Thursday, September 20, 2012

Check List

     With grouse season just around the corner my thoughts have turned to my much anticipated grouse camp. The long drive to far away grouse coverts, and the evenings enjoyed with good friends, and dogs is second to none. This year I'm fortunate enough to have two camps planned, and an invite to join some others at a third camp. With a new dog I've spent a lot of time training, and preparing I expect to spend quite a bit of time away from home. Of course one just doesn't grab a gun and jump in the car. Lots of planning and logistics go into such an adventure to make it a success. There are things that need to be considered.

     Packing all the necessary hunting accoutrement's comes easy after many years afield. The basics; gun, dog, and shells all seem to fall in place. GPS, maps, cleaning rods, and such are usually always ready to go, neatly stored. The fact that there are often trips to the skeet or sporting clays club means that essential shooting supplies are always refreshed in a timely manner. Hunting clothes are packed in their own duffel or hung together in the walk-in, for one stop shopping (though I'll admit to forgetting brush pants on a late season outing some years back). It's the other things that go into making camp enjoyable that need to be considered.

     One of the hallmarks of any good camp is the food. I'm fortunate that I share camp with a crew of guys that know their way around a kitchen. Despite the long days of walking covert behind dogs, we all gain weight a camp. The fact that we are a travelling group, switching locales every few years, we've learned that not all rental camps have the same amenities. Two areas where we've found it wise to provide for ourselves are kitchen related. Coffee is important in the morning, and camp coffee makers have often seen better days. We travelling with a french press to make our own coffee. Sure, they are delicate, and require a little practice to get the ratio right, but they are worth the effort. This year I've gone one step further. I received a single cup drip brewer as a Christmas present last year. It will make it's camp debut next month. Yes, coffee is that important. The other kitchen utensil that we now travel with is a good, sharp chef's knife. Camp knives get flat out abused. While a dull knife can be dangerous, we just find them annoying. So a knife or two always make the trip. And Yes, I've got a box set of steak knives too, especially for camp.  Seasonings have been a problem in the past, too. Salt and pepper are staples in the kitchen, and a good meal is of vital importance so it's sea salt, and a pepper mill for us. We're not food snobs by any stretch, but why take a chance with the woodcock breast your about to grill. Right? By now I figure I don't need to tell you how important a few cloves of fresh garlic, and a handful of shallots are either. And don't get me started of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and good mustard.

     Libations are probably the second most important item that require thought. Naturally beer is on the menu. This is one area where we seldom have too much of a problem. That's right. I said "too mush of a problem". Naturally everyone brings different beers, and an beer enthusiast could have quite a sampling; seasonal Oktoberfest, Yuenglings (the Pa, NJ guys love them), artisan ales, and bitter lagers. The only problem is some beers disappear faster than others. Not too bad of a problem really, considering we've a wine connoisseur amongst us. Choosing a brown liqueur isn't too terribly difficult. I like scotch. Most of the others like bourbon. We compromise. I bring scotch, and they bring bourbon. When it comes to brown liqueur there are some appropriate choices, but they never make it to camp. Bird Dog Whiskey, and Famous Grouse are appropriately named, but... And I suppose if we were at deer camp Whitetail whiskey would fit the bill.

     Another area to be considered is entertainment. When the pavement ends, and the cell phone signal disappears one finds they are stuck with a bit of satellite TV, and a selection of history VCR tapes. Now is the time to start loading the iPhone or iPad with music. A pair of small computer speakers plugged into an music holding device does the trick nicely. If one is inclined to rip a few movie to an iPad you can be equipped with current visual entertainment, too.
     Lastly, I'll not tell you what type of tobacco product to pack, but I'll caution you. Not every member of camp may be a regular cigar smoker, so its best to pack a few you enjoy, and a few for the curious. Regardless, a good cigar deserves a proper ashtray, so I've got a nicely boxed camp ashtray, too. After all, it's camp. One has to get it right.

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