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Voyageur's Best Generally Speaking of 2005


Deer camp dish duty
It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it
by Nickole Caspersen  |  November 22, 2005

Big buck stories, the-one-that-got-away stories, blaze orange, deer scent, scent removers, high powered rifles and camaraderie all integral parts of the deer camp and hunting tradition. However, there is one more thing, just as important. The often overlooked deer camp chores.

Keeping the fire stoked is a simple chore everybody tends to pitch in with. The camp cook is generally selected by default, usually the only person in the hunting party who can cook. That leaves dish washing. Oddly enough nobody volunteers for this fun-filled, action-packed activity.

At my family’s deer camp a strange thing happens towards the end of a meal. All potential dish washing candidates start eating a little slower to postpone the inevitable. Covert glances are cast around the table as we try and divine who amongst us will end up scraping baked on egg and hashbrown remnants from the pans. Strategy comes into play. If there is a chance the next meal’s dishes could be worse, it might be better to volunteer and get it over with. Or do you hold out and hope for an easier batch the next time around. In the end nobody volunteers, so we fall back on one of our many tried and true methods for selecting dish-doers.

My favorite game for assigning plate polishers is “The Black Spot.” How it works is scraps of paper are thrown into a hat, two have black spots drawn on them. All eligible camp members draw from the hat, and the two who receive the black spots lose and have to do dishes.

Before I go much further I should explain what an eligible camp member is. Uncle Mark is exempt from dishes because he is camp cook. My dad is ineligible for dish duty because, well… because he says so. That leaves the cousins, the kids of the camp I guess you could say. Once we have taken a turn at the sink, we are exempt until everybody has had a turn. Then it starts all over again.

This hunting season, the game of choice has been cutting the cards. Some times the two highest cards are on dishes, other times the two lowest. Our newest variation is high card and low card lose. A tip for those who would like to try this game at home: determine whether the ace is high or low before somebody draws one.

My brother’s favorite game, probably because I always lose it, is flip a coin. We do this elimination tournament style. Two people go head to head, and the youngest calls it in the air. The winners of the toss are safe while the loser goes on to face the next contestant.

Other games involve drawing straws, picking numbers or spining pointed objects. Just for the record, spin the milk jug is rigged.

Each person has their lucky, and unlucky, method of selecting the dish crew, and when the dishes are particularly bad (or when the Packers are playing), we lobby for our favorite game. But in the end it doesn’t really matter, because a victory just increases the odds of being selected in the next round.

This article first appeared in the Novemer 22, 2005 issue of the Voyageur Press.