It seemed a little early in the year for Earl Bevins to make his annual visit when he walked into the newsroom earlier this week. A quick glance at the calendar assured me, however, that it was indeed the usual time, seeing that deer season is only a few weeks away.
You see, Bevins is president of the Big Bay Sportsmen's Club and he always stops in to give me the low down on what the club has planned for the public in connection to the firearm deer season.
Before he told me about the sight-in days and big buck contest, though, he had a few comments to make on a totally different topic - the reconstruction of Marquette County Road 510.
It appears the preliminary plan for the reconstruction of the road, which is being done to enable trucks to haul ore from the Eagle Mine year-round, would have shifted CR 510 well onto the club's property
Bevins said the club would have lost its trap range, horseshoe pits, about 75 feet of its setback from the road and portions of its driveway and parking area.
The club was prepared to negotiate with the Marquette County Road Commission about what would be done to compensate the club for the loss of property, when the reconstruction plan was changed.
Following extensive public input on the proposal, the road commission decided to leave the basic alignment of CR 510 unchanged and only widen the roadway about 10 feet into the sportsmen's club property.
This was a relief to Bevins and the rest of the club members, who have worked hard for many years to create a top-notch facility on the club's property along CR 510.
So with that concern laid to rest, Bevins told me about what's in store for Big Bay area hunters this deer season.
The most pressing thing is once again the public rifle sight-in days, which are set for Nov. 2-3. The club opens its range for the public to use from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. The Big Bay club's facilities are located on County Road 510 about 1.7 miles west of County Road 550.
Sighting in your rifle is free for members and $3 for non-members, which includes targets and advice from a range officer if needed. For more information on the sight-in days, call 345-9606.
The club is also teaming up with U.P. Whitetails again this year to offer a Buck Buck Contest. Interested hunters can register through 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at Cram's Store in Big Bay.
The contest costs $10 per registration, with hunters able to purchase two chances at registering the biggest buck. The contest works similar to a 50-50 drawing with hunters receiving two tickets with matching numbers for each registration. When registering a buck, one ticket will be entered in the contest and the hunter keeps the other.
In addition to the hunter with the biggest buck winning a full shoulder mount of the deer, all registered tickets will be entered in a drawing for a variety of prizes, including the top prize of a 7-mm Marlin rifle.
Buck measuring will occur from 6 to 7 p.m. Nov. 17 and 24 at Cram's Store and Dec. 1 at the sportsmen's club's facilities off CR 510.
In addition, the Big Bay club has added a $100 prize going to the hunter who brings in the heaviest coyote during the firearm deer season, with no registration required.
My hunting grounds are in the Big Bay area so the local club provides the sight-in facilities I need, as well as a chance at winning the big buck contest, but there are locations for hunters in other areas to practice their shooting prior to the season. Other Marquette County locations include the West Branch Sportsmen's Club and the Negaunee Rod and Gun Club. The West Branch club's range, located on Engman Lake Road about a mile south of M-94 West, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 2-3 and 9-10.
Targets are available and range officers will be on-hand. The club has a covered shooting area so the sight-in days will be held regardless of weather conditions, and donations to help defray costs would be appreciated.
For more information, call 249-1593, 942-7688 or 942-7707.
The Negaunee club, located at 335 North Road, will be open to the public this Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3 and 9-10.
Included will be targets, spotting scopes and range officers on-hand.
For more information, call 475-4957 or log on to the club's website at negauneerodandgun.com.
Hunters in other areas of the Upper Peninsula should check their local clubs and ranges for sight-in opportunities, because there's nothing worse than missing a big buck because your scope wasn't dead on.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.