By Ed Turner
Is there anything better? If it ain't family or grandkids, I, for one, am not buying it. There is something very special about a hunting camp, whether it is for deer, hogs, bear or whatever. My very first deer hunts were done away from home in a camp with some very interesting characters. They were all around my Dad's age and, to the man, always treated "Little Eddie" well. Actually, they probably treated me extra good, remembering they way they talked to each other. Heck, I was so awed by just being included that I likely would not have noticed being picked on, had it happened.
That was more years ago than I care to admit, but the special feelings of being together with friends at a hunting camp have never dulled. A couple of Tennessee hunting friends I'd known for a year or two had never been to a camp, so I took it upon myself to let them see what they'd been missing. I talked them into going away for a few days to hunt some wild Georgia hogs. To say they enjoyed their new experience would be an understatement and one of those same fellas just accompanied me this spring on the trip of a lifetime to Alaska for black bear.
Al and I spent several days by ourselves in the Alaska bush and, although neither of us brought home a bear, we did see several and absolutely loved our trip. I must add that hunting in Alaska from a spike camp is something every man should experience at least once in his lifetime. We were perhaps 100 miles from a road, arriving in our area by floatplane. Our camp consisted of a 9' x 9' tent and a tree. We slept in the tent and cooked underneath that tree. We saw bears, moose, bears, eagles and did I mention we saw bears, including a big grizzly. All the while, we were surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Alaskan Range.
I won't claim that spending a week in the bush without a shower is something I'd want to do 52 weeks a year, but give me one week a month in Alaska and I'll smile. Not all camps need be so primitive, of course. Our favorite hog hunting camp is a nicely furnished house with heat, full kitchen, bath and large wrap-around deck. Do we enjoy it? You bet! We hunt hard for fair chase Georgia feral hogs and enjoy our evenings, as well.
I received an invitation from a friend earlier this year to hunt deer in Indiana on 13 November. I also hunt in Kentucky and Tennessee and the Indiana opener was the same day as Kentucky's, so I took some time to make my decision. Then it hit me: the Kentucky hunting would be done from my home and would be enjoyable, no doubt. However, the Indiana hunting would be done from an old A-Frame house at the end of a dead-end gravel county road.
What was I thinking? Of course, I would prefer the Indiana trip with its "camp" atmosphere! Our plans were finalized and I arrived a day and a half early to acquaint myself somewhat with the terrain. We had fine food, great company and decent "happy hours" there in our snug A-Frame. My basement bed, tucked underneath the stairs was fine and, by the way, we shot some fine deer.
Everyone sitting around after a day afield enjoying dinner is another special aspect of hunting camp. Al and I enjoyed our freeze-dried lasagna underneath that tree in Alaska just as much as Barr and I enjoyed lobsters on our Maine bear hunt. Be it simple or fancy, all camp food seems delicious to my palate. We do spend a good bit of time making and refining our planned meals for our trips and it pays big dividends. Easy, warm, comfort food fits right in with a hunting camp.
Ours are true hunting camps, with no parties or late night card games that lead to guys not going out hunting early the next morning. We do enjoy a drink or three in the evenings, but we come to hunt and hunt we do! I'm telling you, it gets no better than hunting camp. If you have never been, you need to go. It makes the hunting so much better to be with other hunters and, well, hunting!
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