"With today's date, 11-11-11, I feel lucky enough to get a date with Paris Hiltunen," said WW&W deer hunting correspondent Buck Fever, planning to invite the wildly popular wildlife correspondent to the LLBBBB hunters ball Saturday night.
You don't have to be a hunter to know that Nov. 15 is Opening Day of yet another Yooper firearm deer season. From the prevalence of blaze orange around town and in the woods, to packing for camp, checking out blinds, setting up treestands and trail cams, the signs are ubiquitous.
"I don't know about that, but they're all over the place," Buck clarified.
Gas stations, party stores and supermarkets sell deer feed and hunting supplies by the quart, 6-pack, 12-pack and case. Backroads bars from Drummond Island to Dollar Bay display high-vis blaze orange beer banners welcoming hunters to the fun, frolic and northern hospitality of hunters balls and all-you-can-eat booyaws, buffets, spaghetti benders and worse.
Lac la Belle Lodge kicks off the local Hunters Ball & Booyaw circuit at 6 p.m. Saturday with our very own singin' Sheriff Ron Lahti and the Keweenaw Roadkill Band. Call 289-4293 for information. One glance around the rafters of the Bear Belly Bar will tell you why I call it Carnagie Hall.
Holly and Barney Leskinen will host the Cliff View Inn's annual Hunter's Ball Nov. 18; the White House and the Gay Bar are both set for Nov. 19, and the Drift Inn is good to go Nov. 25, featuring the fabulous Wing Nuts. I highly recommend these venerable venison venues as valuable, entertaining and educational cultural research opportunities where you can wet your whistle and whet your appetite while you find out all you wanna know about hunting the area and more.
"We can all thank God for the rut," said WW&W senior religion correspondent Amazing Grace, "If it wasn't for deer not being able to keep their dewclaws off one another this time of year, we wouldn't have a hunting season."
"The more rubbing and scraping going on the better I like it, but what hunter doesn't?" agreed Paris Hiltunen. "Science tells us the rut starts the second full moon after Autumn Equinox; it's already going on and lasts about two months - with bucks chasing does longing to get bred."
"Deer camp culture is an evolutionary process much like marriage," she continued. "Come this time every year, most Yooper wives are happy to kiss their husbands goodbye, send them off to camp, and take a breather."
A WW&W Opinion Dynamics poll reveals that some husbands and wives hunt together, but they are few and far between.
"The time apart is mutually therapeutic," counseled Amazing Grace, "especially when buck fever prevails. Deer do not mate for life and could care less about monogamy, yet they come together during the rut while husbands and wives go their separate ways. Maybe they know something we don't," she speculated. "You can't keep a rut-crazed buck and a doe in heat apart."
"This season is shaping up to be potentially better than last year," said MDNR Wildlife Biologist Bill Scullon, Baraga. "Last winter was moderate, the mildest in eight years or so, and over-winter mortality was reportedly low. The fawn crop was decent, above-average in some places, especially where nutrition is helped by agricultural influence."
"Hunters should expect to see five to 10 percent more deer on the landscape," he estimated. "I would expect average antler characteristics by age class. The hard mast crop is minimal to poor this year which could impact antler development."
"The bumper croppa apples could be their saving grace," Amazing Grace added, "plus the selfless generosity of local hunters who give so generously and keep their stands and bait piles well stocked this time of year."
With the Yooper whitetail population and deer-to-people ratio being what it is, we're outnumbered 3-to-1, and many folks don't have to wait til deer season to get theirs. Car-deer collisions are pretty popular around here, and roadkill doesn't stay put very long. By the time you gather your wits and turn around to pick up the deer you just hit, the guy behind you already got the rebound and layed it up and into the backa his pick-up, pre-tenderized and good to go.
"You haven't been Yooperized until you've been hit by a deer," said Buck Fever, "Our hunter-gatherer heritage and culture is alive and well."
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org, even during deer camp.