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What was it like? Was there alot of hunter pressure? Lots of deer or not many around? How was Bow hunting in 1980s?

I have heard stories of awesome bowhunting in the 80s....Less pressure. No problem accessing land. Big bucks in brushy swamp ground areas. Modern archery still becoming popular. Wish I could have experienced some of it!
 

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There was no bitching about what size bucks people shot because there wasn’t many tv shows and much on internet.I saw lot more deers and bucks in fields riding around they weren’t as nocturnal as now ,Everyone just happy with what they shot no pressure that if they weren’t big you were looked down.And doe permits were hard to get you were lucky if you got one.But me I allways saw lots more deer and we allways had fun deer or no deer
 

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lmao I hunted the nelp in the 80s. rifle hunting was very very high pressure. bow was pretty much no one. a good buck had a fork antler. a spike was treated like a eight point today.
bait piles had there own zip codes and started in the end of August.
I have now moved to the southwest part of the state. still hunting public land. now I see more pressure in archery than firearm season. I don't see many spikes, but many basket 8s. also see alot more deer on stand and less work.

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There were lots of deer in 80s up north. Baiting and winter feeding was popular. It was nothing to find 50 dead deer during the spring turkey season. Compounds had 50% let offs. Pope and a young would not allow entries by bows with a let off of more than 55% because it was not considered sporting. 200fps bows were considered fast. Over draw bows hit the shelves with more speed and lots of injuries. Baker tree stands were considered high tech. Tracker strings were popular. For a while Michigan had a 4 buck limit and very few deer made it to their second birthday in our state with the exception of the UP.
 

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The 80's and 90's in the NELP for me was a roller coaster ride. In the 80's we had so many deer and with pretty good maturity. It was a slow day if you saw less than 20-40 deer each time out. Starting in the early 90's it changed. Looking at camp records (because the years blend together), it was in 1993 that we didn't see a legal buck all rifle season...zero. Still a lot of does, but the only doe permits were land owner (40 contiguous acres or more) permits. We took our share of does with those, but it was a bit of a shock. In 1994, every one of us (5) took nice bucks on opening morning and one shot a second that evening. In 1995 though you could shoot as many does as you wanted with over the counter permits. By the end of the 90's, deer populations in our neck of the woods had really diminished from what it had been. It's really kind of sad. Younger hunters have never seen the deer numbers we saw back in the 80's. Heck, I still remember my first hunting year in camp (1974). After dinner (dark of course), the night before opening day, my grandfather called me to the back door at camp. He opened the door and turned on his flashlight (it was a big, old, heavy flashlight) and pointed it toward the field directly behind camp. There had to have been 50 or more deer there in that little bit of light...talk about anticipation.
 

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Lots of lead left in the field in them days. When daylight broke it sounded like a shooting gallery. You would see a few deer in the morning until they realized the thickest cover was the only safe place. Then to see a deer you had to almost step on them or shine them after dark.

Now just a hand full of shots on opening day especially if it is a weekday.

Drawing a doe permit was like winning the Lotto.
 

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Bow season was fun in the 90s in the SLP. Saw a lot of deer, but seldom a buck over 2 yrs old.

Gun season was 6 guys hunting a 30-acre woodlot. A group of 24 does and one half rack 3 pt running across the field with everyone shooting at the 3 pt. The culture was more fun, but the deer hunting is 10 times better today. These are the good old days.
 

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I wasn’t old enough to hunt until the end of the 90’s so I didn’t experience any of it, but from the stories I’ve been told the only thing I wish I could have experienced was the ease of access. Nothing else sounds appealing.
 

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Good times!
I started bow hunting the NeLP in 1982. In 1983 I took my first 2 deer with the trusty 150 fps Darton SL-50; a spike and a 4 pt. In 1984 I took my biggest buck to date. Dressed out over 220 pounds, andy yielded 126 pounds of boneless venison. Made Big Buck Night with Fred Trost. No hunting pressure in bow season back then. Didn't even know baiting was legal. Firearms was a.total red army storm. Deer were completely nocturnal after opening day. The 90's and even early 2000's remained decent up here.
The last 15 years or so seemed to really have bottomed out.
Anyway, in the 80's and 90's the majority of Michigan deer and hunters were up north. Today, the SLP holds the highest deer numbers and the most hunters as well.
<----<<<
 

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Really big bucks lived in the UP in that time period. Baiting wasn't necessary as the rut made killing big bucks fairly regular in rifle season. Logging wasn't happening much and big woods were really big woods. Food for deer was abundant and places to hunt were the same. Possibly there were actually more hunters then compared to now where I hunt. It was because deer were worth hunting for up there vs just the tradition of hunting up there.
 

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There were lots of deer in 80s up north. Baiting and winter feeding was popular. It was nothing to find 50 dead deer during the spring turkey season. Compounds had 50% let offs. Pope and a young would not allow entries by bows with a let off of more than 55% because it was not considered sporting. 200fps bows were considered fast. Over draw bows hit the shelves with more speed and lots of injuries. Baker tree stands were considered high tech. Tracker strings were popular. For a while Michigan had a 4 buck limit and very few deer made it to their second birthday in our state with the exception of the UP.
LOL - That is pretty much how I recall it Mike. I remember how happy I was when I broke the 200 feet per second threshold shooting 2219 XX75’s with 145 grain, 4 blade Rocky Mountain Razors (Chronographed at 201 FPS Woo-hoo). Pretty much a “log” compared to today‘s carbon arrows and fast cams. I also recall how happy I was to sell my Baker Climber.

