2017 buck pole tops last year’s final numbers by three deer
The 59th annual Grayling buck pole event – conducted by the Camp Grayling Conservtion Club at Skip’s Sport Shop on Wednesday and Thursday, the first two days of firearm deer hunting season for 2017 – featured 24 bucks, a few more than last year, despite inclement weather on the first day of the opener.
Day one of this year’s Orangecoat Round-up competition featured steady rain and cold temperatures.
“Hunters at dawn that were in the woods would have loved to be covered with snow but instead were treated to heavy rain at 39 degrees. The weather map showed several spots of heavy rain and predictions were up to a half inch of rainfall. Hunters in the woods on this day were certainly earning their opener bragging rights,” event organizers said.
On day one of the event – Wednesday, Nov. 15 – the first deer came in at 8:50 a.m., 23 minutes later than last year’s first buck. The first hunter, Sam Ourlian of Grayling, arrived with a 120-pound buck.
“He was in his tree stand getting hammered by the rain and said enough is enough. As he got down to the ground there was his buck. Sam said he would have never seen it from the stand because of the rain,” event organizers said.
Carrie Hellebuyck of Grayling brought the second buck, winning the first female hunter prize.
“(She) may have been first buck if the guy she was hunting with would have remembered his knife. Carrie said he wanted to pull because of the rain and she said ‘we’re staying,’” event organizers said.
Courtney Hatfield of Grayling arrived with the third buck of the day, a 135-pound deer scoring out at 103. The next hunter at just barely 15 years of age was Travis Geary of Grayling with a 115-pound buck. Mckenzie Nelson of Grayling arrived shortly after with a 110-pound deer. Next came Greg Cass of Grayling with a 130-pound buck followed by Dan Hall of Grayling with a deer weighing 125 pounds.
Corbin Allen, 10, of Grayling, brought in a 140-pound buck. Ron Cutright of Howell arrived with a buck coming in at 140 pounds. Ron Rakoczy of Grayling had the 10th buck of the day at 125 pounds. Noah Kolka of Grayling arrived with a buck at 170 pounds, much heavier than any of the day’s previous entries. It had a rack score of 97 1⁄2. The last buck of the day was bagged by Andrew Barber, of Grayling, who rolled in with a 120-pound buck scoring 75 1⁄4.
Numbers were down overall for day one of the buck pole, but perhaps better than expected due to the rainy conditions. The first day of the Orangecoat Round-up had “a surprising 10 bucks in the morning despite the challenging weather,” event organizers said.
“Day two started with partly snowy skies and 34 degrees. There was a biting breeze but everyone was happier with that than the rain the day before,” event organizers said.
The first three deer to arrive on day two were taken the night before after hanging on the buck pole had concluded.
“Those deer are hung on the rungs starting with the number two position with the first rung reserved for a deer taken on that day,” event organizers said.
Doug Latuszek of Grayling dropped off his deer taken the night before; it weighed 120 pounds and was a spike. Corky Hellebuyck of Grayling brought in a deer from the night before with eight points weighing 130 pounds. The third deer was a 10-point brought in by Mark Winter of White Lake; it weighed 150 pounds.
The first deer of the day taken on Nov. 16 – from Pete Belcher of Grayling – came in at 9:35 a.m., an hour and five minutes earlier than the first deer on day two of last year’s firearm deer hunting opener. At 174 pounds, it ended up being the heaviest buck of the day.
Dave Donaldson of Shelby Township arrived at 10 a.m. with a 120-pound six-point. Next up at 10:15 a.m. was Brady Bickford of Grayling with a 90-pound three point.
“Brady’s buck was significant in that six bucks were taken on day two of 2016, so the talk of the volunteers changed from how cold Noah looked on the day one, finally, to how we may be having a better day two than last year,” event organizers said.
At noon Riley Pippen of Frederic arrived with a 120-pound five-point, bringing the total number to seven.
Tom Bruechert of Labertville arrived with buck number eight for the day and one buck away from the 2016 total. His deer weighed 115 pounds and was a six-point. Scott Steffes of Grayling brought a 125-pound buck. Jordan Sarsfield arrived with a 145-pound nine-point. Sarsfield’s buck put this year’s buck pole count ahead of 2016.
Mark Hadley of Oxford arrived with a 165-pound eight-point. The 12th buck of the day and 24th of the opener was brought in by Mallory Hatfield of Grayling.
“Mallory spent five minutes in her blind, just after school, before the action started. Her sister, Courtney, bagged a 135-pound buck on the first day, making them the only sister combination that hung deer during the 2017 opener,” event organizers said.
In the end, 2017 resulted in three more bucks being hung than in 2016. This year’s buck pole featured 24 deer (12 on day one, 12 on day two). Last year’s Orangecoat Roundup featured a two-day total of 21 deer.
“Both were mid-week openers making the comparison pretty good,” event organizers said.
In 2015, there were 30 bucks for the event. In 2014, the buck pole had 35 deer. In 2013, the total was 31. There were 40 bucks in 2012, 31 in 2011, 26 in 2010, and 28 in 2009.
Hadley, with his 165-pound buck with a measured rack of 135 inches, ended up winning the 2017 Orangecoat Round-up grand prize: a scoped Savage Axis XP 308 hunting rifle.
The buck pole event also featured several cash prizes in a variety of categories on both days of the event. Prizes included first buck, heaviest buck, first female hunter, youngest hunter, oldest hunter, and largest rack.
The Camp Grayling Conservation Club, which conducts the annual buck pole event at Skip’s Sport Shop, stops hanging deer at 5 p.m. and leaves them for display until 7 p.m., “giving everyone a chance to see all of the deer,” event organizers said.
The Camp Grayling Conservation Club has sponsored and staffed the running of the buck pole for more than 20 years.