I’ve been going to deer camp for well over 40 years—to the Wright Boys Camp up near Island Lake every year—but also to several others, at times, through my life. I’ve noticed that every camp has some characters in common.
There’s always The Loudmouth—the guy who just never shuts up and spends most of his time blabbering on about his favorite subject . . . himself. Some of the guys I hunt with would be very content to stay in camp all day, consume adult beverages, eat chili, pass gas, and play cards; but they’d rather go out at -20° Fahrenheit, and develop piles from sitting on a frozen rock for six hours, than to stay in and endure the ramblings of The Loudmouth.
And, there’s always The Storyteller. He tells the same stories several times every deer season, but he’s not totally repetitious because he lies, and consequently, can’t remember how he’s told the tall tales in the past. So far, he’s shot the same twelve pointer with his shotgun, his 30-06, and his 303 Savage. That deer weighed 202 to 246 pounds, depending on how many Wild Turkeys preceded the story. Sometimes, he dragged that big buck four miles—all uphill—back to camp. Other nights he wounded the animal, which ran back two miles towards his truck, and was kind enough to drop dead 10 yards away from his tailgate.
There seems to be The Moocher in every camp, too—the guy who shows up with no food, a six pack of beer (two hours worth), just enough cash for poker, and a huge appetite. He always offers an excuse and a promise, but little else.
“I was going to bring up a big pot of moose meat stew, but the old lady didn’t make it in time. I’ll bring it next weekend, for sure.” He’s the same guy who never cooks a meal or washes a dish. He gets invited back every year only because he’s a relative and you can’t choose them.
Every camp has The Bragger, too. Up to the Wright Boys Camp, there’s a guy who, unfortunately, shot the biggest buck ever taken out of that cabin. He fell asleep in his tree stand and, when he regained consciousness, the monstrous animal (temporarily stupid because of his total obsession with does in heat), was lying down forty yards in front of him, apparently resting between lovemaking forays. That buck was the only deer The Bragger ever shot, but we’ve heard about it over and over for 30 years now.
So, there’s The Loudmouth, The Storytelling Liar, The Moocher, and The Bragger. But enough about me. There are those other characters, too.
The Joker knows hundreds of funny stories and can recall them at the mention of a word in a punchline. Everyone in camp has heard all of his jokes at least a hundred times, but we laugh with every repeat performance because The Joker is really good at acting out the stories, and speaks with foreign accents and speech impediments. For some reason, he’s always funniest on Jose Cuervo Night at deer camp.
Seems like every camp I visit has The Sleeper. My cousin, Smitty, is The Sleeper at the Wright Boys Camp. He naps in the recliner in front of the woodstove for, at least, six hours a day, goes to bed right after dinner (but before clean-up or wood splitting), and wakes up tired at ten a.m., just in time for his one hour hunt. I don’t know what Old Sleepy does when he’s not up at camp. I figure he must stay awake from Labor Day until deer season, and then catches up on his shut-eye.
There’s The Slob in every camp, too. You can track him like a deer by following the trail of empty beer cans, coffee cups, and dishes he leaves scattered throughout the cabin. As you might expect, his personal hygiene isn’t all it could be, either. He does fairly well at shooting deer and bear. I think it’s because he smells kind of wild, and they mistake him for one of their own.
A lot of camps have The Home Run King—the guy who can’t wait to get to camp and away from it all, but seems to come up with a thousand reasons to Run Home. I’m not sure if he’s afraid his little woman misses him, or fears she’s not lonely at all. I’m in luck that way; Winnie seems to enjoy my absence . . .