The excitement of hunting is difficult to explain to someone who isn't a practitioner of the sport, but it only takes a split second for that thrill to be instilled in you for life.
Of course, most of us who have been hunting for more years than we like to admit can't really remember the excitement of dropping that first bird, rabbit or whitetail, but the exhilaration comes rushing back each fall as the hunting seasons arrive.
Then again, there are some new hunters who are getting their first taste of success in hunting the wonderful game the Upper Peninsula has to offer.
Cassie Bullock, 14, of Marquette holds the first ruffed grouse she bagged in the early days of her hunting career. She dropped the bird with her 20-gauge pink, camouflage pump shotgun while hunting in Michigamme Township on the third day of the small game season.
Two of them are featured on the page today, including one who's entering the sport in a mostly traditional way and the other being introduced via a special season.
Cassie Bullock, 14, is entering the sport like many hunters do - bird hunting with her parents. Seeing she was born after Jan. 1, 1960, (unlike some of us) she had to take a hunter education class to be able to hunt.
She completed the course this past summer at the Negaunee Rod and Gun Club, which does a wonderful job helping train young hunters.
It was only the third day of her first bird season that she knocked down her first partridge while hunting along the Triple A Road in Michigamme Township.
The daughter of Randy and Vickie Bullock of Marquette, Cassie was using the Remington Model 870, 20-gauge pump shotgun - in pink camouflage, of course - she received as a gift.
While some might say she is a non-typical hunter because she's a girl, females have been hunting for years.
Take my mother for example, who was known as a crack-shot with her trusty Winchester Model 42, .410-gauge pump shotgun that my dad bought for her in the early 1950s at Kelly Hardware Store in Marquette. I still warm up the barrel of that nice little shotgun a few times each fall.
Then we have 10-year-old Tanner Phillips, who headed out hunting with his dad Brian last Saturday morning during the special youth deer hunting season.
Tanner is able to hunt because of hunting regulation changes in recent years that included lowering the minimum age limit for hunters and establishing special seasons for youths.
The rules require 10- and 11-year-olds who hunt deer to use archery equipment, so Tanner and his dad did a good deal of practicing with his 38-pound pull bow, as well as the young hunter doing push-ups so he could be steady on the draw.
As the dawn of his first day of hunting broke, that draw was steady and his aim was straight as Tanner knocked down a beautiful seven-point buck while hunting with his dad at the family camp in Iron County. Shooting from a tree stand at the buck that was about 18 yards out, he made a nice lung shot that resulted in the deer dropping soon after being hit.
Hunting success stories such as the ones Cassie and Tanner and their families experienced are wonderful to see happening in this age of shrinking hunter numbers and growing anti-hunting efforts. Our much more technology-based society and countless other sport offerings are also challenges to perpetuating the sport.
However, families like the Bullocks and Phillips who are introducing their kids to hunting will help ensure this great sport will continue far into the future and many more generations can experience the thrill of the hunt.
Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.