Camp No Deer, a family tradition.

October 27, 2014

vanderhaag_legends_1Outside the Walls, a blog written by Nick VanderWall, is sponsored by VanderHaag Car Sales, 1680 W. U.S. 10-31, Scottville; 231-757-2727; www.vanderhaagcarsales.com, Mason County’s premier car rental outlet and also Legends Taxidermy of Scottville; 231-757-9589; www.legendstaxidermy.com. It appears here on the second and fourth Monday of the month.

People like October for reasons such as hunting, fishing, and the fall colors, but my dad and I like October for a family tradition of deer camp held near the end of the month.

Originally it was four guys that got together on the river at my uncle’s cabin. “We were able to hunt a neighbor’s property down the road, and we saw quite a few deer, but as usual we never shot one,” my Uncle Jack said.

The camp is called Camp No Deer. The name came about around 10 years after it started, my dad said. “I saw a sign with the name on it, and I thought that kind of sounds like our camp because in 29 years of getting together we have only shot three deer.”

“It’s just a great tradition that I hope my kids keep going when I get older,” my dad said.

“I have been coming for around 10 to 12 years,” Todd Smith said.  “I come up to this camp because I am from outside Chicago, and just being up in a tree in nature is just so worth it to me.”

Smith started hunting around 15 years ago, when his father-in-law took him out hunting for two days and they didn’t see anything, he said. “He apologized to me, and I told him that you don’t understand, being in nature is so different because I don’t get exposed to it near as often.”

A typical day at Camp No Deer: some guys go deer hunting in the morning, others go bird hunting, and still others sleep in. We have breakfast around noon and then we always do an activity before the evening hunt.

We typically play shuffleboard, bocce ball, rake leaves, or split wood. After the evening hunt we eat dinner when everyone is back around 9 and then we break into a few hours of cards. All throughout the day food is always available.

“I would be very disappointed if my crew went hungry,” my dad said. “We always start our camp out on Wednesday night with our fire chilly that my wife makes.”

For breakfast they have bacon, eggs, waffles or pancakes, and a typical dinner consists of bread, potatoes, salads, and ham, pasta or steak depending on the night.

Back when they first got started they never missed a hunt. Rain or shine, sleep or no sleep they would go hunt, but now as everyone is getting older they don’t mind missing a morning or afternoon hunt.

“The emphasis isn’t on the hunt, but the emphasis is on spending time with family,” my Uncle Jack said. “It’s cousins getting together who don’t get to spend much time together, so they come and we get to spend four or five days together catching up.”

After my uncle sold the cabin on the river, my dad offered to keep the camp going at our cottage on Big Star Lake which is where it’s been for 20 plus years.

I started going when I started college and this was my fifth year.  It is truly an experience that I look forward to every year.  It is a time that I can go and play cards and just talk with family that I haven’t seen in a year.

The last deer up until this year shot at Camp No Deer was in the 90s, making it the second deer killed at the camp.  This year it was my turn to shoot a nice doe and maybe end the curse of no deer, but I believe the name will never be changed from Camp No Deer.

The month may be cold and rainy like it has been this year, but you step in our cottage during Camp No Deer and you will see a warm house filled with warm people catching up after a long year away from the family tradition that we don’t want to miss.

 

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