Nearly every year since before I was born, my family has gone on a hunting trip in the fall and a fishing trip in the spring. I was nine years old before I made my first trip to hunting camp because, in addition to firearm safety, I was expected to walk long walks through the woods without complaint. Over the years, while hunting camp is still hunting camp, the amount of hunting has declined and so too has the age of first-timers. Braedon made his first trip to hunting camp this past weekend.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Northeastern Wisconsin are dotted with Mom and Pop taverns and cabins. The Elvoy Cottages, along the Elvoy Creek in Wisconsin, are no different than any of the others in the area; except that Elvoy is where my family congregated each fall since before my first hunting trip in 1981, and every spring since 1986 (prior to ‘86 the fishing trip involved pitching a tent in the woods near a river or stream).
The cabins on a hill and the bar below made for some fun times over the years. As a kid, the bar was a place to spend countless hours playing pinball on a dated machine. The hill also made for interesting football and baseball games, depending on the season.
Shooting BB guns was another favorite pastime at camp. As my shooting skill increased from hitting distant cans to hitting moving cans, so too did my ability to adjust my aiming point when I didn’t hit my intended target. That was a concept that proved challenging years later when, in boot camp, I learned the correct way to fire a rifle was to adjust the sights rather than the point of aim. While I don’t think Breadon will be getting a BB gun for Christmas, though not because his mom thinks he’d shoot his eye out, he did enjoy his first shooting experience.
A few years ago, a scheduling conflict forced my family to look for another place to rent during our hunting and fishing weekends. We found a place on the Michigan side of the border at the Ski Brule Ski Resort. Our accommodations have improved drastically; from a place with an outhouse, to a place with a hot tub. However, I don’t think any of us ever went to camp for the accommodations, or lack thereof, we go to enjoy our visit with one another, and to keep a family tradition alive and well - a tradition enjoyed by a fourth generation.