Deer Camp Rules Gleaned From Over 35 Years Of Hunting Experience

With the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season just around the corner (on November 9th) I thought it might be appropriate to share some of the wisdom gleaned by attending over 35 years in hunting camp.   As you prepare for your hunting camp this fall, please take this sage advice into careful consideration:

  1. Never trust a skinny person to pick up the morning donuts for deer camp.  They will either severely underestimate how many are needed or pick up some healthy crap nobody wants to eat.SLD_1557
  2. The snoring in deer camp will be far worse than ever imagined.  Just trust me on this.
  3. Never complain about the cook’s grub.  They might actually tell you what they put in it.
  4. Don’t be the first hunter to come back to camp because you’re cold.  Deservingly so, this person should receive a great deal of harassment from the other hunters who all wished they were back toasty and warm near the camp stove.
  5. Don’t bring your clothes and hunting gear to camp stored in garbage bags.   Duffel bags tend to reduce the chances of getting old coffee grounds and food waste being thrown into your pseudo-luggage bag by mistake (or on purpose)?
  6. Position your sleeping cot as far away from the bathroom door or tent entrance as possible.  Is it necessary to elaborate on this one?
  7. Don’t be the youngest person in camp.  Always make sure there is someone more junior than you who has a stronger back for chopping and carrying heavy firewood (or a host of other menial tasks likely to be assigned by camp elders).
  8. Never bet more than $1 on either the first deer or during a game of camp poker.   There are always hunters in the camp who will find a way to take your money.
  9. Beware the hunter who seems overly willing to let you use his favorite deer stand.   What they’re failing to tell you is it was their favorite deer hunting stand a decade ago when it last witnessed a deer kill.
  10. And finally, even if you get a cell phone signal NEVER TELL YOUR SPOUSE or significant other that fact.   Let them continue to think how you’re hunting so deep into the woods reaching you by text or voice is simply not an option for the upcoming few days.

There you have it.   Just a few suggestions (some tongue-in-cheek) on how to best survive deer camp.   What other thoughts might you add from your years of experience hunting in deer camp?   Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Outdoors Bloggers Sometimes Frustrate The Hell Out Of Me

I’m not going to mince words.   At times hunting and fishing bloggers frustrate the hell out of me.   Even though I tend to think we are a fairly tight-knit group sharing common passions, when it comes to organizing and learning together it’s like waving a braided garlic rope in front of a vampire.   Outdoors bloggers tend to quickly disappear for the hills…with gun or bow in hand, I might add.

Seriously, there’s something a bit different about outdoors bloggers that I can’t quite understand.   I get it that most bloggers have a limited amount of free time in their lives for both blogging and enjoying the outdoors.   I also get it that a person can be hunting and fishing nearly any time of the year so why waste a day sitting in a class or meeting with other bloggers.   But what happened to the notion of enhancing the writer’s craft through skill building and networking?   Seems to me great opportunities are being lost here.

A few weeks back I attended my third Minnesota Bloggers Conference (known as “MNBlogCon”) with Michelle Scheuermann of the Sportsman Channel who also blogs at   To my knowledge we were the only outdoors bloggers in attendance.   There were lots of mommy bloggers, food bloggers, fashion bloggers, sports bloggers, technology bloggers, marketing bloggers, not to mention just ordinary lifestyle bloggers.   Yet, no other outdoors bloggers.

Photo2What a shame.   I sometimes wonder if hunting and fishing bloggers place any priorities on skill building.   I mean, let’s face it…there are many ways to communicate the outdoors experience.   But to do it with even a modicum level of journalistic skill does not come naturally to a person.   It requires some training and my guess is most bloggers are not trained writers beyond, perhaps, a college level introductory composition class.   Just a guess.

And that’s where learning to become a better blogger comes in.   Most of us have it down how to become better anglers or hunters, but if you want to call yourself an outdoors blogger being good at a particular sport is only one facet to being an outdoors blogger.   The communication component needs attention and nurturing, too.

Now, this criticism is not directed to bloggers who may belong to various regional or national writing organizations.   I understand with annual conferences and gatherings they get their share of networking and craft building.   Nope, my criticism today is with the outdoors blogger who sits at home and never interacts face-to-face with other bloggers.   It is my sincere hope this blogger recognizes on many levels the benefits of meeting other bloggers and improving on their communication skills.

