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Bobby Bass

Bobby Bass- The deer camp stories.

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Here is the deer camp stories all in one place. Something to kill time till season starts!

Traffic picking up along Main Street here at Lake Iwanttobethere. Pickups and SUV's with orange clad drivers and passengers making stops and picking up forgotten items left at home on kitchen tables. The lucky ones have taken off from work a day early and are already settling in to deer camp. Wood to chop and mouse traps to empty. Stoves to clean and floors to be swept. Cupboards need stocking and rolls of tp stacked on the little shelf in the outhouse. The beam for hanging deer will need to be checked and rope coiled at the bottom. The wall of honor will be dusted and time spent looking over the collection of pictures stapled to it. A few more will be added from last year and with it some more stories for the deer shack or the Hotel as we call it.

The old school chalk board will be wiped clean and the menu for the first supper will be printed in nice block letters. The bar will be stocked and ashtrays wiped. At each new arrival another slot on the wall gun cabinet is filled. Bunks are claimed and sleeping bags rolled out. Favorite pillows are fluffed and tossed on top. Coolers are emptied and stacked just outside the door. A new propane tank is hooked up and the old one secured in the back of the pickup. A broken antenna wire is twisted together running out to the Pine and the crackle of static and Garage Logic makes background noise.

Each new arrival brings everyone to the door as they are greeted with handshakes and slaps on the back. Quick work is made of unloading and soon the Hotel is filled with laughter and insults. It does not take long to catch up. Chairs are pulled up to the big circle table and cigars are lit. A few more will arrive tomorrow and the circle will be complete. Some will stay for the weekend some will last a week. A vacation planned for the day after they left last year. Some will be there the entire deer season or will make the drive back and forth from home. The stew pot is started and placed on top of the old black cooking stove. It's aroma starts to fill the air of the hotel, mixed with cigar smoke and the sound of cards being shuffled. Plans are discussed and fingers pointed at the hand drawn map on the wall. Like generals we all stare at the map looking for something we might have never seen before.

The lamps are lit and windows cracked open. A little smoky and getting a tad warm inside. A few guys head to the porch and sitting in old chairs and testing the swing they drink strong coffee and pull on cigars till the ends grow red. Sun settles down into the trees and the woods around them grows suddenly quiet. They stop talking and are wrapped in there own thoughts of nights past. First one then another notices out past the feeder just at the edge of the clear cut a doe and two fawns are working there way towards the feeder. The doe has her head up and she is sniffing the breeze, the fawns are more intent on checking the feeder. Soon all three are in the trough feeding. The guys on the porch sit quietly, watching. Seeing fawns is good. About then a pair of headlights and the sound of an engine can be heard working it's way through the grassy trail to the Hotel. The last members of the party have arrived, twelve hours early. From lake Iwanttobethere have a safe season.


SNAP! The sound of another mouse trap going off. You lay in your bunk listening to the sound of snores coming from your old buddies. It's dark outside and you can make out the moon through the window at the far end of the hotel. Been trying to sleep all night but hard to do with the snap of a mouse trap from time to time. It has gotten better as the traps going off have been fewer. The first hour after lights off was like a war zone. Traps popping and who ever was the closest had to retrieve the trap and reset it. The old stove cherry red and the cabin way to warm to sleep in. Now several hours later the stove looks cold but no one has gotten up to toss a log in. A few snores and soft conversations between bunks finally disappeared. The " Good night John boy" routine was done.

Laying in the bunk and checking the watch you see it is but a half hour before the alarm is set to go off. What the heck, you roll out of the sleeping bag and stocking feet touch the cold floor of the shack. Feeling around with your toes you find your boots and pull them on. Trying to be quiet you make your way to the door and standing out on the porch drink in a deep breath of woods and the first day of hunting season. You sense movement behind you and one of your buddies is standing in the door behind you. A soft quiet " Morning" is spoken and he walks past you to the outhouse. As if a signal has been released the rest of you bunk mates stir and a lamp is lit. It's dim glow showing shadows of your friends stretching and pulling sweatshirts on. The "Clank" of the fire box is heard and wood is added. Another light is lite and now everyone is up whether they wanted to be or not.

