Great American Deer Camp

Now is the time for the Great American Deer Camp. At a time when so many traditions seem headed to the dogs, this one is still going strong. Why? I think it’s because deer camp is one of the last refuges for us. We don’t have to shave--or bathe--and we can revel in the smell of wet wool, wood smoke, and cheap cigars. And for a few days, out of reach of the workplace and our domestic duties, we are free.

For me, the best part of camp is the stories, and one of the best I ever heard was at a camp deep in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.

A longtime member of the camp said, “There was this break in the trees that overlooked a cedar swamp, just off the road that led to our morning stand. And every time we passed it Dad would always stop the truck and say, ‘You know, this is a great spot to see a big deer.’ It became a running joke between us because in all those years, we never saw a deer.

“Well, the year Dad died, I almost didn’t come to camp. It was strange being here without him. Coming back for coffee the first morning, I stopped my truck at that spot; I thought it would be a nice way to honor his memory. Know what? There was a huge buck standing there. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s the only time I ever saw a deer there.”

What’s your story?

—Slaton White