Sightseeing in Northern Michigan: The Deer Ranch

“It’s a very unique place.”

We’ve all seen a deer. Maybe even gotten close to one.

But there’s nothing like the experience you can have at The Deer Ranch in St. Ignace.

“The Deer Ranch has been here 51 years, and Chuck and Connie Clupp own it. They’ve owned it for five years now, and I’ve worked for them since they’ve had it,” said Shirley Winberg. “They have 33 adult deer right now, and we have three fawns, and we will be getting more fawns within the next month.”

The fawns are fun to watch.

And even more fun to feed, if you’re lucky.

“We have a barn the fawns go into and the people come when it’s feeding time and they let the customers bottle feed the babies. Every year they come back and say, ‘Are you feeding the fawns yet?’ because they want to feed the babies, they enjoy it so much,” said Shirley. 

“It’s a special feeling, especially for the little kids. Little kids love it, adults love it. Not everyone can bottle feed a fawn, and this is one of the special places you can do that,” said Jake Dodds.

And if you’re really lucky, you will see a fawn being born.

“People come back year after year, because when the babies are born, if someone is here when the babies are born, they will name the baby. They can pick the name for the baby, so a lot of baby fawns that are born are named by people who are here at that time,” explained Shirley.

But the fawns aren’t the only attraction, because when you see the big buck out front — you expect to see some big bucks.

“A lot of the younger boys like the big bucks, that’s what they want to see, that’s what they came here to see, so it’s really cool to see them come right up to you, because you don’t get to see that anywhere else. And get to feed them and touch their antlers,” said Jake.

“Last year, we had a 20 point buck here, and it’s just amazing for some of the people to see a deer that big,” added Shirley.

You’ll also see very rare animals, like the white white-tailed, not to be confused with an albino.

“They’re real rare. You don’t see them very often and Chuck is trying to get, I think they’re called piebalds, I think he’s trying to get some of them on to the farm,” said Shirley. “He plans on expanding quite a bit.”

While expansion is progress, it’s the only thing that really changes around here. It’s a place to get close to nature and learn more about animals that live all around us.

“We had one person who came in last year and he said he comes back every year because it’s the only place in town that’s never changed, you know? They keep it the same, they haven’t modernized it and they keep it like it’s always been,” said Shirley. “It’s a wonderful place.”