I've been fortunate to hunt wild turkeys around the United States and down in Mexico. Some camps are memorable for all the right reasons. Others, well, you'd best soon forget them. Fortunately the latter deal is rare. Check out these five things you need in a good hunting camp.
A Place to Sleep
Hard hunt? You want a decent place to crash. A buddy's couch might do, or a sleeping bag on an air mattress in your truck bed. It's a priority, a good bed is, but I think most roll with it in hunting camp. Priority? Yes, if given the choice. Okay if the springs on the left side of the bed poke into your side? Heck yeah, there's always the bed's right side.
True enough, canned beef stew warmed over an open fire can taste pretty good after a long walk or sit while hunting. It's all in your perspective. On the other hand, a hunting camp with gourmet offerings truly seals the deal. Better yet, homestyle cooking with your buds chipping in to add their abilities to the supper table can make it even better. Frying turkey nuggets from the bird somebody just took can let you hear their story one more time.
Birds to Hunt
Let's be honest — hearing turkeys is sometimes enough. Working a bird into moving closer to your calls (but not quite into range) is even better. At least that likely got your heart thumping like a drumming grouse on a log. Tag a wild turkey, well you've done something special. Still, it's only part of the deal. The key is the hunt. And you've got to have birds for that. No spring gobblers or fall flocks on the property you're walking? The trip can become something else. That's fine too. Enter Plan B. I've fished plenty out of hunting camp.
You visit hunting camp to get away from the daily grind. You do it to kick back and relax with good friends who share the love. Hunting camp opportunities do just this. That's why guests are picked so discreetly. You putting together a hunting camp group right now? Bet you're short-listing attendees with the same intensity as players in your fantasy football draft; likely with even more seriousness I hope. Never thought about it? Well . . .
The Right Attitude
Nothing spoils a good hunting camp more than one person moping around, complaining about not filling a tag and making everyone else pay for it. Don't be that guy. When you start feeling like killing a wild turkey is more important than hearing yelps and gobbles, hanging with good buds, eating well and resting up with memories of the day, say this: It's all good.
What other hunting camp requirement would you put on our list? Comment below.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree.com's editorial director and turkey hunting editor. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country.