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Discussion in 'Michigan Whitetail Deer Hunting' started by arkeesli, Oct 10, 2017.
What the world needs is a deer camp match maker. Like eharmony but for hunters!
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Nah, Keesling's. The eighty acres was sold off before I was born, but we still owned other property in the area. Nobody missed a beat when that property was sold, just set up camp at a different location.
We only had three guys in camp that drank everyday ( they were cops and a DJ for a Detroit radio station lol) the rest of us were occasional drinkers.
How I lived through some deer camps is a great mystery.
We tore it up in the north country, got banned from bars, and in general acted like azzholes. I enjoy it more now with my wife and crazy Lab who thinks the deer are for him.
I have enjoyed many of your stories. Thanks.
I was born into a fish-crazy family in 1958, and was only exposed to hunting when Dad was gone to places like Vietnam, when we'd live in the German alps with my relatives who have owned hunting rights on the mountain for several hundred years, or when we were stationed near there. I was taught to nearly worship nature though. Dad died when I was 13, finally got to MI when I was 17. Taught myself to fish and gather all over this land. Learned botany, and mushrooms.
Finally got a mentor when I was 24, and in him, and my hunting partners since then, I have been the luckiest person on earth. I was taught archery, to use sophisticated mountain climbing techniques on trees, to almost never use the same place twice, and to track even if the blood droplets are measured in nanoliters, and to never give up. It was hard to start, but deer got more plentiful, I got better, and we've been shooting plenty since the late 80s, on public land in SE MI. It's a bit like a deer camp even though it's just around here. My house is closest, and we share meals or people spend the weekend. We get along well, being matched in education, religion, politics, nature-loving, etc.
Father-in-law bought the other hunting camp, an 80 near Alpena around 1990, with a tiny trailer on it, since replaced by a giant house with 2 outbuildings, sleeps around 16. Their tradition is gun though. And 10-12 people really would show up. I feel claustrophobic there, but would come up just before thanksgiving, after many of the younger folks were gone, to cook, track, gut, butcher, and whatever else the old-timers needed doing, and go steelhead fishing in the middle of the day. I'd keep the rifle they'd give me (it feels very unnatural) warm in the morning and evening in a tree, and even see deer, but never shoot one (we don't need more meat). The old-timers are even older now, and often don't stay through thanksgiving, so some years I don't go.
I feel a bit sorry for the gun opener guys, with all the pressure of trying to shoot a deer in just a few days, when you haven't been out 30 times before like I have. Most hardly even get to observe deer behavior except for the 5 seconds before shooting. I wasn't that fond of their culture either.
But things are changing. One of the young women started coming, and shot the biggest buck ever taken there 2 years ago. Her appearance has been civilizing. We are trying to get them to switch to doing camps in the bow season, with some success. Cross bows help (them). As others have chimed in, it's a place to get families together, study karst and the big lakes, plants, shrooms, fish, boat. We can have days in Aug-Oct where the value of the shrooms obtained in a day is more than the value of a deer. Most of the "cousins" are younger than me, and their kids are just getting to an interesting age. When dad-in-law asks the bro-in-law and me what we plan after he's gone I can point to bro-in-law and say "whatever he says". Prediction is hard about the future, but seems bright.
I have been deer hunting since 1973 when I turned 14 and could (then)legally firearm hunt. Unfortunately I have also seen the demise of two different "deer camps". My first "deer camp" was around the family property and surrounding farmlands. A few years later after I graduated I started working and was lucky in that my employer was large enough to let people off work for firearm deer season so I continued to be able to take a few days off to hunt. Made some good friends while at work and soon enough got invited to their deer camp "up north" between Grayling and Kalkaska. It was a good time. All were good, solid, serious deer hunters. We stayed at a cabin that one of my buddies owned and we hunted some public land and also had permission to hunt some private. We didn't kill a lot of deer but we thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and experience of deer camp. We hunted together for 15 years or more. Tragedy struck two different times and two of my best friends passed on to hunt in the never ending camp in the sky. There were four of us that formed the core of our deer camp and us four were always there for opening week but some years there were more but not usually over six of us. With the loss of two of the core members camp just didn't seem the same and pretty soon after that the cabin we stayed at was sold and that was that. I still deer hunted at my parents place the next several years over in the thumb where I had started to deer hunt so many years before and did alright. Killed quite a few deer but nothing that would make the record books. Several five pointers, a six, a seven, my biggest was an eight pointer, and enough does to keep my family in venison most years. Time went on, mom and dad sold and moved out of state and the property I grew up on had hunted small game and deer on since I was old enough to hunt was gone. So I guess you could say that was the demise of "deer camp number two". In the meantime I had moved up to the Gladwin area and found a small patch of public land that wasn't over hunted and made that little plot my own little "deer camp". Then a childhood friend and I got together and now I hunt at his place in Mecosta County. Usually it's only Kevin and I but sometimes his son hunts with us, sometimes his granddaughter hunts with us but usually it's just us two. So even though my childhood deer camp is now gone and the camp in Kalkaska County is gone I still go to deer camp. Even though the people have changed and the physical property has changed places over the years the camaraderie felt is the same, the mystique of opening day is the same and the tradition of deer camp and opening day of deer season is still the same. I can honestly say that since 1973 I have only missed one year of deer camp. I see around me here in Gladwin County that some of the camps that were here when we moved up here 20 years ago are still there and going strong and it makes me a little nostalgic for the years gone by. I still miss Dean and Charlie from deer camp in Kalkaska. I really miss hunting our family property in Lapeer County. But if you are truly a deer hunter you make your own traditions as time goes on and circumstances change. I'll never forget the times I had, the friends I made and will always cherish the memories I have of deer camp wherever it happened to be, and I am always looking forward to the new memories to be made at deer camp each year.
