As I have mentioned previously, I am working on the media segment of the Governorâ€™s Deer Opener in Little Falls, Minnesota this November.Â It is a wonderful experience and I look forward to it each year.
I look forward to the â€œeventâ€ experience.Â I really havenâ€™t participated in deer hunting for several years.Â One: I am not as strong as I used to be so to beÂ dragging a deer out of the woods is no longer appealing to me.Â Two: As much as â€œdeer campâ€ can be entertaining for a week, I kinda like the idea of a bath.
For those of you who havenâ€™t participated in a Deer Camp, this should be an educational reading.
Deer camps have been a tradition for eons but, you canâ€™t just ask a hunter to join their deer-campâ€¦you must be invited. And, an invitation may only be forthcoming after you submit yourself to listening toÂ the deer-camps currentÂ membersâ€™Â stories. This could take months, may be years, and could possibly cost you many dollars in beverages (newbees always buy) as the old-timers disseminate their deer-camp wisdom over refreshments and food.
Before you leap into this initiation process, let me tell you of a couple of deer camp experiences I have had…that may help you decide.
A deer camp, traditionally male dominated (but, this is changing ), may consist of up to 14 people who have made solemn pledges not to shave or bathe during the entire outing. Deer-camp law mandates that all participants strive to achieve a level of personal hygiene that would disgust a sewer cleaner. Itâ€™s the law!Â It just IS.
The cuisine at most male deer-camps is kept simple, mainly because most of the participants canâ€™t operate much more than a can-opener (pop tops on bean cans have helped immensely in the past few years) or care to indulge their palates with anything beyond bratwurst (preferably slightly burned over an open fire).
So you see members of a manâ€™s deer camp have simple needsâ€¦..brats, beans and beveragesâ€¦and, hunting stories. I remember one deer-camp member telling me a story about his first deerâ€¦it was a fork-horn ( thatâ€™s a small two year old ). Over the last 15 years, this guys fork-horn has become a 24 point 400-pound buckâ€¦amazing. And, the stories are retold every year. And, every year they get a little better.Â If the guy I’m talking about continues telling his story, in just a few years he will have added calling out the Air National Guard to enlist the use of a Huey helicopter to airlift the beast out of the forest!
But, letâ€™s not leave the ladies entirely out of the deer-camp picture.
I had an opportunity to observe an all-ladies deer camp a couple of years ago in the Brainerd, Minnesota area. It was shockingly different from my other deer-camp experiences.
First of all it didnâ€™t take place in a rustic old cabin or a tattered tentÂ (it was a beautiful lake home) and the food wasnâ€™t charcoaled over an open fire and the menu wasnâ€™t the Three-â€œBâ€™sâ€.Â Â And, all the ladies (four in all) were neat, clean and proper. In fact, I heard almost no belching at all.
These huntresses dined on exquisitely prepared Minnesota wild game of all sorts. Pheasant, venison, buffalo, turkey, goose and trout and walleye all served on real plates (in contrast to a burned brat on a tree branch) and washed down with a complimenting wine andâ€¦napkins…cloth napkins.Â Mercy sakes…what next?
I choked back my tears and stood arms stretched out to my sides, palms up and begged that these ladies be forgivenâ€¦for they know not what they do.
However, like the men, these ladies did get rowdy (meaning non-stop giggles and an occasional belly laugh) and they did tell hunting stories (mainly about â€œcuteâ€ deer they saw the previous year). And, as the gourmet wine bottles were emptied I did hear a few flowery expletives erupt from a couple of jubilant campersâ€¦followed by, â€œOh my, excuse meâ€.
Now Iâ€™m not saying that these two descriptions are typical Minnesota men and women deer-camps. And after witnessing the ladies camp which was happy, fresh and clean, I finally figured out why a menâ€™s deer campÂ is dank and dirtyâ€¦reeking of bratwurst wrappers and populated by mostly unshaven, unwashed males.
You see, the ladies camp was staged in a beautiful Minnesota lake home with indoor plumbing.
At the menâ€™s camp, I sincerely believe someone forgot the Charmin