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Six Generations of Deer Camp Traditions (Page 2)

Nothing says tradition like deer camp. Just ask this old-timer whose hunting party now spans six generations of family and friends ... and sometimes deer. 

A quick lesson in the camp’s hunting horns, which were made from the actual horns of bulls: One horn blast was the look-out call, meaning a deer was coming. Two blows signaled “message received.” Three blows meant someone killed a deer or needed help, and four blows meant you were lost. Constant blowing meant the camp was calling home their dogs.

“When the hounds didn’t come back at night, the men sent the boys outside to blow their horns and get those dogs in,” Mr. Raymond says. “The dogs in the kennel would be barking, the horns would be blowing, and the dogs out in the swamp knew horns meant food and a warm place to sleep.”

Automobiles eventually chased the hounds from the Long Camp for good, but the process was more subtle than Highway 190’s road-kills a half-century earlier. Cars, vans and trucks brought more hunters into the swamps surrounding the Long Camp as the 1970s came and went, and properties increasingly broke into smaller camps with tighter boundaries. With nowhere to run, hounds quit running by the early 1980s.

“Everyone started sitting on stands with rifles and bows,” Mr. Raymond says. “We had no choice. You’d turn your dogs loose and they’d be running onto the other hunting club.”

Horses and Horsepower
Horses also worked at the Long Camp, especially in the mid-1900s. The Pirie brothers joined the camp as youngsters during the 1950s when their father, Gordon, brought them. Frank Pirie said horses were the most reliable way to reach camp, and they hauled deer with little effort. But unlike boats, trucks, tractors or ATVs, horses can be unreasonable.

“During the 1959-60 deer season, I was 9, and I remember Daddy firing his old Model 12 Winchester three times: pow, pow, pow,” Frank says. “Then he blew his horn three times. He came and got us. We went back in there with Buck, Daddy’s horse. Daddy made sure Buck didn’t see his deer because he knew it would spook him. Daddy put a rope through the deer’s antlers, put a half-hitch around its nose, and tied it off on the pummel of Buck’s saddle.

“On the way out, Buck turned, saw that deer dragging on the ground behind him and lunged forward. When the slack came out of the rope, the deer jerked up at him. That was it! Ol’ Buck blew out of there. I was holding the reins, but I was no match for a 1,200-pound horse. The last we saw of him, those stirrups were flapping, and old Buck’s head was straight out and his ears laid back. Daddy’s deer was about a foot off the ground, leaves flying everywhere, and ol’ Buck was busting through saplings and ricocheting off trees.

“Daddy took off that old khaki hat of his, threw it to the ground and yelled, ‘Dadgummit! All my life I’ve wanted to get a deer mounted, and I finally kill a nice 12-point buck worth mounting, and now he’s gone!’ After we walked a ways, we found poor ol’ Buck, flat on his back, hoofs straight up in the air, kicking and bucking. That deer was up on his chest, all tangled up tight against him. They were so tangled that Buck couldn’t get off the ground. His eyes were huge, and he was giving out big, long grunts. Daddy walked up, still holding that Model 12, and stuck it up against Buck’s head. We were horrified. Daddy was so mad. He said, ‘Buck, you old son of a gun. If we didn’t have so far to walk I’d blow your brains out!’

“Well, it took us a while, but we finally got them untangled. Daddy got that old deer mounted and it’s still hanging up today.”

Enduring Bonds
Everyone who earns their place in the Long Camp knows they’re part of something special. When the Pirie brothers were in their mid-teens, a burglar murdered their father in his store.

“Mr. Raymond just adopted us into his camp after that,” says Frank Pirie. “We couldn’t afford anything after Daddy got killed, even hay for our horses. But Mr. Raymond provided all that. He covered all our camp expenses and other things, and he never said a word. We helped him haying. We didn’t have any money, but we knew how to work.”
Gordon Pirie believes the camp’s elders helped shape their lives. “Daddy surrounded us with men of integrity,” he says. “Mr. Raymond and Mr. John Barton helped form our character. We’d never do anything to embarrass them. They taught us how to shake a man’s hand, to always look him in the eye, and to believe a man is only as good as his word.

“Certainly, it was a hunting camp and it provided great camaraderie, but it also set a good example for young people. That’s as big a part of the Long Camp as the deer hunting.”

And that also explains why this sixth generation of Louisiana family and friends won’t be the last to call the Long Camp their hunting home.

Photos Courtesy Long Family

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1 Response to Six Generations of Deer Camp Traditions (Page 2)

Chad Steib wrote:
October 22, 2013

Thank you Mr. Patrick for writing this amazing story about my families hunting camp! It is truly an honor to be in this magazine.