Opening days and hunting camps are a perfect fit. A Brotherhood of hunters gather each Fall to share and celebrate another year of hunting. For many of these hunters, it is the only time that they get to hook up.
Camp friendships are eternal! The Brotherhood is everlasting. The bonds of true friendship are rooted in hunting camp. The moments together sitting atop a ridge and sharing the lessons of life are honest, sincere, and true. Important life lessons are learned. The jokes and stories around the campfire may be less accurate and reliable. These bold Hunters and Gatherers are Family!
It isn’t about the hunting. One member of our camp filled his first tag after loyally attending the camp for 38 years. His stories about missing shots, close calls, and adventures are better than the filled tags and racks on the wall. For many of the veterans, it is about how many camps are left and not how many there were.
“What happens at Hunting Camp, stays at hunting camp”. Don’t go to hunting camp if you are thin skinned, don’t like dirty jokes, foul air, late nights, or hearing the same stories again. In this church, the sermons, verses, and ceremony are the routine. Don’t be the cry baby, complainer, whiner, or party pooper. For many hunters, this is one of the few times they can just let loose and relax.
Some younger or older hunters may need some accommodation or extra support. That is just part of the ceremony, tradition, and celebration. Older and younger hunters tell big stories but may not be able to live up to them. Oh well, they are still Family!
Every hunter has a role at the camp. There is the cook, dishwasher, fire builder, hunt master, jokester, knife sharpener, armorer, and many other traditional roles. Some camp members never hunt. The camp tradition is just about freedom, fellowship, and friendship.
Our camp is called the “Albright Hilton”. We all wear special hats, and share in these camp roles. Hunters from multiple states are represented and the camp has been around for 50 years or more. What started as an old mouse infested trailer, later became a comfortable home. Beds, sheets, and furniture have replaced cots, sleeping bags, and stumps. The wood stove is the center of the living room. The old TV only gets 3 channels and there is no cell phone service or WiFi. That’s roughing it in the modern world.
Kids need to go to Hunting Camp too! The stories, traditions, jokes, and legacy needs to continue. The language can get rough, the jokes off color, and the behavior a bit bizarre, but…it is Hunting Camp! The only way you can measure what is in the middle is to experience both extremes. The kids have heard it all before anyway. The time shared together will help them to discover their role, purpose, and trailheads in life. Confidence, communication, friendships, and wisdom are the real bounty of the Hunting Camp.
Leave a camp clean, outfitted, and ready for the next visit. Hunting camps can also multitask as fishing, skiing, or vacation destinations. Annual woodcutting, maintenance, or chores are also traditional excuses to plan another trip.
Be a great friend to have a great friend. Hunting alone may allow you independence when hunting but will not fulfill other needs. Great hunting buddies are harder to find than a great husband or wife. The relationship is built from miles of trekking, talking, reliance, and tolerance. These friends are family that you get to choose!
At the Alright Hilton, we have an annual toast. The Camp sage, “Great Bear”, arrives in costume with a trove of crafted and symbolic gifts, mojos, and stories. This year, each camp member received a wooden medallion with 3 holes. The holes were a tight group and the Deer Camp label and date applied. On a leather lanyard were colored beads that symbolized the hunt. On the back of the necklace were the initials of our Brothers who have traveled to the great hunting grounds beyond this earth.
For more Montana Grant, visit his website at www.montanagrantfishing.com