Some of my buddies tagged 4 bucks back then but I never did as i had already started getting picky about what I wanted to shoot. Fun deer camps though for sure.
 

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80s and 90s were awesome IMO. Not many bowhunters were around but there were a lot of gun hunters. I remember one hunting trip in October my two cousins and me made a trip to the Crystal falls area. We managed to kill 5 deer (3 bucks and 2 does). We only had a car (pontiac of some make) so we had to tie all the deer to the roof. When we pulled into a Citgo gas station in Iron Mountain we got some strange looks. One guy said it isn't deer season yet ,you guys got balls. Lol.
I still considered those years the hay day of my hunting career. Tons of deer, big bucks,had the woods to ourselves. It seemed every buck pole sagged with big bucks and never heard anyone bitch about numbers of deer or size of bucks.
 

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The late 80's and early 90's were the hayday of my hunting journey in regards to deer numbers. We hunt just outside Glennie in the NELP. Clearcuts were young and full of new growth which helped the deer numbers and bait piles were the size of small mountains.
I remember my dad would pull me out of school early on Friday and we'd head north for the weekend. In 2 1/2 days of hunting it was normal to see 50+ deer on the national forest land. However, if you saw a spike or 4pt that was something and if you saw a 6pt or better that was like seeing a unicorn.
Bow pressure was pretty minimal in our area but come gun season, that was a different story. It was common to have 8-10 vehicles with multiple people park down at the end of the road by our camp. There was a group of old guys that came in who seemed to kill a decent 8pt every year. Other than that the typical spike or 3pt here or there and a doe or two.
Then, due to BTB, came the great doe slaughter of the mid 90's. Does were killed off and stacked on trailers like cord wood. You walked in a store and said you wanted a doe permit for DMU 452/001 and they asked how many did you want. I saw flatbed trailers stacked with 8, 10, 12 or more does. After the first few years of the doe slaughter, deer numbers dropped off pretty dramatically as did the hunters. Many quit hunting our area because the hunting got tough. Thats pretty ironic because many that complained about the decline in deer numbers were the ones who didn't practice trigger control and contributed to the mass slaughter. I went from seeing 50+ deer in a weekend to seeing 20-25 in a week or more. The further it got into the 2000s the more deer numbers dropped along with hunter numbers in our neck of the woods. I went from seeing 20-25 deer in a week to seeing 16-20.
However, its not as bad as it sounds. Body size increased as did the size of the bucks. 8 pointers became common and bigger were seen each year. Part of this was due to APR's they had in place for a few years but part of it was due to milder winters, less hunting pressure, and fewer mouths to consume the available food.
The last 3-4 years have gotten a little tougher. Two years ago I didn't see a single deer. Last year I saw 9 in one week. Old clear cuts are mature and way past their usefullness. The rest of the forest continues to mature as well. Mast crops are sporadic at best and spruce continues to take over the forest.
Hunter numbers are low in our area. Very few bow hunters which is OK with me, and even though I havent rifle hunted in a few years, my buddy that hunts our area said aside from them there is only 1 or 2 other vehicles in our are on opening morning.
Such is the evolution of the deer woods in 38 years in the life of a hunter.
 

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LOL - That is pretty much how I recall it Mike. I remember how happy I was when I broke the 200 feet per second threshold shooting 2219 XX75’s with 145 grain, 4 blade Rocky Mountain Razors (Chronographed at 201 FPS Woo-hoo). Pretty much a “log” compared to today‘s carbon arrows and fast cams. I also recall how happy I was to sell my Baker Climber.

Some of my buddies tagged 4 bucks back then but I never did as i had already started getting picky about what I wanted to shoot. Fun deer camps though for sure.
2219s at around 31-32" long were truly logs in weight too. 201 fps was super fast then for that heavy arrow.
 

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Dang y'all making me miss the 90s with the nostalgia..

Part of the reason I wanted to order the reformatted Fitzgerald DVDs and you guys informed me not to..
Still want them
 

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What was it like? Was there alot of hunter pressure? Lots of deer or not many around? How was Bow hunting in 1980s?

I have heard stories of awesome bowhunting in the 80s....Less pressure. No problem accessing land. Big bucks in brushy swamp ground areas. Modern archery still becoming popular. Wish I could have experienced some of it!
I hunted rifle season in Lake/Newaygo counties from ‘84-99 minus two years in the 90’s at school. There were a LOT more deer there back then, where I hunt. Seeing 5-15 deer a day was average. I remember watching one little swamp opening where 19 deer passed through in a line; sadly, no horns (story of my life). This was public land, not a nice quiet private lot.

On the other hand, there were a LOT more hunters in the 80’s especially. More than once driving into Public land, you might not find a parking spot unless you were early enough, and if you could park, it wasn’t uncommon to find someone on or near “your” spot, or they walked in on you later. I owe one of these late walkers my second buck, because it spooked out of cover, ran across a gap, and stopped right in front of me.

There are fewer hunters now where I hunt, and fewer deer. Go figure.
 

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The 80’s and 90’ is the era I cut my teeth in deer hunting. It was fun shooting deer. Starting in the early 2000’s is when I started to “learn how” to hunt deer. Big difference. Deer hunting has never been better than now.


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