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Guys here is my dilemma. I grew up hunting the Huron National Forest. Specifically around Glennie, Curtisville and South Branch. I love the area. It is wooded, wild and beautiful. Myself and family member have taken some nice bucks from there in the past. We have great stories and memories. As of late that is all we have is the memories. The camp has dwindled down. Both of my brothers are active duty in the Army, my cousin passed and the old timers no longer go. For the last three years it has just been my dad and I. We have a great time but the hunting has been lousy. I live two hours away but still get time to scout. We set up in good places, put the time but no longer connect on deer like we did in the past. Also we are exclusively rifle hunting. So here is my dilemma.

Since I live two hours away I bow hunt close to home. I know the land and have had a great season. I have had multiple encounters and spotting of very nice bucks. I just couldnt connect. No biggie. But I am seeing deer each time out. Something I cannot say for the Glennie area.

I want to break it to my dad that I really have no interest in hunting the old spots anymore. Sure we have found some new ones but we are not connecting on the bucks like we all did in the past. This is a family cabin that we can use when ever we want so we could pull up steaks anytime we wish. I am feeling a little guilty now. There are all the great memories but I am there to hunt, see deer, and hopefully take one. I can deal with getting skunked from time to time but it is very hard when I am having great hunts a mile from my house then spending a week in the woods seeing few deer.

So what do I do? Dad is 62 and honestly his best years are behind him. I want to make his finally 10 seasons or so very memorable. I don't want to upset him or make him feel uncomfortable but I am just about done with DMU 487. Another option I am kicking around is buying him a cross bow and seeing if he would be willing to go to camp two weeks early and really hunt the rut. Sorry for the long rant but I am frustrated and really want see my dad holding up a few more bucks before he hangs it up.
 

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It sure sounds like it's more about you than your dad, I'm sure to him being in camp with his son, hunting land that he has hunted for years and making new memories, deer or no deer is more important to him
than "holding up a few more bucks". If you talk to your dad and he wants to stay put, I'd stay put with him, bow hunt on your own.
 

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Two thoughts..... Bounced your ideas, which make perfect sense, off your mom to get her perspective. Who knows, maybe your dad is telling her a story similar to yours about the memories and enjoyment if hunting w you but being bummed by lack of deer. Secondly, when you talk to your dad be clear that the most important thing to you is the time w him. 'Dad, the thing I like most about hunting is time w you. I have an idea that keeps this going AND might get us some bucks like the old days......' Finally, the crossbow idea is great. You get the rut and milder weather, which might appeal to your dad. I'm 58 and while I still hunt when it's cold it does affect me more than when I was younger.
 

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62 and his best years are behind him??? If he's fairly healthy and doing things all the time, he's just getting started! 10 more years? My mom is 93! I spoke a friend yesterday who had just gotten back from going to breakfast with his Dad. He's 90 and still sharp as a tack.

The hunt and harvest are great, but I don't feel that's the whole enchilada.

Go bow hunt and as long as dad wants to head north for a bit....go. JMO buddy.... I'm awfully happy to in the woods.
 

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Tell him everything you just told us.
This is sound advice. I do understand your feelings and have experienced them, for somewhat different reasons, with both trout fishing and deer hunting. I'd run it by your mom, as suggested above as well.

Things change even those that we treasure and there comes a time to move on to other adventures.

The crossbow idea is sound. Your dad's situation is one of the keys that led several of us here in MS to work on getting crossbow inclusion into the archery season here in MI.

As for 62 being on the downward trend I also beg to differ. I'm 70 and I still can go, not like I did 20 yrs. ago of course...especially trout fishing...., but I can still get out. Last night I shot, gutted and lifted into my truck an adult doe. Large bucks are a different story, but only a few years ago I still could get them up and into the truck.

You can have Deer Camp at your place.
 

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Some good points.

My dad is 73. He still bounces around the woods like a kid. This year, while I was hanging my stand, he wanted to help, so he pulled himself up a tree and stood in the crotch of the tree...no climbing sticks. I remember him doing the same about 8 years ago...As they say, age is just a number.

To your point about hunting....There is no harm in broaching the subject with him. You might also consider splitting time between the cabin and they at your bowhunting spot...maybe the best of both worlds. ;)
 

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Personally deer camp for me couldn't care less about shooting a ratty old swamp deer anymore. I like being at the cabin with my dad and close friends, watching movies we've seen 100 times, playing poker, having a good time.
 

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Depends how much of hunting is about spending time with you vs. getting a deer in his mind.

Get him a cross bow for christmas, tell him you want to put him on a big buck during archery out by you next season.

He going to complain about a new cross bow and refuse to use it to shoot a good buck?

If you can help get him a good deer during archery maybe you can skip rifle season all together or cut it down to a couple trips for old time's sake.

If not, you go out to the rifle spot a few times to make the old man happy and have fun hunting with him and spend some quality time together.

Once he sees he can get a good buck in better weather he might prefer archery season.
 

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It's all about the memories. Deer should be the last thing on your mind. When your dads gone, you will regret every minute of not going to camp. Do you have kids? Friends? Hell I would even go to camp with ya. I've never been and have never been invited. I have friends who go and I would love too.


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What you are facing is not unusual. There are tens of thousands of other MI deer hunters in the same boat as you seeing seeing their traditionally good deer hunting areas fall away for a variety of reasons. I'm in that boat too where I hunt in the U.P. I'm not going to give you advice, but I will give you my plan of action to deal with it. I make my property more attractive to deer than any neighboring property and fine tune all my setups to make things the best they can be there. I also hunt public land a lot and have located a bunch of spots that have far better deer hunting than my own private land. I scout public land obsessively and have backup spots all set up in case things go wrong at my plan "A" spots which is inevitable. If you want consistent success on public land, it takes a lot of work and good planning.
 

