With opening day for bow season only a couple days away, the population of Upper Peninsula residents who are looking to get out in the woods next week are preparing with new gear, updated gear and sharpening their skills with the help of local businesses.
Straightline Archery in Ishpeming is one of those local business - it's busy with the hum of bow season, as customers look to get new bows, parts and skills before heading to the woods on Monday morning.
"Primarily what were doing right now is selling new bow set-ups to people or working on cross bows that might have problems," Shelley Saxwold, part-owner of Straightline Archery, said. "We're also putting new strings or cables on existing bows and getting those ready."
Straightline Archery part-owner Randall Wellings helps Marquette resident Kyle Smith get fitted with a bow before opening day of bow season, which is on Monday, Oct. 1. (Journal photo by Amanda Monthei)
With the past few weeks being "extremely busy" for her business, Saxwold was quick to praise the popularity of bow hunting in the area, saying that it's just an inherent hobby for people who live in the Upper Peninsula.
"It's extremely popular in the UP, yoopers are known for being very comfortable in the outdoors-fishing, hunting, camping, " she said. "Thats why you live out here, to enjoy the outdoors. Hunting is just a natural (extension) of that.
"It's like a religion there, bow hunting and then rifle hunting."
And where rifle hunting, which opens on Nov. 15, allows for more distance between the hunter and the animal, bow hunting is more "up close and personal" according to Saxwold, who also said the typical distance in bow hunting is 20-25 yards opposed to anywhere from 50-150 in rifle.
"The biggest deference between rifle and bow is that you can be so much further away with a rifle and still have a kill," she said. "With a bow, it's more of an individual against the deer because you're up close and you have to be cautious of wind, the animals sense of smell, movement and sight. It's more or a challenge."
When you're that close to your target, Saxwold says it's a whole new level of affinity with a deer.
"You're so close, you can see the deer twitch," she said. "You have to be careful with movement-you don't want to spook it and you don't want to spook the deer that might be following it."
Saxwold suggested that a pathway or runway that deer may frequent could be a good spot to get much closer to deer, as they are in an environment where are less-easily spooked.
While bow hunting may sound complicated to those who are not familiar with the sport, Saxwold also mentioned that with a little bit of assistance and the perfect-fitting bow, archery is not as intimidating as it's made out to be.
"I think it's difficult if you try to pick it up on your own," she said. "But today, the equipment needs to fit like shoes. If it doesn't fit you well, you'll struggle to shoot as well as you want to or as well as you should and then it's discouraging and that kind of just snowballs.
She suggested getting fitted well at a local archery shop, which makes it much easier to pick up.
"It's just about getting the right pointers and being pointed in the right direction. Sometimes, we tend to make it a lot harder than it needs to be."
Bow hunting in the area can be done on any state land, and runs through Nov.14 in the U.P.