ESCANABA - There's a beautiful song titled "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year", sung by entertainer Andy Williams and intended for play during the celebration of holidays that include Christmas and New Year's.
To a guy like me it has a double significance. The most wonderful time of the year is now, and it continues through the winter to the end of March. It opens again shortly thereafter for another six weeks.
It's hunting season!
Wednesday was the opener of early goose season. Right on the heels of that is the first of three bear hunts starting Sept. 10, and small game season begins on the 15th.
You wouldn't have guessed it given the recent elongated stretch of hot humid weather. Even though the trees are starting to show spots of color, the tropical temperatures across the UP have seemingly forestalled larger signs of autumn.
Area reports indicate the woods are still very green and wet.
This being the Labor Day weekend, we usually take our first scouting trip to the varied deer hunting locations my sons and I use. It is the inauguration of the season for us and a hint of what may be in store as we work toward the November deer season.
Both of my boys are avid archery hunters. They use commercially made elevated platforms with connected ladders. We check those out too, looking for signs of failure, belt rot and other component changes that might impact safe use.
It's also a good time to decide whether or not re-location might be a consideration.
All hunters who use stick and string should be practicing target shooting by now, to better tune hand/eye coordination.
Working off a platform before season will add to you accuracy, providing the opportunity to calculate arrow drop from release on a down angle versus flat shooting.
Make doubly sure your safety harness is up to date. The Tree Stand Manufacturers Association recommends changing it out every couple of years. It is also advised that a four point harness be used, not the single band strap originally standard issue on many earlier model stands.
It would also be a good time to clear the ground area under the location you set your platform. Thirty percent of hunters who utilize elevated stands for hunting will experience a fall at some point, and many of those occur from falling asleep.
If you utilize one of three types of approved ground blinds, it's also time to check them over.
The most common, the type 3 commercially made or fixed blind, has some restrictions that include use on public land. You cannot put it out on location until Nov. 6 unless it is for archery hunting, and must have your name and address permanently attached to all sides in letters and numbers of at least 2 inches in height.
Those with elevated platforms on public land are required to have the owner's identification visible from the ground. Any blinds of this design, or those that are portable and do not have the owners identification, must be removed at the end of each day of hunting.
It's also a good time to do some shooting with whatever firearm you intend to use while hunting.
Something you might consider is checking with suppliers of ammunition as to stock availability. There seems to be an increasing shortage of ammo these days and prices are climbing, too. If you're an avid shooter, you might want to consider re-loading or having some re-loading done for you.
Those hunters in pursuit of black bear and use bait should keep in mind that containers, such as barrels, can only be used on private land. Those hunting on public land can cover bait with logs over pits. You cannot cut or limb live trees nor cut shooting lanes on public land.
Another issue that seems to be on the rise is whether or not a hunter can access Commercial Forest Act land with All-Terrain Vehicle.
While it was commonly accepted, some owners are closing their land to motorized access, or are charging a fee. Some timber producers have divested their holdings and as these parcels are purchased by individuals, further restrictions are being added.
Any land classified under CFA must allow public access, but it does not necessarily mean motorized.
Several years ago, the major timber producers entered a memorandum of understanding with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment that all hunting rules used for public lands would apply to their land. It remains illegal to travel cross country on public roads, yet all state forest roads in the UP are open to ATV use, unless posted closed.
It is not clear if this rule carries over on those parcels of CFA land. Public land contained within the Hiawatha National Forest also have restrictions for use.
There are other significant changes in hunting regulations for 2010. It is the responsibility of all hunters to obtain a copy of the current hunting and trapping guide booklet and know the contents.
They are available free of charge from any license dealer or one of the MDNRE field offices or service centers throughout the State.
Tim Kobasic is outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.