7 Ways to Not Get Invited Back to Deer Camp


Are You Guilty of Any of These Things?

Some of my fondest hunting memories aren’t of hunting at all. They center around deer camp. The camaraderie of friends and family, some distant and seen only for these few days a year. Watching sparks rise from a campfire until they blend with the bright stars of the night sky. The food cooked over an open fire that always seems to taste better than anything cooked at home. These are all parts of camp that make it special. While you might not always be successful when it comes to bagging your quarry, you can always have a great time in camp.

Whether it’s a camp you’ve been attending for years, or one you were just invited to, here are a few habits that will ensure you don’t get invited back next year and a tip or two to make sure you do.

Skip Out on Work

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1 | Skip Out on Work

As much as camps are about having a good time, they still take work to make them go. Not volunteering for chores like washing dishes, chopping firewood, cleaning up around camp, helping successful hunters drag deer — it gets noticed. Ask the camp cook if you can help with anything on meal preparation. Volunteer to help skin and butcher game, even if it isn’t yours.

When only a few members are doing most of the work, they may start to question why they even need anyone else around. Pitch in, and don’t wait to be asked to do something. Like the old shoe commercial says, “Just Do It.” Your help will be noticed and appreciated.

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Photo Credit: Michael Pendley

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Hog the Best Hunting Spots

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2 | Hog the Best Hunting Spots

Of course, bagging whatever game you’re after is the ultimate goal of hunting, but the desire to bag a trophy shouldn’t drive you to always want the most productive hunting spot. Remember that everyone else in camp wants to bag a critter just as badly as you, make sure others get to hunt that hot stand as well.

If you hunt an area where deer drives are popular, offer to be one of the drivers instead of demanding a stand. Volunteer to pick up and drop off other hunters on your way to the stand or back to camp. Take the special needs of your fellow hunters into consideration. Is a particular stand easier to get to? Suggest it go to a campmate who might have a hard time walking to a distant location. Know a spot where a game sighting is just about guaranteed? Put a young hunter there to fuel their fire for hunting.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / William T. Smith

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Don’t Participate in Camp Activities

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3 | Don’t Participate in Camp Activities

Camp life is about camaraderie, fellowship and having fun. Don’t spend all your time in your tent or cabin. Join the card game, sit around the fire telling stories. Get to know your fellow hunters. Years from now, the memories of good times will be just as vivid as those from the hunt.

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Photo Credit: Michael Pendley

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4 | Over-Indulge

It’s tradition in many camps to enjoy a sip or two around the fire before turning in for the night. It’s fine to participate if that is camp tradition, but know your limits. You didn’t come to camp to party. And it goes without saying to save your imbibing for the evening — after the hunt.

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Expect Everyone Else to Conform to Your Needs

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5 | Expect Everyone Else to Conform to Your Needs

Have a special diet restriction? Make sure you pack extra food to meet your needs. Don’t expect the camp cook to alter everyone else’s menu to meet your dietary constraints. Prefer to sleep in and hunt the evenings? Don’t be upset when other hunters rise well before dawn and get ready to head out for the day.

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Photo Credit: Michael Pendley

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Come to Camp Unprepared

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6 | Come to Camp Unprepared

At best, getting to camp and not having a vital piece of gear or clothing means time lost for a trip to the nearest town. At worst, it means not getting to hunt. Make a checklist of everything you might need before heading to camp. Check with camp regulars to see if they can suggest anything you might have forgotten.

Along those same lines, if space provides, pack extra gear for someone else who might have forgotten something. Including: rain gear, flashlight, ammo, skinning knife, thermos, tool kit, etc. Having a backup for a camp buddy in need goes a long way when it comes to getting another invite next season.

Do you snore? Sound like a chainsaw cutting through sheet metal when you sleep? Pack a few sets of foam earplugs for fellow campers and hand them out with an apology of what is to come. They need their sleep just as much as you do.

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Photo Credit: Brad Herndon

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Talk Twice as Much as You Listen

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7 | Talk Twice as Much as You Listen

This is simple advice I give to my kids on a frequent basis, but it applies to deer camp as well. Particularly if you are a new invitee to an existing camp. Deer camps are notorious for ritual. Don’t go in offering advice on how they can do everything better. If the members of a camp have been doing something a particular way for generations, there is probably a good reason.

Sure, offer up a suggestion, especially when asked for one, but don’t go in expecting to change the way an existing camp operates. That’s just no bueno.

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Photo Credit: Michael Pendley

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