There aren’t many things more enjoyable than sitting around a hunting camp after a great meal listening as the stories fly.
They might not all be totally accurate.
A few may be too-ridiculous to be taken seriously.
But the fellowship of the camp makes it possible to embrace the idea of a 250-pound possum -even if you know the photographic evidence is the same forced perspective your lying fishing friends use to make their catches look bigger.
It’s just life in camp.
The Uber-possum? Nope, but clowning around is just one part of life in hunting camp - and the outdoors
Differences fall aside. And your job title doesn’t mean much.
Miss and you become the target around the dinner table, fireplace or sofas that evening.
And made-for-TV-editing notwithstanding, everyone misses.
It’s another part of what makes us alike despite our many obvious differences.
Young or old, thick or thin, bald or bearded, putting on camo and tramping into the woods strips away veneers.
Not just the thin veneer of civility, but those shallow coverings that I jokingly refer to as “urban camo”- the coverings we use to survive in “the real world.”
Out here, camo might make us look alike, but it allows our individual spirits to soar and shine.
After a couple of days in old hunting clothes, you realize why hangings were referred to as “necktie parties” in the old west. Ties are not original equipment for men.
Warm fires (top) and plenty of protein (center) are characteristics of most hunting camps. One night’s salad featured a freshly-harvested squirrel that was a hit with the hunters (below).
For much of this week, I’ve been in Mississippi enjoying the hospitality of a hunting property that’s not looking for me to write about their great lodge, awesome food, welcoming hearth, comfortable beds, hot showers and engaging hosts. That’s not normally the way it works because when the media is involved, almost everyone wants a mention.
This week, I was asked not to give a lot of detail on our great accommodations —and that made it an even more memorable week in camp. None of the obligatory questions a potential customer might ask meant simply enjoying the lodge, the properties, the company of my companion hunters and the overall laid-back vibe. It’s one reason that our Mississippi hosts quickly became friends.
The speed with which total strangers quickly become good friends is just one more reason we should take advantage of every opportunity to introduce others to the outdoors.
If we do, won’t just create memories and friends, we’ll create advocates.
— Jim Shepherd