Here’s To a Camp That I Have Loved

Today (Sunday) is the day that I’ve been dreading for over a month; my last trip to our deer camp. The land had been for sale for the last year or so, and a buyer finally came through. Since the day that I got the news, I’ve been trying to find a window of opportunity to enjoy one final outing on the property before closing. That chance finally came through this weekend.

We finished our weekend series (a sweep) a little early on Saturday evening, and my desire to skip town and head to Vicksburg was overwhelming me. When I mentioned a quick trip to the camp to try my luck at killing a gobbler, my wife, although annoyed, was complicit in my desire to give it a shot. Of course, there is no such thing as a quick trip to Vicksburg and back, but my selfish desires had overtaken my ability to be logical. After dinner on Saturday evening, I quickly loaded the truck and headed toward camp for one last time.

Upon entering the house late Saturday night, there was a somber feeling. The house is now mostly empty and devoid of the beautiful deer, duck, and fish mounts that decorated the walls. The only things remaining were the living room and bedroom furniture, which I presume are staying. It was quiet, too quiet. Not like the deer camp environment that I’ve come to love so much over the years. It’s not that I don’t enjoy peace and quiet every now and then. I live with four girls, trust me I enjoy some quiet time, I just didn’t enjoy this moment of solitude. I grabbed a quick shower and climbed into bed to get some rest because tomorrow is my first last chance to kill a turkey this season.

The alarm goes off in what seems like ten minutes since I laid my head down on my pillow. I fight the urge to hit “silence” and go back to sleep. Reluctantly, at first, I drag myself out of bed and try to wake up. Realizing that time is not a luxury that I have, I hurriedly throw my camo and boots on, pack a granola bar and some water, and head out the door. As I begin my walk, I let out my best hoot owl impression, anxiously hoping for a response from a roosted gobbler. Silence. My long walk begins, stopping periodically to hoot, but still no response.

I take my time and make sure I’m not putting my foot down on any kind of serpent. I’ve killed entirely too many rattlesnakes on this property to be careless this time of the year. I get to a spot that I’ve seen turkeys in the past and get set up. I let out a few calls almost expecting a gobbler to fire up the woods. Nothing. I wait a while and call again. Nothing. After sitting a while longer, at the urging of my cousin who is texting me, I change locations. Along the way, I walk the sole of my boot clean off. Not exactly the way I envisioned my first last day of turkey season.

I sit, wait, call, and sit some more. Wash, rinse, repeat. The sun is well up into the sky and there’s a gentle breeze. I’m in the shade and the mosquitoes aren’t too bad, so at least it’s relaxing. My eyes get heavy and I dose off a couple of times. That’s my cue to begin the long walk back to the house. I need another bottle of water anyway, so the timing is perfect. I’d also like to catch one more bass out of the lake, so this is a good time to head back. I make the walk back, grab a bottle of water, and drive down to the lake. Within 10-15 minutes of fishing I’ve landed four small bass, which makes me happy. A small alligator swims by me offering his goodbyes, as well. It’s time to head out for one last hunt.

Once again, I make a pretty lengthy walk to my hunting spot. This time I’m even more deliberate about where I put my feet. Not because I’m worried about snakes, but because I want to remember each step of this walk. I walk a little slower and take in everything around me. The honeysuckle is in full bloom and the scent fills the air. My scent also fills the air, and the deer let me know they can smell me. I get set up and relax under a sawtooth oak for the evening hunt. I make a few quiet calls and just sit and wait. Nothing calls back and nothing shows up. The sun begins to set beyond the tree line, and just like that, my last hunt is over.

As I closed the gate for the last time and took off down the road, a flood of memories come over me. Things that I hope I never forget. Memories like Mackenzie killing her first deer, Collins catching her first fish, and time well spent with friends and family. No matter where I hunt next, or what lakes I fish in, this particular piece of land will always have a special place in my heart.

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