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Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to Deer Camping...

I spoke in my earlier post about starting a Deer Camp, and making it now you may have questions about our camp and it's hunters. There are 17 hunters on the camp roster. Not all attend every year or every hunting weekend - I'd say about ten are hard core. Eight of us are police officers, several retired. Also on the list is a doctor, an accountant, a builder, a construction manager, an electrical company owner, a machinist, a custodian, and an insulation foreman. The cops rank from Captain to Patrolman. 32 to 67 is the age range. Our different backgrounds and occupations make for a broad array of evening discussion topics from all walks of life. A deer camp is one place where diversity really does work. Most of the hunters reside here in New Hampshire, one travels from Pennsylvania, one lives in Texas. We keep in touch all year by an email group address list.
Five of us are hard core bow hunters...six of us also hunt with muzzle loaders. All of the group are rifle hunters.
We have lost several hunters off the list over the years and we do not invite others in until we have a spot. Seventeen is about max for a camp this size.
Occasionally we have an April dinner or breakfast meeting with our families just to touch base. Beginning in July we bow hunters start getting together to practice and compare equipment.
We believe in good hunter ethics, and frown upon taking poor shots, hunting with untested equipment or unsighted in (annually) firearms. Chasing wounded deer does nothing for us. As a management practice I encourage the taking of does and usually take one for the freezer myself. We are not specifically a 'trophy hunting' camp. Small antlered bucks are sometimes taken, and proudly hung on the game pole. We hunt as individuals, rarely doing drives. Some of the hunters prefer to still hunt, while others use climbers or nestle into some favorite spot. I have seven strategically placed 20 foot high tree stands on my 130 acres,and the rest and those not afraid of heights use those. Except for a few ladder stands most of my stands are the Wedge stands which I install 22 feet up, and build a twenty foot ladder to access them. They are excellent, and last years and years. Most of the stands are either in acorn areas, or placed to try to catch deer moving toward our fields or food plots. We have a log inside the camp that you must sign in and mark which stand you are going to be in. That way, later arrivals won't bother you or approach that particular stand to use it. If we take a deer in the afternoon, we sit until shooting light is over so as to not disturb other hunters. I have a trail system that allows for ATV access to most areas of the property, so drags are generally short. Deer shot beyond my boundaries however have created some monstrous drags, not to be forgotten. We carry radios and cell phones so getting help when needed is no problem. But overall, the emphasis is on hunting as individuals. In fact, I preface every annual deer camp letter with the following:

"This will be the twelfth anniversary that deer hunting camps have been held at Long Ridge. For any that have not attended, these are three-day weekend camps for serious hunters and serious friends. No pressure, no demands, no work. Hunt in your own fashion, in your own way, on your own schedule. Come when you can, and leave when you will…if you cannot stay over, hunt for the day. If you cannot hunt for the day, join us here for a drink around the fire in the evening. Come for one, two, or all three camps …but remember this first…hunt in your own fashion…"

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