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I would buy him the Xbow for Christmas ;)
I'm just before 60 yo. I bought a Darton Terminator II the end of October. Best thing I've bought in awhile. With my wife's graces I might add.... I absolutely love it and its made in Michigan. Good luck with your decision.
 

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Its about making good memories, not just a harvest or big bucks IMO. I do like the idea of the discussion with mom first. Its time to do some soul searching and some serious discussion. We can tell you what we may do but, the control is yours and yours alone. The end results you'll live with. What is it worth?


The last hunt.

There comes a time in an old hunter’s life when he startswondering, ‘When will I go on my last hunt?” Now to many people, that may seem to be a trivial question, unimportant,but to a long time hunter it’s a very real question, recognized if only in theback of his mind.
As the days seem to start and end in what seems like amoment, even when less has gotten done throughout the day, it becomes evidentthat age has finally caught up with an old hunter. Memories of hunts that were once forgottennow are brought back, almost in color, memories beyond hunting camps andsocialization with other hunters. Thememories of the “little things” appear from out of nowhere and bring joy to theold hunter’s thoughts, almost reliving them at the instant.

Long past are the days of bog trotting through a wetmarsh. Those who have never been therecould never understand and realize its beauty, the solitude and also itsdangers. The old man can smell the dampmarsh grass and also the muck again. Gone are the days of moving from marsh bog to bog, in the attempt to getfurther into the marsh to that higher ground which may be our quarry’s sanctuary. More often it ended with a lot of work andboots filled with water and muck. Looking back now, it was never really work. It was an adventure.
Little things that never seemed to matter that much, are nowrealized from places long stored away. It could be some small detail associated with your first hunt, even morethan the result of the hunt itself. Itcould be of a hunt and conversation with a friend or relative, gone to soon. Somehow I don’t believe these memories wereever forgotten but, rather stored away for a day they would be much moreappreciable.

I imagine an old hunter will never know when hewill make his last hunt, until that day’s over. Will someone be kind enough or loving enough to take the old hunter outfor the last time or, will he be alone? I believe those questions have yet to have an answer available. But in his mind, the old hunter alwayswonders, when will that last day come?
 

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Like already mentioned talk to your Dad and tell him why you want to switch areas........and take him with you! Millions of deer and only one Dad. I'm sure I speak for a large number of people here that say I would give everything I have for just one more hunt with mine. Sadly that is just not to be.
 

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Very interesting and thought provoking thread. Reminds me of the same issues I face with my dad except we don't have a honey hole close to home.

This year my dad didn't seem all that interested in going to camp but as long as I come home every fall he goes. I can tell the passion for the hunt has greatly diminished with him while it still burns bright in me. I know he loves the woods and getting away and likes seeing deer, I just don't know if he has the desire or heart to shoot a deer any longer which is ok with me. I came to accept the fact this year that as bad as I want it to happen just once, he'll never kill a deer with a bow when I'm with him. 31 years and it hasn't happened and after sitting 50 yards from him the last morning I hunted this year and watching him, I'm convinced a deer would have to be blind, deaf, and have no nose for him to get one.

Shane, you face a tough decision, but I can almost guarantee that if you don't go north to camp, next season will feel like something is missing. Ask your dad what he wants to do and maybe he'll surprise you. Here's something I've come to understand about hunting that area over the last several years. Don't go up there with the thought of seeing numbers of deer like in southern Michigan or even Glennie of the old days. Go up there with the expectation that in a week you may only see 5-10 deer and your expectations will not be blown. Seek out some new areas maybe east of town or as you suggested go up a week or two before gun season when the rut is just kicking in and there aren't hunters behind every tree. Since I've started scouting and hunting new area/spots the last few years, my success has greatly improved. I'm sure it's just luck but I'll take it.

Anyway, have that conversation with your dad. I know I'm going to have one with mine.
 

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How did your dad like his experience this year? Did you guys talk about it at all? Was he excited for next year? He might have left some indicators that may help with your decision.

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Very interesting and thought provoking thread. Reminds me of the same issues I face with my dad except we don't have a honey hole close to home.

This year my dad didn't seem all that interested in going to camp but as long as I come home every fall he goes. I can tell the passion for the hunt has greatly diminished with him while it still burns bright in me. I know he loves the woods and getting away and likes seeing deer, I just don't know if he has the desire or heart to shoot a deer any longer which is ok with me. I came to accept the fact this year that as bad as I want it to happen just once, he'll never kill a deer with a bow when I'm with him. 31 years and it hasn't happened and after sitting 50 yards from him the last morning I hunted this year and watching him, I'm convinced a deer would have to be blind, deaf, and have no nose for him to get one.

Shane, you face a tough decision, but I can almost guarantee that if you don't go north to camp, next season will feel like something is missing. Ask your dad what he wants to do and maybe he'll surprise you. Here's something I've come to understand about hunting that area over the last several years. Don't go up there with the thought of seeing numbers of deer like in southern Michigan or even Glennie of the old days. Go up there with the expectation that in a week you may only see 5-10 deer and your expectations will not be blown. Seek out some new areas maybe east of town or as you suggested go up a week or two before gun season when the rut is just kicking in and there aren't hunters behind every tree. Since I've started scouting and hunting new area/spots the last few years, my success has greatly improved. I'm sure it's just luck but I'll take it.

Anyway, have that conversation with your dad. I know I'm going to have one with mine.
Great post.
I remember my last hunt with my dad. At the end of day on the ride home he simply said i dont think im going to go anymore.

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