By Cody Anderson
Preparing for the upcoming deer season is as much of a tradition as the actual hunting itself. One wants to keep things just as they should be in order to not put bad JuJu on the opening morning. Preparations including but not limited to:
Locating essential items: Lucky hats, lucky shirts, lucky boots, lucky camo onesie, lucky blaze orange vest, lucky buck knife, lucky socks, lucky …
Sighting in: The art of making sure your crosshair and your bullet are seeing eye to eye.
Wood pile: The amount, species, chosen method of display, and moisture content of a hunting camp's wood pile is directly connected to the success and outcome of that year's deer season.
Stories: Making sure you have a fresh batch of colorful jokes in order to lighten the mood at any given point of tension that may arise even when 10 men who have been set free of their marital and fathering obligations for a week is a must. Also keeping straight the “hunting stories' ' (lies) you have told the last year and possibly several years before that, so as to not get caught up in a half truth, stretch or exaggeration.
Transportation: New car smell or any tree shaped air freshener is easily detected among local deer populations. A late 90’s Dodge or Jeep of some kind usually permeates a smell of cow manure and spilled coffee which is an acceptable cover scent at most deer camps. A pre-scratched vehicle is also a good idea so as to not hurt any feelings when this year's scratching occurs.
Food: If possible, nominate a camp cook. Camp cook roles can easily be filled by an old man who has had many good deer hunts under his belt and has passed the torch onto the next generation. He will understand the importance of a warm meal in the morning, on the go dinners and a hardy supper to keep the hunting party energized. If no old man is available. Then the answer is sadly Little Debbies. And lots of them.
As soon as the yearly preparations are in order it is time to head to camp. Deer camp is demonstrated in many different varieties in the Midwest. Common forms of deer camp including but not limited to:
The workshop: A place where many hunters can gather. This space is usually full of farm equipment, or bulldozers or small concrete or electrical companies trucks and tools the majority of the year but will make a first class deer hunting camp. Fold out white tables will line one of the finished tin walls. With packages of buns, tins of cookies, tinfoil filled with brats and white packaged deer sticks from the locker will be laid out in a grand spread. A television will be hooked up to a computer displaying aerial maps of timbers and expected walking assignments of participating hunters.
Grandpa's garage: A wonderful gathering place where four Gambrels will hang from an exposed rafter, cardboard will adorn the floor so as to not get any blood where grandma parks her car the rest of the year. Crock pots will be plugged into a properly wired outlet sitting on a sturdy card table with a red and black checkered tablecloth and a refrigerator will keep Mountain Dew and Pepsi cold with the ice option available from the freezer door.
The old trailer house: While the wood stove must be fed in order for there to be heat and the generator must have fuel in order for there to be electricity, these are a small price to pay for your very own dream getaway hunting cabin. Skull caps with antlers still attached are nailed to the walls in every room. An old sofa with a camouflage throw blanket and six used recliners make up the living room. A kitchen will have hand-drawn maps taped to the wall and red push pins placed in all the likely running deer escape routes. Harvested deer are proudly displayed here on a 10 foot long pole in the front yard. If you don't mind mice, this can be an unforgettable yearly experience.
The milk house: Cramped conditions just means shared body heat in this deer camp, the plug in electric milk house heater has trouble keeping up with the opening and closing door. A drain in the center of the room to which all the concrete leans toward has everyone piling up in the center of the room accidentally, especially late in the evening. One light bulb, one sparky outlet (that can only run the heater) and one tempered glass block window are all the modern conveniences of this camp. Folding chairs and an old wooden crate make up all of the furniture. While not as fancy as some camps the same spirit still lives under this roof, and enough Little Debbies to keep hunger away.
Being all prepared and all settled into camp is a feeling that is a little hard to describe, it is a little like having your Christmas shopping all done or harvesting the last acre of corn for the year. Anticipation of conversations with your hunting party or how spicy the chili will be or who will tell the first colorful joke this year will fill your mind and body. Knowing tomorrow could be your turn to harvest that once in a lifetime trophy, and make those true test of time memories will haunt your sleep that night, and bring you back to camp year after year to carry on the greatest of traditions of all: Deer Season. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook for Deer Camp/Part Two!