Breakfast is made and some eat and some don't. The deep thick rich smell of a coffee pot with to many grounds fills the shack. Even if you don't drink it you love the smell mixed in with the sizzle of bacon in the cast iron frying pan. Those who have the farest walk dress light and carrying their gear head out into the darkness. We leave in pairs, walking slow and quiet like. In a few minutes the Hotel is empty and we are all on our way to our stands. I arrival at mine in just a few minutes. Putting on my heavy coat I climb into my old stand and sit back. Testing my rests and looking at my shooting lanes I secure my gear and sit back to enjoy the sunrise just a few minutes away. False dawn lights up around me and with each passing minute I can start to make out trees and bushes. I stare long and hard at a black shape and with the brightening light see it is only a thick brush pile. The sun peeks above the ridge and I look at it for awhile before I need to look away. Off to the East I hear a gunshot then another.. Maybe I think... I hear the rustle of leaves and look down to see a squirrel bouncing and then stopping to look around. I watch as it makes it's way past me to disappear behind a Birch tree.

The sun climbs higher and I unzip my coat a little, I pour some hot cider into the thermos cup and I sip and watch the woods around me. My stand is just off a main trail that we call the freeway. Putting the cup back on the thermos I am in mid screw when I see movement coming down the freeway. I stop and watch as the doe and two fawns from last night at the feeder work there way in my direction. Sitting still I watch as they slowly move down the trail. Tails flicking back and forth the fawns acting like the kids they are and the doe having her hooves full so to speak. The three of them move on down the trail and make the turn to disappear out of sight. I sit back and let my heart slow down some.

I spent most of the morning watching, waiting and listening and even though I did hear a few more shots and some were quite a distance away it I didn't see anything else go down the freeway. At noon I climbed down and made my way back to the Hotel. Coming out the trail I see a deer hanging from the beam. A four pointer. A few of the guys were inside and the stew pot was steaming on the stove. I scooped out a bowl and with some rolls from the oven I sit down at the round table and listened to the story of the four pointer. Not a bad start to deer season, and there is still this afternoon. From Lake Iwanttobethere


Saturday afternoon found me back in the stand by mid afternoon. After a bowl of stew and a short nap I was dressed and ready to spend time in the stand. I slowly worked my way back down the trail but was sidetracked. Along the freeway is a wide drainage ditch full of water. There are a few places where one can cross going across fallen trees. Not being young and fleet of foot anymore I wait till it freezes during hunting season before crossing it. With it being 50 out today there was no frozen water here. As I was going to take the trail around the ditch I spotted movement down the trail running along the ditch. Looking through my scope I could see something flashing in the sunlight from side to side. Thinking Chuck was messing with me my first thought was that it looked like it could be a sandwich bag on a branch. He has done this in the past to me. Just something to bother me on my stand seeing that movement from a few hundred yards away. Well I figured I would go down and remove the bag and return the favor to him on his stand tomorrow.

Walking down the trail I took my time. Walking slow and from time to time looking down the trail as I also looked from side to side and of course stopped to watch the trail behind me. I put the scope up from time to time but I still could not make out what was flashing. I took a break and leaning up against a tree watched as a grouse landed on the other side of the ditch and then another. Eating buds the two birds worked the tree. Cooled down I again started working my way down the trail. Traveling another 50 yards or so I took a peek down the trail and froze. The biggest, widest deer I have ever seen was standing on the other side of a dead Pine in the middle of the trail. It's tail wagging like a happy dog from side to side. I had no shot from this distance and my heart was cranking up as I watched through the scope. Suddenly the coat I was wearing was very hot and very heavy.

