ESCANABA - It's almost here. Beginning at 7:05 a.m., EST Nov. 15, the first clap of thunder will be heard as a hunter unloads on a whitetail deer and the start of the 2010 Michigan Firearm Deer Hunting Season statewide.
The season is cherished by so many who live here, that the schools now call the opener "Deer Day" and many close for the day so that youngsters can spend it with family and friends in hopes of taking a buck or doe themselves.
We've been readying for weeks (if not months - just ask my wife). The hunting clothes have been washed to remove as much human scent as possible. My son Tony has his bunched in a plastic bag with balsam boughs to mask any remaining unnatural odor.
Wednesday night my son Jake picked up the two huge jars of pickled and peppered eggs and pickled sausage a friend had prepared for us. They sit waiting to be opened, a sign on them stating "not until the 13th," when they'll be just right and everyone will be at camp to sample this year's product. (Oh let the gas begin.)
Our hunters are checking in, listing their estimated time of arrival followed by a request of what staples they need to bring.
Our menu for the weeks to come will feature some home made specialties like Kevin's wife's chili which will be especially welcome after an expected cold opener. We'll whip up some home made venison sausage that gets picked at throughout the week and fry enough eggs to feed an army. (Did I mention anything about gas yet?)
With a full weekend to "enjoy camp" without hunting, I wonder what Sunday will bring. Will we look like battle worn lions, resting and licking our wounds? Or will we remain like little kids, having too much fun to realize how sick we might be if we weren't having so much fun.
Will all the important last minute details be covered?
Are the pins back in the UP silhouette cribbage board? Do we have a couple fresh decks of cards that aren't stuck together like the sets from last year? Given that we have the weekend to play, will we need to bum a shower somewhere so as not to ruin the intended effects of the cleaned hunting clothes?
My forecasted answers to those questions are most likely no to all.
We'll find some small nails or toothpicks to once again mark play at cribbage. The decks of cards already at camp have been stuck together for years and it only takes a couple of hands of poker and a spilled beer to loosen them up. As far as a shower goes, our sense of smell will be pretty much burned out by the opener.
Keeping up the place won't present a problem. Through the years we've worked out a routine where we know dishes have to be done immediately following the use of the last paper plate or when there is nothing left to lift the food from the plate to our mouths.
While beer is not usually considered an appropriate breakfast drink, it is permissible to have it with tomato juice, thus making it fitting for the setting.
Beyond that, while we hope you have fun, please take the time to be serious when it comes to safety.
Make sure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your camp. Check your gas lines for seal. Make sure heater vents are clear from obstruction. Most importantly, don't take chances while hunting and follow the rules of using blaze orange (hat, cap, vest, jacket or raingear) at all times afield and dress appropriately for the weather. Make a plan and be sure your fellow hunters know where you are going and when you plan to return. Also, practice gun safety and ethical behavior. Know your target and do not point a gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. Be sure of what is beyond your target before you shoot.
We want to make sure the statistics that come out after this season are how well you did, even if you don't get a deer, as long as you can return next year to laugh about it.