I killed my first buck in the western end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And while I'm a southern Michigan troll (one who lives below the bridge), I've spent an awful lot of time in the U.P. For those unfamiliar with the area and its residents, well, I'd suggest you find a way to get your hands on a copy of Jeff Daniels' Escanaba in da Moonlight. Watch it, and then come back and read this week's First Buck Friday entry. Things will make a whole lot more sense.
The U.P. is an interesting place to say the least. It is essentially a 320-mile long stretch of conifer forest and cedar swamp. It's home to some of the nation's finest native brook trout fishing, pasties, an unending supply of Leinekugel's and a special breed of folks known affectionately as Yoopers.
Yoopers are easily recognized by their laidback ways, Finnish accents and uncanny knack for telling a tale. So, without further explanation, we bring you Ryan Johnson's tale of a U.P. buck. It's about as Yooper as it gets. So read dit, enjoy da tale and don't fill yer swampers, eh. -- TH
My first buck story takes place in the west side of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan near Bergland.
I've been hunting since I was 12. I'm now 34, but I didn't get my first buck until 1999 when I was 22. I had missed several before I connected. I was hunting on public land. This story starts November 15 when on our way out -- even with strong objection from my hunting partners -- I strapped my .35 Remington to my ATV instead of holding it parallel to the ATV. I made it about 20 feet into the woods before I hit a tree with my gun!
After the 20 minute ride to my blind, I opened my soft case and my rifle was broke in two, right at the base of the stock! So I freaked out, but I did have my .357 handgun on me, not the best gun for opening day, but it was better than a busted rifle.
I got back to camp and after several jokes and ridicule from my pals we took two hose clamps and put them around the break, and I was back in business! On November 17, I sat until 10:55 in the morning before I had to do some "business." I was above doing my business in the woods because I was chicken, so I hiked all the way back to camp and took care of it and then travelled all the way back to my blind.
I sat down at 11:05. Now the bucks in this area of the U.P. are especially small-antlered, with most of them being spikes and 3- 4-pointers, but they always had nice big bodies. We're not rack hunters, so we didn't care the size of the rack. At 11:15, a doe came from behind me with a beautiful 8-pointer behind her. He got about 20 yard to my left and stared at me like he knew I was there for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only about one minute. He was more interested in the doe than me. He finally put his head down and walked out 10 yards broadside. I already was ready and that .35 Remington -- hose clamps and all -- from 10 yards away dropped him about 20 yards from where I shot him!
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