Muttering to myself I was cursing Chuck out for making me think he had pulled the plastic bag trick. I moved a few steps to the side of the trail and dropped my pack and took off the heavy coat. Lighter now I moved forward at a snails pace trying to make up ground with what I could now see was a huge swamp buck. Trouble was the buck was now on the move also. For every step I took he took two. Bending down at the waist I concentrated on looking at the trail ahead and quicken my pace. It took about five minutes or half a life time to reach the fallen Pine. The buck to my surprise was still on the trail walking away from me like he was taking a stroll in the park. All he gave me was a shot from behind and not anywhere close to a good one. From time to time he would lift his head up showing a massive rack with more tines then I could count, He would then drop his head and continue to walk, his nose dragging on the ground. I watched as he continue to open the distance between us. I made the decision to cross the tree and follow. I put my hand up on the trunk and a branch broke. It sounded like a paper bag exploding in a funeral home. The Buck and I locked eyes and with out a pause the buck turned and in one bound powered by hidden boosters cleared the ditch and was gone in another bound into the cedars.

I never had a chance. By the time I made it back to the hotel I had a great story to tell. I came out of the trail to the clearing and now there were three deer hanging from the beam. Chuck smoking a cigar and telling how he out waited a six pointer that was busy following three does. I put the rifle in the rack and went and sat out on the porch. Elmer asked me how it went and I told him, " Saw one but didn't have a shot" Elmer nodded and sat down on the porch next to me. " Was it a big one?" He asked, I just smiled and nodded.

All in all a good first day here at the Hotel. Sunday we sleep in late as we eat well Saturday night, cards, a few beers a lot of stories and lots of memories to relive. Stories of deer hunts and pictures of kids and grand kids to show off. Ribbing about old girl friends and good divorces. A lot of "Do you remember when" stories. The right side of the chalk board will have a to do list started. A new toilet seat for the outhouse is the first thing on the list. Some more mouse traps to, maybe some of the ones that catch more then one at a time.

A few guys only have the weekend to hunt and have to make the drive back. They will bring the three deer back to the local butcher that we all use. With luck we will have a couple more by tomorrow night. I have already decide to wait for a chance at that big buck. I would like to lock eyes with him again. If not there is still a lot of time, it is after all just the end to the first day.

Sunday morning arrived with just about everyone heading out to their stands. The extra hour of sleep with daylight savings time actually seem to make a difference. I put my colored push pin on the wall map at the edge of the swamp. This lets everyone know where I am hunting at. I spent the morning on the edge of the cedar swap, waiting to see if the buck would return. A clear sunny sky and windy. No frost and not a bad morning to be in the woods. I saw nothing. Other then a well worn trail heading back deeper into the cedars. When noon arrived I took a walk around the edge of the swamp and found another well worn trail, will have to go back to the map and do some studying. I came out about One into the clear cut by the Hotel. Mark's bright red mini-van was backed up to the porch. The same van that Mark received so much grief over last night was now the center of attention. Seems he didn't say anything last night but today everyone was scattered on the porch watching the football game on the van's TV Scattered around the guys were an assortment of battery powered hand tools, hammers and tape measures. Repairs were being made to the Hotel during commercials and time outs. Mark was now receiving compliments on how smart his wife was in buying the mini-van.

Well it looks like the guys will be watching football and next weekend most will be back at the Hotel. I am lucky enough to be able to come up during the week and I have a date with a certain buck. Might even bring the shotgun out to see if them grouse have any friends. Hope you had a good weekend From the Hotel at Lake Iwanttobethere where the fishing is always good, the birds fly slow and the deer grow big really big..


Came back in from deer camp yesterday morning had to bring the three deer to Ma and Pa's so Pa can butcher them up for us and quick freeze them. Also we had a small problem at the Hotel early this morning at breakfast time. After the fire went out in the wood stove Billy, a friends nephew who was hunting as a guest this year did a no no. His bunk is close to the wood stove and his mouse traps were still active during the night. Instead of removing the mice and disposing of them outdoors he simply flicked them into the wood stove. This morning when the stove was lite and just about the time we were going to start frying bacon there was an aroma that was not to appealing coming from the wood stove. At first we thought we had just gotten some bad bacon but in passing Billy made mention of the mice. Billy was to drive in with the deer but was convinced that he should stay and clean out the wood stove, or else.

