Typically, any camping that we do in the summer revolves around the boat – we often spend nights on anchor or pulled up on shore, rocked to sleep by the gentle movements of the water. Autumn, however, is a different story. We find a quiet spot in one of the many old forestry campgrounds in the area, and that becomes our “home away from home” for a few days out of each week. Usually on the shores of a smaller lake, close to an hour’s drive from the highway, these nights out at camp are the perfect escape to the outdoors before winter sinks its grip in for another year.
Honestly, one of my favourite parts about being out at camp isn’t the actual time spent out hunting. It’s the getting out to camp and cooking dinner on the fire and campstove, sitting around the fire as the stars come up and the moonlight filters through the pines. It’s hunkering down to sleep to the silence of night and waking up the next morning listening to the haunting wail of loons out on the water.
Late morning breakfasts consist of bacon and eggs while sitting on an old picnic table that might be missing a few boards here and there. Serious discussions ensue over these meals, how the morning hunt went, swamps to be scouted, hillsides to scour, who’s going where in the evening. Maybe kicking back in a camp chair with a good read, or perhaps filling the pages of a journal as the sun rises higher into the sky.
Any good hunting camp worth its salt will have a deck of cards and crib board floating around camp. How else would the evening banter of “who’s turn is it to do the dishes” be resolved but with a semi-competitive game of cribbage? There are no higher stakes in such a game than the potential of dish washing – but then again, even something that can seem so dull at home isn’t terribly bad out at camp. I much prefer slowly warming a pot of water on the stove and then laying out each dish to dry on a towel on the picnic table to the horror of loading and unloading the dishwasher at home (and while that may be a little tongue-in-cheek, just ask anyone who has lived with me. I despise loading the dishwasher.)
Despite the little moments that don’t revolve around hunting at the top of my fall camp favourites, returning with tales of a successful harvest do ultimately top the list. Whether it’s coming back with a pack full of grouse or arriving empty-handed but needing your buddy’s help packing a moose from the edge of a swamp back to camp, those are moments that get relived on a yearly basis around the campfire.