The hunting camp

There’s nowhere better for a hunter to embrace the outdoor life

Hunting camps range from simple mountainside bivouacs to grand and luxurious lodges, yet they all represent a welcome turn toward wild experiences—if for no other reason than they’re located in the heart of game country. Perhaps because of this, hunting camps also evoke a sense of independence and camaraderie not found anywhere else. As we mature as hunters, that’s something we often seek more than the game itself.

While we all enjoy a little pampering now and then, the very best camps require a certain level of self-reliance. Day-to-day living is stripped to the bone—a fire to keep you warm, some canvas or a tin roof to keep out the elements, and a warm bed to ensure the dream-filled sleep of the inevitably tired. The food is often half burned or half raw, or both, but it somehow always tastes better than if it were served anywhere else.

1Ken Bailey

There is no pecking order in hunting camps. Everyone is equal unless, of course, you don’t hold up your end of basic camp chores. And there are always chores—water to be hauled, wood to be chopped, fires to be tended and coffee to be brewed. Camp atmosphere is relaxed and typically devoid of political correctness, so the great conversational taboos of politics, religion and similar are discussed freely, without fear of judgment or repercussion. As for manners and other social norms, well, let’s just say the standards are slightly lower.

Western civilization and all its trappings have supposedly evolved to provide everyone with increased comfort, but I seem to be hard-wired in the exact opposite way. I’m more comfortable, and by many standards more civilized, when I’m in camp. It’s where I’ve spent many of the most memorable days of my life, and where I hope to spend many more.

Hunting editor Ken Bailey co-owns a humble hunting camp (pictured above) northwest of Edmonton.