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    My Favorite Michigan Spot
By: Jerry Kunnath
My Favorite Michigan Spot

For over thirty-five years, I have been hunting, hiking, camping and studying the area southeast of Mio,
Michigan. In this general area, there is a two square mile block of woods that is especially my favorite
place to go to spend time in the woods. Originally forested in the great
white pines of old, now it is
climax forest status again with a mixture of giant oaks, white and red pines, beech and ash,
and other assorted trees. Although, if you look closely you can see that the white pines are trying to
retake their old stomping grounds. Large tracts of young pine trees are beginning to carpet the under
story, creating new habitat for the deer and the other animals found there. A few old logging trails
remain in the area, although they are slowly being overtaken by the forest. The topography of this
whole area is one of huge, rolling, gravely,
glacial eskers. Each successive ridge is separated from its
neighbor by a deep drainage, with most of these containing a small cedar copse and the start of a
spring creek in their bottoms. Two of the major feeder streams to the Au Sable River start this way in
the area. The hills bordering these drainages contain mature oaks, mostly reds, but many of the hilltops
sport nicely crowned white oak trees. These white oaks provide the perfect browse area for hunting
the deer of the area in the fall. During the thirty five years that I have been hunting 'my' woods I have
taken a fair number of deer, both does and some brag-able size bucks, along with a beautiful bear,
many grouse, countless squirrels, and thousands of hours of quiet meditation. Years ago, my son and I
even caught a few nice brook trout in the beaver ponds that twinkled in the valley of one of the
streams. Now they are now mostly vacant, with broken dams and few beavers. The beaver browsed
over popples now regrowing on the hillsides.

I have shared this quiet place of Federal Forest lands with many friends over the years. About
twenty-five years ago, we just kind of started referring to 'our' place as 'Camp Hill'. Each fall I would park
my trailer, or set up a tent at Camp Hill, and for anywhere from a few days to a little over a week we
would have our own bustling bow hunting community. It was always a real thrill to wake before dawn
and walk right out of the tent or trailer and march to your waiting stand. Evenings were spent together
there dodging the smoke from the campfire as we grilled venison steaks on a stick over the crackling
fire. Cigar smoke and scotch vapors mixed with the crisp fall evening air as the days hunting tales were
retold, albeit with a bit of embellishment, till sleepy eyes took us to our bags. Some of those friends are
no longer with us on earth. Nevertheless, they are still with us in those Camp Hill memories.

Both my son and daughter still talk of the camping trips that their mother and I took them on at Camp
Hill. When my daughter visits from her new home in Bavaria, Camp Hill is one of the required stops on
her visit. A short walk is all that is required to re-light her memories. While my son was stationed
overseas while in the
Marine Corp, I sent him a box of the fall leaves and a recording of the wind
hissing through the pines of Camp Hill. He told me how that box of leaves and that recording of the
windy pines brought more than a few tears to his and other tough Marine eyes.

I now own a decent parcel of my own land near Fairview, Michigan. This property is only about ten miles
from Camp Hill. However, I make it there often. Camp Hill is the spot that my son killed his first deer and
it is still the spot that my son and I hunt every opening day of the firearm season. Camp Hill was where
my daughter first shot a firearm, under my supervision, while camping there together one weekend.
She still brags to her friends how her little hands, cradled in mine while sitting in front of me, held the
pistol and sent the bullet true to the target. To this day I still spend at least two or three days there
during the bow season. Grouse still drum in the woods and squirrels still chase each other up and
down pine stumps. I go there on many quiet evenings to sometimes just sit under a big oak to watch
the trees grow, to smell the leaf duff, to listen to the chickadees, to watch the sunlight filter through to
the ground, and to feel the awesome presence of Mother Nature.

This fall, at the request of more than a few of my hunting buddies, I will pull the old Coachman trailer to
Camp Hill and clear the old camp spot during bow season in October. My friends will come up to spend
a few days with me bow hunting deer, burning cigars and venison over the fire, petting hounds, and
telling fishing and hunting lies. All in a spot that contains so many memories for us. We will go back
there amid the splendor of the giant trees and continue to create memories for the future.

That is my favorite spot in Michigan's woods and I think that you can see why.

Jerry Kunnath    
A Michigan Woods Summer's Eve at Camp Hill
 A Michigan Woods Summers Eve
                    at Camp Hill
Fall atr Camp Hill
A Sow with Triplet Cubs at Camp Hill
A Sow Bear with Triplet Cubs Near Camp Hill
Fall Splender at Camp Hill