Wringing out my socks after a successful opening day of firearms deer season

A doe and her fawn cautiously snuck through the woods below me at first light on opening day of the 2017 firearms deer season in southern Michigan. I watched them from my perch atop a ladder stand in a giant maple tree at the back end of a swamp.

A half-hour later a button buck sauntered out of the brush below and kept me entertained for a good 20 minutes. He grazed on nature’s offering and made a full circle around my stand before heading back towards a lake, probably for a drink and some much-needed rest.

At about 9 a.m. I caught movement in the thick undergrowth behind me and watched a healthy 4-point buck make his way across the landscape. He also headed back toward the lake and thick bedding cover.

I was one of the lucky ones. There was rain in the forecast, but not until early afternoon, so I enjoyed a dry morning hunt. A cold southern breeze – usually wind from the south is relatively warm, but not on this day – nipped at my cheeks and nose and kept my hands snuggled deep into my fleece-lined pockets for most of the morning. Luck for me, that was about all the adverse weather I experienced this morning.

Friends hunting in other parts of the state, however, reported much dire weather for an opener. Cold and rain in Escanaba. Rain and wind in Manistee. More rain in Traverse City, Mio, West Branch, Newaygo and Allegan. I think the entire state was hit with rain on the soggy firearms opener of 2017.

By 10:30 a.m I’d endured about all the cold wind I could for one sit, exited my stand and headed over to meet my hunting partner near his blind.

In the meantime, I got a text from my brother, John, who had shot an 8-point buck on a nearby farm.

At noon we headed over to check out his second buck of the year, and right about at 1 p.m the rain started. It got progressively worse, and by 2 p.m we were in the midst of the full-fledged downpour.

Afternoon deer activity was sparse, and by the time we left the farm, the parking area had turned to a mud pit. It took me several tries to get out on the road. With mud flying and tires spinning I finally made it and headed straight for the car wash. I’m sure I turned some heads pulling into a do-it-yourself car wash in the midst of a rain storm, but I knew if I let the mud dry overnight it would be as hard as a rock come the next day.

As I pulled out of the car wash and back into the rain, I reflected on the successful opener – anytime I have action while on a hunt I deem it a success. No, I wasn’t as successful as some, but I had more success than others. And the good news is there is still a lot of season left.

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