After a quick stop at home for a change of clothes and a much needed shower I headed back to deer camp. Picked up a few of them hanging air fresh trees to hang by my bunk, just in case. Deer camp is a lot like Fish camp, except there are no fish. Pretty much the same stories except for deer being involved. Of course every year if someone does not get lost then a story is brought up about when someone did. Now being lost is a badge of honor. In the old days there were not GPS and cell phones out in the woods. You really have to work now to get lost. In the old days a few minutes into a nice thick cedar swamp a few wrong turns and yup, you were lost. It might take you a few minutes or a few hours to find your way out. Usually at the next tote road about a mile from Deer camp. Sometimes you would be found by the next hunting party over. You would then have to explain how you came out on there side of the swamp and would accept the ride back to your camp and the long looks over the noses of your hunting buddies as they claimed you and then pretended that you were just a Guest at the camp.

Cooking at deer camp is simpler as when you are starving you don't taste anything till you are half done cleaning your plate. Ash in your food is quickly dismissed as pepper. Left over coffee is strong enough to soak the chili pot in and clean just by rinsing. In deer camp there are those who can cook, those who think they can cook and those who can tell others how to cook. The last group are usually divorced. Our camp has a few cooks and we take turns. I am a supper cook, I don't do breakfast. I am not the dishwasher nor am I the potato peeler. Everyone has a place in the food chain. I used to be the dishwasher but was fired after it was discovered that I would simply place the last meals dishes in a mesh bag and toss them in the creek. The running water and minnows did a nice job I thought. Now I just cook, mainly because I can put everything on the table at the same time and it is all hot.

Trouble with an old deer camp like ours is we get sidetracked with old man conversations. Of course we talk about kids and grand kids and wife's if there names come up. But we get sidetracked with our bottles of pills that we have to bring up. Young camp, slabs of bacon and ham, Eggs by the dozens, gooey peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, candy bars and o the beer.. Now we compare bottles of blood pressure meds and eat shredded wheat. The wife's send up thin sliced meat and light mayo. We of course use a pound of the sliced meat and real mayo on one of our two sandwiches to eat at the stand. The night before heading to the deer camp is spent by a few of the Cooks to go grocery shopping. For those who cook on a regular basis this is no big deal. They know there way around a supermarket. Here they run into the deer camp cooks who don't touch a frying pan for 50 weeks out of the year. These are the guys who have one guy pushing the cart and two others working both sides of the aisle tossing stuff into the cart. These guys are tossing in bags of French fries ( no deep fryer at camp ) A turkey ( no pans at camp ) Eggs and the thick slab bacon. When they hit the chip isle they go into super bowl mode and get two of everything and dip! Later you will see these guys riding a four wheeler to your camp asking if they can borrow a cup of sugar and do you have any salt? And by the way do you have any idea how long you fry a turkey?

Deer Camp, it sure does have a good ring to it. Sounds almost as good as Fish Camp does in early May air is cool when you get up in the morning. Might have to wipe some frost off the wood chair on the porch as you sit with a steaming cup of what you were told was coffee. The smell of burning bacon and rubber eggs. Ducking as the first few "Test" pancakes are tossed over your head towards the deer feeder. They join the uneaten Test pancakes from the other morning. You watch as a chipmunk makes wide detour around them. Yup Deer Camp, glad I am back here.


