‘Deer Dynasty’ is alive and well in the U.P.

ESCANABA – Phil, Si, Jase, and Willie-

Meet Pa, David, the other David, Joe, John and Mark.

Many of you are familiar with the good folks on A&E’s hit reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”

Duck Dynasty of Louisiana, I’d like you to meet “Deer Dynasty” of Upper Michigan. Deer hunting is as sacred to us as duck hunting is a way of life for you.

The long bearded, shaggy haired Robertson family runs a very successful business making “the duck commander” duck call. Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the group. He almost ended up playing professional football, but opted out because it interfered with duck season.

Phil, his wife “Miss May” and their four sons, and Uncle Si (the Vietnam veteran), fill Wednesday nights with their down home humor and family fun.

Robertson family, let me introduce you to the Rose/Wils family. There may be just a few similarities with my camp loving, deer hunting, plank pulling, Grace saying Yooper family and the famous Robertsons.

My daughter’s favorite episode of “Duck Dynasty “is the one about trying to clean bees out of a bee hive with a vacuum sweeper. It sort of reminded me of the time my uncles had a whole mess of smelt and they tried to clean them in my aunt’s wringer wash machine.

We have a Miss Sandy in our family who, like Miss Kay, can keep all the boys in line and man, can she cook!! Her famous homegrown “cheesy baked red potatoes” are fought over right off of the woodstove at camp.

Miss Kay is often seen with the family’s black lab. Sandy’s black lab is yellow though.

If I could invite the “Robertsons” to one of our family get togethers, I’m sure we’d have a grand time. One of the David’s and I would show them the snow-dusted, ice-crusted cedar swamp and we’d enjoy watching a beagle or two run a hare through there.

My cousin John (aka Si) would show them where he bow hunts for the big bucks. For a while they’d just watch all the beauty and the amazing creatures.

Pa, my dad, would give our guest the guided tour of camp, the furniture made of homegrown trees, the riverside and spring.

My cousin Joe would have his rotisserie smoking with that awesome smell of supper cooking.

My brother Mark (the one with the white whiskers) would grab his tripod and camera and be trying to arrange a group picture.

Then we’d all sit down together for a meal. I suppose we’d argue some about – what’s better hot coffee or sweet tea? But the homemade food would be wonderful and so would the company.

What makes Duck Dynasty so good that millions of people watch it? It’s the down-home, real family values, and earthy fun that we all long for, even if we can just see on a TV show.

We are very blessed here in the U.P. that so many of us have brothers, cousins, uncles and Miss Kay’s next door, or just down the road.

Our deer dynasty camps may not be worth millions of dollars, but they’re sure worth millions in sentimental value. How many smiles and laughs will come out of your camp this deer season?

Like the Robertsons, we say Grace at every meal like my mom taught us:

Thank you Father, kind and good

For homes and friends and daily food

We love our bread, we love our butter,

But most of all, we love each other,


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.