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Traditions

unicorn questing regulations

The Department of Natural Unicorns (DNU) of the Unicorn Hunters at Lake Superior State University enforces the following edicts:

Questing Territories

  • Enchanted forests
  • Earth
  • Outer space
  • Imagination

Questing Season

  • All days of the year except Valentine’s Day. No unicorn pursuit allowed during the 24 consecutive hours of love.
  • Bow-and-arrow season runs the first week of October. Rubber-tipped arrows only.

Questing Hours

Day or night except when the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus is around. There’s only so much magic available at one time.

click here to become a unicorn quester

Bag Limits

  • One unicorn per month. A success ratio higher than this often results in a form of euphoria, which sometimes requires a mental truss, which is also rare to come by.
  • Female unicorns cannot be taken. Since no one has ever sighted a female unicorn, it is believed that males reproduce asexually.

Banded Unicorns

The DNU may have banded some unicorns to indicate age and aesthetics. Upon taking a banded unicorn, questers must send the band to us.

Questing Kit

We recommend that unicorn questers bring the following supplies:

  • Serious intent
  • General levity
  • Sweet talk
  • Refreshing beverages: flask of cognac for adults, juice box for children, bottle of medieval potion for unicorns
  • Curry comb
  • Pinking shears
  • Nail clipper (with file)
  • Hoof and horn trimmer
  • Hoof and horn polish
  • Ribbons
  • Arthurian legend books and/or works by Chaucer
  • Iambic pentameter (optional)

Equal Opportunity

Anyone and everyone prepared to join the quest will be issued a unicorn license so long as potential members:

  • Follow the above
  • Pay no dues
  • Attend no meetings
  • Are nice to people and unicorns alike
  • Understand that in 1977, due to public concern over then-dwindling unicorn herds, we changed the word “hunt” to “quest” on the license while retaining the original title of the organization because we thought that was fair
  • Travel back in time to 1971 to thank the DNU creators: Bill Rabe, director of public relations, and English professors Peter Thomas, John McCabe, and John Stevens. Among many other efforts from the 1970s to garner more publicity for LSSU: hosting a Snowman Burning on the first day of spring to bid goodbye to winter (1971) and compiling at the end of the year a tongue-in-cheek Banished Words List as a safeguard against misuse, overuse, and uselessness of the English language (1976)—annual traditions still practiced today—and publishing a campus literary quarterly, The Woods-Runner.
  • And, most importantly, upon receipt of membership into this special club, send us a color photo of the unicorn quester displaying the hallowed permit.
    • The following are optional:
      • Wearing wonderful unicorn-hunting gear
      • Riding, feeding, grooming, or hugging unicorn friends
      • Providing tips on how to hunt unicorns
      • Revealing details of unicorn sightings
      • Regaling us with stories of unicorn hunting adventures
    • When forwarding your message, please indicate if we have permission to share such photos and related material across LSSU social media and other platforms. If you prefer that we don’t, we promise that we will not. (For instance, we understand why adults would want to protect the privacy of children.) We do still ask for at least the photo for LSSU to keep in its internal archives.

Send to

Or to

Department of Natural Unicorns
Lake Superior State University
c/o Marketing & Communications
650 W. Easterday Ave.
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783

A Note For Grown-Ups Only

(No Kids Allowed!)

About Unicorn Bait

The only legal unicorn bait is a virgin. While not illegal to use simulated virgins, such practice is definitely not cricket, as any student of Arthurian legend knows.

Questing Uniforms

Garb must be tailored individually. We recommend the colors Mordred red or Gawain green, depending on whether you’re chasing the unicorn or vice versa. Then again, we’re partial to purple—and, come to think of it, all colors.

License

We also consider this activity a privilege and an honor. In the event that unicorn herds diminish to numbers smaller than five per square dream, a drawing will be held to determine license holders.

Illustrations by MINGE & Chuck Thurston; colorization by Deb Cook

hunting regulations (facsimile) download
hunting license (facsimile) download

Unicorn hunting history

The late W.T. (Bill) Rabe, known for clever PR stunts when working as a Detroit-area publicist, created the Unicorn Hunters in 1971 shortly after being hired as LSSU’s director of public relations. Assisted by LSSU Professors of English Peter Thomas, John McCabe, John Stevens, and others, Rabe envisioned the Unicorn Hunters as one way to garner more publicity for LSSU, which had just established itself as an independent school after being a branch of what is now Michigan Technological University. The gambit worked. For instance, an ABC News crew once came to campus to film students on a quest for unicorns in these wooded parts. Through its magical Department of Natural Unicorns, LSSU regularly continues to receive—and grant—requests for unicorn hunting licenses.

The Unicorn Hunters made the news often for other serious play, too, under Rabe, including the annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse, and Uselessness. This has since been spun off and receives national and international coverage; more than 1,000 words and terms have been banished among tens of thousands of nominations. Another Unicorn Hunters tradition is burning a snowman on the first day of spring. After all, the Upper Peninsula averages 120 inches of snow each year. Snowman Burning remains a popular draw at LSSU as well as the Eastern Upper Peninsula.

The Unicorn Hunters also established one of LSSU’s first literary magazines, The Woods-Runner, a quarterly mailed to thousands of readers around the world. Subscribers kept up on Unicorn Hunters happenings (which further included World Sauntering Day, an International Stone-Skipping Tournament on Mackinac Island, and Teacher Thank You Week, plus more) as well as sampled writing from LSSU students and employees and others.

Although the Unicorn Hunters retired when Rabe did in 1987, LSSU continues to offer unicorn hunting licenses to anyone who wants one. Scroll up and click on our request box for instructions. Also be sure to read our regulations above.

Peter Thomas, chief herald of the Unicorn Hunters and editor of The Woods-Runner, once said, “The pursuit of the unicorn is a lonely quest, but many more embark upon that journey than teachers or publishers may recognize.” These words still ring true. While the Unicorn Hunters do not physically exist on the LSSU campus anymore, many folks still quest hither and yon for the legendary, lovable creatures, thanks to Rabe and colleagues.

meet some of our unicorn questers
traditions home page
banished words list
snowman burning

Click Here to Watch a News Story About Our Unicorn Hunters!

unicorn hunters news clip
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