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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

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