‘Oh, deer,’white-tail hunting time is here

Deer-season discussions often take place in hushed tones, accompanied by smirks and stifled laughter. It just depends who you talk to.
At the age of 17, Adam Baudoux, is already a seasoned hunter. An employee of Brown’s Do-It Center in Goodrich, he’s well-versed in the macho mantra: What happens at deer camp, stays at deer camp.
Even if Baudoux isn’t at liberty to betray the male code of silence about what really goes on in camp, he admits to a lot of drinking, smoking, and, er, flatulence.
“We’re just hanging out in the cabin,” said Jeff Hyder, who also works at Brown’s. “It’s a time to let loose and have a good time. A lot of guys always go with the same deer-hunting buddies and don’t see ‘em that often throughout the year.”
“We only bring up deer camp stuff when the guys are around,” said Baudoux, who walked a fine line when he invited his girlfriend to last year’s camp. Luckily for him, Baudoux wasn’t the only male who issued a female invitation—his stepmother also showed up.
The women weren’t too shocked by the overtly-male behavior.
“We warned them ahead of time,” Baudoux said.
For Dave Newton, who works for Ken’s Redi-Mix in Goodrich, hunting with his son and a couple friends is an annual tradition.
“We hunt and then enjoy the evening, but we don’t go into town,” he said.
Since his buddy gave up drinking, beer is less of a staple in the camp.
“We don’t get too crazy with the drinking stuff,” said Newton, “but we have a good time.”
Newton, who recently made his own tent, is having a better-than-ever year.
His son normally gets a deer every year, says Newton, who uses jerky mixes with the venison, keeping the loins for steaks.
Usually, the activity of many hunters and “deer widows” during the season is deemed respectable.
Local resident Bob Rosencrantz says his wife spends the deer-hunting season shopping and hanging out with friends, along with caring for their daughter.
While Oaktree Elementary Principal Kim Hart isn’t secretive about her deer widow activities, she isn’t broken up over the separation, either.
“It’s a great time to go shopping,” she said with a grin. “It works out well—I don’t mind him hunting, and he doesn’t mind me shopping…as long as I don’t spend too much.”
Kim, who is taking classes, also takes advantage of the quiet to study while husband John is “sitting in the woods and enjoying nature.”
“We eat better than we do at home; pork loin, turkey, steak, trout,” he said, explaining that enjoying camp fare is no insult to his wife. It’s all part of the guys’ good time.
“We sit back and play cards and have a couple beers, and we usually get about three deer out of the camp a year,” John said.
Pam Koon, who works in the Oaktree Elementary office, is accustomed to being a deer widow.
“I am so used to it,” she said, “it’s a piece of cake.”
Not sharing the remote control and having the house stay clean are no hardship for Koon.
“It’s relaxing,” she said, not batting an eye. “I don’t have to fix dinner, I get the clicker, I get the couch, and I sneak the checkbook,” she said.
In the absence of men, many women relish time to themselves or shopping with friends. Like their male counterparts, however, a few don’t don their best behavior during deer season.
“I was sitting in a bar, and a woman came up to me all prettied up, and said ‘I’m a deer widow this weekend,” Hyder said.
Some women enjoy hunting—and vension—as much as their men.
For Ortonville resident Jack Horn, deer camp is a family affair.
“We just enjoy ourselves, have fun, laugh, giggle,” he said. “My wife used to hunt, but she doesn’t like the cold anymore,” he said.
They “hunt hard,” usually bagging a deer. Both husband and wife cook up venison loin and have the meat ground for chili, sloppy Joes, lasagne, and spaghetti.
Many men prefer to observe deer season as a male rite marked by annual beard growth. Facial hair not only adds insulation, but is good for camouflage.
“It breaks up my face,” said Hyder.
Generally women are not at deer camp, Hyder says.
“Not that it’s bad for women to be there, but it’s generally ‘man time,” he said.
Hyder has lots of plans for any venison he scores: venison stew slow-cooked with potatoes and carrots, venison turkey, sausage, or a nice roast wrapped in bacon, he said.
As with many male rites, deer camp pits man against man.
“There’s a lot of competition about who gets the biggest buck. The guy who doesn’t shoot a deer always gets ragged on,” said Hyder. “And if you miss one it’s all over—you’ll hear about it for years.”