High winds wreak havoc during opening week of Michigan deer firearms season
The first week of my firearms deer season can pretty much be summed up in two words, “wind advisories”.
Opening day was pretty ugly in southern Michigan where I hunt. A windy, rainy morning ushered in gale force winds after lunch, which kept me out of the woods for the afternoon hunt for the first time ever. It was opening day, for cripe sakes. You hunt on opening day, no matter what. Right?
Well this year’s opener was, I dare say, a little bit too much for me. A warm front lifted late the night before, dumping rain showers and even a thunder storm on the area throughout the morning. By mid-day a cold front had moved in bring with it sustained winds of 20 to 25 mph with gusts of 40 to 50 mph, even a couple that reached 60 mph. Trees and branches were crashing down and most hunters headed for the safety of camp.
There were similar reports from all over the Lower Peninsula. Surprisingly, many hunters who braved these conditions enjoyed some level of success. In fact, before the high winds blew through I’d seen nine deer on the move during the rainy morning hours.
Other hunters reported few sightings and some endured frightening experiences.
“I came home with something better than a deer this year. I came home with my life.”
That’s what Vicksburg’s Brad Addis told me in a phone interview after a 60-foot oak tumbled to the ground on opening afternoon, hitting the pop-up blind in which was sitting.
“We knew it was going to be a windy, gusty day, but on opening day we go out and spend all day in our blinds,” said Addis, who was hunting state land in Crawford County, east of Grayling, as he has for the last 30 years or so.
That’s where he was around 2:30 in the afternoon when he heard the cracking of a nearby tree.
“I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was close,” Addis said. “I thought, ‘Whatever it is, just don’t let it hit me.’”
Addis said he moved to the far side of his blind just before the big oak crashed to the ground, clipping the edge of his pop-up.
“It would have really done me in,” Addis said. “It only missed me by about three or four feet.”
His first thought after the tree fell and he knew he was safe?
“What am I going to do now? I still have a lot of hunting to do,” he admitted.
Addis climbed out of the blind and surveyed the damage, which, surprisingly, was minimal. The big oak just caught the edge of the window in his pop-up.
“I slid it out from the tree and it opened right up,” he said. “So I moved it over a little, climbed back in, and continued hunting.”
The effort was there, but the results were disappointing, “I didn’t see a single deer,” he said.
High winds continued through much of the first week of the firearms season, although not quite as bad as on the opener.
The second week of deer camp looks much more promising with more seasonal weather patterns in the forecast.
If you hunt, remember to be careful. Be cautious of high winds and dead trees.
Like Addis said making it home safely is much more important than putting a tag on a deer.