Most deer camps are shacks or cabins in various stages of disrepair, but they are much more than that. They are also a combination of fraternity house, museum, and time machine that connects the generations of hunters that congregate under their roofs.

This one looks as if it might have grown up out of the ground. Shingles in odd shades of brown cover the outside walls like shagbark, and thick paint the color of spruce needles coats the shutters and trim. It has no plumbing, no electricity, no insulation. You can feel the outside air seep through the walls and smell the dirt beneath the floorboards.

In a word, it’s ideal-or at least none of the nine guys here are complaining. Every fall, they squeeze themselves into this remote camp where they never get comfortable enough to forget they’re in the middle of the woods, which in this case is the big woods of New York’s Adirondacks. To get here, each man has driven 200 miles of paved roads and jolted through a 15-mile maze of unmarked logging roads and skidder trails. And for all their trouble, this part of the Adirondacks doesn’t hold half the number of deer that they could find at home.

They make the trip for a reason most of them don’t try to articulate, and some might die before admitting-so they can be with each other and, in a way, with all the men who have preceded them.

On a November morning at 5 a.m., Alfred, a retired electrician who hasn’t missed a date at deer camp in 40-odd years, is loading the woodstove. Big Ken, a 38-year member, is brewing coffee. Mike, a 40-something general contractor who has cooking duties for the week, is frying sausage.

One at a time, in their long underwear, the rest of the crew is filing down from the upstairs bunk room. First stop is the outhouse (or the nearest appropriate tree), then straight to the woodstove for coffee. Pocket, a Harley-riding welder variously called Dan, Danny, Pocket, Hardware, and Fix-It, is leading the way and, as usual, toting half the gear in a Cabela’s catalog. Next come Big Ken’s sons, Paul and Dave; then Dickey, Bates, and Mike’s brother Steve. They are light-haired and lanky, and Paul walks as if he was constructed from a box of loose hinges.

There’s a short, obligatory debate over who was snoring the loudest and who was stumbling around the kitchen at 3 a.m. After the rundown of who’s hunting where, everybody grabs a rifle and heads for a rendezvous with a deer.

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Source: Dave Hurteau/Field&Stream