You can feel the excitement in the air, anticipation so thick it sticks to your clothes. November 15th is our target, but we've been ready for weeks, some of us for months. The entire year has been spent plotting and planning. Rye in the back field, an abundant apple crop (some for the family, but most for the deer), shelled corn, and sugar beets the size of my head. When I go into Stonely, every other truck has a trailer attached and its brimming with sugar beets.
Sugar beets aren't like the beets you buy in the store. They are grown commercially around the world and used for vodka, rum, as fodder, and are being tested as an alternate fuel source. But in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, we use sugar beets to bait deer.
Some of you might look on us with disdain. How can we shoot those beautiful animals? I'm with you on that one as long as you have given up meat and turned vegetarian. If you're headed to the grocery store for hamburger or pork chops, you can't judge us. Yoopers live in remote areas with few jobs and we count on a freezer full of wild game to make it through the year.
And the hunting season is a special event for other reasons, drawing everyone together for the hunter's dinner and to Herb's bar to tell stories that don't have a hint of truth to them.
One scary note - Walter forgot his rifle was loaded and stuck a cleaning rod down the barrel. When it discharged, the cleaning rod (and ammo) blew his chest of drawers to smithereens. Everyone is fine, though.