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Deer Camp

9/25/14 @ 3:27 PM
mystery fish-n-sea
mystery fish-n-sea
User since 4/10/10
I have been a member of my dad's deer camp (he's the president, more or less) for the last 15 years, since I was able to start hunting at the age of 12. We routinely made the trek up north to public land even though he has 90 acres connecting to 90 more acres of state public land at home. I lived very close to our spot up north for a few years before moving closer to home. I know for sure there are more deer around home than there are in our traditional hunting spot. In fact, the guys that regularly hunt his property while we are away for the weekend usually do quite well. Since I have been going up north, there have been 5 bucks shot in 15 years, the largest a 7 pointer my dad got about 7 years ago. During that same time, there was one year we came back and one party had taken 4 bucks off, and another year that a GIANT 9 pointer was killed on his land. With 8 guys we have gone one year without killing a single deer, and another where a nubby saved the camp. My trail cams around my dad's place always prove there are quality deer in the area, and I have seen numerous deer (including some nice bucks) with limited bow hunting time in the past couple years.

In addition, a couple of years ago I was hunting a stand up north that I have liked for quite some time. After shooting at a deer a man came from his property to yell at me that I was shooting too close to his property, and even claimed I was trespassing. I have plat books/GPS/ and know where the survey markers are in the area and know I definitely had the right to hunt that piece of public land. My dad walked over to talk to the man and he started threatening to call the warden and took his picture. My dad told him that he was going to wait until the warden arrived. The man then started shouting/shooting his gun in the air. I had already left and was quite worried that this man had killed my dad. Back home our neighbors are friendly and we have access to hundreds of surrounding acres if we want to branch out.

The past few years I have tried to convince him that we should move deer camp back home, and this year he finally put it to a vote. I lost 5 to 3, with my dad and I both voting to stay at home. The other 5 guys want to go up north because of tradition. We are not drinkers, we do not go into town to go to bars, we sit around and play cards until we go to bed at 9:00.

I told my dad that I was going to hunt his land this year, even though the vote failed, granted that he gives me his permission. I proposed that my dad, brother and I take a weekend, I'd pay to rent a cabin up north and we would just sit and watch the squirrels for the weekend (this is what deer camp is to us anyway) then we could sit around and play cards at night. That way I don't feel guilty about missing spending quality time with my ol' man and brother and I can still hunt some great property and increase my chances at seeing some deer.

He's still pretty bummed I won't be going to deer camp for the first time. I kind of am too.

Whatcha think? Am I a jerk?

UPDATE 2019:


11/30/20 @ 5:57 PM
User since 7/3/01

With one exception, I have never met a person who was part of a deer camp.  

The variations of deer hunting culture are numerous and interesting.

10/29/20 @ 5:09 PM
Phat Walleyes
Phat Walleyes
User since 3/31/15

That was well done video and pretty cool too M Fish N Sea...

I always wondered what it was like hunting like that... You talking low..

 I remember driving up early in the dark morning opening day fishing...

I particularly like the hunting cabin in pieces and hinges... Carpeting...  I had suggested a tent like structure or two for a LL Jambo to have on the ice... Lol haha 

I'd be up all night/day fishing... 

10/29/20 @ 1:59 PM
MEMBER since 6/22/01

Mystery thanks for sharing that hunting camp video with us.  That hunting camp looks like a ton of fun to be a part of! I wouldn't care if I got a deer or not if i was a part of a tradition like that.

In my 27 years of deer hunting I've had 3 different "camps" that I've been a part of.  Started out at my uncle's parents place up in Marinette County.  My dad had been hunting there for 20 years before I joined him at age 13.  Saw a few deer there and shot a nice buck one year that unfortunately we never found it.  Lots of blood to follow and the deer got up multiple times, but I got too excited and didn't know any better to leave the deer alone if it's bleeding and you don't find it. (this will not be the only time I do this, but I've finally learned my lesson).

When I turned 20 there was a divorce in the family and we weren't welcome back to the land anymore, so that tradition went away.  A few years later another uncle of mine - his sister bought some land in Vernon County and she welcomed us to hunt it. It started out as a vacant 40 acres that we would get motel in Richland Center and take the half hour drive to get to the land. 7 years later she built a house on the property and we stayed there.  It was kind of nice getting up and being in my blind ten minutes later, but it also didn't feel the same.  with a house now being on the property the deer changed their movements on the land and we only saw deer usually in one spot. Before the house there was three good spots on the land, in the corners, plus there were more hunters in the area, so we saw more deer.  I never did pull a buck off that land - again shot one but was too quick to get up to go and look for the deer and it eventually got onto the property where we were not welcome.

