Sure, you might have a hunting or fishing license. But do you have a unicorn hunting license? (No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.)

Featured in the April 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. Check it out!

In 1971, the late W.T. (Bill) Rabe had been hired as director of public relations at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie. He needed to drum up some attention for LSSU, so he came up with a fantastical idea—the Department of Natural Unicorns. Rabe and a group of similarly fun-loving professors instituted several traditions over the years garnering national media attention, including the aforementioned unicorn hunting license, burning a snowman on the first day of spring and the annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.”

Since 1976, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which now totals more than 1,000 entries. In 2020, nominations came from most major U.S. cities and many states, as well as Australia, the Czech Republic, England and Canada. Banned this year: COVID-19, pivot, unprecedented and Karen. Other words banned over the decades include bummage in 1983, read my lips in 1989, dude in 2001 and git-er done in 2006. View more at

Are you still wondering what the heck a unicorn hunt is? Take a hike on your favorite trail and just maybe you’ll spot this incredible creature (wink). Unicorn questing territories include enchanted forests, Earth, outer space and your imagination. 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. Though the Unicorn Hunters retired in 1987 when Rabe did, LSSU continues to offer hunting licenses to anyone who needs a sprinkle of magic.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner