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Hunt Camp


Hunting Camps don't have to be fancy to be special

With recreational properties being purchased and leased at a rapid rate. More and more hunt clubs are rising up through the Carolina’s and Georgia. A tradition that was almost lost to urban sprawl is getting a resurgence with the education of outdoorsmen and women. It is a good thing too. While the method of the hunt club is changing especially in the lowcountry, more and more hunt clubs are changing from dog hunting to stand hunting. Managing properties are rapidly changing the whole method of hunting whitetail deer. It is my opinion this is a good thing. While I fully respect the tradition of dog hunting for deer on large land holdings with little to no chance of wandering dogs – it just isn’t my thing. I have tried it, and occasionally will participate in a dog hunt when given a chance. It just does not excite me like stand hunting does.

This being said, the revival of the hunting club is a great thing. Lifelong friends are developed over fire rings, and in cramp quarters. White collar and blue collar alike find some commonality in the hunting club. From colonial times to the present, men have gathered at cabins, tents, and lodges to share in the hunt. It’s a tradition that we look forward to with great anticipation. Scratching the days off the calendar until opening day arrives.

Trucks roll down dusty dirt driveways, hands are shaken, and friends are reunited. Some only see one another during the few weekends they spend together throughout the fall of the year. Others are neighbors, colleagues or family. Regardless, of the previous relationships, hunting camp is their nirvana.

I have had the pleasure of visiting in many deer camps throughout the years. As a guest, I normally try and lay low allowing the long standing relationships to rekindle. I like to sit back and listen to the stories of long ago hunts. The buck that got away, and the monster that didn’t. Easy shots missed and miraculous long range shots made. I enjoy listening to the ribbing of the different styles and weapon choices.  Watching as men become boys and embrace this moment when they are at hunting camp.

At our hunting property we too have begun a tradition. We began hunting here almost ten years ago. First I began alone, and then a few chosen friends and family would join in the fun. As time went on, some faded and others stayed and grew in stature. Now there are three of us and our children. We keep it small, because as we have grown in our hunting, it’s not so much about us killing big bucks anymore. Rather it has become more about going and being with friends. Hunting is our passion, but being in hunt camp with our friends is the highlight of the season. We still hunt for big deer, and relish in the opportunity. But for us at this stage of our lives, there is more to the hunt.

As our families have grown, our responsibilities have also grown. We don’t get to River Ridge as often as we would like, and all of us being there at the same time is even rarer. But there is one week a year that we all set aside to gather. This is our week. Our wives know it, our bosses know it, and our kids know it. This is our time. No wives, no kids, just the three of us hanging onto what started it all.

Truth be known, it’s not a full week, it’s really a long weekend. We filter in on a Wednesday night in October, and hunt through mid-day Sunday. Three and a half days of bliss. Stands are selected, (we all have our favorites) hunts participated in, and harvested game is shared. But mostly, it’s about being together for these three days.

After all of these years, an evolution is happening at River Ridge. After eight years of living in tents, we are upgrading to a cabin. More permanence is needed. As we continue to bring a new generation into the flock, we needed more room. We hoped the cabin would be complete before our weekend, but alas, it isn’t coming to pass. Currently it is over three-quarters complete we hope to have it finished by Christmas. Taking time from hunts to finish will be hard, but we are building our future here. A place we can bring our children, grandchildren and a legacy to leave for them.

In a few weeks I will be writing about building a hunting cabin – chronicling our methods, plans and how we have been able to get this done for very little money. Stay tuned as we finish building our Sanctuary. In the meantime, embrace your opportunity to belong to a hunting club, whether it’s land you own or lease. The tradition of the hunting camp is one worth saving.