By Sterling McGinn

While hunters are gearing up for the opening day of firearm whitetail deer season on November 15, members of the American Legion Post 74 of Newberry are preparing for the 20th Annual Community Buck Pole, which opens at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, November 15.

The buck pole lets hunters showcase their prized deer on opening day and gives them a chance to win prizes. There’s no pre-registration or entry fee.

The buck pole will be open this year on November 15 from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. There will be numerous prizes in different categories for the hunters. “We sort of make those up as we go along,” said event organizer Joe Bennett. “It depends on the number of deer and how much we have for prizes.”

Categories usually range from first deer on the pole to largest rack and oldest hunter. “We score by points and spread and weigh them as a tiebreaker,” said buck pole volunteer and Legion member Marv Hardy.

Money and items from local businesses and individuals are donated to the cause annually.

“I know the businesses get hit hard, but it is really appreciated that they donate to this,” Bennett said. “Any money leftover goes into the Legion scholarship fund and we try to make sure that every kid in attendance gets something.”

Founded by the Tahquamenon Sportsman’s Club, the Community Buck Pole is now managed by the American Legion.

This year, the legion sports a new buck pole, which was constructed with old metal light poles donated by the Village of Newberry and organized through Legion member George Blakely.

Marty Harju completed the welding and the prep work, said Legion Commander Leo Saint Germaine. An anonymous donor paid for the cement work, welding, and mounting. Mary Blakely painted and decorated the new buck pole.

Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the American Legion Auxiliary will serve Swiss steak dinner, available while supplies last. Sandwiches will be sold during the day.

Prizes will be awarded between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and hunters will need to take their buck home with them at the conclusion of the event.

“We are encouraging hunters to bring their bucks down,” said Bennett.