camp-fireI have a friend I like to hunt with because of his outright enthusiasm for hunting deer. A year’s worth of planning and several hundred miles of driving, and finally we have a week at deer camp. Some deer camps start off fast and slow down as the trip progresses. Not camping with Justin. The whoosh of a chemically induced campfire starts every morning an hour and a half before dawn. There are trailers and tents to be shaken and hunting to be done. We usually start the morning with solitary hunts in the same canyon. This is big country so ten or more hunters working a drainage at the same time can stay more or less alone. After a solid morning of hunting, quite often there are deer to skin back at camp at lunch time.

Lunch usually happens quickly and then Justin is herding a couple rigs out to drive a canyon or a ridge. It never stops. There are pushers and standers all afternoon until the last couple hours of daylight. In the evening we all go our own way to explore and hunt on our own. It’s not uncommon to find yourself dragging back to camp well after dark. Luckily in a camp this size whoever tagged out first or stayed in camp that evening has a pot of something cooking. Around the campfire plans are being made for the next morning. As the coals simmer down, stories float around with the camp smoke.

Our camp always tends to have youngsters hanging around as well as a few guys that never grew up hunting. Some of these guys have kids as well. There’s nothing like seeing a kid with her (or his) first deer! One of Justin’s younger daughters got hers this year. Last time we went, it was my oldest son. Someone always brings up that you learn more in a week at deer camp than a week of school. There are different things to be learned out here. Things like how tough you really are when there’s six inches of snow on the ground and five miles to be covered. Important things like where food really comes from too.

I guess I would say that deer camp provides an important perspective that we keep with us the rest of the year. A perspective about how things get done and the part nature still plays in our modern lives. I find that I’ve been fortunate about who I’ve hunted with, where, and what I hunt. Most hunters have opportunities that some urbanites wouldn’t understand or choose to undertand. This closer connection with our food and opportunity to be an active part of nature shouldn’t be overlooked. Welcome to deer camp.

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