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Hunting camp is more than a home away from home, it's a state of mind.

It follows a time-honored routine except for one major adaptation. For many years I camped in a tent. That was fun, but it was spartan. A teardrop camper is simpler and a lot more comfortable, especially in bad weather. I long considered the desire for comfort a weakness. I am older now and, I think, wiser. Embracing deprivation was a luxury of youth. Appreciating comfort is a concession to maturity. It also makes me enjoy hunting away from home a lot more.

Arriving at an empty campground at a public hunting area, I pick a level spot among a grove of oaks. I chock the trailer wheels and after disconnecting the trailer from the pintle hitch on the truck, I move the truck forward and offload my gear.

Thankfully, I don't have to raise either side to level the camper. I jack the tongue up until the bubble centers in the tube.

Next, I place the fresh water tank on the rack on the front of the camper and place a small bar of soap on top. The cooler goes on the other side, and I secure it to the camper with a cable lock.

A canopy is a new addition. I did without additional cover over the camper for the first few years, but it allows me to get in and out without getting wet in rain. Access to the galley is outside. Without an awning, I don't get hot food when it rains. It also keeps the camper cooler.

The bed is made at all times, but I prefer to sleep under a quilt, which I unroll and arrange in camp. This is also the time to replace all of the things that fell out of the shelf onto the bed, including the maple syrup scented candle that I have never lit. I keep it in the camper for that delicious scent, which also vanquished the acrid "new camper" smell.

I brought four Coleman lanterns. Two are powered by traditional white fuel and two are propane powered. I prefer the warmer, gentler light of the white fuel models, even if they are more work to operate. I must fill them, taking care not to overflow, and then I have to pump them up 35 times, twist a long strip of paper, light the paper and jimmy it through the tiny hole without scraping it out against the side to light the mantles. Then, I pump the reservoir another 20 times. I have to pump them again during the night, but that's part of the experience.

The white fuel lanterns are also a lot quieter than the roaring propane lanterns, but it's good to have the latter type just in case.

The Coleman lantern stands were a real coup. I used to hang lanterns from a chain collar clipped to a tree, but it requires a small diameter tree. I was also limited in how high I could hang it. The lantern stands telescope well above head height so that they are above line of sight.

Finally, it's time to set up the kitchen. I carry two propane stoves. I don't know why. I guess because I have them. I assemble one and attach a canister of propane. I place a cast iron skillet on the left burner and a stainless steel pot with a copper bottom on the right burner. I use the pot for heating soup and water. I use the skillet for bacon and eggs and stir fry. The skillet will go unused this trip because frankly, I am too absorbed with turkey hunting to spend much time cooking. I brew enough coffee to fill a Thermos in the mornings. Breakfast and lunch consist of Welch's fruit chews. Funny thing is, I don't get hungry. I only get hungry when I'm bored.

In the evening, after lighting the lanterns and washing my hands and hair, I'll heat up a can of soup. On my last night I pull out the stops and heat up a freeze-dried bag of chili mac and cheese, and add them to a jar of baked beans I brought from home.

After dinner, I'll add a shot of bourbon to a cup of hot apple cider, and then I'll kick back and relax for a half an hour before turning in for the night.

Those were three wonderful days and nights. I haven't slept that well since the last time I camped.

Sports on 04/16/2020

Print Headline: Camping enhances joy of hunting

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