Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 14, 2009

Mich. deer season kicks off

Traverse City -- Phil Keilman set his alarm clock for 5 a.m. today.

He planned to load his gun, drape himself in camouflage and stuff his backpack full of food and ammunition.

It's an annual tradition for Keilman who, like thousands of Michigan residents, will take to his tree blind with hopes of bagging a 10-point deer.

"I feel guilty if I'm not out there," said Keilman, 60, of Freesoil, as he shopped for hunting gear last week. "It's great to be away from everything. Best medicine for you."

The state's firearms deer hunting season began at daylight today and continues through Nov. 30.

Despite last year's harsh winter, hunters in northwest Michigan could see plenty of deer through their scopes this season, according to the Department of Natural Resources' deer forecast.

"We didn't really find too many deer lost last winter," said Larry Smith, DNR wildlife biologist. "They're built to tolerate winters."

That's good news for Bob Hutchinson, who failed to obtain an antler mount last year.

Hutchinson stocked up on hunting supplies last week at Gander Mountain in Traverse City.

He focuses on hunting by keeping his tree blind free of television sets and cell phones. But even if Hutchinson doesn't bag a deer, he's content to perch in his blind on state property in Honor.

"I don't have my work yelling at me, my wife yelling at me ... I just relax," said Hutchinson, 42.

Hutchinson is on vacation this week, so he plans on spending several hours in his stand.

And his wife of 23 years has grown accustomed to his November tradition.

"She's got a lot of patience," he said. "But we're certainly not going bowling this Sunday."

No baiting

Hutchinson and Keilman hunt in northwestern Michigan, but Kevin Paveglio heads south to test his luck.

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