Yooper Bits A-B


Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer: A remedy for the aftermath of black fly bites.  Mix the powder with a little water, paste to the affected area.  Leave until dry and brush of lightly.

Air Hankie: To blow your nose without removing your choppers. Very tricky. Press one nostril and expel. Then the other. Repeat as necessary. Called “The farmer” in other regions of the U.S.

Airline: Trapper term for the straightest line between two points. Term was in use centuries before the invention of the airplane.

Appalos: Trapper form of shishkabob: lean meat and fat alternated with veggies on sharpened stick, and roasted over a low fire.

Alberta Clipper:Severe winter storm blowing down from Canada.

Aluminum Hatch: Term for summer season when canoe, kayak and tuber flotillas force trout fishermen into early morning and evening outings. Sometimes called Aluminus Flotillas by entomologically anal fishermen.

Amasa: North of Crystal Falls in Iron County, former logging, rail center. [Pronounced AH-ma-sah]

Anchor Ice: Ice attached to beds of streams and lakes. When the water temp rises to above 32 degrees (0 centigrade), ice rises to surface, carrying any objects? on which it has accumulated.

Appleknocker: Yooper term for anyone from downstate or not from the U.P.

ATB BTB: Above/ Below the Bridge: The Mackinac Bridge separates the state’s two peninsulas and often serves as a line of demarcation.

August: The only month in the U.P. during which snow has not been recorded.


Barley Pop: Beer.

Beater: Old car or truck reserved for outdoor, backwoods use.

Blackie: A black bear (ursus americanus).

Black Your Face: Old trapper term, meaning to go to war with someone. Native Americans used to blacken their faces before going on raids. Hollywood turned the black faces into colorful war paint.

Bloodstopper: Someone with mystical power to stanch severe bleeding. Said to pass from male to female to male.

Bojo: Old trapper greeting, bastardization of French bonjour.

Boonies or Boon Docks: The back woods.

Brookie: Slang for brook trout, which is actually a member of the char family. Brook trout fishing at one time was a major sport in the U.P. and it was not catch-and-release. Tip: use a pinch of brown sugar when you pan fry brookies to remove the iodine flavor. Thanks to Dave Richey for the following photo. He’s been sending these to me in the deep of winter trying to get me ready for the spring chase.


Broom in the  Door: In the 50s and earlier,  in many parts of the UP, people didn’t lock their doors, but if they left home, put a broom in the door to let visitors know they weren’t home.

Browse: Branches of trees, small saplings, or low brush, which serve as food for deer, moose, etc.

Brush Gun: A rifle or shotgun with shorter than normal barrel, designed for hunting and moving through heavy cover.

Brushhog/ Bushhog: Implement used to clear heavy brush to create trails.

Brush Wolf: Large coyote in Upper Peninsula parlance.

Buck Fever: Phenomenon of deer hunter getting the nervous shakes, which throws off his accuracy when he or she sees a huge buck. Term used generically to describe someone whose nerves betray them at the moment of truth in any undertaking.

Bug Dope: Insect repellent.

Bulletproof Snow: Made ice at ski hills.

Bum Ride: See Hooking.

Bunny Hugger: Animal lover, term usually applied to animal rehab specialists

Bush (The): Back woods, boonies.

Bush Vet: Military war vets who move into the backwoods after discharge. Term first used after Vietnam, but phenomenon probably common after all major wars.

Baku: Small belt or boot knife carried by Russian Finns, who were quick to use it in a fight.

Berry Picking: The U.P. has an array of wild fruits, from sugar-plums at abandoned homesteads to blueberries, chokecherries, strawberries, black berries, thimbleberries and more. Some berry pickers, like morel pickers are secretive and highly competitive others.

Birdseye Maple:? One of the most valuable and rare woods in the world. Pattern is distinctive, with small “eyes” disrupting smooth grain lines. The cause of the phenomenon is not known and a maple with this kind of wood cannot be determined by looking at bark. Only when it’s cut down does it become apparent; most loggers, upon finding such a rare specimen, immediately remove it from the woods and lock it up. This wood is easily worked, but once finished, does not easily scratch. Birdseye occurs in Acer saccharum. Trees in the Great Lakes area yield the largest number of this wood, which among others things is used to decorate the dash of Rolls Royce vehicles. Other forms of maple with distinctive patterned wood are called burled maple, and curly maple.

Bitch: Trapper term: Take a tin cup, fill with bear or other animal fat, insert twisted rag, or wick and light and you have a makeshift camp lamp, or a bitch.

Blackbird Storm: Very cold, unexpected storm in late spring.

Black Ice: The first, pure ice of winter, before subsequent temperature shifts, accumulated snow, and wind change its character. Black ice is the best ice for ice-skating and ice boating.

Blowdown: A tangle of fallen trees and brush, usually the result of high winds.

Bluebird Sky: Sunny, windless, blue sky.

Blue-green Flu: Miners who escaped underground explosions often appear on the surface with bluish green powder marks on their face and exposed skin. Some caught the flu and refused to go underground again.

Blue Ice: The sapphire blue ice chunks found in the roots of shaded cedar trees, sometimes as late as June and July. Color same as a glacier – air squeezed out. The term also refers to aircraft waste that freezes when ejected from aircraft at high altitude. I know: TMI.

Bridge (The): Mackinac Bridge connects Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Before the bridge, crossing was solely by ferry boat, and just before the season, the line to board could be backed up 20 miles south of Mackinaw City.

Buckskin: Tanned deer skin made into clothing by trappers and Native American. Indian tanned [in brains] tended to be light in color. Can make it darker by smoking the skin over open fire.

Bugle: The sound of a bull elk during the rut.

Burled Spruce: Black spruce with patterns like birdseye maple is used in construction and the manufacture of some speciality, decorative furniture.

Bush Pop: Mix a little vinegar and a spoon of sugar in a glass of water. Before drinking mix in quarter teaspoon of soda.

Bushway: Trapper term, from the French for “bourgeois.” Referred to company man responsible for indentured trappers, forced to work for fur companies. In general, means the man in charge, and also pronounced “Booshway.”

Bushwhack: To cut cross country through the woods, without benefit of a trail.

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