I know, I know. You just want a little piece of land where you can hunt deer and walk the woods and not worry about all the regulatory, bureaucratic, office-politics garbage that sometimes comes with hunting on a deer lease. I’m with you. But if you think you can run a deer lease without some hard-and-fast rules, you’ve got another thing coming.
Several managers of existing programs highly recommended incorporating one or more nights camping or staying in a “deer camp” as part of the hunt. Doing so allows greater opportunity for bonding between the participants and their guides or mentors, strengthening their social support network. It also provides a greater opportunity to spend more time in the field scouting or hunting. Obviously, planning for a “deer camp” increases the logistical requirements of setting up a hunt, but the managers who have incorporated this into their program believe it is worth the investment.
Programs who have incorporated “deer camp” into the hunt have done so by using it as a learning experience. Generally, they have introduced the participants and their mentors or guides early in the program and have specifically assigned them the task of planning the logistics of going to “deer camp.” The entire class, along with their mentors or guides, have planned meals, identified equipment needs, and other logistical considerations as a group. This has resulted in the entire class forming a tighter network and increasing their self-identification as hunters.
The “off time” after meals or in the evening has encouraged participants to share their experiences and tell their stories, which also increases bonding and their self identification as a hunter.
One hoped for outcome of creating this environment where the group is in close contact and shares many experiences is that, the mentors or guides and the participants form a strong relationship. When realized, this outcome can begin a true long-term mentoring relationship that helps participants negotiate all of the stages identified in the Outdoor Recreation Adoption Model (ORAM) and ultimately reach the “continuation without support” stage where they become long-term deer hunters. See the Importance of “continuation with support” stage of the ORAM, “next steps” and building confidence section for more information.