Annual Buck Pole draws host of hunters on opening day

Joanie Moore, Contributing Writer

Photo by Joanie Moore

Doug Richards, 69, of Mancelona, was all smiles when he registered his nine-point, 142-pound buck last Friday on the morning of opening day of firearms deer season. It was 55 years ago when Richards registered a deer – his first ever, an eight-point – in the popular contest. "I've gotten deer since then, but not on the first two days," he said. Richards said he hopes more youth will take an interest in hunting.

MANCELONA – Opening Day of firearms deer season in Michigan is an exciting day for avid deer hunters who anticipate spending time in the woods, waiting for the right buck to come along.

For one Mancelona man, the dream of getting “the big one” became reality last Friday when he harvested a 142-pound buck on opening day.

Doug Richards, 69, was the fifth entry at this year’s Mancelona Buck Pole. He registered just after 11 a.m.

Richards’ excitement radiated quickly to the buck pole volunteers who surrounded him while his deer was being weighed and scored for the contest.  When asked if he had registered a deer on the buck pole before, his answer took the workers by surprise.

“I brought a deer in when I was 14 years old,” Richards said. “I’ve shot other deer since then but not during the first two days.”

For the first time in 55 years, Doug Richards harvested a deer on opening day and was able to enter the contest.

“My first buck was an 8-point,” Richards recalled. His deer Friday was scored as a 9-point because the 10th had broken off and was too short to be counted.

Richards said he thinks the bucks are bigger now than when he was younger.

“I don’t remember a lot about the buck pole back then, but I remember I was tickled to get a buck,” he said. “When you’re 14 years old and hunting and get your first buck, it’s all exciting.”

Not only are the bucks bigger, but Richards said the prizes at the buck pole have grown, too.

“The prizes have gotten better,” he stated. (And) there’s enjoyment in being there with all the guys and talking about what they saw. Even if you don’t get one, it’s nice to see everyone who did. The overall atmosphere and seeing the guys you haven’t seen since last year and talking to them and hearing their stories, is what I like most.”

Richards, who still owns the gun he used to shoot his first buck when he was 14, said he’d like to see more kids get out and learn how to hunt. He used his father’s gun, which he estimates to be about 60 years old, to harvest his opening day buck.

The annual Buck Pole contest is sponsored by Mancelona Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 15 and 16 each year.

For a complete list of all hunting contest and raffle drawing winners and photos, see and follow the Results link.


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