Archery division hunters love their sport

Paul Cole was the archery division winner of the Big Buck contest.

BIG RAPIDS — It should have been little surprise Paul Cole and Don Morris, two Big Rapids area residents, were the top two winners of the Big Buck Classic archery division,

Cole, 66, and Morris, 77, both cherish the bow hunting season. They love everything the season has to offer.

Both were honored on Monday at the Pioneer Group’s 2019 Sportsman’s dinner at Ferris’ University Center.

Cole took first place with the 8-point buck, 18 1/4-inch rack span, he shot on the morning of Oct. 26. He shot it in the Haymarsh Area with his Golden Eagle Carbine Hawk.

His prize was a $200 gift certificate donated by Rogers Jewelers.

Morris shot an 8-point buck with a 17 1/4-inch rack span on Oct. 18 around 7:15 a.m. His prize was a Wildlife Innovation Mirage Trail Camera and 20 pounds of Draves Whitetail Mineral, donated by Draves Whitetail Mineral Company.

They both told their stories at the sportsman’s dinner.

It was Cole’s 53rd deer.

“I’ve been a deer hunter all my life,” he said. “My dad got me into it.”

Cole told the audience the weather was bad and the mosquitoes were awful. But when it came to making his shot from 45 yards away, he was ready.

“I knew I hit him good,” Cole said. “I followed some blood and 75 yards away, there he laid.”

“I had seen that buck three days earlier,” Cole said in a previous interview. “I wasn’t really ready for it. It was trailing a doe at that time but it was moving fast. I did have a shot but it was right at its rear end. I didn’t want to shoot like that. I waited. It came around. On that Friday morning, a doe came through and was looking back. I was wondering if she was looking at that buck.

“So I got out my bow and sure enough. He stepped out from a pine tree.”

Morris told the Sportsman Dinner attendees he was hunting by an apple tree. Eventually during the hunting process, his buck came into an opening.

“I grunted, and shot him 25 yards away,” Morris said.

He found it on Oct. 19.

“It looked like a liver hit according to the blood on the arrow,” Morris said in a previous interview.

Morris had not previously seen the buck.

“I never saw the buck and I’ve never seen one that big,” he said. “I was at the right place at the right time.”

He was hunting on private property.

“I’m lucky I was able to shoot at it,” he said. “I saw a couple of fawns. They came through around 6:15. They moseyed on out there after a few minutes. They were munching on some apples. A few minutes later, they were back. I could see another deer in the brush. She came out a little bit. There was a branch in the way. When she took some steps, she was spooked by something.”

The fawns came back and a big buck was behind them eating apples. Then he saw the buck again 25 yards away.

“He came into an opening and I shot him,” Morris said. “He made it out of the heavy brush and fell down in the woods.”

Morris went out the next morning and it took him 10 minutes to find the buck about 135 yards from where he shot it.

“It was by far the biggest one I’ve shot,” he said. “I had him weighed and he was 185 pounds field dressed.”

Morris strictly bow hunts.

“I like the challenge,” he said. “I don’t use a crossbow. I’m 77 and I still use a compound bow.”



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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