THE START OF deer season. Used to be a really big deal here in Michigan. Still is, but not what it was.
The Detroit Free Press recently took a look at the numbers and here’s what they came up with:
1998…Michigan had 785,000 firearm deer hunters
2017…Michigan had 621,000 firearm deer hunters
2035 (projected)…Fewer than 400,000 firearm deer hunters
That’s a precipitous drop, and the implications, according to the article, could be severe. The economic impact, first of all. Hunting is a $2.3 billion dollar industry in the state annually.
Then there’s the loss of revenue from licenses for wildlife and habitat preservation. And likely deer overpopulation. And the possible increase in deer-car accidents.
The reason behind the declining popularity here? Baby-boomers, predominantly white males, are getting older, and the younger folks just aren’t heading out into the woods with their rifles. Demographics. Different hobbies.
There is one group of hunters where the numbers are actually increasing: Women.
The times, they are a changin’.
SPEAKING OF BABY boomers and different hobbies, consider Mike Springer and Michele Moran, who live just outside Marquette.
They’ve now started their project, Fat the Entire Darn Upper Peninsula. FEDUP.
What is it? They’ll be jumping aboard their fat bikes over the next few years and riding around the perimeter of the Upper Peninsula.
On fat bikes, which aren’t really quick. And Mike and Michele will 70 years old next year. They’re starting on Labor Day every year and continuing until it gets too cold. They made it up through Big Bay and around the Keweenaw this fall. They’ll continue the trip from there next fall.
They camp, stay in cheap motels, and try to stay off the highways.
“We love the UP and the lake,” Michele says. “We stay on the back roads as much as possible. That’s where you meet the most interesting people.”
They, themselves, have to be kinda interesting, you would think. They’ve already kayaked all the way around Lake Superior. It took them 14 years to do it but, of course, they were much younger then. They were in their 50s and 60s. Spring chickens.
IF YOU’RE TAKING part in Ladies Night tonight (Thursday) instead of tracking a deer in the woods, you’ll find something new downtown.
A brand new artists’ collective in the Masonic Square shops on Washington Street–formerly the Oasis Gallery. The fifteen artists, who are pooling their money and resources, are calling it simply The Gallery.
It’ll be a place to display their art but they’ll also feature rotating art shows through the year, along with workshops, receptions, and poetry readings. They’re hoping for extensive community involvement and engagement.
It’ll be just a pop-up gallery for this one night, but then they’ll re-open in December in time for the holiday season.
If it sounds a bit like Zero Degrees, the cooperative art gallery on Third Street, it is. But two places where artists can gather, display their work, sell it…and heighten Marquette’s profile as a center for artists? Nothing wrong with that.
In fact, it’s something we should all get behind.
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