HERSEY — Small game hunting is less than a month away and Ray Szymanski can hardly wait.

A Hersey resident for nearly 40 years, Szymanski and his wife were from downstate Michigan before he came to work at Evart Products. More recently, he was a Reed City school bus driver.

He likes most aspects of the outdoors when it comes to hunting and fishing.

“My favorite is small game, grouse and rabbit hunting, especially around here,” he said.

Szymanski has three beagles that he especially likes to run during rabbit season, which begins Sept. 15. He and a friend, Andy Eichelberger of Evart, especially enjoy getting out together and running their dogs. It’s perhaps the primary reason they enjoy the hunt. Gary Todd of Mecosta is another favorite hunting companion for Szymanski.

“I’m sure the rabbit population is up but I can’t say for sure,” Szymanski said.

But his hunting interests go beyond that.

“I do rifle deer hunt and muzzleload,” he said “I’m not a bow hunter.”

The biggest buck he’s harvested has been an 8-pointer.

The firearm season for deer this year could be a promising one.

“I think it will be good,” Szymanski said. “I’m seeing a lot of deer.”

Szymanski also enjoys an opportunity to do some local fishing although he’s been limited from getting out too much this year with physical restrictions and for other reasons.

But when rabbit hunting season starts, Szymanski is out with his dogs as many days during the week as possible. Rabbit hunting without running his dogs wouldn’t be the same.

“To me, the dogs are the key,” Szymanski said.