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Weekend Adventures: The lost art of deer camp

The practice of sighting in rifles before the hunting season makes for a better hunter. (Mark Harmon/Enterprise)

We have arrived at the favorite, holiday season of the year for rifle hunters.

The cool, crisp morning air gently lightens by the touch of the sun preparing to rise. With a glance or two of your watch, you see the seconds click off in anticipation of taking aim on a deer — then the popping of gunshots echo through the hills and the hunt begins!

My father and older kids have made their preparations leading up to this. The guns are sighted in. The deer stands are prepared and placed strategically. We have cleared our schedules and blocked off our times to maximize our harvest. We have a weekend meal plan organized and the locations and times are set. For us, these are experiences and memories that will carry into stories of certain embellishment over many family meals to come. Life is good.

I visited a local shop recently and we chatted about plans for the week of hunting. After explaining our plans, I inquired about his plan. He recalled a time when his family and friends met at the shack in the woods, and he talked about the fun nights of uncles sharing stories and friends sitting in awe of great bucks of years gone by. He explained that no one gets together anymore, and he currently doesn't hunt and has lost interest.

Later in the day, I ran into another who wanted to engage about what our plans were for hunting this year. Returning the question back to her about her plans, she explained they don't hunt anymore. She told me that hunting is so different than the memories of her youth. The memories were clear and crisp as she recalled the types of rifles they used, the joking around camp and how their clothing was not the camo and blaze of today, but rather old, red clothing that was typically on its last leg, salvaged for deer camp.

My travels through scouting have opened doors to some fun places. There is a deer camp cabin I stayed in on our weekend adventuring full of mounted deer. Some deer are big, some are small, but almost all are labeled as to the year, who shot them and what caliber bullet. Yes, it is a trophy wall, but it really tells a story of history and amazing memories. One of the largest mounts on the wall had the year, the hunter's name and finally it read "Chevy Ought Six" for the caliber. I laugh each time I hear the same story, irony behind it.

Sure, as hunters we appreciate the fruits of the hunt. Yes, there are many of us that do not prefer a large hunting crowd or camp. I am convinced, for most, that rifle season has less to do with the harvest and more with a sense of camaraderie.

In the here and now, let's take inventory of the people we share these times with. Perhaps this year, if you have a group you enjoy spending that time with, invite a new member to expand the community. Enjoy the hunt this year, and good luck!

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