Thursday, November 29, 2012

First-half report not so good

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

With what I consider to be the first half of the deer season -- archery and regular firearms seasons -- about to come to a close today (Friday, Nov. 30), I'm in the throes of one of my worst years ever.

It was bound to happen.

I've had three straight years of bagging a buck prior to this one.

At least today I got out, stepped away from stand hunting to do a little spot and stalk. I figured with the slight warmup, the ruminants would find little reason to move about unless I could bump into one.

And despite not having the desired results, I truly enjoyed myself, and isn't that what it's all about anyway?

I did want to give the firearms season one more go with the "freezer packer" -- my Mossberg 695 slug gun -- before throwing in the towel

I can say I'm not going to be skunked but with the antlerless deer I tagged, that might not be saying much other than it will be good eating.

Moving quickly into the next train of thought -- the second half of the Michigan deer season -- which is made up mostly of the coveted muzzleloader one -- always holds promise. I shot my best buck ever in 2007 with the help of my friend Walt, who drove him out of the thicket so I could get a clear shot with the .45-caliber Knight inline.

I remember standing on top of a knoll in a cut cornfield with a few inches of snow barely covering my pac boots as I was freezing and shaking so that I could barely put on the 209 primer. And just like a dream I had prior to that day, out came a large-racked deer from below a canopy of intertwining bare trees and the shot was true.

 Then we had to track him four fields over, which is another story in itself.

This year the smoke pole season in the southern zone will run from Dec. 7-Dec. 23, which is a little later than usual in past years. But I welcome it. I like a break in between gun seasons. It offers a chance to try something else for a change, such as breaking out the archery gear again or upland bird hunting.

This 8-point was taken during the 2007 muzzleloader season. Yes, that was a long time ago. But it did happen, and it can happen again. At least I hope so.

MAHFS file photo

In other recent news, there were rather exciting things going on around the state:

*  As of Nov. 20, deer license sales were about 2 percent higher than at the same time in 2011 since the 2012 firearm deer season opened Nov. 15, according to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources news release. It also reported nearly 640,000 hunters had purchased one or more Michigan deer licenses.

* Then, the DNR confirmed the three recent trail camera photos of cougars in the Upper Peninsula
were the real McCoys. The photos were taken in Menominee and Marquette counties by private landowners who wished to remain anonymous. In the two from Menominee, both were taken in October of a cougar wearing a radio collar -- one near Cedar River and one near Menominee just north of the Wisconsin border. According to the DNR news release, the nearest states that put radio collars on cougars are North Dakota and South Dakota. The cougar caught on film in northern Marquette County was taken in November, and it did not have a radio collar.

* A bill was approved Thursday in the Michigan Senate to designate the gray wolf as a game species, which opens the door for a potential hunting season, according to an Associated Press article. Senators passed the measure 23-15. It moves onto the House, which has a similar measure pending.
Our western neighbors -- Wisconsin and Minnesota -- already held fall hunts this year. Michigan is thought to have a close to 700 wolves.


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