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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:


9/28/14 @ 9:27 AM
User since 1/5/05
Its hard to leave family. I started hunting with a good friends family back in High School. My dad had 50 acres I grew up on and we would see some deer but I wanted to the deer camp experience.

Its been well over 10 years now that I have hunted with this other family and finally last spring (2013) I was able to talk my dad into buying 10 acres about 1.5 miles away from the other camp.

The other camp isn't what it use to be. Back in high school it was a county lease cabin that was tiny. One season we had 19 people packed into it. When the lease ended there was a falling out between the two main families that had the cabin and my buddies family got their own cabin. On a good day during gun season we will have 5-9 people in the woods. Its hard to move deer with that small of a crew so deer sightings (along with the deer population) have been way down.

Now that I can hunt with my dad that's they way I want it. You only get so many years with them. I use my bow seasons to hunt hard and my gun seasons are a social season for me. We hunt hard but you enjoy spending time together.

9/26/14 @ 2:43 PM
User since 6/12/10
Is your goal to shoot a deer or spend time with your friends and family? Personally I think you should bow hunt at home and go up north for rifle season. I bowhunt and rifle hunt at the same place, but bow season isn't crowded so I use that time to focus on hunting only.

I have gone to deer camp for the whole 9 days or more every year since I turned 12 in 1996 and it has changed a lot since then. Back then my dad and uncle and a couple other guys leased a very large parcel of land in Adams county. There were probably 15 of us total with about 9 adults and 6 kids. There were probably 25 stands total and we drew numbers in the mornings to see where we could sit. Hunting was never great and doe tags were non existent even though there was doe everywhere. A few small bucks were taken, but the time spent together was where it was at. Things eventually fell apart a couple years later because the farmer sold his land and there was an eventual fallout between my uncle and the other group.

Then we had no where to hunt so my dad and uncle looked around heavily for a small parcel to purchase just to keep deer camp together as my younger cousin was ready to start. They ended up finding a 50 acre parcel very close to another small piece my uncle already had. Soon it grew from 3 of us to add a few more and lose a couple to where it is now. There is me and my dad, my uncle and his son, and my other uncle and two cousins. Me, my uncle and my cousin are the only one's that bow hunt. We are packed in for sure during rifle season and success isn't as good as bow season buck wise, but to me I wouldn't change it for the world.

I bowhunt to hunt deer. I go to deer camp to spend time with my family.

9/26/14 @ 9:29 AM
User since 6/16/03
I hear both sides to this, and to keep it short - Are the years available to hunt with your dad few? If so, think about that lost opportunity of spending quality time with your dad. Bringing your daughter to that deer camp and listening to the good old days will be something she will always remember. However, if its the same group committed to grumbling about no deer and doing nothing about it, move on for better results.

9/26/14 @ 9:25 AM
User since 10/12/07
Do both. Hunt opening weekend down south, and Monday go up North and play cards. Sounds like a win win. I've been there done that but went up north for opening and came down south for the rest of the week.

9/26/14 @ 7:51 AM
User since 7/5/01
Don't think you are being a jerk. Deer hunting isn't what it used to be in the northwoods, especially if you are tied to a certain cabin or certain area. If you had the ability to move around and stay in other areas you might be able to find better hunting. With your situation, it is tough. Personally, I would do what you are doing and stay home and hunt.

Start a new tradition and go up north on a fishing trip instead. It is easier to find good fishing than good hunting.

Quality of northwoods deer hunting is a prime reason why there are recruitment issues with hunting. A lot of the northern groups I know have had the younger guys hang it up after a few years because of never seeing deer. There are some others that have not introduced their kids to hunting specifically because of how poor it is. The old guys keep going because they were able to experience good hunting at one point and hold out hope that it returns. I wouldn't hunt up north the way it is now. I am able to own land in farm country, but if I didn't, I would be leasing private or looking for decent public or hunting out of state.

9/26/14 @ 5:19 AM
User since 4/3/06
Every year deer camps break up for whatever reason. Deer camp is one of the best times of the year for me.I understand about not seeing deer but to me its more than killing a deer spending time with family and friends . We started out with 8 in the camp its down to three now. Life is short enjoy while you can. Good luck out there bag a huge northern deer memories never die.

9/25/14 @ 6:54 PM
User since 11/29/01
I think you should go to camp with your dad. I don't know how old you or your dad is but time with your dad runs out faster than you think and one day he stops going to deer camp. My dad was up at camp 2 years ago and most likely won't ever go back. He has not hunted in 24 years though and never goes during gun season. Don't worry about that neighbor, just stay away from him.

9/25/14 @ 6:31 PM
User since 9/25/14
Been hunting in Nicolet going on 27 years. Same area with the same results every year. Very little deer and lots of other hunters. I also have other opportunities in southern Wi with LOTS of deer I could gun hunt. Have had people come and go from year to year due to the lack of deer. But its also seems like those that leave have came back.

In my opinion I think you should honor the vote and stay. Nothing beats a true up north hunt with family and friends. Shooting a trophy deer or even a deer is a plus but being there making memories is what it is all about.

Use bow season or the other gun hunts to kill big deer back at home!! Keep Wisconsin's Deer Camp tradition alive!!!!!

Big Smile

9/25/14 @ 5:08 PM
User since 3/17/09
Hunt with your Dad, there's more to it than seeing or killing deer. If you want to hunt at home you have other options, bow, muzzleloader or T – zone. I wish I could hunt with pa yet, been gone 8 years now. It's just not the same.

9/25/14 @ 4:39 PM
land man
User since 9/12/06
That's a tough thing. Traditions are very important, especially for those who have been going for a long time. You don't have the history they do. Younger guys want to kill more deer and shoot big bucks, older guys often just want to continue the tradition, deer or no deer. I see this a lot with northwoods deer camps.

No easy answer- because you really cannot please everyone. Going there to play cards and look at squirrels will not really feel like deer camp.

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