Hunters prepare for opening day of firearm season

Amanda Monthei

While most people are preparing to go home next week for Thanksgiving, the first event in an overwhelming month of family get-togethers and parties, some students will be celebrating another “holiday” this week.

That holiday is firearm season, which begins Thursday, Nov. 15. Some students will be missing class on Thursday, in addition to those that will travel up to eight hours to hunt in familiar territory around their hometowns.

The arrival of firearm season in Michigan is a much celebrated event, said freshman construction management major Darrin Pursley, who drove nearly eight hours on Wednesday, Nov. 14 to hunt near downstate Jackson, Mich. on opening day.

“It’s a major event,” Pursley said. “It’s not so much about the hunting; it’s more just the camaraderie and being out in the woods.”

Like most students that hunt, the origin of the tradition lies in an ingrained way of life, a family custom that they’ve carried with them to college, Pursley said.

“My dad would always take a week or two off of work to go hunting and that’s what we did all deer season,” Pursley said. “But that first week of rifle season was a pretty big deal.”

While Pursley doesn’t deer hunt in the Upper Peninsula, he still manages to get out for duck hunting around the Marquette area.

He mentioned a day in Au Train when he and his friends were duck hunting. After a storm rolled in, the group had to be aided by local hunters.

“We were hunting out here, and it was right when that really nasty storm came in two weeks ago,” he said. “There were like two foot waves and the wind was blowing south and we had to go north a mile and a half to the boat launch, in a canoe with three guys.

“Well, these guys that were locals saw us trying to paddle and they came over. They hooked their boat up to our canoe and towed us over to the shoreline, then told us how to walk back to the truck. You just don’t find people like that downstate.”

The scarce but friendly population of the Upper Peninsula makes the hunting scene in Marquette a unique one, according to Pursley.

“The lack of people is my favorite part of hunting up here, it’s unreal,” he said. “You don’t see anybody, but nobody gives you any problems if you do see them. It’s awesome, everybody up here is super nice.”

Despite the many hunters that call the U.P. home, the deer hunting in the Marquette area isn’t typically successful for Pursley.

Regardless of whether it’s duck hunting and finding success or striking out with deer hunting, Pursley said he enjoys the hospitality and kindness amongst his fellow hunters in the U.P. It is something he said he doesn’t usually find while hunting in the Lower Peninsula.

“If you run into somebody else downstate, they’re yelling at you because you’re hunting in their spot,” he said. “Then you start yelling at them and it defeats the whole purpose of going hunting.”

While Pursley doesn’t hunt for deer in Marquette and its surroundings, there are a number of students that do, and those that do should be aware of specific guidelines for hunting in the area.

Information on guidelines, start times and other hunting procedures can be found at www.michigan.gov/dnr.