Deer camps are vitally sought retreats. After this year of pandemic, politicians, protests, and negative media, we need retreats more than ever. For many, the annual days in deer camp serve to recharge the spirit and provide relief from all that is going on. It’s a way for many hunters to get in touch with friends, family, and an old way of life.
Deer camps are steeped in tradition, with long-standing members and their own set of rituals and customs. Camp members have their traditional stands, traditional bunks, and traditional camp chores. Deer camps’ quaint features are the woodstove or campfire, the outhouse, the dinner/poker/conference table, and the meat pole. In some cases, they’re nice cabins or maybe just old shacks, while for others they’re campers or just traditional tent campsites. It doesn’t matter. They’re special places to a deer hunter.
The camaraderie of deer camp can’t be denied. To the non-hunter it is probably hard to understand. Studies have shown that for the majority of deer hunters, the social element of camp is more important than any other. Deer camp is friendship, laughter, and memories. If you happen to get a deer, that’s the bonus.
Great Deer Camp Pranks
Pranks are a part of the traditions of deer camp. One year, I took a very real-looking fake rattlesnake and put it in a corner of the outdoor toilet. I watched as several hunting buddies went in to do their duty only to come stumbling out with their pants down around their ankles. They did manage to pull them up before they started chasing me. It sure is hard to run when you’re laughing.
We also have a guy who hates mice. He has found fake mice in his sleeping bag, in the camp box, his coffee cup, and many other places. He promises to get even.
If we have a new guy at camp, I like to take Tootsie Roll midges, tear off pieces, and roll them until they look like deer droppings. I then take the guy out, act like I find them and show how to tell what deer are feeding on by popping them in my mouth and chewing them. The look on his face is priceless.
It is no wonder that the American hunting and outdoor heritage is so strong and that it continues to play a major role in shaping our culture and our society. In addition to putting food on the table, Americans take up rifle, shotgun, or bow and go into field and forest because it is the one true way to remember our history and who we are.
If you sit down to a wild turkey feast, roast duck, or grilled venison for Thanksgiving this year, give thanks for your resourcefulness and skill. Also, give thanks to conservationists who helped make such a feast possible.
If you want to put a Christmas goose on the table this year, set your decoys out next to a food source, and leave a lot of room between them. Geese have a four- to six-foot wingspan so they need lots of room to land and take off. You can do an exceptional job at calling them down, but decoys set too close will discourage geese to land instead of encouraging them to land.
The Best Gift
Kids take clues about what is good, right, and desirable from mentors and family members. They need strong ties in this messed-up old world. The outdoors offers that. This Christmas, give the gift of the great outdoors.
Something To Think About
“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
– Oren Arnold