The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has a program that allows individuals to apply for a permit to establish a temporary hunting camp on state land. They’re a great opportunity for those of us who don’t own a large parcel of land, and a good way to avoid paying for a hunting lease. It does however, require some extra effort. When I’m looking for a good hunting camp location, I consider a few important things.
Once I locate an area I want to hunt, access is key. I take some time and scout the ground. I usually take a spring fishing trip or hike and do this. Spring is a good time because the foliage is not on the trees and that makes it easier to spot old buck sign from the year before.
I typically look for lands that have a younger stand of trees. Younger forests usually have more food for deer than an older growth forest and state lands do vary in stand types. Some areas were private lands which have only recently been added to the Forest Preserve. Areas that have been logged will contain old roads which make it easier to navigate, but for me water is the best way to access remote hunting areas. Moving supplies by boat is much easier than packing them in. It’s also much easier to float a two-hundred pound whitetail in a boat than it is to drag it over rough ground.
I’m fortunate to have a group of close friends that enjoy the outdoor sports I do. This season we set up what I call an outpost camp, in Long Lake in northern Hamilton County. It requires a two mile paddle for access, in what is nine times out of ten very windy conditions. Although this seems a little over the top, we have our reasons. My friend Robbie says “it’s like going on vacation every weekend.” Even though we miss our families, we still manage to have a good time and do a little hunting.
With the weather this time of year being unpredictable comfort is very important. Sometimes we make a camp out of a small portable tarp-style car port. We furnish it with all the amenities, including a homemade woodstove, some cots and a small folding table to eat, play cards and reminisce of past hunting experiences somewhere deep in the backcountry. It’s very comfortable and a place you looked forward going to at the end of a long day of hunting. Night time always brings good food and a beer or two and tales of what we saw, heard, or found on our hunt that day. We have yet to be successful this season in tagging a trophy whitetail, though it’s more about the hunt than the trophy for me. But it sure would be nice.
This weekend is our last trip to this particular outpost camp. The weather forecast is calling for snow and night time temperatures in the single digits. As some of the local lakes have already had a thin cover of ice the past few nights, hopefully our access isn’t iced over. Wish me luck.