Another deer-hunting season is upon us, and soon furry mammals will be hanging from buck poles in communities all over the Thumb.
Mayville, Marlette, Reese and Vassar are preparing for the deer hunting season with a bang by bringing their respective communities together.
Specifically, when Michigan’s firearm deer hunting season begins Tuesday, November 15, hunters will be showing off their prize, while competing for prizes.
A buck pole event — deer hunting competitions where hunters shoot a deer and hang it by its antlers from a pole before they are judged — are commonplace in prime hunting areas like the Thumb.
Kyle Middleton, president of the Mayville Area Chamber of Commerce, said having events like this one allows the community to spend time with one another.
“One of the goals of the Chamber is to support the community and bring the community together,” said Middleton.
This will be Mayville’s 16th annual buck pole, and will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 and the same hours Wednesday, Nov. 16. Middleton said the event is expected to draw 40 hunters this year.
Middleton said not much has changed in the event agenda this deer season — Hunters will hunt and food will be served. Area businesses sponsor by offering prizes for participants like a $60 gun scope or a month’s worth of tanning. Middleton hopes at this year’s event there will be more involvement than there was in years past.
The Mayville buck pole kicks off with a bonfire at the museum and continues with hunters bringing in their deer. At 10 a.m., the soup luncheon will include chili, chicken noodle and bean soup for a donation. From noon to 5 p.m., spectators and hunters are welcome to enjoy free hot dogs.
The soup luncheon serves as a memorial for Rob Haskell, a young local man who fell out of a tree and lost his life while hunting a few years ago.
Participants will hang their bucks in front of the Mayville Area Museum, 2124 E. Ohmer Road. Middleton said after the buck or doe is caught and hung, the hunter’s picture is taken with his or her catch.
“It’s just all for the community,” Middleton added. “We get elderly people to stop by that don’t hunt anymore and get out of the house. It’s a gathering place to socialize and tell stories and kind of have bragging rights.”
In Reese, it isn’t the local chamber putting on the event for residents but a business with more than a decade of serving the village.
The Rocket Deer Pole and Chili Cook Off will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of Dunn Hardware & Supply, 2023 Gates St., Reese.
This will be the fifth year of the Reese event.
“We have a small group of local people who want to put on an event for local people, which is sponsored by local businesses,” said Mark Wojdula, owner of Dunn Hardware.
The first 20 hunters to hang a deer get $20 in cash along with a $20 propane container. Grand prizes include Milwaukee Electric Tools, Muck Boots and a Weber Grill, but there will also be prizes for first female, oldest and youngest hunters. Prizes to hunters are awarded a little after 7 p.m. Each successful hunter is put in a drawing for one of the three grand prizes.
Non-hunters and hunters alike are encouraged to eat all they want, starting at the event opening. Coffee and donuts are available at 7 a.m. and the chili cook off will start at noon with judging to commence at 3 p.m.
The idea of a chili cook off began with John Weber, deer pole committee member, who suggested it. Wojdula said since the chili cook off began three years ago, it has been a total success.
This year’s chili cookoff winner will receive a Hamilton toaster oven along with bragging rights and a trophy. There were 12 participants in the chili cook off last year. There were also 27 deer shot and hung on the buck pole in the parking lot.
“An event like this truly shows the goodness of being in a small town,” Wojdula, added.
Marlette may have the largest buck pole out of the three.
Held in the parking lot of Scott’s Quik Stop, 5 N. Van Dyke Road, Marlette, last year about 160 deer were hung.
The first Marlette buck pole event began 10 years ago and was popular because it had never been done before, said Dave Grushka, an employee at Scott’s Quik Stop. Before the store started having buck poles, Grushka said no one else offered it.
Since then there have been a lot of repeat hunters and spectators.
“I guess just seeing everybody having a good time,” said Grushka about what he enjoys about the annual community involvement. “(They continue) coming together and enjoying the hunting experience.”
This year it will be held in the same location.
The event will begin at sunrise Tuesday, and last to sunset in the parking lot, but will continue for a two-week period until Wednesday, Nov. 30. Grushka said the community has enjoyed hanging deer because it gives everyone something to do. “I guess it’s just about coming together,” said Grushka. “A lot of times families come out at night and explain to the kids what it is – it’s a family event.”
The store will also offer chili on opening day to hunters and spectators.
Like other buck poles in the Thumb, Grushka said it is similar with prizes and camaraderie, except for the extended times and dates, but bucks must stay on the pole for an hour to be eligible for prizes.
Vassar will also have a buck pole this year – it’s eighth one to date.
Chad Sage, owner of Vassar Radiator & Air Conditioning Services said his business has been a sponsor since the beginning and will coordinate the event this year.
Sage noted last year the buck pole had a lot of nice kills, and the winner was a 13-year-old girl from Mayville who had the biggest catch.
Sage said the buck pole is much like Mayville’s, but did not provide any extra details. The Advertiser called Sage to get additional information but was unable to contact him before Friday’s deadline.
The Vassar event will be held at 560 E. Huron Ave., Vassar. A flyer is available on the event’s Facebook page at http://bit.ly/2fjZiwJ.
Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at email@example.com.