"Now that's what I call inviting," smiled Sarah Palinen as we approached Camp Coronary on the north shore of Lake Med. "Make that irresistibly inviting," she added, operating the tap like a pro.
She was right. There's nothing friendlier and more welcoming than a barrel of beer and a stacka cups on the front porch. It turned out to be the rule more than the exception throughout our tour.
As if the camp needed further art direction, there beside the tap was a buck pole bowed over and creaking under the weight of several trophy Yooper bucks, still thick-necked from their last rut.
After making the rounds on Oprah, Good Morning America, Larry King, Fox, HLN and CNN, WWW hunting correspondent Sarah Palinen was glad to be back in the U.P., but bushed. "Not too bushed to enjoy a beer with the boys at deer camp," she added. She'd flown in from her whirlwind book-signing tour just in time to join me for the Whirlwind Woods, Water & Worse Whitetail deer camp tour. You counted right, that was five W's in a row.
This was run-and-gun research, trolling camps and covering hunts, hunters balls and booyaws in Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, Baraga and Gogebic Counties. We'd seen bucks in all five, either hanging from poles or still running around loose taunting drivers and hunters. There were bucks in the backa trucks from Jarvi's Bar in Paulding to Jarv Jarvi's Dry Dock in downtown Onto. Yooper deer camp hospitality seemed inescapable.
Sarah's heavily-hyped, hot-off-the-press new memoir, "Going Rogue," hit bookstores around the country this week at monumental buzz levels and media saturation so intense that even the most remote Yooper deer camps heard about it and were happy to see her on her looks alone.
Local Sarah fans recall how her now infamous joke during the presidential campaign about "the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull is lipstick" bombed with a congregation of hockey moms who don't wear lipstick and didn't think it was funny.
"That scared her a little toward the left and rightfully so," said WWW religion correspondent Bethany Lutheran. "These aren't just hockey moms, they're hockey team moms; they aren't the rogue and lipstick type. Compared to them, Sarah Palinen is moderate to liberal."
"Whodathunkit that Sarah could offend hockey moms even more conservative than she is?" Lutheran added. "They were more horrified at how she looked on Newsweek than Sarah was."
A recent WWW Opinion Dynamics Poll showed she was way more popular at hunting camps and the backroads bars between them than she was with the non-lipstick wearing hockey moms. Not one hunter objected to her lipstick, while many added "Who wouldn't want their daughter to look like Sarah?"
Yet another WWW Opinion Dynamics Poll revealed that Yoopers drink more beer during the winter when they have fewer waking hours to do it than during the summer. "Consumption spikes during deer season and nobody likes it better than Bud, Miller, Labatt's, Leinie, Stroh's and Old Mil," stated WWW brewing correspondent Bud Weiser. "Through the miracles of marketing, we've blurred the line between deer season and beer season, making deer camp and beer camp interchangeable and overlapping."
It's not just a joke, it's a cornerstone of our culture. My favorite flavor is snowbank beer, whatever's stuck in the snowbank just outside the camp and sauna doors. During snow-free seasons like this one, we tough it out with ice chest beer, my second favorite flavor. Refrigerator beer comes in third, but most camps I visit don't have one, unless they're using it as a smoker out back.
I know guys to whom a beer is three swallows; guys who can drink a pitcher like it was a mug; some with hands that make a pitcher look like a mug.
No kidding aside, Yooper hunters take their hunting seriously and take it easy on the partying until they get their buck. Then they pretty much let 'er rip.
If you fill your tag on Opening Day, you wanna celebrate responsibly. It's just the second weeka deer camp.
Firearm season ends Monday, Nov. 30, Archery resumes Dec. 1-Jan. 1, Muzzleloading season runs Dec. 4-13.
For more information and regs, check your 2009 Michigan Hunting & Trapping Guide online at Michigan.gov/dnrhunting.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org, even at deer camp.