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Escanaba in Da Moonlight: The Uproarious Michigan Hunting Culture Film

Get ready to hunt like a Yooper because it's time to discuss "Escanaba in Da Moonlight".

We felt it was about time we highlighted what some may call the best deer camp movie ever made: "Escanaba in Da Moonlight."

For those of us who have hunted for a lifetime, dealing with an overly competitive brother, a domineering father, and two other guys that we've all seen at camp, we can easily relate to his angst. The relatable silliness of an honest, intelligent hunter who has to deal with the frustration of being the only "buckless yooper" at his deer camp is downright hilarious.

For those of you new to the film, it is set and filmed in Escanaba, Michigan located in the Upper Peninsula (UP) near Little Bay de Noc. Actor Jeff Daniels wrote, directed, and starred in this funny depiction of our favorite undertaking: the deer hunt.

Daniels plays Reuben Soady, the one member of his family who has yet to score a buck... ever, and now everyone thinks he's jinxed.

Eventually, Reuben takes his Native American wife's (named Wolf Moon Dance) advice and partakes in the legendary "Drink." The contents of the drink are as legendary as the beverage itself, and the results speak for themselves.

Looking back at our deer camp adventures, we should be able to see a little bit of our past and maybe even our future. This is a hunting story similar to some of our own, with of course a few added plot lines that even we haven't seen!

Cast of Characters

  • Jeff Daniels - Reuben Soady
  • Harve Presnell - Albert Soady
  • Joey Albright - Remnar Soady/Porcelain Bus Dancer
  • Wayne David Parker - Jimmer Negamanee
  • Randall Godwin - Ranger Tom T. Treado
  • Kimberly Guerrero - Wolf Moon Dance Soady

Michigan's Upper Peninsula

People from this area of the United States affectionately call themselves "Yoopers" for the play on its shortened version, the UP. The Upper Peninsula is officially a part of the state of Michigan, but it runs between the larger portion of Michigan and Wisconsin and shares about 200 miles of border.

The Upper Peninsula seems to have its own version of the English language, sometimes known as "Yooper English" or "Yoopanese."

Yoopers jokingly like to refer to residents of the Lower Peninsula as "flat-landers" and sometimes "trolls" since they live in area that is deemed to be below the Mackinac Bridge. Here are a few other thing that Yoopers are known for:

  • Mackinac Island Fudge (visitors are known as "Fudgies")
  • Mackinac Bridge
  • Euchre
  • M-35 (the state highway that runs through)
  • Leinenkugel's Beer
  • Pasties
  • Outhouse Racing

The Heart of a Hunting Movie

Not everything about "Escanaba in Da Moonlight" centers around hunting. Other parts of the storyline include flatulence, UFOs, and of course personal relationships and introspection.

Actually, for most of us, the stories in this far-fetched yarn are not too far off from our own outdoor lives, and they all came from our love of hunting season.

The good natured folks of the Midwest need to take a lot of credit for having their own lifestyle, food, and even language, and be thanked for sharing it with the rest of us.

Hand it to the great storytellers for their skill and their never-ending perseverance in telling the tale like we would like to hear it.

It's not known at this time if writer/director/actor Jeff Daniels has ever actually been on a deer hunt, (and we doubt it) but as he told the Ann Arbor News,

"I really am a downstate, fudge-sucking troll. I don't know anything about the Upper Peninsula. I only know what I've observed on the few times I've been up there."

Well, for someone who may have never been a part of a deer hunt, he sure found a way to make it funny, and we have to give credit where it's due!

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