It’s thick, it’s wet and it’s tough. It is “Stormy Kromer” hats, red flannel and buck poles in the pines. Northern Michigan typically is not what most people imagine when Midwest whitetail hunting comes to mind. But it is the place I think of. Northern Michigan is a place of legend and tradition. It is a land that lives and breathes deer hunting as if it were absolutely essential to life. A deer hunting Mecca, where students get the opening day of hunting season off from school and businesses shut down to celebrate this unofficial holiday. For many, deer season is the climatic swell of excitement and longing that comes only this time of year. Deer hunting in Northern Michigan is typically not Boone & Crockett bucks and corn fed mega herds of deer, but that’s not to say there aren’t trophies to be had. The real prize of hunting in Northern Michigan will be the life long memories made, the stories passed down from generation to generation and the chance to tell your buddies that you outsmarted a wiley and mysterious deep swamp buck from Northern Michigan. What more could you ask for?
My introduction to deer hunting and most of my outdoors passions came from my time spent at our cabin in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. This is where I learned to trudge through the thick cedar swamps of the North and how to hold an old Winchester steady. But one of the key things I learned was that deer hunting in Northern Michigan is vastly different from almost anywhere else I have been since.
One of the most glaring differences between Northern Michigan and most of the southern Corn Belt Midwest is the terrain. Although there is some agriculture, the land is primarily a deep and dark tangle of thick hardwoods, evergreens and cedar swamps. In many places you truly feel like you are being swallowed up by the forest, as trees rise high above you and the underbrush envelops you in foliage. It is certainly a place conducive to getting lost, which I have on many occasions had happen to varying levels of seriousness!
Another key difference between Northern Michigan and some of its Midwest counterparts is that for the most part, the deer population is not nearly as prolific as is in other regions. Hunting in Northern Michigan is definitely a lesson in patience and persistence. I’ve learned this the hard way, over many 12 hour days on the stand without seeing a single deer. Needless to say, deer hunting up here is not a walk in the park. But there are tactics I have learned along the way which have helped me navigate this deep dark wilderness of deer hunting in the great north.
Stay tuned for the next post on deer hunting in Northern Michigan. We will delve into how you can locate and pattern bucks in the unique Northern Michigan wilderness.
Northern Michigan will always hold a special place in my heart and I’m sure it does for many other hunters. For those of you who hunt the great Northern Michigan area, what is it that keeps bringing you back?