How to Survive Hunting Camp

And It Ain't Always Easy to Do

(Realtree photo)

By: Steve Hickoff

Camps always have a set of unspoken rules, etiquette if you will, that reflect the practices and forms prescribed by social convention or by authority. It's a pecking order thing. No matter where you lay your head in camp after a long day of fishing or hunting, it's important to identify: (1) Who acts like they're the camp boss, and (2) Who really is.

You may have a guy who acts like he runs the camp show, but it might be his wife or girlfriend who actually does. Who is in charge of breakfast, lunch and dinner? That counts too. Figuring out the true camp boss often doesn't get cleared up until the actual trek to the fishing or hunting locations begins (much small talk goes on then), and almost always it's in the pre-dawn dark. You can learn a lot in the pre-dawn dark on your way to some of these places.

Apart from figuring out who's really in charge (and it might be a fluid deal, depending on who is in the truck), there are some basics of camp behavior that almost always apply no matter where I've been.

  • Listen more than you talk, at least at first.
  • Take your muddy boots off at the door, just outside or inside, depending. Some camps are actually houses, with lace-fringed decor, even bed-and-breakfast establishments in the off-season. Treat these places like your own.
  • Trust your guide and discuss any conflicts with an open mind.
  • Avoid the camp snorer(s) if you can (it's tough to hunt or fish well without rest). Simply volunteer you're that person (guilty), and that sleeping alone would save everyone some grief. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all like to sleep in a room by ourselves for two reasons: (1) The camp snorer, and all of us possibly qualify, can be avoided, and (2) We can spare anyone else from our own contributions to that dilemma.
  • Pick your spots. You may want to settle as far away from the bathroom as possible. Like the kitchen, it's the hub of activity too. Sometimes you and your hunting buddies will all sleep in one big room, like a military barracks. Make the best of it, earplugs in tow. You also need to identify who is in charge of making the morning coffee (serious business), and whether you'd be a help or hindrance to do that yourself.

In the end, you should try to have some nice things to say about the food (or coffee) even if it isn't the best you've had. Always repeat yourself if it is the best food (or coffee) you've ever had. Often enough it is.

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