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Is November 15 truly sacred?

March 25, 2011 by Dave Spratt

November 15. If you’re a Michigan deer hunter you need no further explanation. It’s the holy day, the day already circled, around which all other vacation time is built.

It’s Opening Day. Just as it has been almost continuously since 1925 (the state did dabble in Saturday openers briefly during the 1960s, but is strangely silent about whether it inhaled).

To the serious deer hunter, it doesn’t matter where in the week day falls. Wednesday? Fine. Fewer people in the woods, more deer for me. Saturday? Fine. More activity in the woods means more deer on the hoof, which means more deer for me. Which day? Doesn’t matter. It’s Nov. 15. I’m in.

But now a state representative has decided that maybe it does matter, because Saturday is by far the most popular day to hold the annual deer party. In years with a Saturday opener, license sales typically increase by 8 percent over a Friday opener. The 2010 deer season opened on a Monday, and license sales plunged.

Kevin Cotter, a Republican from Mt. Pleasant, argues that more licenses mean more revenue and more hunting-related spending. So he introduced HB 4259, a bill to move opening day to the Saturday closest to Nov. 15. Under that plan the earliest the season could start is Nov. 12. The latest it could start is Nov. 18.

After November’s dismal license sales, people are listening. In fact the bill has 13 co-sponsors. At the moment the bill is before the Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation committee.

Its biggest challenge is, well, us. Surveys taken by the Department of Natural Resources repeatedly show that hunters strongly favor leaving things as they are. And changing the opener may not be a legislative issue, but one for the Natural Resources Commission to decide. Either way, the conversation is on the table, and the recently formed Regional Deer Advisory Teams will also discuss the placement of opening day.

The issue is about more than license sales according to Russ Mason, chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Division. Mason said the department also takes into account the number of days people hunt, which tends to go down in years when the season opens on a Saturday. In fact, those same studies show that Thursday openers would give the greatest combination of licenses sold and days afield.

“We do these surveys and 80 percent of the hunters say they like the November 15 opener,” said Russ Mason, chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Division. “That said, this year we opened it on a Monday and I’ve got reams of mail saying ‘why did you open it on a Monday?’  If I open it on a weekend I sell more licenses. But if I make it the Thursday before, we will sell fewer licenses but get more participation.”

What do you think?


mom schaub

michigan lawmakers should find more time fixing michigan's job problems, an issue like changing the "opening day" of the firearm deer hunting season is a time waster, I hope that this person is sent home on a day other than the day he usually goes home. Why aren't these people working?
March 27, 2011 2:32 PM


Opening on a Saturday and closing on a Sunday seems like a good idea to me. Gives you 3 weekends in the woods. Opening on a Sunday would give travel and set up time for up north hunters. I guess I'll be in the woods no matter what happens but I think people would warm up to it pretty fast.
March 29, 2011 5:15 AM


Saturday is my sabbath, and I don't hunt. I miss opening day when the 15th falls on saturday. That fine,but to miss all saturday NO NO NO.
March 29, 2011 8:18 AM

russell wycoff

leave it alone! every year since 1963 i have scheduled my vacation to run from the 15Th thru the 30th. maybe sopmeone should realize that we've had a drop in population and gee maybe the economy may just have something to do with it.
March 29, 2011 3:11 PM


When opening day falls in the middle of the week or a week day it gives me more time to hunt before getting home for Sunday mass. But I am pretty sure they are going where the money is! Leave it the way it has been!
March 29, 2011 9:33 PM


i agree with mom take care of more serious buisness like the economy and creating jobs. opening on saturday will pack the woods with butt heads that shoot up the woods and anything else that comes out. middleof the week opener is quieter in the woods until saturday comes then watchout. leave it alone its not broken
March 30, 2011 9:36 AM


Weekdays are the only time to really enjoy deer hunting.If they want to make a lot of money for the state,all they have to do is bust all the guys that illegally bait.Check out all of the gas stations who are selling bait.Anyone with half a brain knows its not all going to the U.P.
March 30, 2011 4:28 PM

frank renko

prefer a saturday so both my sons can go for the first 2days, don't have to take time off work
March 31, 2011 10:57 AM


leave it alone works great as is.Like you stated vacations are built around 11/15. Work on the economy and roads!
April 9, 2011 8:47 AM

terry lewis

I would rather see opener start on friday or saturday. There were so many gun shots last year on sat. & sun and that means just after daybreak and plenty just before dark and they were not duck hunters. What ever happened to sighting your gun in only at a range one week before season. That sure is'nt monitored by dnr. I think it would give all hunters a fair shot if opener was moved to weekend,not the poachers.
May 31, 2011 7:03 PM


saturday would bring in more money for buisness (much needed for the ma & pa shops) but also over growdes the woods so i guess you caint have your cake and eat it too.... leave it alone. steve.
October 29, 2011 6:33 PM


i dont even live in this state but love coming to beautiful Mi. to hunt with my family. The issue as i see it more pertains to the close proximity of the thanksgiving holiday. My work freeks out when taking the week before a busy holiday off. opening day needs to be like the second saturday of the month. perhaps something like nov 10,11 or 12 at the latest. makes me wonder at $375 for an out of state license how much revenue from people like me the state is missing out on>???
October 30, 2011 6:23 PM

rick finkbeiner

I think for economic reasons and for the "guys" to get together once a year it should open on the 2nd saturday of november and run through the 30th.
November 15, 2011 9:09 AM


November 5, 2012 4:55 PM


The 15th is a tradition that should be left alone,those of us that hunt for reason's other than just to slaughter deer dont need some suit that doesent know the difference between a maple tree and a oak tree screwing our holiday season up for a few extra dollors
November 11, 2012 7:23 PM