Until next November, deer camp is just a memory. For 46 years, I have watched the sun come up on the Saturday before Thanksgiving from a tree somewhere in northern Juneau County. This week’s column will give you an idea why I am a member of one of the most fun camps in Wisconsin.
Saturday, Nov. 25
High 43, low 28
Last night 18 of us slept in our shack. An incredible meal was served by Riley Schuster and Tim Rittmeyer. Riley and Tim are in there late 20s and it was not that long ago when we were barking out orders to these guys on how to drive deer, help build camp and pull their own weight in one way or another. These days there are 14 “kids” between the age of 18 and 28, and seven of us over 55.
The kids are helpful and are nuts. Instead of the old timers contributing 100 percent of everything from work, to money and thought, the natural progression is taking place and I love it.
Last night after a big day of deer drives, of which one 3-pointer was harvested by Joey Dushek, these kids were wild. I try to keep them settled down and usually fail.
My nephew Trent Schuster seems to be one of the instigators. I had an 8-pointer on the deer pole and at night we keep a lantern near it so that everyone can look at our trophies and I can tell each of them about the shot I made.
One time when I went outside, my monster buck was missing. Another time it was wrapped in toilet paper and another time the head of an 8-pointer that I shot last year was in the outhouse. It used to be that I could punish these kids by beating them, but now they all weigh at least 40 pounds more than me, and when we wrestle, I don’t do so well and my body hurts until at least February.
To give you an idea of how hard we actually work when we are doing our deer drives, here are a couple of examples of what we do. At least 50 percent of the time we are in water that is from 6-inches to 6-feet deep. This year we had the dreaded half ice all of the season. Half ice is a hunter’s worst enemy. It slows your progress by 70 percent, makes it much easier to fall and more difficult to test the water depth. Today the app on one of the hunter’s phone said we hiked 9.7 miles.
Tonight our numbers would swell to 23 for our annual “Saturday Night Party,” which includes an awesome meal of spaghetti prepared by Dick Schuster and Mike Walters. We also have a dart tournament in which 19 people played (I always go out in round one) and of course lots of jokes including a new dance created by Shane Schuster (another nephew) called “Fireball.”
In a total contrast to what I just wrote about, On Tuesday it was just myself and Doug Cibulka in camp. Doug and I used to totally kill ourselves by walking as many miles a day as possible, and on at least three occasions we have gone underwater.
Doug and I grew up together, and like Tim and Riley, were Poynette Indians just 30 years earlier.
Doug and I always have an awesome meal on both Monday and Tuesday night, but we have both decided that it is kind of fun to sit in a tree on Tuesday instead of breaking ice for 9.7 miles.
All in all, what I am getting at is I love deer camp. The guys like to call me “General Walters.” Actually, I call myself that and they call me a name that I can’t put in print.
It is 338 days until we return to camp and I can’t wait!