Is there anything better? If it ain't family or Grandkids; I, for one, am not buying it. There's just something very special about a hunting camp, whether it be for deer, hogs, bear, or whatever. My very first deer hunts were done away from home in a camp with some very interesting characters. They were all around my Dad's age and to the man, always treated "Little Eddie" well enough. Actually they probably treated me extra good, remembering they way they talked to each other...lol. Heck, I suppose that I was so in awe about just being included I likely would not have even noticed being picked on, had it happened.
That was more years ago than I care to admit today, but the special feelings that being together with friends at camp bring me have never dulled. A couple of Tennessee hunting Buddies I'd known for a year or two had never been to a "camp" and I took it upon myself to let them see just what they'd been missing and talked them into going away for a few days to hunt some wild Georgia hogs. To say they enjoyed their new experience would be a certain understatement and one of those same fellas just accompanied me this spring on a trip of a lifetime to Alaska for black bear.
We spent several days together alone in the Alaska bush and although neither of us did bring home a bear we did see several and absolutely loved our trip. I must add here that doing Alaska alone is something every man should experience at least once in his lifetime in my opinion. We were perhaps 100 miles from a road, arriving to our area by float plane. Our spike camp consisted of a 9' X 9' tent and a tree. We slept in the tent and cooked underneath that tree. We saw bears, moose, bears, eagles and did I mention we saw bears, including a big grizzly. All the while we were surrounded on all sides by the snow-capped mountains of the Alaskan Range.
I won't claim that going over a week in the bush without a shower is something I'd want to do all 52 weeks a year, but give me one week a month in Alaska and I'll smile. Not all camps need be so harsh, of course. Our favorite hog hunting camp is a nicely furnished house with heat, full kitchen and bath and large wrap-around deck. Do we enjoy it? You betcha! We hunt hard for big fair chase wild Georgia hogs and then enjoy our evenings spent together as well.
I received an invite from a friend earlier this year to hunt with him in Indiana for their deer gun opener on 13 November. I also hunt Kentucky and Tennessee gun and the Indiana opener was the same day as Kentucky's so I took some time to make my decision. Then it hit me. The Kentucky hunting would be done from my home and would be enjoyable, no doubt. But the Indiana hunting would be done from an old A-Frame house at the end of a dead-end gravel county road.
What the heck was I thinking? Of course I'd prefer the Indiana trip with it's "camp" atmosphere more! Our plans were finalized and I arrived a day and a half early to aquaint myself somewhat with the terrain. Well, we had fine food, great company and decent "happy hours" there in our snug A-Frame. My basement bed, tucked underneath the stairs worked out just fine and oh by the way, we also shot some fine deer too.
Everyone sitting around after a full day afield and enjoying some dinner together is another very special aspect of any hunting camp. Al and I enjoyed our freeze-dried lasagna underneath that tree in Alaska just as much as Barr and I enjoyed lobsters on our Maine bear hunt. Be it simple, be it fancy, all camp food seems delicious to my palate. We actually do spend a good bit of time making and refining our planned meals for our trips and it pays off in bigtime dividends. Easy, warm comfort food fits right in with a hunting camp, no doubt.
Our camps are all true hunting camps with no parties or late night card games that lead to guys not going out hunting early the next morning. We do enjoy a drink or three in the evenings, but we come to hunt and hunt we do! I'm telling you fellas (and gals), it gets no better than hunting camp. If you've never been, you need to go. It just simply makes the hunting so much better to be with other hunters and, well.... hunting!!
Ed(R) and friend, Jason, hold their Indiana bucks, shot that morning, as the owner and host looks on.
Hunting partner Al brushes his teeth outside our luxury Alaska accommodations
Virgil, our favorite hog hunting guide, enjoys happy hour with us
The January 2010 hog hunt group
Ed(L) and his Buddy Al toast to the previous year's trophy mounts they had just picked up before this January 2010 hog hunt.