Quite honestly if you expect to achieve longevity in any task (whether it be blogging, etc.) you must feed the beast to keep it alive.   Meeting with other bloggers has a way of recharging a person’s batteries with renewed enthusiasm.   For me, attending a blogger conference or gathering also allows me to do some deep introspection in terms of where I am going with my blog.

In closing, I am here to tell you that blogging holds some exciting possibilities in the coming years for those who excel at it.   If you’re contemplating starting a blog, why not start today.   If you’re already a blogger pledge to become an even better blogger.   Either way, it pays big dividends to get out and to meet other bloggers when they gather to learn.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Members Of Oakdale Gun Club Are As Special As Their Facility

A few weeks back I spent an afternoon at an east metro gun club in the Twin Cities and I walked away quite impressed.   In fact, I learned something about gun clubs that day.   It’s not just the facility’s modern equipment and location that makes it so great.   It’s the people who all share in the experience and their love for guns that is the true foundation of any successful club.

Now, mind you the Oakdale Gun Club in Lake Elmo, Minnesota is no ordinary club.   In fact, with 1,500 members and a waiting list that takes roughly 3 years to get in as a new member, the OGC is one of the largest clubs found in Minnesota.   It’s boasts members from throughout the Twin Cities, but predominantly within a 20–30 minute drive from its gates.

IMG_0476Like I said this gun club has all the amenities of what you would expect in a first-class operation.   A modern trap range, competition range, various pistol and rifle open ranges, a clubhouse and even a classroom that stays busy with lots of educational activities.   Recently OGC spent over $640,000 to update the facility and to ensure it will be meeting the needs of its shooters for many years to come.

But let me get back to what make this or any gun club special.   It’s the people.   People who care about their passion, but also people who care to share their knowledge and experience with other like minded individuals.   And this is what makes a gun club like OGC really stand out from the crowd.

I met Mike Emery, the owner of Northern Rifleman, who also is OGC’s Marketing and PR director.   Mike helped me host the first Annual Midwest Fishing & Hunting Bloggers Day at their facility and ensured all bloggers who attended received a top-notch experience at the event.   My hat’s off to Mike for all he did to assist us that day even though participation by bloggers did not exactly overwhelm us.   But that’s for another story.

I also got to meet one of the other personalities at OGC who made a big impression on me.   His name is Michael Gerster who happens to be the club’s legislative director.   Michael is a tireless advocate for our shooting rights and spends a great deal of time working at all levels of government to ensure politicians don’t trample on our gun rights.   He works with local landowner-neighbors to the club when they have noise concerns, he lobby’s park boards, city/county government, all the way to the Minnesota State Capitol where he advocates for gun owners statewide.IMG_0475

I also met a host of members who are proud of their club as they very well should be.   Each year OGC teaches between 400–500 firearms safety students for the MN DNR which I believe is the largest single facility in the state to accomplish that task.   Speaking of classes, the OGC puts a lot of emphasis in education.   Take a quick look at their class offering HERE.   I’d venture to say just about any type of class on firearms or safety a person might need can be found at the Oakdale Gun Club.

Now, you might think why should any of this matter if I’m not a member.   Please check OGC’s website before making plans, but much of the facility and education is also available to the general public.   While the facility is open year-round to members who pay a fee and volunteer club service hours annually, non-members can also enjoy much of what the club has to offer on a more limited basis.   For instance, OGC offers a Novice Trapshooting Night to encourage the general public a chance to get some coaching and participate in a safe, fun, low-pressure environment.

IMG_0459Indeed, I’ve spent a great deal of time touting the wonderful people and opportunities at the Oakdale Gun Club.   Certainly, if you are within easy driving of OGC you need to check it out and make some new friends who share a common passion.   On the other hand, if OGC isn’t nearby it should still serve as a great inspiration to check out what your local gun club has to offer.

All across this great country you’ll find gun clubs providing opportunities for shooting fun and learning.   In many instances they are only a short drive away.   If you’ve been considering a gun club membership take the time to act soon.   You’ll discover you’re not just joining a club with access privileges…you’ll also be opening the door to make many new friendships with some of the best people around.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.