GUEST COLUMN: Orion has your back during hunting season

Published 8:44 am Monday, November 5, 2018

Hunting season is upon us.

In Michigan, hunters hold a reverence for the season equal to Christmas, the Fourth of July and the excesses of St. Patrick’s Day combined. Dressed in orange and armed with a bit more that Ralphie’s Red Rider’s BB gun, the woods and fields of our beautiful state become populated with trophy seekers, each with visions of multiple point antlers dancing in their heads.

The autumnal role of a hunter gatherer is in our DNA. Millions of years of such evolutionary practices are hardwired into the brains of sportsmen and women. Bringing home the bacon (or venison) to the family table is the prime directive. Attaining bragging rights runs a close second. Those familiar with deer hunters know that they can spin a tale equal to the greatest imagination of any fisherman.

But none can equal the Greek folklore of the celestial hunter that will soon dominate the winter skies. As he rises in the East with his hunting dog Canis Major (the star named Sirius) Orion readies his bow in the never ending struggle to bag Taurus the Bull. Maybe this year, but I’ve got money of the continuation of the fight for millenia to come.

Majestic in the southern sky, Orion is a stargazer’s favorite. His hunting dog, Sirius, is the skies brightest star. Betelgeuse is the ancient star that forms Orion’s right shoulder. Having burned through its hydrogen reserves, helium now fuels its orange/yellow glow.

The three stars in a row that form Orion’s belt are just above a beloved object of astronomers everywhere. The Orions Nebula. A green glowing mass easily visible in telescopes and binoculars. This luminous collection of chemicals and gases serve as a cosmic womb for the birth of future stars.

So, if you are up before dawn, waiting on sunrise and hoping for that 12-pointer to mosey your way, cast your gaze towards the southern horizon. Orion has your back. After all, he’s been hunting for thousands of years and hasn’t bagged a thing.

This message is brought to you by the Cass County Parks and Recreation Department, where Dr. T.K. Lawless Park is a great place to hunt and look at the stars. With some of the darkest skies in the region, we are hunting for recognition by the International Dark Sky Association as a Dark Sky Park. Want to help us bag that prize? Call (269) 445-4456. We’d love to swap stories.

Robert Parrish is from Edwardsburg, works on the Cass County Parks Board and is retired.