter. This is a deer management effort to keep a constantly growing deer herd in balance with available habitat, which in years past has proven to be a challenge for MDNR due to the reluctance of deer hunters to harvest an antlerless deer.

But as the data shows, the attitudes of hunters are fortunately starting to change. I’ve never had a problem tagging antlerless deer, and in my opinion, a plump, farm-fed doe makes very fine and flavorful venison. My whole family really enjoys eating venison!

I can easily attest that my agriculture-rich region of Thumb will offer plenty of deer hunting opportunities this fall, and it should prove to be a great deer hunting season. What can often have an impact on the number of thumb deer culls is the presence of standing corn fields, where deer love to spend endless hours of the day, especially when they are under the sun. pressure from hunters. Food and shelter are provided quite conveniently, and even the annual deer rutting activity, which usually peaks during gun season, can take place in a standing cornfield. However, as of this writing, there are plenty of cornfields being harvested, thanks to finally cooperative weather. There is no doubt in my mind that this will contribute to the success rate of local deer hunters.

I have a lot of memories of opening day, some of the success and some of the complete failure. My most memorable dates back to my very first opening morning when I was 14. My older brother dropped me off by a stream in the Deford State Game Area and told me he would come back later.

It was a fairly brisk morning and the ground was covered with a thick, deep blanket of dead leaves smeared with frost, which looked like walking on dry cornflakes. I sat on a plastic “Hot-Seat” at the base of a large oak tree on the bank of the creek while I waited for the daylight to subside, and I was filled to the bone. intense anticipation. In fact, I hadn’t slept all night.

However, I found that a pair of woolen socks and leather shoes tucked into four buckle rubber chore boots were rare shoes as they sat on the frozen ground. My cotton jersey gloves soon weren’t enough either, and I put my single shot shotgun in my lap while crossing my arms and placing my hands under my armpits to keep my fingers from freezing. It was in this position that I was when the day finally came, soon followed by several shots in the distance, which was an exciting time for me.

Then I heard what I assumed was another hunter loudly walking through the leaves on the opposite bank of the creek and coming towards me which was a bit confusing for me. I didn’t know much about deer hunting, but I was pretty sure that biting loudly in the woods wasn’t a very good hunting technique. Then the “culprit” making the noise suddenly materialized out of the brush and stopped right in front of me, about 30 yards away, and he was actually a pretty cool buck!

I was completely frozen as the male stood there and gazed alertly in the direction of a few nearby shots, ears pricked up and the mist of his exhaled breath hanging just above his antlers in the still air. The male did not notice my presence and obviously assumed that I was only a very stationary part of the trunk of the tree.

He then continued to munch on his way and quickly passed out in the undergrowth as I sat there with my hands still under my armpits, until I realized I had a shotgun on my hands. knees and that I was supposed to be deer hunting. Yes, folks, this was my very first (and certainly not the last) episode of “goat fever”, a common disease of deer hunters!

The deer camp for my wife Ginny and I is our home, which is quite a festive family affair that now includes grandchildren, and November 15th is an important date that traditionally brings us together. A huge tree in the front yard is known as our official “stag tree,” where deer caught during the hunt hang from its sturdy limbs. “Decorating” this tree with opening day deer (I hope anyway) has become a natural part of the decor.

I don’t think I’m the only one who is happy enough that November 15th is finally here, and for me, that intense anticipation on opening morning after a sleepless night will always be there!

I wish all Michigan deer hunters a very safe and happy hunting season, and your perch and deer trees to be full!

Email Tom Lounsbury at [email protected]


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