Getting to Deer Camp in the Upper Peninsula Used to be a Lot More Trouble Before the Mackinac Bridge Was Finished
Prior to the Mackinac Bridge opening in 1957, hunters lined overnight up for the car ferry to get to the Upper Peninsula for the opening day of deer season.
Ask any hunter: opening day takes a lot of planning. Firearms need to be cleaned and oiled, the sights dialed in. Enough ammo is essential and almost as important as staking out a place for the deer blind or making sure the tree stand is still standing. Don't forget the supplies for deer camp: food, a deck of cards, and good whiskey (even if it is the cheap stuff). Before the Mackinac Bridge opened, hunters traveling to the Upper Peninsula also needed a full tank of gas and patience.
Before the Mackinac Bridge was completed there was an annual crush of cars waiting to board the State ferries at Mackinaw City before the opening day of the firearms deer season. My uncle took these photos of cars waiting on US31 south of Mackinaw City waiting in line to board the ferries
-Greg Bunce, Michigan History Past, Present and Future Facebook group
Accompanying the photos was a clipping from a November 1956 article from the Menominee Herald-Leader newspaper that related just how troublesome dealing with "the monumental lineup of deer hunters' cars" had become. Fifteen extra state troopers were added as traffic control, directing motorists onto five ferries that traveled back and forth across the Straits of Mackinac for 24 hours straight. Just two years earlier, on November 12, 1954, a record 6,579 cars were ferried between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas in 24 hours.
Ritual, camaraderie, and deer camp stories for the ages are sometimes as important as the kill for some deer hunters. The 1956 newspaper story speculates that once the bridge is finished, some hunters will be nostalgic for "the blustering, boisterous days of the long wait." I'd bet Greg's Uncle Hugh had some great stories.