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      An early morning start leads to a successful opening day

      Rick Hansen has not missed hunting season since he first picked up a gun at age 11.

      "I have 14, 15 guys that stay at camp, and we come out here every year and have a heck of a time," said the Bark River man.

      Everyone at Hansen's late-grandfather's hunting camp was wide awake before dawn on Thursday morning, the opening day for firearm deer season across Michigan. Their camp is just outside of LaBranch in northern Menominee County.

      "Just to get the family together and bring back memories of when my grandfather hunted with us here, and it's just a good time," Hansen said of their hunting tradition.

      Hansen shot a seven-point buck last year, and he was hoping to get lucky again on opening day. Conditions were decent for opening day of hunting with average temperatures and a light breeze. Hansen said he hopes to see snow soon.

      "A doe came in this morning around 6:45 and she was pretty nervous, and a spike horn came in about 8:00 and didn't eat very much and took off," he said.

      Hansen spent three hours in his blind Thursday morning, but he did not see anything he wanted to shoot. He was hoping to catch a glimpse of an eight-pointer he has seen on his trail cam. Hansen, and his son, Austin, monitor the camera back at the family camp.

      "Everybody, from grandkids to great-grandkids, cousins, second-cousins, they're all here," said the 15 year old.

      Austin has been hunting since he was eight years old. He did not have any luck Thursday morning either, but his great-uncle "Junior" did. He shot an eight-point buck.

      "Probably a 16, 15- inch spread," Austin said of the deer. "I've seen it on camera once or twice, but it's good that it still was hanging around, and I'm glad he got it."

      Everyone in the family hopes to bag a buck this year. They will be at camp every day until rifle season ends on November 30.

      "My dad always tells me...when you're young, you look forward to Christmas," Austin said. "And when you hit about 10, 12, you look forward to deer season."