THE LAST SLICE: Going to deer camp - or not“Wouldn’t it be great if you could come with us to deer camp?” he asks. My husband and our three sons are enlightened and possess a knowing and all-encompassing appreciation for deer camp. They love life in the woods. Trouble is, orange isn’t my color and I’ve grown accustomed to indoor plumbing. Plus, when I say I like eating out, I do not mean out in the woods.
By: Jill Pertler, Living North Magazine
I’ve never been to deer camp. My husband would love to change that. Every year, he generously offers to show me the ropes.
“Wouldn’t it be great if you could come with us to deer camp?” he asks.
The “us” he refers to is our three sons. Like my husband, they are enlightened and possess a knowing and all-encompassing appreciation for deer camp. They love life in the woods.
They would love to share this love with me.
Trouble is, orange isn’t my color and I’ve grown accustomed to indoor plumbing. Plus, when I say I like eating out, I do not mean out in the woods.
It’s hard to squelch the enthusiasm of my hubby and sons. They spend days enjoying deer camp. They spend weeks planning for it. They spend months dreaming about it. How can I so easily dismiss something that means the world to them?
I realize that here in the Northland my hunting perspectives put me in the minority. I try to be politically correct; I don’t often admit I’ve never killed a deer. And I don’t want to be seen as sexist – painting the picture that all the boys in my family go off on the hunt, leaving the womenfolk at home to tend the fire and bake the bread. I know that lots of women love to hunt (and not just for designer shoes or knock-off purses, but for deer, moose, elk and other horned creatures). I get that and even appreciate it. It’s just not for me.
For the most part, I keep my deer-related thoughts to myself. I try not to say much when one of my boys goes off on an ain’t-deer-camp-great rampage. It’s best not to. It’s nice that they think I would like deer camp. It’s nice that they want to share their special place with me. So, I bite my tongue and let them live in a world where they are sure that one day their mom will discover the obvious joy of hunting.
They should realize that I am completely ill-equipped for the sport. I do not know how to shoot a gun; nor have I ever expressed any desire to learn to do so. If I go out in the woods and do any shooting, it’s going to be with my camera. My guys wouldn’t consider that bona fide hunting. At least I don’t think so.
They are blind to my lack of interest or aptitude for sitting in a tree on a platform high above the ground with a loaded weapon. They continue with their attempts to make me a trigger-happy convert by offering me their BB gun and then are mystified when I am not giddy with delight at the thought of shooting at creatures with fuzzy tails and big brown eyes.
“There is something special about hunting for your own meat,” they say in a convincing tone, while pounding their chests with their fists.
Yes, I do eat meat. I really like meat – as an end product. I do not want to witness my meat when it is living, breathing and looking downright regal in the woods. The only way I want to see my steak is cooked, on a plate and – in the best of circumstances – at a location known as a restaurant.
“Who needs a restaurant when you’ve got deer camp?” they ask, as if that could be anything but a facetious question. Fettuccini Alfredo with a thick slice of French bread or Slim Jims and Cheez Whiz – for me the choice is obvious. My boys, however, would take the Slim Jims hands down, if those Slim Jims were served out in the woods,preferably high above it all in a deer stand.
Deer camp is cold. It is rugged. It is dirty. And to my boys, it is magic. Out there in the woods, in the chill of November, going days with out a shower, they find something that ignorant, non-hunters like me will never be privy to.
My husband has confided that he feels like a real man in the woods. You know, being one with nature and all that. Since I’m a woman, I’m not at all sure what a real man feels like, but I always thought my husband felt like one. Now I guess I’ll have to go to deer camp to find out for sure.
Maybe next year.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning writer and author of the syndicated column, Slices of Life.