MARQUETTE - For hunters, this has been a big week, with some of the fall hunting seasons getting under way. On Wednesday the small game hunting season opened, which includes rabbits, squirrels and ruffed grouse. Thursday opened the regular season on Canada geese.
With all the season openers, supply stores in the area have been busy with hunters preparing and stocking up on supplies. At Gander Mountain in Marquette Township, hunter Chris Kirk of Marquette was shopping for ammunition for his 12-gauge shotgun.
"I am trying to compare brands (of ammunition) for Thursday's goose season opener," he said, adding that hunters have to be careful to purchase steel shot for hunting waterfowl.
Kirk Bott, an employee at Gander Mountain in Marquette Township, holds up an example of a 20-gauge shotgun Wednesday. That caliber of weapon is popular among area small game hunters, store representatives said, expecially youth. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
Bob Weisenberger, sales manager at Gander Mountain, said there are certain items hunters should purchase to get prepared for the season.
"Many hunters have been in to purchase new upland clothing such as pants, vests and or chaps," he said.
Blaze orange is a popular - as well as a mandatory -item to have while hunting. With most hunting clothing, blaze orange is incorporated into the product. If it isn't, a separate article can be purchased to be worn over clothing, such as camouflage.
Michigan hunting seasons
Rabbit: Cottontail rabbits and varying hares can be hunted from Sept. 15 - March 31, statewide. Daily bag limit s five (in combination) with a possession limit of 10.
Squirrel: Sept. 15 - March 1. Hunters may take five per day with 10 in possession.
Ruffed Grouse: Sept. 15 - Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 - Jan. 1. Daily bag limit is five, with 10 in possession in the northern two-thirds of the state; three, with six in possession in Zone 3 (southern Michigan).
Woodcock: Sept. 25 - Nov. 8. The daily bag limit is three with six in possession.
Pheasant: Oct. 10-31 in the Upper Peninsula, Oct. 20-14 in the Lower Peninsula, and Dec. 1 - Jan.1 in selected areas of Zone 3. The limit is two roosters daily, four in possession.
Duck: Sept. 18-19 statewide for youths only; Oct 2- Nov. 30 in the North Zone, Oct. 2 - Nov. 28. Hunters may take six duck daily with no more than four mallards (only one hen), three wood ducks, two redheads, two scaup, two pintails, one black duck and one canvasback. Hunters may take an additional five mergansers (no more than two hooded mergansers). Possession limit is two days' daily bag limit.
Canada goose: Early season is Sept 1-10 in the Upper Peninsula. Daily bag is five. Regular season: Sept. 16-30 in the North Zone, Oct. 2. Daily Bag is two.
Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment
"Blaze orange baseball caps are very popular this time in the season because it isn't cold enough yet to wear a stocking cap and it also meets part of the 50 percent coverage requirement," Weisenberger said.
Weisenberger offered several tips for hunters: Layering is very important this time of year because it is so much cooler in the mornings before it warms up as the sun rises. Purchasing a fleece is always a good idea because it can be worn in the mornings as a mid-layer and as the day warms up, it can be shed and stored easily.
A water bottle is always a good thing to carry to stay hydrated and a knife also comes in handy, especially if the hunt is successful. A good pair of boots is great to have. There are a number of brands and styles. Ideally, a pair that is comfortable and will keep dry will make the hunting experience more enjoyable, he said.
The most important item to have while small game hunting is a shotgun. Weisenberger said 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotguns are ideal hunting weapons. The 20-gauge is the most popular among youth because of it ease of use.
"A lot of the youth just finished the hunter's safety course at the Negaunee Rod and Gun Club this past weekend. So a lot of parents have been in with their children purchasing a youth 20-gauge shot gun," said Weisenberger.
Weisenberger also recommended all hunters read and refer to hunting regulations, including those for bag limits, before beginning their hunt.
"I don't think anything has changed, but don't take my word for it - and read the rules before you go out," he said.
A small game hunter's guide can be picked up at any licensing shop or at any of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment offices. The guide is also available online at: www.michigan.gov/dnr.
Andy Nelson-Zaleski can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 256. His e-mail address is email@example.com.