Time for Escanaba

escanaba-buckMarrying a deer hunter 27 and a half years ago was an adjustment for me. My Dad didn’t hunt. He was a farmer and our family had a steady supply of beef. Why the hell would I want to eat venison? However, I am adaptable, and if dear husband grills Bambi with enough barbeque sauce, it’s OK.

Although my husband indoctrinated my son into the Order of the Deer Hunting Brethren, my daughter and I remain nonbelievers. Nevertheless, we all participate in one family ritual when deer season rolls around. Sometime during November we gather round the TV in our living room, pop a well worn DVD into the player, and together watch “Escanaba in Da Moonlight.”

It’s an annual rite we initiated quite by accident. Back in the day of large DVD rental chain stores, we were wandering through the aisles of our local establishment and came across the movie’s DVD case on display. It featured Jeff Daniels in a fur hat and long underwear, brandishing a rifle, with an 8-point buck peering out from behind him. Billed as “a great American hunting miss-adventure,” the story takes place at deer camp, somewhere north of Escanaba, Michigan. The text on the back cover enticed us with the story of Daniels’ character, Reuben Soady, who, if he doesn’t get one this year, will be the oldest male in family history “never to bag a buck.” We rented the comedy, took it home, and together we watched it that night. The story of Reuben the Buckless Yooper (i.e., resident of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) pulled us in. We were hooked. We bought our own copy and we’ve watched the movie annually for well over 10 years.

We’ll watch the movie again this year, even though my husband already got an 8-point buck during bow season. His deer hunting anticipation may be tempered, but only until muzzle loader season arrives.

Laura Sternweis

P.S. In 2008 our family travelled from Iowa, via central Wisconsin, to Traverse City, Michigan. Escanaba was our overnight stop, and yes, it was lovely in da moonlight!

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