Hunters know a lot of stuff. It’s true, just ask them. Hunters in the Great Lake State know even more and a lot of what they know has to do with traditions. Hunting is a sport steeped in tradition, and just about every part of hunting season has some tradition involved with it—whether it’s deer camp, a lucky jacket, or anything else. And we all know where we hunt—hunting spots don’t have specific names. It’s Bob’s Ridge, or The Hill. And we all know of a particular swamp that holds the Turdy Point Buck. There are a few other things all Michigan hunters know, too.
1. November has two major holidays
The month of November has that big holiday when friends and family come together to enjoy each other’s company, eat food that isn’t good for you, and take long naps in the middle of the day. There’s also Thanksgiving. Opening day of firearm deer hunting season every November 15 is as much of a November tradition as that other day. Schools close, vacation time is cashed in, and a wave of blaze orange descends upon the state. There are roughly 660,000 deer hunters in the woods in November and for every one of them, the opener is a special day.
2. What happens at deer camp stays at deer camp
Kids growing up in other states go to summer camp. Michigan kids grow up knowing that come fall, a lot of folks head off to deer camp. What is deer camp? It’s deer camp. It can be a camper, a tent, a hotel room, your family farm, or, if you’re really lucky, a cabin. I remember my first deer camp. We were in Manistee County, camping out on state land in a tent. My next deer camp was in a cabin in the eastern Upper Peninsula. I ate chili and learned how to play euchre, which every deer camper knows. Books, songs, and even movies—all have showcased the glory of deer camp. It’s a rite of passage for some and something every hunter must do at some point.
3. All the words to “Fred Bear”
Love him or hate him, Ted Nugent has made an impact on hunting, rock and roll, and Michigan. Every autumn, the radio airwaves ring out across the Great Lakes with the sounds of his tribute to the late Fred Bear. Without fail, the request lines are flooded with guys dedicating the song to “all my friends and fellow hunters headed out to the woods in the morning.” Not going to lie to you, I have this on my iPod. I even have the live version. There I was, back in the wild again. Felt right at home, where I belonged.
4. How to spot a fellow hunter in a crowd
How can you tell hunting season has arrived in Michigan? Everyone becomes much easier to see from a distance. Michigan, like many other states requires a certain amount of blaze orange be worn to go hunting with a firearm. So when hunting season gets here, it’s not uncommon to see local diners and restaurants filled with folks sitting around in oversized orange coveralls, eating a pasty and drinking a Vernor’s. Why wear the orange around outside the woods? It’s part of the tradition.
5. Michigan has the best hunting—anywhere
Sure, hunters from other states may disagree, but they’d be wrong, right? I mean, there might be some bigger bucks shot in states like Illinois or Iowa, but they probably either shot it in a high fence operation, or came to Michigan, shot it and then took it home to save face. I seen it on the Internet, so it must be true. Truth be told, Michigan hunters know this is the state to hunt because nowhere else will you find great grouse, deer, waterfowl, bear, elk, coyote, wolf, or small game hunting within one state. Add in the awesome fishing and it’s pretty easy to see.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get my pasty out of the oven and watch Escanaba in Da Moonlight again before I go to bed. I’m hunting the swamp again in the morning and I know that big buck is going to make an appearance. Now where did I leave my Stormy Kromer?
This article was produced in partnership with Pure Michigan.
Images courtesy Derrek Sigler