We called it Bow Camp, and the day the short trip ended we immediately started planning to go again the next year.
Well, the next year came and went. As did the next. And the next.
This year we finally made it happen again. Joining the original trio was Kraig’s friend Cliff Bruner (to my right), a Navy SEAL who, like Kraig, lives in Virginia Beach.
We headed out for the public land hunt on Oct. 4 and came back four days later. It was a good trip, but a tough one.
How tough? Toward the end of the trip I asked Cliff if he’d consider doing it again. His answer was, “I’ll tell you after we get out of here.”
This shot was taken at the end of our canoe “paddle” out of camp on the final day. I put “paddle” in quotes because we spent about as much time out of the canoes dragging them through shallow water as we did in them actually paddling.
The trip in was the worst. It took nearly five hours. We had to drag our gear-laden canoes for much of the way. Dragging through shallow water was not the worst of it. The river was blocked in many areas by fallen trees. We cut out the smaller ones with a hand saw, but had to drag over others.
There was much cursing, plenty of it directed at the guy who picked the hunt location. (That would be me.)
Once we stopped for the day and got camp set up, things improved. Camp was pretty comfy, which it should have been considering all the stuff he hauled in there.
We hunted the next two mornings and evenings, and it was pretty good. The acorn crop was very spotty but Bobby, who lives in Roanoke and is a frequent hunting partner of mine, was able to find some white oaks that had hit pretty well. As you bowhunters know, when you can find a good white oak stand in a spotty mast year you will probably see deer. And we did.
Among the four of us we saw a total of probably 15 deer in our two days of hunting. Had we been hunting some of our private land spots we probably would have seen that many in an evening. But this is public land, remember.
Not only did we see deer — though not a single antlered buck of any size — we got shots at deer. Bobby and Kraig both killed does. Bobby, who killed a doe at Bow Camp 2004, made sure we all knew he is now two-for-two.
Not surprisingly, we didn’t see any other hunters, though we did find evidence of other hunters.
So, where did we hunt? I’ll let that remain a mystery for now. I plan to write a story about our trip for Friday’s Outdoors page in The Roanoke Times and the story will include the location.
I don’t mind sharing the location. I just don’t think many hunters are going to be jumping to physically beat themselves up like that to see a handful of does. I’m not sure we’d do it again, either. But a trip like this is about more than just seeing deer and maybe getting a shot at one. If a hunter is willing to pay the physical price to seek those rewards, more power to them.