Hunting camp maxims
Over the course of five decades in hunting camps, the Over the Hill Gang has discovered several universal truths that we should share with those who are newcomers to the blood sports. Each of these truths merits an essay of its own, or at the least a parable, that describes the trauma that accompanied its discovery and illuminates the life-changing lesson learned by the charter members of the OTHG.
In the interest of brevity and readability, however (and to protect the reputations of certain OTHG members), we have distilled these stories down to a collection of cautionary maxims that can guide those who set out into the wilds of the North Country. We hope that we can pass on to you our experience and wisdom without the attendant distress and suffering.
Ponder these maxims and learn from them if you will.
The first evening in camp should be observed with good beer, good whiskey, and good cigars. All succeeding evenings should be observed with cheap beer, cheap whiskey, and cheap cigars.
On remote trails, shift into four-wheel-drive to plow through the first muddy stretch and you will get really, seriously stuck in the second or third muddy stretch.
Green is nature’s “Danger Warning” color on meat and cheese.
If your shirt does not have a collar or a pocket, it’s probably an undershirt. An undershirt is not appropriate outerwear when in town.
Carry a pliers in your vest.
When the pond ice under your feet makes cracking sounds, regard that message the same as you would a letter from the IRS.
If the dog will not pick it up, neither should you.
Pants with waist size two inches too large are preferable to pants with waist size two inches too small.
Always have a two-ton hydraulic floor jack in your pickup’s toolbox.
Pour the morning’s bacon grease onto the dogs’ food, but don’t feed it to them until the end of the day’s hunt.
The odds that both your pocket compasses are faulty are very, very, very slim.
Take a new sweater to hunting camp and by the end of the week it will be an old sweater.
All .30-06 cartridges look alike in the pre-dawn light. Before you leave home, use a felt tip marker to color the primers of your own hunting loads bright red.
Good matches are no longer made. Buy a butane lighter.
Yes, a game shears can snip off the tip of your finger.
The inside pocket of your hunting vest is for a small roll of toilet paper, unless it is large enough to hold a large roll of toilet paper.
Skeet scores mean diddly-squat on woodcock hunts.
Check the depth of the water with a long stick.
Every battery-powered device is part of an intricate technological conspiracy to kill you.
Wool socks dried over a campfire will have a short, crisp life.
Camp stove manufacturers switched from white gas to propane fuel for a reason. Several reasons, in fact. Accept their decision.
Pack a back-up pair of eyeglasses.
Ibuprofen is a gift from the gods. Partake of it and give thanks.
If your dogs sleep with you on your cot, their dreams become your nightmares.
Not every small town business establishment accepts credit cards.
Listen to the morning weather report.
Wet boots will dry in one day only if it is a sunny day. Pack three pair.
A duck that no one can positively identify will probably not taste good.
No one ever said, “My hands are too warm.” Spend the extra money for the good gloves.
When hunting heavy cover, leg cramps are your body’s way of telling you, “Let’s call it a day.”
To attract a trophy buck to your ground blind, doze off.
Never, ever, say, “You can’t make it too spicy for me.”
Dogs do not roll in anything that has an odor or texture that humans consider pleasant. Clean them before you let them back into the cabin.
Gut your birds in the field, but do not pluck them until you get home. Feathers become part of everything, forever.
No, your rifle scope does not need to be adjusted.
Of Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths, the first is “All life is suffering, pain, and misery.” The founders of Buddhism must have spent a lot of time in hunting camp.
More stories about life in the North Country are published in my five collections of essays and two novels, all available through Amazon.com at Jerry Johnson Author Page