Oct. 1 meant some­thing special for senior Andrew Weaver and his friends: hunting season.

Weaver obtained per­mission from the Hillsdale College admin­is­tration to hunt on college-owned property located a few miles off campus.  He also hunts on the land of some farmers who each per­mission indi­vid­ually. In general, farmers welcome respectful hunters.

“Around here, deer are con­sidered a nui­sance,” Weaver said. “In places like Hillsdale, you realize [hunting] is a nec­essary evil. Without hunting, car and deer col­li­sions go up.”

Weaver said he also hunts on a large portion of gov­ernment-owned property located 20 minutes outside of Hillsdale called The Lost Nations. He said he only hunts at The Lost Nations during bow season to avoid the danger of careless gun-owners.

Weaver says hunting while in college requires a little bit of accom­mo­dation — after all, it requires you settle for even less sleep than is orig­i­nally available to stu­dents — but he says hunting is a pri­ority for him.

“It’s a great way to detox and destress,” he said. “It is really peaceful and calm out there.”

Hunting offers the ability to see nature up close and per­sonal.

“Its great to be up catching the sunrise, seeing your breath, hearing the woods come alive,” Weaver said. “It’s good for the soul.”

Sophomore Ian Atherton is orig­i­nally from Denver, Colo., where he hunts pheasants, turkey, and elk. In Col­orado, hunting helps maintain elk pop­u­la­tions and prevent the spread of infec­tious disease.

“Hunting is very much a nec­essary aspect of nature,” he said.

All three agreed that the early hours at which they typ­i­cally hunted were the most dis­tasteful element of life as a hunter.

“Waking up at 5 or 6 in the morning is the absolute worst,” Atherton said. “Once you get out there and the sun starts to rise, it’s a really unique expe­rience.”

Senior Robert Sal­isbury, who hunts with Weaver, said his favorite part of the hunt is after the chal­lenge and antic­i­pation after first catching sight of the target.

“The time passing between seeing the animal and actually getting a shot off is thrilling,” he said. “I do it for fun, but if I just left [the animal] on the ground after shooting it, it would not be worth killing the animal.”

Weaver’s favorite part of the hunt is tracking the animal after his arrow finds its mark. He can tell how true a shot was by the blood trail.

“Dark blood is a heart or liver shot,” he said. “White, frothy blood is a lung shot. If you know you got a bad shot based on the blood, you wait for an hour or two until the animal beds down. Some­times you trail one for 600 yards and you’re won­dering if you killed it. That’s really exciting.”

Junior Katherine Holt went hunting with Weaver for the first time last year. She said she enjoyed how peaceful it was.

“It was nice to sit and relax and listen,” she said. “You have to be com­pletely still — it gives you a great oppor­tunity to think and enjoy the quiet.”

So where does a student store an entire deer on campus?

“If it’s cold enough, 55 degrees or less, I’ll hang it in my backyard,” Weaver said.  He then takes it to a butcher on State Street and has it processed and ready for eating.

“The deer around here are all corn fed — they are actually pretty beefy and not gamey.”

Sal­isbury said he prefers to turn venison into steaks or ground meat, whereas animals like pheasant, grouse, and squirrel are more suited for stews.

Weaver said he prefers to prepare squirrel by either stewing or frying it. Squirrel meat is enhanced by the fat in the nuts they consume, and is, according to Weaver, “pretty good meat.”

Junior Brianna Walden is inter­ested in hunting in Hillsdale, but as of yet has only had the oppor­tunity to skin the spoils of others, a skill she taught herself using Google and a fish filet knife.

Walden said she comes from a small town with “a lot of hunters and red­necks.” The first animal she skinned was a raccoon that had invaded her family’s garage.

“We’d tried every­thing to get rid of these rac­coons,” she explained. “So I get out there, single-shot loading this bolt-action rifle. I’m looking down this thing, and the little raccoon is looking at me with his bandit eyes, and I’m thinking, ‘I’ve never actually shot any­thing before.’”

But Walden dropped the raccoon with a shot between the eyes.

“I put the gun away and was like: ‘I kind of want to skin one,’” she said. “So I got on the com­puter, and I Googled ‘how to skin a raccoon.’ I printed off pic­tures and every­thing.”

The skinning, though it took a couple of hours, was a success.

“I took the skin and made a hat,” Walden said. “I promised to never wear it around campus because I will forever be ‘that girl.’”

Weaver said around Hillsdale he hunts mainly deer, turkeys, rabbits, and coyotes. Anybody attending school in Michigan can procure an in-state hunting license for $15, a much less expensive option than the whopping $140 due for a non­res­ident hunting license. The only requirement is a few hunting safety classes.