Deer Camp

Kids Outdoor Outpost December 2011

Joe Schuster | December 1, 2011

Last month we covered the basic rules of deer camp. The deer camp is the rallying point for the hunter. Whether you got “skunked” that morning, took a shot and missed the buck of a lifetime or actually put one down, you can sit around a warm fire and tell your story to your fellow hunters. This month, I’ll tell you about my first deer camp.

Our camp was made years before I got there. It was about 15 feet wide and 50 feet long, made out of scrap lumber and plywood. One side of the room had bunk beds nailed to the wall, which were picked on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you got there late, you got a cot on the floor. If your bunk bed was on top, you had to fight off swirling winds that would almost flap your sleeping bag from the holes in the roof. We had a beat-up table and chairs for what you would call our eating area. We had a big pot-bellied stove that was just in there for decoration; it had not worked in years. Cabin warmth was provided by strong-smelling kerosene heaters. Even with a window cracked open, those heaters would suck just about every bit of moisture out of the air. You would always wake up with a dry or bloody nose. Electricity for lights was provided by the constant running of a very loud generator, which always seemed to be out of gas every cold morning when you got up.

Two days before opening day was  “sighting-in” day. We would all assemble around a shooting bench and take our shots at targets placed 100 yards away. I was using my uncle’s old Marlin .30-30 with open sights that first year. I watched in awe as my cousins and their friends took their shots with their scoped .30-06s, .270s and .35s, all grouping around the bull’s-eye. When it was my turn, I settled in on that bench and looked through the notched sight and down the barrel but could barely make out the target. I did my best and squeezed the trigger but had no idea if I even hit the wooden frame of the target. I took two more shots, opened the lever action of the rifle and joined my cousin to see what I had hit (or missed). To my relief, I had placed three nicely grouped hits on the target.

I could not sleep with the anticipation of going out on my first deer hunt. The wind whistling through the cracks, combined with the various other sounds and smells from the other hunters would prevent anyone from sleeping anyway. An old alarm clock rang off the table at 5 a.m., and it was time to get up.

It was easy to walk along the trail to my stand with the full moon in the night sky.

Not long after sunrise, I heard the first shot of the morning. I was thrilled that at least someone in our group got a deer, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the barn to see what was taken. Just then, I saw movement in the trees in front of me. It was a buck! I slowly eased my rifle up, braced it against the tree, squeezed off a shot, and it dropped in its tracks.

I can’t begin to explain the pride I had as I dragged my first buck back toward the logging road to show my cousin. My deer joined his to hang inside the barn as the other hunters shuffled in to get out of the cold and see what had been harvested. We all went back to the cabin to hear how everyone’s hunt turned out. It was truly a fantastic experience, and I hope your deer-camp experience is every bit as exciting as mine.

This Month’s Quick Quiz:

Quick Quiz of the Month: You’ve gotten a good overview on what makes for a good deer camp. Name three things that you should NOT do.

The winner will be picked at random from all correctly submitted answers, and he or she will win a prize package from our sponsor. We’ll print the answer next month. Good luck.

Last month’s Quick Quiz question: What things do you think make for a good deer camp?

This month’s winner is Cole Maddox, of Winder. He said, “Kill legal amount, don’t leave trash and help other hunters.”


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