IONIA, Mich. — Bernard Baxter, 85, has shot almost as many deer as the number of years he has been hunting.
This year on Nov. 16, using his trusty Remington 16-gauge, three-shot automatic shotgun, he shot his 55th, a six-point buck. However, he said he did not think it to be any kind of milestone.
“I just figured it’s another one on my list,” said Baxter.
A list is certainly something Baxter keeps handy. He has recorded a journal entry for every hunting expedition since his very first in 1943. It includes who he hunted with, the date and time he began, the weather conditions of the day, whether he used a bow or shotgun, the weight of the deer and more.
“I don’t know why [I] started doing it, but I kept track every year,” Baxter said, adding he would like to remember each outing.
In addition to the 68-year-old journal, Baxter continues to use the same red wool hunting suit he bought in 1943, which is in outstanding condition.
“It’s good and warm,” he said, adding he also uses a knife of the same age to clean the deer. “As long as it’s workable, I keep it.”
Baxter lives in Ionia and hunts on the property of Don and Elaine Nash on David Highway.
“I just enjoy being out there,” Baxter said. “I like to get out and see the birds and the chipmunks.”
Born and raised in Crystal, Baxter said he began hunting due to the interest he gained from his brothers and father who participated in the sport. He first hunted pheasants, he said, and the hobby stuck. From there, he has hunted in the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan and in the western part of the United States.
Though he uses a shotgun now, Baxter said he previously would also hunt using a bow.
“I used to like bow hunting because you hunt on a deer’s level,” he added.
Baxter’s daughter, Shirley McGinn, said she is proud that he can still hunt and added she feels it is good for him to do so.
“I think it’s pretty awesome he still does it,” said McGinn.
When Baxter hunts, he said he likes to begin in the early morning before 7 a.m. and stay out for the entire day. The fellowship that comes with the sport and also breakfast with friends is what he enjoys most, he added.
“I’d like to continue until I’m not able,” Baxter said.