A cold, wet day in Deer Camp is still better than a day at work.

Training. Preparedness. What do these words mean to you? Are they a lifestyle, or just terms you use to pigeonhole your attempt at sounding “ready” for the calamity that many believe is coming? Have you lived in the woods for more than just an overnight camping trip? Have you used ALL THE GEAR you’ve collected for your survival if that calamity occurs. What about that dutch oven you bought on sale, but have never actually used?

Some of the best “Survivalist” oriented training I’ve ever done was during my weeks in “Deer Camp”. I hear from many people who tell me they don’t have an area to train in, and that they can’t carry a firearm in their State parks unless it’s hunting season. Then they ask how they should go about getting the experience needed for bad times. If they’ve mentioned the “hunting season” comment, I tell them they’ve answered their own question to a large degree. If they haven’t mentioned it, I advise them that they should go do the “Deer Camp” thing for 4-8 days every year.

“Why Deer Camp?” you ask. It’s simple really. First, Deer season in most States is during the colder part of the year, hence, harsher living conditions. Second, You get to go out and use you wilderness living gear in conditions that usually aren’t stellar in terms of comfort or convenience. Third, You get to actually experience carrying a weapon through the woods with support gear, all while trying to maintain a low profile. The low profile is necessary if you plan on actually seeing and killing a deer.

A very wet day, but the gear did as advertised and we bagged a few.

Yeah, if you’re rifle hunting for deer, you probably have to wear blaze orange. So what? You’re not hiding from people in this instance. You’re hiding from something that is infinitely harder to pic out and hide from in certain aspects. Adding a blaze orange vest, a hat or both over your gear is not a big deal, and honestly, a vest that covers up you ammo vest from prying eyes is not a bad thing in this era of PC BS. I had to download my semi auto mag to the allowable round count, but even that wasn’t a big deal. The main thing was getting out with your gear and using it.

It used to be an annual event with a number of my preparedness Buddies that we would go to a State forest an hour away and set up “Deer Camp” for anywhere from 4-8 days. Some guys would filter in or out during that week, due to work schedules. Even that had a commo schedule and SOP to let us know they were nearby and coming in to base camp. Everybody loaded their vehicles with the gear they would bug out with. Everybody had a list of what that consisted of, and brought it along for practice, even if they knew it wasn’t gonna be used that particular week.

Sleet and snow for 2 days straight will help you figure out how well your tent and waterproof storage gear works.

Takeaways from those many years of activity showed us what worked and what didn’t. Tents were a big thing. If your tent couldn’t survive a week of cold, crappy weather in “Deer Camp”, you could not plan on it surviving weeks in the woods after the apocalypse. Heat for the tents all the way from Propane IR and ceramic heaters, up to packable “Outfitter” or Army “potbelly” tent stoves were used. Some worked great, some were a pain till we figured out the sequence needed to make them run efficiently.

Deer camp doesn’t need to be elaborate. A tarp and sleeping gear is good to practice with to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Sleeping gear was put through it’s paces. Some failed, some thrived. Cooking gear durability and techniques of use were experimented with, with plenty of success. Clothing, especially cold weather clothing was tried and shown to be “Good to go” or complete crap and not brought back the next year. Finding gear and food storage methods that were weather and water proof, especially in extremely cold weather was an eye opener.

You had better practice with that cooking gear before relying on it. or your abilities with it.

Hunting in and of itself is good training. Combining that with living in the woods for a bit just increases the training value. If you ever have to Bug Out of your home, your best bet is to act as if you are hunting, but the difference is EVERYBODY out there is the quarry that you need to see first to be successful (staying hidden from). Success in this case is surviving. Whether it’s turkey hunting, predator hunting or deer hunting, seeing your quarry first is prerequisite to being successful.

If you don’t hunt, you are missing some good training opportunities. If you do, but have never done the “Deer Camp” thing, you are also missing on some good training opportunities. I’ve been hunting for over 40 years, and I still learn things in the woods every year. Besides being able to add to the larder in my freezer, being in the woods hunting is one of the most relaxing activities I can do. Communing with nature is it’s own reward, regardless of whether I get what I’m going for that particular day.

At the end of the day, learning to enjoy the little things and those around you that make life enjoyable is what it’s all about. Training doesn’t have to be hard or miserable to be valuable.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.
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