Hunting camp has changed a lot in 20 years.
The times are constantly changing, and it is not just the modern, sped-up, online world that has changed. No, this also includes something as old as Hunt Camp.
Some may feel they are relics from a bygone era. However, there are still families who travel from far and wide to their favorite wilderness area year after year in pursuit of big game, birds, and more.
Hunting campsites take on many different forms, from canvas tents in the mountains of Colorado to old log cabin gun season camps in Michigan's U.P.
Hunting as a sport has changed dramatically over the last 20 years and even though we still like to gather around the same old wood stove and share memories of deer hunting seasons past, camps have also changed dramatically.
Together with our friends at Savage Arms, we came up with some of the most notable things that have changed about hunting camp in the last 20 years.
Firearms Are Lighter and More Accurate
Your grandfather may have first lugged a Savage 110 hunting rifle to camp over 50 years ago. That rifle is still made, but the technology has advanced light years since then. The new Savage guns are lighter, stronger, and tougher.
It is not just weight that has improved. These guns are now more accurate and handle the elements better with their stainless steel components and carbon wrapped barrels. They also fit each shooter's frame better thanks to advances in technology like the Savage Accufit system that allows adjustments to length of pull, comb height and trigger pull.
Combine firearms advancements with those in ballistics and scope technology and you are likely able to make confident shots at distances your grandfather may have only dreamed about in the past. Animals that previously gave us the slip are instead ending up with their backstraps on the grill later that evening.
You've got to appreciate the advances in technology that have made us more confident in our odds of bringing home a meal for the family every time you step into the woods.
The Stories Have Gotten Crazier
Hunt Camp is the place for the telling of stories, and we have noticed the tall tales are getting wilder with every passing season. Grandfathers seem to be the guilty party most of the time. Every year he tells us the story of that big non-typical buck that got away back in 1977. Each time, the buck somehow seems to magically gain more points. The first time he told the story it was a 10-pointer and these days it is up to 30!
We do not mind the little details of the stories being lost to time because that is what makes for a great hunting story in the first place. That story about your uncle being stalked by Bigfoot or your dad's story about fighting off a bear with his pocket knife may be completely fabricated, but you still look forward to hearing them every season anyway. After all, who doesn't enjoy a good story?
Equipment, Technology and Clothing Are Better
Remember 20 years ago when film trail cameras were still a thing? These days we have had our digital trail cameras out for months, and then share photos of the biggest ones to everyone who goes to Hunt Camp. Does your uncle always immediately claims "dibs" on the biggest of the bunch like mine does?
One thing we are thankful for is an improvement in clothing. Whether it's camo, scent control, or warmth, they no doubt provide more than the red flannel of yesteryear. Thankfully, those walks to and from the stand are not quite as unpleasant with all these new options.
A trip to camp is also a lot safer than it was in the past. Remember that old rickety permanent stand that felt like it was going to give out from under you at any moment? It is the one your uncle hammered a few extra nails into every year and said: "That should hold her!" Fortunately, most of us have replaced it with a rock-solid climber tree stand now. It is one of the few smart decisions made around deer camp.
You likely have much nicer knives, grinders and vacuum sealers to make it a simple task to get that wild game meat in the cooler. And oddly enough, one last big change is camp security. We used to cross our fingers and hope our cabin was left alone by vandals while it sat unoccupied, but now we can monitor things from hundreds of miles away with wireless security cameras.
It seems weird now to employ modern technology at a backcountry Hunt Camp that may be decades or even hundreds of years old, but that just goes to show how much things have changed. We do it, and it's helped our peace of mind.
The Accommodations Have Gotten Better Too
Everyone loves the food at Hunt Camp, but somehow it's gotten better over the years. Sure, grandpa's venison chili and your brother's venison steaks may still be the top choice of dish. However, over the years, more dishes have been added. Now it's just as fun to enjoy a venison taco night, or make those cheese and jalapeno-stuffed back straps wrapped with bacon.
Cooking technology just keeps getting better and more portable for use at Hunt Camp, even if you are roughing it in a tent.
It just gives us one more fun thing to look forward to on that long journey. The only problem is we feel the need to do more hiking while out hunting in order to work off the extra pounds we gained eating it!
The Faces Have Changed, But the Traditions Remain
One of the sadder aspects of hunting camp are the friends and family we may lose over the years. It is an unfortunate fact of life that some of our more beloved members of hunt camp from 20 years ago may not be with us any longer. At the same time, you still make it a point to break out the old camp TV and watch that old, battered DVD of "Escanaba in Da Moonlight" because your grandfather simply HAD to watch every year before the season opener.
We honor the memories of Hunt Camp members long gone in our own ways. Mostly through stories, but in some camps the antlers of bucks they harvested may have a new prominent place on the wall next to our favorite photos of them. Maybe you make it a point to hunt out of a lost loved one's favorite stand every year. The deer may not wander past it much anymore, but it is a tradition just the same.
While we may lose some older faces due to the ravages of time, we also gain some new ones in the faces of younger hunters making their first journey ever to deer camp. They have heard the stories from their fathers and grandfathers of all the Hunt Camp customs and cannot wait for their first visit. These are the experiences that help hook newer hunters on the traditions for life.
The best part is creating new hunting camp memories with these younger hunters that they can then pass down to another generation. The more things change, the more they also stay the same.