IS THERE A DROP CAMP IN YOUR FUTURE?
By Bill Miller
It’s hard to think of the end of the hunting seasons already, but especially if you live in the North Country most of the big game seasons are already in the history books. We can stay occupied with bow hunting or muzzleloading and some small game hunting for another month or so, but then it’s done for the year. But midwinter is the perfect time to be planning adventures for the spring and next fall.
COULD THERE BE A SELF-RELIANT DROP CAMP HUNT IN YOUR FUTURE?
If you dig into the true definition of an “outfitted” adventure, it means someone (aka the “outfitter”) provides the equipment and, perhaps, accommodations you need to participate in an outdoor adventure of some kind. While a fully-guided hunt or a safari is a kind of outfitted adventure, we shouldn’t forget a drop camp scenario is at least equally an outfitted hunt. Booked with a reliable, high-quality outfitter, a drop camp hunt can be a wonderful and economical way to experience wilderness big game hunting.
Usually, a drop camp hunt consists of the outfitter providing a pre-set camp in a prime hunting location with transportation to and from the area. Depending on the terms you agree upon, sometimes there will be food provided already stocked in the camp, or you may be responsible for bringing the food yourself. In some cases, the drop camp includes a cook who prepares meals and takes care of camp chores. In others, there’s just a camp hand or camp manager to make sure the tents, cabins, etc. are in good repair and to ensure there’s enough fuel to keep the heat going. And then in yet others, you’re completely on your own.
So you can see, planning a drop camp hunt requires at least as much research as planning a guided, all-inclusive hunt. Sometimes it requires more documentation and agreement since you need to be precise about exactly what you are responsible for and what the outfitter is responsible for.
In the field, drop camp means you’re on your own for the hunting. You’ll likely be hiking out from camp on foot, though in some scenarios such as caribou or moose hunting in Quebec there may be boats or canoes available. Generally the outfitter or a wrangler will stop by camp every few days via plane or horseback to check on you and to pick up any meat and trophies that need to be handled.
It’s critical to find an outfitter you can trust for a drop camp hunt. You’re relying on his promises of location, equipment, food and…perhaps most importantly…checking on you during the hunt and picking you up at the end of the hunt! Oufittersrating.com is a great place to start your search for that kind of outfitter, and for deeper research on operations you may already be considering.
Finally, you should consider a drop camp type of hunt simply for the feeling of accomplishment it provides. If you go on such a hunt, find your own game, make your own calls, take a good animal that you decided upon, handle your own meat and trophy care, pack the animal out yourself, and cook up some delicious tenderloins for you and your campmates—you’ve proven yourself a true outdoorsperson, an accomplished well-rounded hunter… and that’s a feeling of accomplishment and self-reliance everyone should enjoy as often as possible in their hunting career.