It’s deer season, and that means hunters across the Midwest are taking up residence in ramshackle lean-tos, particleboard shanties and camouflaged pop-up tents. Kind of like a frontiersman timeshare. We are a mixed bag of tricks, coming from all walks of life, but we’re all happily freezing our toes off at the moment. We’re also devouring Little Debbie snack cakes by the pallet. Some of us have even taken it one step further by loading our guns with actual bullets to embolden the illusion of hunting.

If you happen to be a Goth, a Hun or just a disgruntled government employee looking to sack a civilization, the Midwest is the place and deer season is the time. Our streets are empty, our law enforcement members are chasing whitetail instead of car thieves, and the bounty of our success awaits your plundering. No one is around to put up a fight, so leave those cumbersome crossbows, gudendags and halberds at home. Why risk pulling a lower back muscle if you can avoid it?

Even if your desire for domination leads you into the forest and you happen upon a hunter, you’re pretty much free to continue on your bloodthirsty quest. For the most part, the hunter you encounter is not in the mood for fighting. He’ll just wave you through with a blaze orange glove. After all, he spent the week prior to deer camp in the office pawning his responsibilities onto co-workers. All so he can sit on a five-gallon bucket in the woods for the next eleven days.

Believe me, distributing work duties in such a way as to not reveal your own astounding level of incompetence can take the wind right out of your sails.

Repeated trips to the grocery store also have taken their toll on the mighty hunter. Nourishment is vital in the hinterland, and a shortage of Chili Cheese Fritos could spell disaster if the weather turns inclement. The problem is, it’s a long way from the grocery store to the homestead, especially with a delectable bag of Chili Cheese Fritos peering seductively from the paper sack. Repeat trips to replenish the supply are just a fact of life.

Whatever you do during your encounter with Mr. Hunter, don’t mess up his bait pile. All the pillaging prowess in the world won’t save you from the stern whipping you’ll receive at the hands of the red-flanneled rogue you’ve angered. You’ll be left bruised and battered, whimpering for the carefree days of the Crusades and the Black Death.

So what, exactly, happens at deer camp? Today’s hunter willingly chooses to forego the lush trappings of 21st century living for a trip back to the rugged days of Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone. Oh sure, we have Pabst Blue Ribbon, cable TV and pepperoni Hot Pockets, but the essence of the wild frontier is palpable and flourishing. In the name of science, I compiled an exhaustive journal of last year’s experience, and I intend to build on that body of work with all the excitement and camaraderie of this season as well. While I wait to hear back from the Smithsonian regarding exactly where they plan to display my donation, I’ll share a bit of it with you here.

Day 2:
I awoke at 5:10 a.m. to the inviting smell of fresh coffee and sausage links, which melded with the rich woodsmoke rippling from the hearth. I shuffled into the kitchen, anxious to fill my belly with hearty fare before testing my mettle in God’s country. Carl looked up at me as he popped the remaining greasy link into his mouth “I’m heading into town,” he said, filling his thermos with the last of the brewed coffee. “There’s a sale on Oneida flatware at Kohl’s.” And with that he grabbed the keys and left. The rest of us sat down to a quiet meal of corn flakes and powdered milk. We dressed for the morning hunt and hiked to our respective blinds. We reported back to camp at 11:25 a.m., setting fire to Carl’s blind shortly thereafter. We shoved Carl’s GPS into the garbage disposal at lunch. It was a good day. Entry complete.

Carl won’t be joining us this year. Deer camp just won’t be the same without him, but in the ageless spirit of the hunt we will find a way to persevere. I’ve already called dibs on his Little Debbie allotment, which should ease the pain a bit.

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