Million Dollar Buck

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Joined: 06/03/2010

Million Dollar Buck
            The road runs between two major arteries that extend into the Upper Peninsula. The story of its name was told first hand to me by one of the builders. This man had worked on the road while in college and as a result of that labor lost part of an arm. He survived and was well into his eighties when he told me of how the road was pushed through swamp and hemlock forest at the cost of a million dollars and that was a grand sum in the thirties and the height of the Great Depression. He said the name was an offhand remark by a worker and for want of a better name that nametag was hung on the finished road.
            Fifty odd years later my wife’s father bought some land near the Million Dollar Road and built a hunting camp. His offspring numbered twelve of which seven were sons and they were destined for the most part to become hunters and caretakers of the camp.  The land was overgrown with hemlock forest and cedar swamps and as such was a miserable setting for a deer hunting camp but my father-in-law had a long term plan to shear the coat of bad timber and reclothe it with hardwood and softwood trees more suitable for deer and game habitat. I am happy to say that after all the years since his plan was put into effect it has resulted in a prime wildlife area.
            My story, however, deals with the land as it was when the camp was first built and the deer hunting was spotty at best. I was attending the first few days of the deer season along with the young brothers in law and a few other elders but I was not overly optimistic about anyone’s chances for bagging a deer. Most of the other elders must have been of a like mind because we spent the evening prior to the opening morning playing cards and drinking beer until all hours of the night. I had shot a few deer in prior years and was not too worried if I didn’t make an opener bright and early.
            Bright and early at four-thirty my sixteen year old brother-in-law woke me to go out on our posts but I was none too eager to leave a warm bunk and shiver for several hours on a deer post when deer were almost nonexistent so I declined his offer. After some pleading he relented but asked if he could use my rifle since his deer armament was an old “97” pump gun in twelve-gauge. I of course obliged to get him gone so I could go back to sleep.  I slept peacefully for a while thereafter until being rudely roused again by one very excited young hunter.
            The young lad persisted in his demands that I come and help him find his monster buck and although I doubted his story or at least surmised the trophy was much smaller than depicted I got dressed and grabbed a cup of coffee to go and go we did. He wheeled his old beat up Chevy pickup out the camp road and hit the Million Dollar Road on the fly and we flew several miles down a logging trail to an old fence line where the path ended and we landed in one piece. I was awake by then and ready to find a dead deer with my trusty chauffer.
            After a brief recanting of all the details of his morning we found a blood trail and started after his deer. I am usually not too envious of others good fortune but that particular morning I admit I was a bit jealous that I hadn’t been the one pulling the trigger on my rifle! At the end of our trail was a huge twelve point whitetail buck the likes of which I was unaware even existed in that area. This deer had a wide thick rack with almost perfectly symmetrical tines and was bigger than any of my racks from previous years hunts since my biggest to that date was a seven point.  After congratulations I helped him field dress his trophy and we loaded it into the pickup with much sweat and exertion on my part since I was not fully recovered from the previous night’s revelry. He was so proud of his first buck he said “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for this buck!” I said “Well, it’s only fitting that a buck taken near the Million Dollar Road should be a Million Dollar Buck!