Made by way down the trail from the Hotel in the cool darkness of the morning. The damp ground quiet under my feet as I tried to move along the trail with out making a noise. Moving just quick enough to cover ground but trying hard not to warm up bundled up in all my clothes. The Hotel thermometer read 33 when I stepped out on to the porch. After a few quiet words exchanged with my friends we all walked across the clear cut and took our own separate trails to our stands. Soon the dim light of the Hotel was left behind and with a shift in the wind the smoke from the stove could no longer be smelled. I paused from time to time, taking time to adjust my pack and look around me. The walk out to the stand always takes longer then the trip back. I arrived at the stand and climbing up, secured my pack and settled in. After a few minutes the coat was zipped back under my chin and my cuffs on my coat pulled down onto my gloves.

With my head resting against the tree I tried just to move my eyes as I looked out over my little area of heaven. Having been in the tree now several times over the last week I was pretty comfortable with the shadows as I knew now what they were. As on cue the area around me started to go from black to gray. No sunrise this morning with the cloud cover. A half hour later and it was as light as it was going to be. I had the right combination of clothes on today and I was as comfortable as a newborn in a fleece blanket. Nothing moving at all, not even a pesky squirrel to break up the quiet. I shifted a little and rested my arms in my lap. The first snow flake fell and landed on my glove. Then another and another. They say no two snow flakes are alike, with the flakes on my glove I started to compare them side to side, yup they were different. Raising my eyes I scanned the area. Looking slowly I swept the ditch ahead of me. The swamp off to my right then back down the trail towards the Hotel. Nothing, I looked at more flakes that had fallen next to the first ones.

I woke up, must have doze off. Snow now covered the ground around my stand. Falling heavy it now covered the bare trees and brush with a blanket of white. Actually I could see farther now and I could make out trees in the cedar swamp. The snow falling in the ditch met the water and melted. The trail and grass now were white. I had a little layer of snow across my pants and jacket. My pack to was covered in white fluffy snow. I moved just a little and under the blanket of snow I flex my arms and back. In mid stretch I saw her. Easing out from the cedar swamp her head up high she was slowly walking down the trail coming to the ditch. Her tail flicking back and forth she would stop and look behind her then move forward a few more steps before putting her head to the ground and her nose rubbing from side to side.

Trying to relax I settled back into the tree, Easing the rife in her direction I turned to face her and waited. It was quiet, I could hear her when she picked up her hooves and set them back down, at least I think I could hear them. Something else to a bumping sound. Took me a little while to realize it was my heart in my chest, felt good. She was moving slow and I was starting to have a hard time staying still, maybe I was even getting a little impatient with her. Some thing was behind her in the swamp, following her but staying out of sight. She was a nice big doe but I wanted to see what was behind her. Could it be the Ghost that I had seen on opening? Might I get a second chance here? The doe stopped, finding something on the trail for breakfast she was chewing. Still rasing her head from time to time to look around her. She had her head up and was looking around when she stopped, her head pointed in my direction. She was staring her ears flicking in my direction her nose testing the wind. I froze, not daring to move I watched her watch me. The snow continue to fall and I felt pretty good that she could not really make me out, could she?

Locked eye to eye we looked at each other. Me trying not to move and be discovered and her seeing something that didn't look quite right but not knowing what I was. Like a pitcher trying her pick off move she put her head down but then snapped it up again. Having seen this move before I had not moved. She again stared in my direction.

She went back to eating and slowly took a few more steps down the trail. She was in range and I could raise the rifle anytime now and have a good shot. Straight out from me she offer a broad side shot and I watched as she walked by. I wanted to see what was behind her. I waited.

Nothing. The doe moved pass me and down the ditch. I let her pass and focused on the edge of the swamp. Looking for any kind of movement. Something horizontal in a vertical world. Something new now, the sound of my stomach rumbling and a no matter how much snow I licked from my lips I needed to get a drink and eat. I stood up in the stand and my butt barked at me along with my back that had been part of the tree for the past few hours. I shook the snow from my coat and pants and climbed down. Pulling back my glove and checking my watch I could see it was almost noon. Guess somehow I had the entire morning pass by. I headed back to the Hotel following the same trail the doe had taken. Perhaps a hundred yards from my stand from the ditch side a second set of tracks appeared next to the does. Twice as large and deeper, The Ghost had appeared. Together the two sets of tracks followed the trail and then turning off the trail had gone back into the brush.

