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Taking part in hunting camps is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve been part of some great ones and some not so great.
Over the years, I have found certain aspects make a successful camp. The following list of tips should help your camp run smoothly.
Set your goals
Everyone has to understand the parameters of the camp. Are you managing for trophy animals, or is the goal meat on the pole?
To ensure there are no hard feelings or disappointed hunters, your camp must clearly define what is fair game and what must be left alone to live another year.
Believe in your abilities
You have to be ready when opportunity knocks. How much time did you spend at the practice range before the season opened? When that buck appears, are you completely confident you’ll make a perfect shot?
No one wants to be the guy in camp, and no one wants a guy in camp, who has a reputation for wounding game. Be a prepared hunter and you’ll be a solid camp member.
Pick hardworking partners
Make sure your camp is void of slackers. Nothing can ruin a camp faster than a slacker. In the best camps, everyone goes above and beyond to lend a helping hand and make sure all the chores are done.
The guy sitting by the fire while everyone cleans won’t be invited back next fall. Do you part, and maybe even a little bit more.
Know your route
Plan your route before you leave the camp. If you don’t know exactly where you are going, then a good map or GPS is an essential tool. You have to plan your route.
Don’t be the guy lost in the woods bumbling around in circles screwing things up for everyone else.
Communication is essential
Stay in touch. Let those in your camp know where you are headed. This is primarily for safety but also for information.
These are the folks who’ll give you tips on where they saw a big buck, or they might save you from a destination void of opportunity.
Right place, right time
Timing is everything. All your preparation was for nothing if you aren’t in your stand when the trophy buck presents itself. If you’ve put in the time and effort to go hunting, then go hunting.
Chances are if you spend the time out in the woods, a deer will eventually present you with an opportunity. You just have to be there and be ready.
Obey the rules
If you are on private property, then chances are there are some rules you must abide by. If the landowner has asked you not to drive off road, then for goodness sake don’t. If you are supposed to stay out of the cattle pasture, stay out.
You might think it’s no big deal, but imagine how big of a deal it’ll be if your entire camp loses permission and it’s all your fault.
Remember how mom used to make you share with the other kids? Yeah, hunting camps are like that.
You needn’t support someone else, but don’t bring your favorite bottle of scotch and sit in the corner drinking it alone. Bring enough for everyone. A collaborative camp is a fun one.
Earn your return
Plan to work during the offseason to prepare for the coming fall. It’s a good idea for a camp to mark a work day on the calendar well in advance so everyone can be there.
This is the weekend when wood is cut and stacked, trails are trimmed, the new outhouse is built, etc. It also builds camp camaraderie. Plan to be part of it.
Set the rules
Bob’s boy just turned 10 and wants to hunt. Is that part of the camp’s expansion plan? Who gets to come and how is that determined? You need to set the rules to ensure there are no future hard feelings.
A smooth running hunting camp is a thing of beauty. When everyone knows the rules, follows them, and works hard for the benefit of all, your camp experience will be one of your annual highlights of life.
Brandon Butler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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