Last year that landowner said she was feeling ill and didn't want us hunting there anymore, so I contemplated hunting some public land near where I live in the Madison area, but I don't like the crowds it produces, so I asked my old boss from 15 years ago if I could hunt his property.  He already had 12 guys hunting on 120 acres, but he said he had a stand for me.  Little did I know he'd actually put me in one of the best spots on the land! He gave me an aerial of his land and pointed me to where the stand was, but I didn't find it in the dark, so I sat on the ground for the first 3 hours.  Later on I got up for a short walk and there it was, about 30 yards from where I was standing on the other side of the trail! So I went up in the stand and within 30 minutes saw more deer.  Around 12:30 I got down from my stand just to take a piss and stretch when I heard some more noise.  A buck following a doe.  I shot both of them and my hunt was over for the year just like that!  My first measureable buck in 26 years of hunting, so I was pretty pumped! Not a huge deer, but for me it was a nice deer. (see picture). When I got up closer to the deer to gut it and take a picture I then found out it was missing the one side of it's rack, something I didn't even see when I shot it because of the direction the deer was facing.  Still, a fun hunt, and my old boss said I could come back this year, so it looks like I have a new hunting tradition.  

Last year was one of only a couple times my dad didn't hunt with me.  He's 73 this year and said he will not be going this year, so it looks like our tradition has come to an end.  With my dad having Leukemia he just isn't strong enough to walk through the woods anymore. I sure will miss hunting with my dad!  Hopefully we at least get a few more years fishing together.

10/27/20 @ 6:14 PM
User since 9/17/16

Don’t know how I missed your deer camp video last year Fish but I just watched it now.  Cool camp, looks like an awesome tradition worth maintaining as long as enough of the guys are still up for it. Our camp has changed over the years and it’s been just dad and I for the most part for several years.  We cherish those times every year and now my son is starting to join us.  I’ll drag and gut any deer dad wants to shoot.  I know there won’t be a lot more times I get to do that so each time I get the chance I am excited I get to do it and grinning from ear to ear.  Perhaps you could have a shorter camp on the home farm during muzzy season to try and get a shot at better deer opportunities without loosing opening weekend traditions.  Just a thought.

10/27/20 @ 4:39 PM
User since 6/24/01

First I'm sorry for your loss, I know it hurts. It's going to be different no doubt. A huge void and empty hole but you are already experiencing that. I shed some tears every year at deer camp as my Dad had a stroke in camp 19 years ago. I also scattered his ashes there so he is always there.

 Go enjoy camp and don't be afraid to toast you Dad and realize he is looking down on you and happy you are enjoying deer camp.

10/27/20 @ 7:45 AM
User since 6/15/01

I have been attending Deer Camp for 15 years now. I'm 44, so I have not been hunting that long. I got a late start. I love going to camp. It's the part of the year I look forward to the most. 

This year is going to look much different. My father passed away back in July. He is the head of the camp. He started with his father in law and once he passed, my older brother and cousin joined camp. A few others joined here and there, but never stuck around. When I decided to start, it changed me a lot. My son was born the year I started, and the past 2 years, he and his cousin joined camp. My dad was extremely happy, to have 3 generations attending camp. 

I do not know what camp is going to be like this year. The past 2 weeks or so have been rough, as camp time nears. 

10/12/20 @ 6:38 PM
MEMBER since 6/23/01

Well after 57 years of hunting, deer hunting is much different today. 1963 I sleep in the back seat of my old Dodge. Couple of years later I stayed in a tent,  another year is was an old school bus, then upstairs attic in a farm house.  Then many years in a pop up camper, all those's places were darn cold. Eats and meals were mainly sandwiches, but we went for the hunt. Now in the twilight of my hunting years, I stay in a heated trailer on my own land. Hunt when I want, fix meals for son, son-in-law and grandsons.  They love to here the deer stories of hunting seasons past.  Do I want to go back to those's days, hell no !!

10/12/20 @ 2:41 PM
User since 4/17/07

No plans yet, likely public land somewhere. I don't have a deer camp anymore. Everyone would rather hunt their farms by themselves these days instead of inviting people over to hunt together. Its their land so obviously its their right to do so but to me half the fun was hunting with other guys. 

My first two years of hunting when I was a teenager we went to a big deer camp in Jackson County. I absolutely loved it, and I couldn't even drink then lol. Loved hearing all the stories and playing cards, helping other guys drag their deer out. That place died off after two years, then it was a smaller place which was still fun until that place got sold. Pretty much been hunting by myself since then. It's hard to get excited about gun hunting anymore. I can't wait for my son to get older so we can start a new tradition. 

10/12/20 @ 10:45 AM
mystery fish-n-sea
mystery fish-n-sea
User since 4/10/10

How are you preparing for Deer Camp 2020?  Anyone doing anything significantly different this year as compared to other years?

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