Whether you are:
A) An avid hunter
B) Against hunting
C) Not a hunter but not against the right to hunt

…you can’t deny that hunting has been a rite of passage in Michigan for more years than any of us can remember…we’re talking hundreds of years, before licenses and government practices stepped in.

According to Michigan Deer Camp, while the Native Americans in the Upper Peninsula subsisted on meat mostly from elk and moose, in the lower ‘peninsula’ the meat of choice was white-tailed deer. Once the farmers in the 1700s and early 1800s began removing trees, brush, and foliage (basically, deer food) in order to have their own planting fields, the white-tailed deer began disappearing. They left to find other places to take cover, and the ones who were seen in the open fields were shot for food and pelts.

With the deer herd thinning, in 1859 Michigan started regulating a “hunting season” that lasted from August 1 to December 31…the hunting season has continuously changed ever since. For a while, the upper and lower peninsulas had their own different seasons on when to legally hunt…I say “legally” because poaching still continues throughout the year.

FAST FACTS:
1881: Against the law to use traps or pitfalls
1887: Shining deer and hunting with dogs outlawed
1891-1894: Hunting not allowed in Allegan & Van Buren counties, followed by occasional closures throughout the state
1895: Deer license requirement began (50 cents for Michiganders, $25 otherwise) 1895: Bag limits created, up to five
1915: Limit changed to one
1915: Minimum age to hunt: 17
1917: Minimum age to hunt changed to 12
1928: Bear licenses included in deer license
1930s: Deer camps gain popularity
1937: First season to hunt with archery, but only in 2 counties
1939: Minimum age to hunt changed to 14
1944: Statewide archery season established
1945: Archery and hunting licenses are both allowed
1947: Hunting restored throughout the entire state
1948: Only shotguns allowed in lower Michigan
1968: Michigan Legislature authorizes hunting season as November 15-30.
1971: Hunter’s safety permit for those under 17 is required
1977: Orange hunting gear required
1980: Hunting for bear no longer allowed with deer license

Many hunters now look forward just to hang out in a deer camp – more so than the actual hunting. Just the fact that you can get away and hang out in a remote location in the woods, joke with buddies, have some beers, eat stinky sandwiches, eat greasy food, play cards, get away from the rat race, warm against a fire, sleep…..oh yeah, and hunt.

Deer camps have become almost a mainstay for serious hunters and are now an iconic part of the Michigan legacy. Take a look at the gallery below for some vintage photos of Michigan hunters, going back to the turn of the 1900s!

FOR THE SQUEAMISH:
Among the deer camp pictures are some – but not all – photos of hunters with their various kills. This may bother those who are anti-hunters or advocate animal cruelty. Remember, these photos are from over 100 years ago.

Michigan Hunters

MORE MICHIGAN OUTDOORS:

Michigan Farmers

Miners' Castle Caves

Michigan's Sugar Beets

The Lighthouse of Monarch Butterflies

HORSESHOE FALLS