It’s that time again! November 15th, a well-respected holiday in northeast Michigan where the kiddos have the day off from school and many people use their vacation days to take time off of work. It’s none other than the opening day of firearm season for deer hunting. This day is considered by many to be the most important day of the year, and even a rite of passage for our children as they become hunters.
Quick Facts– Where did this great tradition of deer hunting come from in northern Michigan? The whitetail deer started migrating to northern Michigan when logging began in the mid 1800’s, as the farmland in the southern part of the state became more developed and the northern forests thinned out. (The forests were too thick up here to provide a suitable habitat for the whitetail deer before the logging era). Northern Michigan’s logging camps used venison as the main source of meat for months at a time, serving anywhere from 100-200 men. The use of railroads also increased the amount of hunters that accessed the great northern forest, and over time hunting regulations were developed to maintain the deer population.
Northern Michigan continues to be a popular hunting ground, with plentiful tree and ground cover in its forests and cedar swamps. Our cool November weather makes snow a welcome addition, causing the deer to move for food and making them easier to spot in the woods while leaving their tracks behind.
Many hunters start preparing weeks in advance, sighting their guns and packing their gear in anticipation. Some look forward to the opportunity to bag a trophy buck, while others hunt merely to stock their freezer with venison for the winter. Whatever the goal may be, hunters can all agree that the thrill of the hunt and the camaraderie amongst friends and family is truly the greatest gift in this annual celebration. Much like deer camp.
Deer Camp (dir kamp) noun, definition – 1. A strong family tradition in northern Michigan, with multiple generations of family and friends sharing the woods. 2. When one is “up and at ‘em” before sunrise, breakfast is cooked over a fire or makeshift stove, and you become settled into the woods before the deer even start moving. 3. When an entire day is easily spent in the deer blind waiting for “the big one” until evening; when stories are shared in the cabin over a warm fire, a few brewskis, and a hot meal.