If I couldn’t laugh, I wouldn’t want to go hunting.
Little does it matter where I'm going or what I'm hunting ... I know I'm about to have a good time with friends. The camaraderie and the moments of deer camp over the years are kind of like the bedrock of my life.
My grandparents had a farm, and growing up I knew there was always a place for me to wet a fishing line or climb a tree.
I hunted 3 years before I saw my first deer—it was a doe that gave me the butterflies so bad I couldn’t even reach for my rifle. It's funny how some things never change. I guess I see a few more deer today on my farm, but nothing compares to the lies I tell at camp dinner with the guys. This is one my favorites: “I really knew that stand was going to pay off today, fellas! It was just a parade of deer all day! I let them walk by because they were a little too small.”
On the other hand, some things do change. As you look at how the lifestyle in this country has shifted, many of the old family farms have gone away. As I get older, I feel the responsibility of the baton in my hand—in all of our hands—to make sure that 50 years from now there are still wild places with wild animals where we can go and be ourselves with friends and family.
I can honestly say that I'll never get tired of the joys of hunting. I never thought seeing LarryThe Cable Guy crawl out of the top bunk in his britches at 3 a.m. hollering, “Let’s Git-R-Done!” would be a joy. But it is. At deer camp, the chop busting seems funnier. The meals taste a little better. The sleep you get—even if it's short—is sounder. And, of course, the lies are more impressive.
But it’s no lie that the bliss found in hunting camps around the country is a central reason we go hunting. I've been hunting with the same friends for 20-something years, and if we put a tag on a few animals, great. If not, we still know we're going to have fun.
I wish all the members of NAHC plenty of great times in the stand, at the cabin and around the campfire this fall. Just be sure to tell your uncle to go easy on the beans ... and doe urine is not a substitute for a quick wash in the creek!
What's your favorite part about hunting camp? Share your comments below.