Until the regulations are changed deer hunting in Michigan ended for me. It's really sad that as a landowner in Michigan with decent hunting land but no deer to hunt even after a clear cutting it I won't spend a dime or one second deer hunting.
Some hunters will spend their entire lives hunting without realizing its not the deer they are after (stolen from someones signature on this site, replace hunting and deer with fishing and fish)
Yeah, regulations suck in Michigan. Got any sweet hunting/deer camp stories?
It is tempting to want deer on the square of the chessboard we are standing on,even to expect them. I know.
Steppng off that square is not always easy but is how to encounter deer elsewhere.
Delighted with my recent square. But now C.W.D. is encroaching on it.
Still ,it ( Michigan) remains a big chessboard.
Deer are where you find them ,more than where you want them when the area around where you are determins if they are in huntable numbers or not.
Maybe clear cutting is the problem. I have to ask, why do you only stick to one place to hunt.
Here's mine my grandpa had a heart attack on opening day n died a week later. Yeahh
Our tent camp host hunting the Deadstream would roll in with his trucks rearend about dragging and set up a sweet camp. Kerosene bus heater,stove,carpeted main tent, small generator in the outhouse tent for lights and the few minutes of nightly radio reports.Tables ,cots,ect.
25 years (for him) on the same site worked out the bugs well.
He would leave a plank between two trees for hanging utensils and a wire high up a pine for an antenna ( radio ) and no other sign but flattened/bruised ground once camp was broke.
Anyway , regarding drinking. The man was about 5 foot even ,70 (no way it was 80?)plus years old the last year I hunted there, and one noted previous pre retirement trick at work was top stand by a desk ,and then without a step..jump up on to it.
His nightly ritual was a single nightcap shot of schnapps ,followed immediately by a sneeze. Every night at lights out.
Time and cruel brain condition led to a final camp for him.
Setting up the stove ,securing fittings was forgotten and the tent was damaged.
More and more things were lost mentally in the months to follow and with no more camp in the forecast (he knew that pretty much when he fired the tent) things went downhill fast.
No surprise he kept slipping out of the place he ended up in when needing more care and watching then "home could provide. He was a still hunter. Still itching.Even if no longer knowing what or wherefore.
I'm 50 and my Bday is November 18th. I hunt my birthday every year. I have found the best way to maintain continuity in a deer camp is to own it. I realize that is not always possible, but in my case it is.
Our camp is simple: 40 acres woods and tangle and 10 acres is pond. Surrounded by farms. We hunt deer, rabbit, turkey and waterfowl.
We have a 1966 Avion camper that was gutted and rebuilt into a bunkhouse. 50 years old and bone dry. We paid $300 as the mice had gotten it. We installed a wood burner and it sleeps 4. We wired it for 12 volt lights with 2 deep cycle batteries and a solar panel. We also have a Genny. We have an indoor kitchen and an outdoor kitchen and also have an outhouse. We haul in water.
I live in Suburban Detroit and it's only an hour away in Irish Hills in Washtenaw County. Me and my one buddy are the regulars, 2 others are semi regular, 2 others are occasional. I found my regular hunting buddy at my daughter's softball game. I size people up and then strike up a conversation. Within a couple minutes you find out if they are hunters. I will invite them out to hunt. If they follow up they are serious hunters, if they don't they aren't. if the first time they come you find out they are douchebags, don't invite them back. So far so good.
I must say that I find the "moving around on state land with a camp tent" pretty appealing though. Looks like an adventure.