Summer Deer Camp Work Projects
Dr. John Woods 07.01.14
The mercury is supposed to pop over 100 degrees this week. With all the recent rains, the water is coming up out of the ground and making the humidity tough. So, what better time to talk about getting some work projects done at deer camp? What else is there to do with free weekend time? (I wish I could go deer hunting.)
I suspect that when you walked away from camp when the season ended last year, there were some projects left undone. So now is the time to get busy knocking those camp jobs out well ahead of hunting season. The way times flies these days, hunting season will get here quicker than we’d like to think, but maybe not fast enough for many of us.
The key to working successful deer camp projects (or most anything else) is wrapped up in one bit of advice: plan ahead. When it comes to accomplishing hunting camp work tasks, nothing substitutes for a good, well-thought-out plan. A good plan starts with an overall assessment of everything that needs attention or the development of new ideas for fresh, creative projects.
Let me walk you through what I see and do when I drive into my hunting camp this time of year. First, the grass in the camp yard needs to be cut. Everything requires trimming, and I spray herbicide around the cabin, the deer skinning station, the covered shooting range bench, and the target holder back drop. Usually, the camp area needs a good walk to pick up downed limbs from spring storms for the burn pile. So, generally the camp area just needs some good overall maintenance.
Next, I get on my Honda ATV and do a “ride about,” checking food plots, trails, roads for downed trees, and the status of all hunting stands. I take note of any stands that might have blown down, inspecting them for repairs or upgrades needed. I know there were a couple of the new Millennium mini-tripod stands that needed to be brought to camp for storage under the cabin.
During my ride I do a general inspection of the whole property of over 600 acres. I check all the roads and trails. We have a locked gate on the west end that invariably finds its way to getting vandalized and left wide open. We have had hunting ladder stands near that access point stolen in the past, so I check those. I add a new chain or cable and lock as necessary. Quite often I have put up new posted signs that seem to disappear in that area.
When I get back to camp I make notes on all the issues that I discovered. Some can wait until the usually scheduled Labor Day weekend camp work day. The big jobs like cutting up a tree that fell on a trail will need chainsaws and lots of help. We could use the wood for campfires.
So, work on your lists and start to delegate the various tasks. Simple jobs you might be able to do by yourself or with the assistance of one or two campmates. Getting more help will permit the jobs to be taken care of in a shorter period of time. Trust me, a day or two in deer camp usually results in getting about half done what you expected that you would. It seems nearly every job around camp takes twice as long as originally planned.
We have six owners in our organization. We query the entire group for ideas about big repair/upgrade projects, such as adding a new door on a shooting house that was blown off last year, or maybe the tin roof needs tacking down–again. We are pretty much past completely new construction projects, but something is always in need of repair or upgrading.
This may be the summer for you to create a new food plot, select harvest some timber, open up a new trail from a different direction to a prime hunting area, move stands, build new shooting houses, dig out a new pond, or bust out some beaver dams that keep the normal water drainage backed up. If you own or lease hunting lands, then you know there are always jobs to be done.
If dozer work is required, I would advise getting on that as soon as possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a good dozer operator and get him on the property in a timely manner. Have your project all planned out and ready to go when the machine gets there. Idle time is very expensive. If you can afford the time, be there to supervise the work.
It’s always a good idea to make a list of all supplies and consumables needed for hunting camp. Now is the time to shop sales flyers and get stocked up on everything instead of waiting to the last minute before the season opener. Think paper products (towels, plates, napkins, and toilet paper), cleaning supplies, trash bags, kitchen stuff like aluminum foil, plastic wrap, refrigerator containers, freezer bags, and such. Deliver all this stuff to camp before you arrive to start hunting. Have everything needed ready to go.
It may be hot now, but it will be really cool to get these camp work projects out of the way so you can concentrate on the primary job come fall, which is deer hunting. Get all your hunting partners to chip in with the work and the expenses. Everyone wants to come hunting, but make sure they all put in some sweat equity. They will appreciate it more if they do.