The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Public Land Hunting

Frozen crab after the first storm

This morning the first snow fall of the season and the strong winds quit, and my first responsibility was to turn the snow blower on and clean my driveway. Shortly after I had started I heard four shots in quick succession, an unnecessary reminder that we are right in the middle of gun deer season.

Sometime after lunch I packed my gear in the truck and drove to Mission Point Lighthouse Park where "hunting is allowed by DNR regulations." After parking I got dressed to face the comfortable windless 22F (-6C) weather, loaded my beautiful old Winchester Model 70 (of course in 270 Winchester since Jack O'Connor was right after all), market the location in my Bushnell Backtracker GPS and started walking on the trails that are closer to shore.

There were a lot of boot and dog tracks, but very little else disturbed the white snow covering the soft fall leaves. Even in cold weather deer must drink water, so I started walking the shore line looking for tracks, but the only animal I found was a frozen fresh water crab that, to tell you the truth, I did not even know lived around here.

After sometime I came to a place where the coast line raised suddenly and decided to come back to the park trails, and as I came over the rise I saw two other orange clad hunters, a young girl holding an H&R 20 gauge single shot shotgun and a man in his late twenties with a Remington 770 rifle. I approached to exchange some small talk and a minute or two later another couple joined them. The guy had a Remington 1100 semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun and the girl a Marlin 336 lever action, I expect in 30-30.

I bid them goodbye and continued my way until I came to a very hilly portion of the park where I heard a not faraway shot. At the same place I saw another hunter walking the crest of the tallest hill. I waited a bit, but decided that the neighborhood was very crowded and started walking back to the lighthouse. Again I crossed paths with one of the young hunters that I had met earlier and continued my way, and not a hundred yards later I spooked four deer. They were somewhere between the trail and the shore and the only portion of their anatomy that I could clearly see was their flagged white tails.

I squatted down on the trail with gloves off and rifle at ready and heard the deer running through the woods but never had the opportunity for a shot. As the animals traveled south at a running pace I heard three shots, a yell and another shot. I only have an antlerless license for private land, so I need to be extra carefull before taking a shot and make sure that any deer has at least three points to a side before I pull the trigger.

After all this action I doubt that much more would happen, so I continued to my truck and before getting there heard yet another shot. As there was enough daylight prior to what was another magnificent sunset for which we are blessed here in the Old Mission Peninsula I decided to drive around the park boundaries a bit to locate other potential sites and as I came over a knoll I saw three antlerless deer about to cross the road.

After a dozen years living in Michigan this was only my second time hunting deer in public land. While there are deer, there are also a lot of other hunters, so it is really a matter of luck who pushes deer to who, and who gets the shot. The balance of the day was a frozen crab, five other hunters, seven deer sighted, six or seven shots heard and a renewed appreciation for blaze hunter orange.

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