Although deer hunting was the top priority when buying this land, we desired it to be close enough to our home so we could use it year around for a multitude of activities. It has turned out to be that and a lot more. Again, year after year our hunting is incredible. In 2021 we went 7 for 8, and could have shot 8, but seven was more than enough venison. Now again in 2022, we went 6 for 7 with two really nice 8 pointers. Nothing is as good as getting your family and friends together for Minnesota deer season on your own place. That's DEER CAMP!
For me my favorite time at the camp is deer season. The anticipation starts building for the next season as soon as the current season ends. Typically, with 6-8 hunters at camp, best of friends, fathers, son's and in-laws, we do very well filling the freezer each year. We also practice wise game management and target our harvest accordingly. With 11 heated and enclosed stands and 7 other stands, often the problem is deciding where you want to hunt. Every stand has a name, so all hunters are aware of the others hunters' locations at all times for safety reasons. There are no private stands, and all are shared. At our camp, it is all about sharing and creating stories for all. With that said, we have shot many deer. Yet we target our deer accordingly to maintain a strong heard. We limit the number to a maximum of 7 deer per year off the property.
Another fun time is our turkey camp in the spring. Basically, it's the same guys as deer camp and we have shot a lot of "top notch" turkeys with 10" +beards as can be witnessed by the 37 tails mounted on the walls! However, we have actually shot over 45 turkeys as some guys took their trophies home to mount as opposed to placing the tails on the walls. We also utilize the camp for waterfowl and small game hunting.
At our camp, the participants put in considerable effort during the year helping with all elements of operating and maintaining it. Having a wonderful group, like we do, is what makes our hunting camp so incredible.
The hardest part to me is when my son cannot be with us. He has been serving now for over 13 years as a MD in the USAF. In the 11 years we have owned this, he has only made it home 4 years for deer camp. The first time Geoff made it to the camp to deer hunt, the camp had been operating already a couple years and guys had laid claim to their beds. When one of the guys showed up Geoff's stuff was on that bed he said "hey, how come Geoff gets that lower bunk and I am getting bumped to the top bunk?". My answer was " because his name is on the deed!" He thought that was just fine as he threw his stuff up on the top bunk. In 2020 he made it home for the first time in 3 years and then shot 3 of the 5 bucks. All three in the first 2 hours of the season and one was biggest deer we have ever shot at camp! He also passed on two more 6 pointers allowing others to fulfill their tags.
Another special part of our camp is the camaraderie we share with adjacent landowners. Typically, we have the neighbors over for a meal, dessert or just a BS
session during the season. Within five short years, our camp has become a local gathering spot for storytelling. Having a deer camp is a wonderful Minnesota tradition that we cherish
On September 1, 2019, one of our camp members who had drawn a bear tag shot a big black bear out of the stand we call Tamarack. He had been baiting for 2 weeks and had numerous bears hitting the bait. Within 90 minutes after texting that he had shot one, the cavalry appears. Although I was out of state, Mark, Jim, Rock and Craig came to assist. Within 4 hours of the kill, the bear was quarter and, in the refrigerator, cooling down. The next morning, it was fully butchered and packaged. Friends helping friends. Awesome!
In 2018, the "Minnesota Deer Hunters Association" published in three consecutive issues of their quarterly membership magazine, a series of stories that I wrote called "My 3 Deer Camps". The last being exclusively about the Hungry Beaver Sugar Camp.