I was never a big fan of deer camp workdays, despite knowing how important they were to the success of the coming hunting season.
But, the very thought of leaving an air conditioned house or skipping a day of fishing to go slave in Mississippi’s summer heat — either swinging a Kaiser blade to clear trails, loading seeders behind a tractor or repairing or building shooting houses in 100 degree heat, 100 percent humidity and 100 percent mosquito and no-see-em habitat — suddenly made me very creative.
I could instantly come up with great excuses, grand plans that were beyond refute that would keep me from getting hit with heavy camp fines. Being a sports writer and Saturdays being big sports days, I usually didn’t have to look too hard to find an excuse. With modern technology, it was easy enough to have my calls forwarded to me so if they called the office, it would seem I was there, even if I was in a honky-tonk or a bass boat.
After a few years in my old camp at Bruinsburg, the last of the several that would have me as a member, I didn’t have to worry about it. They were painfully aware of my ineptitude at physical labor. I usually created more problems than already existed, doubling the work for those who were not tool-challenged. (Hey, you whack yourself in the ankle with a Kaiser blade one time requiring an immediate run to the nearest clinic, which in my case was a veterinarian, and people begin to understand that you are just too much of a hindrance.)
Instead, they eventually just put me in charge of food and beverages. While they worked in the fields and woods, I was in the barn or camp house cooking. I’d grill steaks or burgers, boil shrimp or crawfish, make jambalaya … whatever, they’d pay for.
It was perfect. I can cook. Love it. And I could arrive at 10 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. and still have everything ready, with fans to keep it cool.
And I made sure the ice chests were full of beer, iced in salted water to keep them at 32 degrees. Give a guy a 32-degree beer on a 100-degree workday and he’ll think a garlic bologna sandwich is on par with filet mignon.
“Bob,” my buddy Keith Partridge declared one extremely hot day after taking a slug of the golden nectar from one of the icy bottles, “we have found your niche.”
I bring this up now because two friends have declined party invitations for Saturday because they have commitments to deer camp workdays. In this heat, I can’t even imagine. I’d just about rather eat a live, somewhat disturbed diamondback — and you know he’d be a little irate about being eaten by a large, lazy cretin — than participate in a workday.
Since I’m telling you I’d just as soon face potential death than a workday, imagine my surprise to hear that my friends were happy about going this weekend.
“It’s too early to plant the food plots but I’m looking forward to getting in a few tractor hours getting the fields ready,” said Partridge of Terry.
“We always start on the first weekend in July, and we begin by cutting out the ATV trails,” said Jimmy Thomas of Jackson. “I just like the idea of doing something related to hunting. Makes me feel, you know, like it’s getting close to hunting season.”
Well, no, I don’t know that.
But, I rest more comfortably in my recliner, in front of a fan and under an AC vent, knowing there are a lot of hunters among us who love it that much. Guys and girls who want to work in the summer heat to make sure the season is a success.
Bless you for being you.