12 November 2012Remembering Hunting Camps Past No doubt if you love hunting you’ve been to several hunting camps, possibly even this current hunting season. Here in Texas the general rifle season open on the first Saturday of November. I missed opening day and the 2nd day of the season, which I’ve had a tendency to do the last several years. And while you’re reading this I’ll be hunting in far Northeast Texas in Red River County. I’ll give you a report once I get back from that hunt. I’m building my hunt around my signature Nature Blind Stalking Shield. We should be at the right place at the right time, since in that part of the world the rut should just be getting started. Again, I’ll tell you about my hunt during our next visit here. Hunting camp...When I was growing up in the rural Zimmerscheidt Community in northern Colorado County of Texas most families seemed to have a hunting camp, usually a little building nestled in the woods. Few had real running water or electricity or indoor “plumbing”. Our family (my dad, mom, younger brother and me) wasn’t any different. We built a camp of tin, uninsulated, about 20 feet by 24 feet, about a quarter mile behind our home. Usually two days before the opening of the Texas whitetail season, back then always November 16th, we moved to our camp so we could take care of last minute things relative to our hunting stands. Heat for comfort and cooking was provided by an old wood stove. Often were the times it got so warm in camp we had to open doors and windows. But that didn’t matter! Usually we stayed in camp at least through the first full week or so of the whitetail season. To begin with we didn’t have a whole lot of deer in our area. Matter of fact if you happened to take one (only bucks were legal to start with), you were a local hero! During those early years of hunting I hunted hard for several years, every chance I could before I shot my first whitetail. I’ve told the story of that first buck a bunch of times and will likely tell it again in the future. Our camp was small, cozy, but great fun! Some of my best early memories are of those I spent in our camp with my family, and with my wife, when we were first married. We’d leave College Station where I was attending Texas A&M University on a Friday whenever possible during the hunting season, drive to camp and I’d hunt hard trying to put venison into our freezer so she and I would have something to eat! Loved those days and frankly miss them! Since that deer camp I’ve been in many, many others from just below the tundra in Canada to the the arid brushlands of Mexico and from the shores of the east coast to the shores of the west coast. I loved every one of them. Several of course stick in my mind. Years ago I hunted Anticosta Island in the St. Lawrence Bay far above Maine. Deer had been introduced onto the island many years earlier Hunting was done by walking existing trails those in our party were Jim Bequette (then editor of SHOOTING TIMES where I was on staff) and Bob Sarber (then with Petersen’s HUNTING). Were were shooting Marlin rifles and shotguns. The lodge we stayed in was right on the shoreline. All around camp where no hunting was allowed we saw numerous sizable deer for that area and many, many red foxes of all different color phases. At the time it was not legal to shoot a fox on the island. We shared camp with four genuine residents of France, who proved to be extremely good hunters, but also great camp mates. Our cook was a lady who was fabulous in the food she prepared. In spite of walking miles each day, I gained about 8 pounds during my 5 days of hunting the island. The camp was truly comfortable, but it was the people in camp who made it special. Much farther south I remember another camp, this one in Tamaulipas, Mexico about 50 or so miles from Laredo. My hunting partner at the time was Ron Davidson, with whom I shared some most “interesting” adventures. Our camp was an OLD adobe house without a roof. No sooner had we gotten into camp than an extremely cold wet weather system blew into the area and stayed! The wind blew 20 to 30 miles per hour and it rained the entire time (7 days) we were in camp. We stayed sort of dry by crowding against the north wally. The wind blew most of the rain over the top of us. We weren’t the only residents of the old burned out, roofless “house”, the local donkeys and chickens decided where we were was also the best place for them to be. Our’s was a cold, wet, long and unsuccessful hunt. Both Ron and I missed huge bucks the last morning we were in camp. I missed using a borrowed rifle I was assured was sighted in dead on at 100 yards. Unfortunately I took the “giver’s” word and didn’t shoot it before hunting. He had told me not to bring a firearm because I could use his, a .264 Win Mag, Model 70 Win with a Leupold scope. When I got there he handed me the rifle and 3 rounds. I told him perfect...”I’ll be right back after I make sure it’s properly zeroed.” “No senor, you don’t understand those are the only 3 cartuches I have...” After I missed a buck that would have scared the heck out of the Boone & Crockett record book, I walked back to camp, shot a second shot. At 50 yards the bullet struck the target 12 inches high.... From here on and as it was from there on, if ever I borrow a rifle again, I won’t take anyone’s word that it is sighted-in. Even if I’m given only 2 rounds, I’ll shoot one at a target to confirm where the rifle is shooting! “Another lesson learned!” As mentioned there have been many, many other hunting camps, including those where we slept under a tarp on the ground, to tents, to nice camps to camps that looked like 5-star hotels. Regardless of camp conditions, I’ve never complained, taking it all in stride. After all, sometimes the “most interesting” of camps make the best memories. I hope you’re busy making memories this fall! Don’t forget if you’re interested in any of the Nature Blind products, please use “Larry” as your code and you’ll get a special discount. Have a great week!