Now that I have been writing this weblog for a decade, it is easy for me to go back and see what I was thinking and doing in the run-up to the Rifle Openerin previous years. Even before that, I have been dealing with getting ready for Deer Camp since that included diapers for little Angus (we called him Goober back then) and making sure there were toys for Mooseboy. I’ve got most of the chores done for the year.
This year will be the first time since 2010 that I will be trying to hunt all of Opening Week. Last time I did this, I was unemployed. Money was getting tight. I was close to selling my deer rifles before I finally got a call to come up to Scumsuck, Ohio for a consulting gig. The only happy memory I have of that job was the night I got snowed in and couldn’t commute home. I watched Escanaba in Da Moonlight at a nearby motel. Yeppers! This year, finds me employed and prosperous enough to afford my first new deer rifle in many years. Angus may come for the week if his high school schedule allows. I doubt I’ll see Moose. He is busy with his new family. SuperCore can’t wait. Nowbody can stomach Leinenkugel, but we are laying in a supply of pasties and some of da sweet sap.
Give a man a little luck and anything will do for brains.
As patriarch of Deer Camp, the important thing for me is to buy myself enough slack ahead of time so as to make it workable when it all starts happening. Ammo, licenses, everything down to socks and gloves, are already down at camp. I sharpened the knives last week. I try and have a backup for everything and a backup to the backup. Years ago had to lay the law down with my sons: you can’t just roll into camp on Friday night and start playing. There is about an hour’s worth of chores that have to be done before you can relax. It includes getting all your gear ready for the hunt. I still find Angus walking out to the blind forgetting his bibs, but it is a start. I’m just as guilty. I spent last Eve of Opener looking for missing thermal drawers.
I had to throw out the hay dude and replace him with another. Hay Dude 2.0 had been doing hay in exchange for food plots since 2007, but the food plots stopped in 2009. Hay Dude 3.0 says he can do clover and such. He was in this week getting out the last of the hay. We’ll see how such a late cutting effects the deer.
Is it just me, or do y’all find yourself, as the Opener draws near, going to the gun cabinet and giving in to the irresistible urge to pull out your rifle and look through the sights? I’m just asking.
- Use garbage bags to pack your clothes. They are compressible and squish to fit tight spaces
- Use a big plastic bin for all the small stuff
- Pack your cooler with the drain spigot pointed towards the back of the truck. You’ll thank me when it starts leaking.
- Save an old rain suit for gutting deer. When you’re done, just walk into the shower and hose yourself off.
- The way I got my sons organized is I gave them each a nylon duffle with shoulder straps. After coming back in the evening, they were responsible for packing all their gear including outer layers for the next day before knocking off for the night. I do the same. It saves a lot of hassle come morning. It also saves space. Come morning, we shoulder the pack, grab the rifle and go.
- Make coffee outrageously strong coffee and then have folks water it down to taste. It saves time making multiple pots. A couple sips of the straight stuff and I’m wired. If it’s cold I suggest coffee doctored with hot chocolate.
- Speaking of cold, those chemical handwarmer packets work best if you stick it in a inside pocket as close to your heart so you’re warming the blood in your chest. It will reduce the need for gloves, and make you feel warmer overall.
- By the time I get situated in my stand, I’m usually sweating. That’s a bad thing, because sweat equals stink. I find that grabbing the metal rails of my stand cool me off as quick as a cold drink on a hot day.
- Everyone likes to wear a headlight. I don’t. I take a AA flashlight and hold it close to the ground. The light travels next to nowhere, but I can still see where I’m walking. This way it spooks less game. I’ve walked right up on a bedded buck.
- Although I sleep on the property I hunt, it is still 3/4 mile back to my Opening Day Stand. If I walked it all in one stint, I would be a sweaty mess by the time I got there. I take time along the way to stop, cool down and open my clothes to the wind. It is okay to get a little cold; you’ll warm up when you start hiking again. The trick is to go slow.