By Donald R. Biggie
Starting the tradition (left to right): George, Dad (Clem), Uncle Fritz, Uncle Joe, Bill
-- My story begins in 1955, when I first learned my father was going deer hunting with my uncles. Although only 5 years old, I remember to this day as he left for his hunting trip.
The anticipation of the hunt and being with family and friends was evident. At the time, I didn’t realize how his excitement was affecting me. All I knew is I wanted to be with him and be a part of the hunt.
We shared property with Uncle Joe, Uncle Fritz, Uncle Rob and family friends. On 50 acres, these men built a hunting cabin known as the Red House. That would be the roots for Deer Central and where our motto, "Generations of Tradition" would originate. As the house was being built, we brothers and cousins played with toy trucks and bulldozers in the piles of dirt and wood scraps, building ourselves a special bond.
The years passed, and we were taught gun safety, respect for the land, the game we hunt and the laws that protect them. It seemed like forever to become of age, but eventually we all made it. As we grew, the cabin became smaller and smaller, so Dad along with Uncle Norm purchased other property where they placed 50-foot mobile homes. This was 1967 and became known as The Trailers.
Over the years, our families continued to grow and the trailers, like the red house, became smaller and smaller. One day a man my father worked with gave him a picture window, so Dad engineered an addition to the trailer around the window, doubling its size. The ground on which the trailer and addition sit is mostly clay and very rocky. Digging the piers to level the trailer and build the addition was beyond tough. But through the sweat, the dirt and the blisters, we learned the value of doing it ourselves and the pride that came with it. We asked Dad not to take any more picture windows from anybody.
The trailers became our new hunting cabin. There, we saw our children grow as our parents watched us grow while building the red house.
After almost 40 years, the old trailer with the addition needed to be replaced. Age was showing, and the need to rebuild was evident. In February 2006, the piece-by-piece demolition began, and a new era was beginning. By the spring of 2006, the trailer was gone and all that remained were our memories. July of the same year, we began building our new Deer Central, a 40 by 28 cabin.
By deer season, we had the place framed, sided and wired, but we were not yet able to stay there. My brothers Rich and Dale owned a country house down the road, so Deer Central Annex was formed for 2006. Our work continued through the winter, and included carrying drywall up the driveway through 2 feet of snow. We worked all summer and completed our cabin in October 2007. The new Deer Central was a reality and ready for opening day.
As the Red House was built by my father and uncles, as the Trailers and its addition were built by my father and his sons, the new Deer Central was built by my brothers and me, along with our children and friends. We eagerly wait for hunting season every year, but this year was special, and Brother John made sure of that with a fine fireworks display opening day night.
Talking about hunting season all year long, making numerous plans including the appetizers and dinner menu, are common for us. Traditionally, we save a large hind each year that is specially selected, wrapped and frozen for dinner the night before opening day. Our own Chef Felix prepares this roast to perfection and is a highlight to deer camp every year.
Deer hunting to us includes the processing of our own game. Special care is taken as we make our own Italian sausage with wine and feta cheese, Polish sausage, brats and plenty of ground venison for meatballs and chili. As you can see, deer hunting is more than just a sport; it’s a family and friends’ way of life.
Our rebuild is documented with almost 300 pictures. The photo included with my story could have been any one taken of our rebuild. However, I chose to send you a picture that is very close to our hearts. It’s a picture of family and friends, of buddies and pals. It was taken in the early 1950s and is the beginning of "Generations of Tradition."
My nephew David arrived this year at camp, and he was telling us about his son, Dylan. He is 7 years old and this fall he shot a perfect rifle score as a Cub Scout. He was awarded a certificate and patch from the National Shooting Sports Foundation for his accomplishment. I call him a natural. Most kids take a storybook to bed with them, but Dylan takes the Bass Pro catalog. David was saying how much Dylan wanted to go hunting with his dad and be at deer camp and just how disappointed he was. I just sat with a smile, although I could only picture his face I truly felt what was in his heart — the same thing I felt in 1955.
--Donald R. Biggie