As predicted, the camp had fewer people than in past years, some electing not to come because there were hurt feelings over unwelcome dogs. They weren’t actually banned, they were just discouraged because some wanted to hunt grouse when they got out and, especially in the mornings after a night of bourbon and cards, no one was in the mood or shape to take them for a walk, so they were let out to run and run they would. There were just enough guys who signed up to fill the bunks without having to bring campers for the overflow as in the past. Joe’s luck had him arrive last and relegated to the top bunk against the wall next to the toilet with the ceiling being open allowing the smell to permeate and who ever is in that top bunk, getting the first and purest whiffs.
Ed came out of the construction trailer the Society had put in the clearing of the square mile the Society rented from a lumber company for hunting rights. Bob Chapman, owner of the Clear Cut Lumber Company was taken in as a member and he relished the camp so much, he decided to take the lumber off of this section last and there were plenty of others to cut leaving the Society to enjoy the deer camp for years to come. At any rate, the members improvised and created a comfortable setting from an old blueprint trailer from a construction company which they modified to include a wood burning stove, indoor toilet and a make shift shower consisting of heating a beer keg and putting it under pressure. It didn’t get filled too many times during the two week camp.
There was a buck pole set up by sliding a small skinned cedar over branches of two trees. By the end of opening day, one or two deer would hang and the argument of what to do with the meat – make summer sausage out of the entire carcase, or have it traditionally cut up- will make up the conversation. This usually begins over the evening meal consisting of fresh venison liver, heart, fried potatoes and lots of beer. Occasionally someone would insist on “roughage” so a head of lettuce is thrown into a bowl and covered with what ever kind of dressing happened to be in the icebox.
Ed was carrying a platter of two inch thick rib steaks and placed them on the grill. The fire of hardwood, now mostly coals, flared up as the heat melted the fat on the steaks. Water was sprinkled over the coals to keep the flames down and the cooking of the steaks settled down to a carefully watched operation by Ed, who prided himself a good cook which no one disputed since Ed also did cleanup without too much grumbling. For his effort, his glass never went below two fingers of bourbon; the other members saw to that.
Eight people were in camp and the four double bunks sufficed. There was a round table in the middle of the front room that sat eight just right. The table served a place for meals, planning and consulting area maps and the poker game that broke out each night after the evening meal. On the wall were several gun racks that held rifles and a stand for the few cases that never seemed to get opened.
The duties of the camp were organized and shared: There was a cook and a runner; someone whose job it was to keep the firewood piled next to the wood burner; quartermaster of all supplies; and a medic. These assignments could be rotated, but as the days went by, it became part of the routine. The rest were used as gofers to chop wood, keep an eye on the liquid supplies and make sure the decks of cards were replaced when they got too ratty looking.
The couple of days leading up to opening morning meant selecting a spot to build a new blind if last years was no longer usable or didn’t produce a deer. Since baiting was banned, natural runs and food plots were scouted for and despite a few apples being thrown in close proximity to a blind, the last couple years took a while to get used to ….for both hunters and hunted.
So provisions were stored; blinds were built and by morning, it began to feel like home with all the smells and sounds ….especially to Joe.