Deer season’s over, but keep in touch with your hunting camp buddies

What can be better during the off season than getting together with fellow deer hunters? Myself and the crew I hunt with, the Iron Sight Gang, make it a point every winter to do just that. It’s a heck of a cure for cabin fever.

Our hunting party has always been family based and it seemed that when I was growing up we saw a lot more of each other, as my father and uncles were the foundation and they got together regularly by nature. Today, myself and my two cousins primarily fill that role and about a decade ago we realized that the only time we saw each other was during deer season.

What started as a New Year’s Eve dinner with our families at my place a decade ago has blossomed into not one, but two gatherings each year. The first is a winter pot luck dinner party at a cousin’s house, where we cook an entire hind quarter of venison. My job is to put together a slide show presentation with photos from the  previous hunting season. Those hunters who were lucky enough to have some success will tell their stories. We’ll also make plans for the hunting crew’s annual winter overnighter at deer camp, which is an adventure unto itself.

Sometime over the summer we’ll have a second gathering at my place, where again we cook a hind quarter of venison. At this gathering we tend to talk more about the upcoming deer season. These dinner parties not only keep us and our families in touch with each other, it also helps make any newcomers to our group feel welcome.

Well-known Adirondack deer tracker Joe DiNitto is also known for holding a winter gathering of deer hunters, which I was fortunate enough to recently attend for the first time. Joe used to have it at his house just outside the southwestern Adirondacks, but moved it to a nearby venue as it has continued to grow.

I made the trip over with four other hunters from northern Washington County, including my buddy and fellow outdoor writer Todd Mead. We told deer stories all the way over and back, which made the two-plus hour trip fly by. Once there, we basked in the discussion with nearly 100 other hunters and marveled at what I’d say was 40 or 50 large sets of antlers on the table from the previous seasons.

Joe, who along with his dear friend Jim Massett is regular on the winter seminar scene, also gave a slide show presentation that featured photos and video from his deer season and that of many others in the room. I enjoyed meeting several fellow deer hunters, including some who have been contributing photos to my hunting website, ADKHunter.com, for years.

Jim, Joe, Steve Grabowski and Dave Williams recently published a book titled “The Adirondack Deer Trackers: Stories Told in Deer Camp,” and copies were available. I was thrilled when Steve presented me a with copy signed by the four authors and have been really enjoying reading it in my spare time.

If you haven’t seen your hunting buddies since deer season, pick up the phone or text them a note and plan a get together like ours or Joe’s. Who knows, you may start a new tradition all your own.

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