Long before “The Man Cave” became the must have sanctuary every man desires, there was Deer Camp. The enduring, time-honored male bonding experience brings generations of hunters and aspiring hunters together. This trek to the wilderness is a special event for families and lifelong friends every year.
Just the words – deer camp – can turn any grown man into a squirming, wiggling little boy. It is his birthday, Independence Day, and the start of football season all rolled into one. The preparations for deer camp are almost as fun and exciting as the hunt itself. So let’s get to it.
When it comes to being comfortable at camp, there are several items that are must-haves. These are things that we can’t have a successful camp without.
- A refrigerator. That is just common sense. Where else are you going to put the beverages of choice, the venison sausage, and the cheese?
- A big freezer. Again, duh. Where do you plan on putting the venison if you aren’t headed home right away? Unless of course you hunt in the Northwoods, in which case, outside is a freezing ice chest in and of itself.
- The crock pot or slow cooker. Chili, shredded venison, and soup are staples of almost every deer camp. They’re easy, filling and usually pretty dang tasty.
- A functioning stove with an oven. Open fire cooking is doable and often tasty, but let’s face it – your casserole does better in the oven with less charring around the edges.
- Comfortable couches and big armchairs. Camp is all about relaxing after the big hunt. It is much easier to share the “big buck that got away” stories if you’re kicked back with your feet up. They can also double as extra sleeping spots when those unexpected campers arrive.
- A large water heater is an often overlooked necessity. For southerners, you might be a bit ripe after spending the day sweating in your tricked out treestand. For northerners, you probably just want to thaw out from a long, cold hunt. You could also de-stench and warm up with a big cauldron of boiling water from the wood stove, but a hot shower sounds better, doesn’t it?
- Cards, darts, cribbage, board games, and other ways to while away the evenings. Large doses of bonding occur around those battered old tables at camp. For a welcomed change, enjoy the low-tech diversions.
- Proper deer camp attire. Whether you’re blending in with your surroundings or just telling tales around the fire, you need to look the part. Don’t let your once upon a time field camo that is now faded to sand, become the star. Look sharp while you’re posing for that once in a lifetime trophy photo.
This list contains those wanted, but not necessarily critical components for deer camp. They don’t quite fall into the “needs” section above. They can help make the camp experience a little more like that man cave at home, though.
- Big TV set. Notice I didn’t say flat screen. Camp is a good place to retire the older, giant TVs that can take a beating – or a bear attack. (Make room in the man cave for that shiny new flat screen.) You might consider including a DVD player along with the TV set, as old hunting DVD’s are another staple of deer camps around the country.
- Foods other than canned beans, bacon, eggs, and potatoes. Many hunters are actually great cooks back in the real world. If you have one of these gems in attendance, make sure to bring the ingredients for them to whip up their specialty. Don’t forget the spices and condiments.
- King-size bed with down comforter and heavy quilts. Ditch the musty old sleeping bag that has seen far too many deer camp seasons. Becoming well rested is important to ensure the success of your hunt tomorrow. Quality pillows are a given in this category.
- Ratchet straps. It seems you can never have enough and they can be used from everything to dragging out your buck, to hanging it on the meat pole, to strapping down that cooler to the trailer.
- New grilling utensils. It seems like the proper tools for manning the grill disappear after each hunting season. Be sure you’re ready before you fire it up. Plastic forks and flames don’t mix.
Whatever you decide are the musts or needs for your own deer camp, the main thing is to enjoy it. It can be as simple as that musty sleeping bag on the floor or as elaborate as the giant flat screen with cable and wi-fi. You choose.
One last note, this article is obvious in talking about the male hunters and deer camp. Let’s not forget the ladies. Multitudes of women enjoy the thrill of the hunt just as much, if not more, than their male counterparts. We should expect to start seeing some ladies-only deer camps making headlines.
Every deer camp is unique, what are the needs and wants of your camp?