Hunt Camp Life
I hope your turkey season was wonderful and gave you a chance to enjoy the outdoors, celebrate the harvest and recharge your batteries in the comradery of hunt camp … wherever your camp might be. I grew up in a family of weekend warriors who travelled from our home in southern Michigan to our cabin up north. We spent many season openers, weekends and vacations at camps with friends and family. Our cabin was small, but we filled it to the rafters (literally) for gatherings of family and friends. We feasted on meals around a big table that had to be pulled out from the wall and the table extended to accommodate the group. While prior camps had hand pumps, our last cabin had indoor running hot and cold water and a flush toilet … luxury indeed!
When I worked in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, I had the privilege of visiting many hunting camps and clubs. From annual squirrel camps on public game areas, to grouse camps in the Upper Peninsula with gourmet food, to large historic deer hunting clubs with traditions that spanned generations and featured live music on opening night. No matter how rustic or grand, all these camps shared a common element: people who love the out of doors, the hunt and the friendships they share.
As Bob and I built our home in western Michigan many years ago, we tried to incorporate a few of the elements of hunt camp living. Pine rafters, a big field stone fireplace from rocks on our property, mounts from past hunts and a screen porch for warm evenings outdoors listening to the night birds. All of these continue to bring me the joy of hunt camp.
However, hunt camp goes far beyond location and a structure. It’s also a feeling and an attitude we can carry forward in our daily lives. It’s the anticipation of time afield, living comfortably with rustic accommodations and time-worn furnishings, stewardship of wild things and wild places, and slowing down to swap stories and solve the world’s problems with friends. It is about sharing what we love about life with the people we enjoy.
My dad loved hunt camps and passed that love on to me. He loved the smell of the woods, the small streams that held trout, the cedar swamps that housed deer all winter and hunting the upland ridges for “pats.” But mostly, I think he loved the lifestyle and the people he shared it with. His last deer-hunting season he was unable to join family and friends in his beloved deer camp. But he toasted his hunt camp comrades long distance, sharing the lifestyle one final time, even in absentia.
Hunting camp takes on different meanings to all of us, but it is a state of mind, as much as a place. I believe the NWTF embodies the best elements of hunt camp: a gathering of people who love the out of doors, each other and the lifestyle we share. We share those important elements in this magazine, on social media and at our events. We hope to entice you to share your own fond memories and hunt camp stories with others later this year. Moreover, like the anticipated opening of turkey, trout or deer season, we look forward to celebrating this lifestyle when the NWTF flock gathers again in Nashville for our annual convention Feb. 17-20, 2022.
May your days this summer be filled with the “hunt camp” life and may you find a bit of time to enjoy camp wherever you are.