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Of Woods and Words: The Deer Hunters Round-Up

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In those dark pre-WTIP days, my brother and I used to listen to commercial radio from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For whatever reason, we made a point of tuning into the “Deer Hunters’ Roundup” every evening during Michigan’s deer hunting season. We’d sit on the cool, uneven wooden flooring in my brother’s bedroom, listening on an ancient radio that also had a slot for eight-track tapes, to a broadcast filled with stories of hunting successes, some contests, plenty of shooting the breeze from the hosts and a couple of songs from Da Yoopers.

We were two little kids in a vegetarian family and other than having to wear an orange hat and taking considerably fewer walks in the woods behind the house during the season, listening to “Deer Hunters’ Roundup” from WIMI was the only real exposure to deer hunting we ever got.

So the other day, after Andy had returned from another unsuccessful day in the deer stand, I realized why deer hunting season had seemed a little flat ever since reaching adulthood. Sure, I’d had a more hands-on experience with deer season ever since moving in with Andy. We spent much of the month leading up to deer season out in the woods scouting. Each evening, I watched him lay out multiple layers of woolen and blaze orange clothing to wear the next morning on the hunt. When he returned each afternoon, looking cold and rumpled, I peer up with both anticipation and dread, an unspoken question in my eyes: “Did you get anything?”

But deer seasons had become solo ventures. There was no sense of community. I missed hearing about other hunters’ successes.

“You know what we need,” I said one afternoon. “We need a local deer hunters’ roundup.” Andy seemed excited by the prospect. “You could totally do that for one of your commentaries,” he said. “You could call all the local hunters to see if they’ve had any success and get their stories.”

Well, I didn’t do that.

That’s because not too long after having that conversation, Andy shot a large buck not far from the cabin. I was in town at the time and by the time I’d driven the hour up the Trail to offer Andy both my camera and assistance, the deer was already hanging in our shed. Andy looked surprised to see me. It was if he was expecting someone else. And he was. Just a minute after I parked the car, a neighbor roared up, camera in hand, ready to inspect Andy’s “big buck.”

Apparently, Andy’s deer had become that day’s Moccasin Telegraph main headline almost as soon as he made the shot. A group of nearby hunters had heard the shot and assumed it was someone in their party who’d made it. They’d all left their stands to search for the shooter. Because not one of the people in that group had remained stationary, they had a little difficulty finding each other, but when they eventually learned the true story of the gunshot, it seems they started making some news-breaking phone calls.

Later that day, another neighbor swung by to see the deer and for the next week, whenever I struck conversations with neighbors, I realized I didn’t need to mention the deer, because people already knew. They didn’t just know that he’d shot a deer, they knew that Andy had just been driving down the Trail when he saw the tracks. That he’d pulled over, hiked up over the hill and spied the buck. By the time they finished telling me what they knew about the hunt, I had no details left to share.

So I decided not to do a “Deer Hunters Roundup” after all. It turns out, those deer hunters, they’re pretty good at rounding themselves up.

For WTIP, this is Ada Igoe with “Of Woods and Words.”

Photo courtesy of Mr. OutdoorGuy via Flickr.