The doe had been a distraction a decoy. The Ghost didn't get as big as he is walking down trails with his girlfriend. Closing the door of the Hotel I shook off snow and put the gun in the rack. Fresh baked bread was cooling on the cutting block and the smell of baked ham in the oven met me. A few minutes later elbows secure on the edge of the table and a sandwich in my hands I told Elmer of the doe. " Are we having fun " he asked. With my mouth full I just nodded yes and smiled.. From Lake Iwanttobethere


End of Deer Camp- not as bad as it sounds. Spent most of the day packing up things around the shack. Had a late breakfast and spent some time out on the porch with a cup of hot coffee and my feet up on the rail. Heard a few shots off in the distant but the day was pretty quiet. Elmer and Chuck were both up to, between the three of us we made quick work of closing the shack up. Securing the propane tank and making sure the wood stove was cleaned out and wood was hauled in to fill the box. Cupboards were emptied and the floors were swept. The drain on the sink was taken apart and the sign to that effect hung on the sink. The spare key was checked to be sure it was in it's hiding place. Ropes for the hanging beam were coiled and put away in there box.

Log book was signed and placed on the kitchen table. A few boxes of mice bait were laded out. Getting towards two in the afternoon and we all closed up the two trucks and grabbing our rifles we set off to end the season in our stands. I took my time and walked slowly out to the stand by the cedar swamp. For mid November it was warm. Almost 40 out. The sun filtered down between passing clouds and was already low in the sky. Making myself comfortable in my stand I settled in and scanned the area around me. A ground squirrel worked it's way across the forest floor. Making enough noise to sound like a deer it would have had me on the edge of my seat two weeks ago. Now it just got a passing glance as I continue to search the brush around me.

As on cue the two grouse flew in to land on the tree across the ditch from me. I watched them for a few minutes till they to went to the ground and soon walked away into the deeper brush out of eyesight. The sun settled deeper in to the tree tops and I had to adjust the collar of my coat to close up around my neck. I got a chill and had second thoughts about not bring the thermos out with me. Peeking under the cuff of my coat I saw it was already almost four. Kind of late to shoot a deer now.

It had been a good season, several deer were taken and everyone has meat in the freezer. Spent time with friends and the bragging wall at the Hotel will have some more memories added to it. Another peek at the watch told me it was 4:15 If I leave now I'll have enough light to make it to the clearing. I unload the gun and using the rope lower it to the forest floor. I just start to swing over the edge and here coming down the trail is the doe with her two frisky fawns. I think they are the same ones I saw coming into the feeder to check it out on the first night. Glad to see they made it through the season. I waited till they passed and then retrieve the rifle I worked my way back to the clear cut. Elmer and Chuck were waiting, as soon as they saw my blaze orange they started the engines. I put my gear in the truck and rubbed my hands in the warmth of the trucks vents.

Elmer makes one last check of the shack. He goes inside and makes sure the bars are across the windows and the shutters secure. To bad we have to lock it up like this but times have changed. The padlock is snapped on to the wood door and we are ready to return home. We will be back, not as a group though. Everyone has a key and some will come back to do some grouse hunting. Others will tend to the deer feeder if the winter gets bad. A few of the younger guys will bring their families up to cross country ski. They will check the mouse traps and write in the log that they were there and how they did. Others will read the log and add to it.

We make the ride back home following Chuck down the twisted trail to reach the dirt road then to the highway. We stop at a small resort / restaurant and have a late supper. Another tradition of ours. We chat and take our time finally getting home around eight or so. Chuck heads down his driveway and Elmer turns in to mine. He pulls to a stop in front of the garage and we step out just in time to watch eight deer exiting Chucks yard to cross my yard heading in the direction of Elmers. Elmer and I just look at each other and shake our heads. Yup a typical deer season here at Lake Iwanttobethere hope yours was a good one...

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