Hunting Camp: In the Company of Men
There are moments when nostalgia hits me like a sledgehammer. I was listening to some tales of first bucks on a podcast on the way to and from work, Wired to Hunt, and the host, Mark Kenyon, shared a story of being in camp and going out to see a buck his grandfather had shot.
My head spun back to being a young boy in camp.
Memories of looking at deer as they were hanging, dreaming of when I'd hang mine up.
Cleaning the table so the guys could play cards.
Fetching a beer when asked.
Following Dad, then Gramp, then Mike and Ron through the woods.
Leaning on and learning from those same characters. Lessons in the woods by day, lessons about the woods at night, listening to the wood stove snap and pop and the gas lights hiss. Responsibility taken on, for camp chores, for a .22, for a rifle and for the lives of the animals you pursued.
Figured out my place in the world there, and my place amongst other people- made the Army easy. A little rank, a little merit and you found out where you stood...with respect coursing up and down the line.
No women at camp while Gramp was around...a hold over from another era I suppose. In light of current affairs in hunting, maybe my Gram, mom and sister should have been there. And it was only during deer season...everyone was at camp for summer events and when Christmas happened there. Except that they liked their time to themselves as well for those precious weeks... a chance for people to rediscover some independence in what they like and want to do.
Like a bachelor group of rams, these men, banded together, against whatever the world could throw at them. There is a place to go if the world was too much, and guys there willing to help you up if you stumbled. Honesty, might hurt, but the advice offered, when taken, was usually sound.
A Deer Camp in VT is a good place for a boy to learn to be a man.