A few days ago I noticed a small ad in my local newspaper promoting a new theater show called DEER CAMP. At first glance I must say it certainly caught my attention. But honestly, a theater production about deer hunting? Can they be serious? Well, of course, if you want to poke fun at the nimrod mentality of deer hunting I suppose there are lots of gags and punchlines that would turn an audience into stitches, but what type of stereotypical message does this perpetuate about us hunters? It makes me wonder.
So, I checked out their web site and came across this excerpt from their media release:
DEER CAMP hilariously follows four fearless deer hunters from Elmwood, MN on their annual trek to deer camp. But things are looking bleak this season, after decades of hunting trips, the guys have yet to bring home a single deer and the wives are getting suspicious. This season they need to show their wives that they are the mighty hunters they claim to be, which is not so easy when the thought of drinking beer and hanging out in the deer shack is more appealing than freezing in a deer stand. Luckily for our guys, what happens at deer camp stays at deer camp. Laugh and sing a long as they try and hatch a plan to save their northern paradise without firing a shot.
Now don’t get me wrong…I can laugh at self-deprecating humor as much as anyone, but I can’t help but picture in my mind’s eye a bunch of pompous, high-falutin’ theater goers attending this musical only to more deeply foster a negative attitude about a sport I deeply love. While I admit, there can be lots of humor in the things that we do in deer camp…the beer drinking, card playing, lazy portrayal of us hunters is something I can certainly do without. It might be the lifestyle that non-hunters believe of us, but it only cheapens the overall image of the experience for those of us who take deer hunting much more seriously.
Granted, having not seen the production and to write a review is somewhat unfair. Yet, is it any more fair to portray deer hunting, at least to the non-hunting public, as an activity wrought with laziness and deception? I certainly think not. In some ways it takes the worst example of how a small minority of hunters might act and makes the behavior appear as if it’s commonplace throughout our ranks.
I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a lot of hilarity that takes place in the typical deer camp. The stories, the tradition, and the camaraderie is ripe for exploitation. And while I’m sure if I went to the show I would likely be laughing at the antics right along with the audience, but there’s one big difference. I have the hunt camp experience to discern what is fact and what is fallacy about the real deer camp. My biggest fear is, although theatrical performances like this may be nicely staged and well written, they create a storyline for a certain arts-enjoying segment of our population that already believes we are all nothing but Elmer Fudds still wearing red plaid flannel.
2008 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.