Deer camp a longtime tradition

I am in the final three weeks of a busy season that started with spring turkey hunting and running a roto-tiller. Combine that with a physical and full schedule with being the president of KAMO (Kids and Mentors Outdoors) and a bit of adversity in my personal life and you have one run-down outdoor adventures writer.

The icing on the cake for my April through November run is deer camp/hunting camp/fall camp how-much-fun-can-wehave camp?

Saturday, Nov. 5

High 65, Low 39

Today is camp-building, firewood cutting day! For the 20 some adult members of The Red Brush Gang it is a mandatory work day and you better have a good reason for not showing up. If you cannot make it to help, you owe three cases of beer for the camp (if you are here for the season).

Each year two weeks before the deer gun season opens just about everyone shows up at my place about 9 a.m. and we haul nearly a semi-load of firewood, wood stoves, picnic tables, bunk beds and most importantly our 36-by- 18-foot pole barn to a “secret spot” in The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area.

By the time we fall asleep, the “shack” will be up and next year’s firewood is cut. There will be nine sets of bunk beds and a few single beds ready for the exhausted hunters. Two wood stoves will be heating the building, a deer pole ready for several monster bucks (we are happy with spikers and adult does) and an attitude of we built it. Now let’s sit around the campfire and see who is the last man standing.

Forty-five years ago I came to deer camp for the first time. I was a fifth-grader at Poynette Elementary School. At the time our gang consisted of my brother, Tom, who was in seventh grade, my brother, Mike, who was a freshman and my dad, the late Robert Walters.

We had no money as my dad was a single parent raising four kids and our camp was an 8-by-8- foot canvas tent. One white gas Coleman lantern was used for light, a Coleman stove was used for cooking, our vehicle was always a burned-out, broken-down car and holy moly we loved life.

My dad had created this camp/ hunt, which is in both the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area, while he was going to college at UW-Madison.

Back then, before T-Zones and wolves, we would each see 15-35 deer apiece on opening day of deer season. We hardly ever saw a deer that was larger then a 12-inch, sixpointer, even when we went into Necedah on Saturday night for turkey dinner.

These days I have not seen a deer on opening weekend but when a buck is killed it could be as big as a 20-inch, 10-pointer! Our typical buck contest winner for the Red Brush Gang is about a 16-inch, eight-pointer.

About 42 years ago my buddy Jeff Moll started coming to camp and has never missed a year either. What dad liked about Jeff was that no matter how our junk cars broke down, he could fix them.

In that same era we started a rule – you cannot hunt in this group if you do not wear hip boots. There is so much water here that you are literally a handicap to other hunters if you are not wearing hip boots because as we do our deer drives which start on Monday you cannot travel with the group.

In the late ‘80s my brother-inlaw, Dick Schuster, joined the gang as did another good buddy from Poynette, Doug Cibulka. What happened to make our camp so incredibly successful is that we all had kids and they could come to a deer camp-building weekend as soon as they were out of diapers.

The kids would have so much fun that by the time they were old enough to wear blaze orange they could not wait for the real hunt/ adventure to begin.

Our name, The Red Brush Gang, was actually given to us by another group of hunters back in the mid ‘80s. They named us The Red Brush Gang because we always wore hip boots and hunted further back in the woods and marshes then anyone else in our area.

So camp is built, I will be there yet today for a duck and deer hunt and I really believe that both when we are hunting and laughing around the campfire that my dad, the late, great Robert Walters, is right there with us!

Be safe!


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