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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:


11/17/17 @ 10:44 AM
User since 7/5/01

Picking up my son from school this afternoon for his first deer hunt.  A couple hours later we'll be in camp.  Can't wait. 

11/17/17 @ 9:30 AM
User since 9/27/01

Headed out for a 240 mile drive to deer camp in two hours.  I haven't missed a year since 1983 when I got my Hunter Safety Card.  Guns, beer, smoked salmon, pickled eggs and jerky are all packed.  I should be playing cards by 4 pm.

11/16/17 @ 10:27 PM
User since 5/17/11

Anyone heading north for deer camp this weekend? Interested to hear more stories of those old traditional deer camps in northern Wisconsin. Share so we can all remember, thanks.

12/2/14 @ 5:17 PM
User since 12/18/11
This was my first year not hunting up north the old man passed a couple years ago and every one else is getting older. I moved out to Montana this spring and it's the first time I have missed going up north since 1990. I have had a great season out here but would have gave anything to be back at camp in radisson. We had good and bad years like everyone but like most have said it was never about the deer anyway. I would do anything for one more trip with my dad I have walked past his old spot many times just to see if he was their. Don't give up on deer camp just for the chance for a bigger deer to me itbjust would not be worth it.

12/2/14 @ 4:34 PM
mystery fish-n-sea
mystery fish-n-sea
User since 4/10/10

Couldn't resist going up north again, and I'm glad I did. Between the 8 guys, my dad shot a 3.5 year old 8 pointer, and I got a 2.5 year old 6 pointer. Lots of meat for the freezer.

We saw far more deer this year than the past 5 years combined. Probably due to clear and selective cutting in the immediate area. The stomachs were filled with leaf litter.

The camp is worth more than the hunting. I don't have a lot of opportunity to bow hunt my dad's property, and this year I had none. Didn't even hang a trail cam. I do know that at least one deer was killed on the property though as evidenced by the gut pile.

The best part about the hunt, none of our group had doe tags, so they couldn't blast any fawns. Boo-yeah!

10/3/14 @ 10:05 PM
User since 10/1/12
Once you break tradition you can never go back. I'd give anything to have one more camp like it use to be.

9/30/14 @ 7:55 AM
User since 10/24/12
This will be my first year hunting w/out my Dad. He lost his battle to cancer this past February. I would give up hunting the rest of my life just to have one more season with him. I know how much sharing the hunt meant to him. If we happened to get a deer, it just made the story-telling that much more fun. Last season was hard for all of us, knowing that it'd likely be his last. I'll never forget that last day we got to share the woods together. Dad stayed in his blind until it was dark. He didn't want to leave. I felt the same way. It wasn't until this past weekend, during my first weekend in the woods, that I realized just how fast life goes and just how easy it is to lose sight of what's important.

Contrary to what everyone says, there are and will be deer (and deer hunting) for many, many more moons. But you Dad, family, etc, won't be around forever. My "vote" would be for you to enjoy the season w/ your Dad. My hunch is he'll feel the same way.

9/29/14 @ 9:18 PM
musky nut
musky nut
User since 7/20/12
I'm about in the same boat as every one else here. Been hunting up north in the big woods for quit a few years now with my dad,uncle and two brothers. Yes the hunting does suck but it's not about the hunt it's about spending time with family. We have a lot of fun and tell a lot of story's and if we do get a deer that just a bonus. I started bow hunting last year down south close to home so I can actually have a chance at getting a decent deer , got tired of tag soup year after year lol. I would stay at camp if I was you or I think you might regret it someday down the road. Good luck in whatever u decide.

9/29/14 @ 6:34 PM
Got Shnitz?
Got Shnitz?
User since 11/2/07
I would take your daughter up north and give her that experience. It is definitely not all about killing or seeing deer for that matter. It is all about spending time with your dad and others in your deer camp. I only hope my dad is still around to hunt with my kids a few years. I have access to 100's of acres down south(home) to hunt on, 300 + acres of private to hunt in central wi, but I choose to go up North where I had started hunting with my grandpa and my dad out in the middle of the Chequamegon. Yes I would have much better hunting back home or even on my land, but the time I get to spend with my Dad, Brothers, and friends in priceless!!! 30 years ago the hunting was about the same as it is now, we had some very poor years, and some good years as far as the hunting is concerned, but the deer camp is always great!!! Some of my favorite hunting memories involve hunting with my grandpa & the stories he would tell, I think about him every time I pass certain trees in the woods. Had my dad chose to just skip deer camp and keep us kids hunting his land we would have missed out on all this. Good luck in your decision, like previously posted, you only get so many hunts with your dad!!

9/29/14 @ 2:32 PM
User since 9/27/01
“Its hard to leave family”.

That’s exactly what I’ll be going through in the next few years. I’ve been hunting with family since I could first carry a rifle. This will be the 30th season for me. My son started hunting two years ago as did a few of my cousin’s boys. At the same time we’ve seen a few of the old timers hang up their blaze orange. My uncle and one of his buddies who is like an uncle to me are the only seniors left in camp. Even my dad heads for warmer weather by the end of November. My uncle owns the farm and runs the camp. Many traditions have been started and repeated over the years. It’s been a fun run but I know that when he’s no longer around, some of the others will turn deer camp into a circus. My cousin who is very social wants to combine our camp with two other camps that his friends are in. With the writing on the wall, I purchased some land of my own this summer. My boy and I plan to start our own camp with two of my BIL’s but we won’t do it until my uncle is no longer around. I think that if my son and I broke off now, it would break his heart.

It’s too bad that family politics have to get in the way of the tradition of Deer Camp but the season is only 9 days. Gotta do what you gotta do.

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