Opening day a success for local hunters

Midland youth one of many hunters to bag bucks locally on first day of rifle season

BIG RAPIDS — He probably has several more opening days of the deer rifle season ahead of him.

HUNT: Midland resident Max Morey,13, shows off the 10-point buck he shot in Big Rapids on the opening day of deer rifle season on Friday. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

HUNT: Midland resident Max Morey,13, shows off the 10-point buck he shot in Big Rapids on the opening day of deer rifle season on Friday. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

But 13-year-old Max Morey of Midland will remember the 2013 season for a long time.

Morey was hunting in the south Mecosta County area when he used one shot from his .280 for a 10-point buck with 21-inch rack span at around 7:25 a.m. Friday. It’s the third deer of his lifetime, but this one was very special.

“My dad, said ‘big buck, big buck,” Morey recalled. “I said ‘can I shoot?’ And I shot. It just came out.”

It all took place in about 15 seconds from the time he first saw the buck, Morey said.

His shot hit the buck in the neck area and it went right down. He smiled and said his reaction was “shocking” when he first realized the size of the buck.

Jason VanBrocklin, 31 of Paris, brought home a 12-point buck with 17-inch rack span. He used one shot to down his 15th ever deer.

Dan Ellison, 43, of Stanwood, also shot a 10-point buck while hunting Friday morning in the Stanwood area. His buck’s rack span measured 15 1/2 inches. He said he stopped counting the number of deer he’s shot in his lifetime. He said this buck ranks as one of the top ones.

Ellison was hunting with Bridget Lapinsky, 13, of Stanwood, who shot her first ever buck shortly after Ellison got his. It’s an 8-pointer with 10 1/2-inch rack span.

“I shot mine, it jumped over the fence, about 15 minutes later we turned around and her buck came out of the swamp where mine went in,” Ellison said. “She shot her buck.”

“I shot him…he dropped,” Lapinsky said. “I guess it was OK.”

The deer numbers “are down, very low,” Ellison said.

Meanwhile Alex McWain wasted little time in being a successful deer hunter on Friday.

McWain, 36, of Paris, was in Newaygo County when he shot an 8-point buck with 13-inch rack span. He used one shot from his .280 Ruger.

He was the first entry in the Pioneer’s Big Buck contest for the rifle season.

“The doe came in first to the little pile I have,” McWain said. “About five minutes after she came in, this guy showed up. He chased her around a little bit, and he stopped long enough for me to shoot.”

McWain estimates he was 75 yards from the deer when she shot. The deer went down immediately.

It’s the fourth deer he’s shot in his lifetime. He’s been hunting since he was 14 and indicated this has been his hunting highlight so far

“This is a lot bigger,” he said, adding, when asked if there’s a lot of deer out in the woods, “it’s hard to tell right now.”

The weather was “a little overcast and a little warm, but not too bad,” McWain said.

Another successful early local hunter was Wayne Vandawater, 48, of Big Rapids. He was hunting north of Big Rapids early Friday morning when he bagged an 8-point buck with 16-inch rack span. He used one shot from his 7-magnum and got what he said is the 39th deer of his lifetime. He shot it around 7:20 a.m.

“It was early, a little bit cloudy this morning, a little drizzly and rain,” he said. “I actually had seen three of the bucks with him. I had picked them up first. I scoped them all out. He was just about out of the field when I finally spotted him. I had a shot about 250 yards. I hit him. He turned and came back toward me and dropped 100 yards from me.”

It’s one of the best bucks Vandawater has shot.

“I have three of them, counting him, that are that good,” he said.

Vandawater indicated there’s plenty of deer available.

“I saw seven bucks this morning,” he said. “This year seems to be totally different than last year. There were a lot of bucks. It seems like the rut is strong and they’re really chasing does hard.”

Tiffany Spedowski, 36, of Stanwood, was also successful on Friday. She was hunting in the Stanwood area when she downed an 8-point buck with 11-inch rack span. It’s the ninth deer of her lifetime.

“I’ve been watching him for awhile.” she said. “He came out with some does and went back in and started eating in the hayfield, then I dropped him right three.”

She was 75 yards away with the shot. It’s her biggest Michigan buck. She said he’s been seeing more does than bucks.

Sadie Metcalf, 13, of Mecosta, had her first success as a hunter, bagging a 5-point buck with 10 1/2 rack span while hunting in the Chippewa Lake area.


Chuck Hartline, 50, of Big Rapids, shot a 9-point buck with 17-inch rack span Friday morning, using one shot from his savage 30.06.

He was hunting about five miles west of Big Rapids.

“It was actually the easiest deer I ever shot in my life,” he said. “It came walking in from 120 yards, stopped and I shot it.

“It was the only deer I saw (Friday). It’s a little bit warm. Other than that, it’s perfect weather”

Hartline pointed to a hole in the deer’s left-side rack.

“It runs parallel to the main beam of the antler,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s from an injury or a parasite or what it’s from.”



Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at

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