Modern gun season for deer is almost here. It’s the time most hunters have been anxiously awaiting for nearly a year.
Some folks hunt because they like venison. Others take to the field because they love to see, hear and feel the woods coming alive at daylight from a deer stand, others talk about the challenge, and then there are the old-timers like me, who love deer camp. Bagging a deer is an extra.
Deer camp is special, and has both social and culinary aspects. The camp atmosphere may be better than the hunt itself. I suppose it is like the guys who go to the NASCAR race and never make it to their ticketed seat.
What hunters call deer camp varies widely. Some use the same cabin year-after-year. Others utilize campers, and still others set up tents. Many camps are quite simple, basically providing shelter, and others look like small tent or camper cities with many of the amenities of home
(Indiana’s firearms deer season opens Nov. 16 and runs through Dec. 1. Muzzleloader seasons is Dec. 7-22, and archery season has been underway since Oct. 1.)
(Kentucky’s firearms deer season opens Nov. 9 and runs through Nov. 24 in zones 1 & 2, and through Nov. 18 in zones 3 & 4. Archery season began Sept. 7 and continues through Jan. 20.)
Something that is a must at any camp is a campfire. A good fire starts with camp setup and may not go out until hunters are ready to head home. It provides warmth, a place to cook, relax and swap tales.
Many deer camps are long-standing tradition. Some are on private property, or located in campgrounds, or setup where permitted on public land, such as national forests. Many hunters establish their camp a week or two prior to the season opener to insure they have the same spot they have used for years.
Several generations have sat by the campfires, told stories, heard stories--some of them many times. The bucks get bigger, the mornings colder, and the shots longer and tougher. It’s part of what deer camp is about. Sure there is the anticipated hunt, however reliving hunts from the past is a part of the experience.
My favorite aspect of deer camp is food--the eating. In most camps, the night before the season opener is a feast. I’d rather get an invite to eat than to hunt.
Some people who harvest a deer early in camp, fry tenderloins or venison steaks. Some make strew with the fresh meat. That’s also a real treat. Another camp favorite is deer chili. The same chili recipe is also makes a great meal for the evening before Thanksgiving.
Here are the suggested ingredients and recipe:
3 1/2 lbs. deer chuck roast
1 (1 lb.) can tomatoes
1 c. chopped onion
1 can chili beans
2 tsp. chili powder
1 lg can tomato juice
1/2 c. diced green pepper
Rice (cook separately)
Cut meat into one inch strips. (You call can use deer burger) Roll strips in flour, and brown in skillet. Put in slow cooker or crock pot. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, onion, chili powder, soup, chili beans, and green pepper. Set on low to low-medium heat setting for about six hours. Serve with rice, or with crackers, cheese and pickles, or whatever you prefer.
Deer camps come in all shapes and sizes and are an important part of the opening weekend for many hunters.