WOODS AND WATERS: It’s hunting season, here we go

By Ed Gilbert • Last Updated 5:50 pm on Monday, October 03, 2011

October first heralds some great hunting seasons, and many hunters are anxious to get started after their favorite quarry.
Of course, if they’re bent to go after small game like rabbits and squirrels and such, they could already be hunting, but some other game is opening up as well.

The big one, archery deer season, opens today. Also, duck hunting opens in Michigan’s middle zone, and Canada goose season opens in the northern Lower Peninsula, each on the same day.

Although I’ve never tried to hunt raccoons, their season also opens today. I understand it can be great sport, but with all the other hunts taking place I’ve never gone after a raccoon. I do recall shooting one that I thought was a squirrel many years ago and I wasn’t too pleased with my recognition or the shot. Fact is, I guess it sort of cured me on wanting to hunt raccoons.

Several youth and 100 percent disabled veteran deer hunts have already taken place, and a special disabled firearms deer hunt will be taking place Oct. 13 to 16.

But of course the big one is the archery deer season that runs Oct. 1 to Nov. 14, the day before the regular firearms deer season opens.

According to DNR reports, the bow season is looking good and participation will be up considerably, likely due to the increase in crossbow hunters and new baiting rules, not to mention the fair winter we experienced with excellent deer survival. Last year’s archers killed about 117,000 deer, and hunters killed approximately 418,000 deer in the combined seasons. Those figures will most likely increase this year.

I mentioned baiting above, so let’s take a second look at that. The rules are that a hunter may use up to two gallon of bait at one hunting site. However, if part of that bait is uneaten the next day you can’t spread an additional two gallon. I have no idea how that one is going to be enforced, but someone will certainly be tripped up by it. I already am.

Just a quick word on the use of crossbows, something I believe I touched on in a previous column. The accurate firing of a crossbow requires plenty of practice, just as is the case with any other bow. Although some may believe a few practice shots is sufficient and they shoot similar to a gun, that is just not the case. I’ve fired them from the ground and from an elevated position, and wound up sticking with my compound bow. Fact is, I just didn’t get in enough practice time and also it was another hunter’s bow so I didn’t get stuck with a big price tag.

All said, don’t always trust an outdoor writer’s take on the various hunting seasons and their locations and limits. We make some mistakes, dang it. The proper thing to do is consult the 2011 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest. By doing that you can avoid what could be an unpleasant experience… Goof hunting.

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