The Hunt Club House: Some folks call it their camp, that old exclusive place where invitations are implicit through birthright and revered to guests. Perhaps a smattering of cabins, an old house, or a trailer. Maybe it is one of those long established, venerable hunt clubs replete with a main house, storied and full of history. Maybe men gather in these haunts to stay out of cold and warm bones. They can catch forty winks after a long poker game or a night of jokes and old stories to wake in the frozen darkness to pursue duck or deer. That club house could even be the transient motel room or a canvas tent in the edges of nowhere. Despite the luxury (or lack there of) of the hunt camp, there are some essentials that define the hard, manly space that hold hunters and fishermen as they rest between the pursuit of quarry. Here is a list of items, not necessarily home comforts, but absolutely requisite, in the places men occupy as they rest and entertain between time in the field.
1. A good source of ice.
Ice has three essential purposes at the hunt camp. First,filling coolers to keep things brought cold (ranging from sandwich meat, to beer, to bait), second making cocktails, and finally filling coolers to carry home meat. Every good hunt camp that is fixed and long established has an industrial ice maker, period. Every primitive hunt camp will have lots of coolers full of ice, period. Any motel that puts up hunters will have their ice makers churning, period.
Outlier etiquette: Don’t put your bait or anything else for that matter in the cocktail ice. Don’t kill the ice bin and leave your buddies hanging with an empty cooler.
2. A big jar of something pickled.
Simply put, a two gallon jar of dills would go pretty fast, but for some mysterious reason, men who would never consider dipping tongs into a jar of pickled eggs, red hot sausages, or even pigs feet in their own home always seem to partake in moderation when there is a jar of pink-juiced pickled stuff in the hunt camp.
Outlier etiquette: Little small batch jars of homemade pickled stuff (think peppered okra from the summer garden) don’t last five minutes. Bring enough for everybody.
3. A wall-mounted bottle opener.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an old engraved brass one that is hung in honor of the club’s founder two generations ago or if it is screwed into a stud in a motel room (or into a tree by the cooler), every hunt camp needs a bottle opener that doesn’t move.
Outlier etiquette: If it can’t be screwed down and someone was kind enough to leave theirs by the cooler or bar– don’t move it!
4. Hot Sauce
Every hunt camp needs a island of condiments in the middle of the table. The essentials: salt, pepper, Tabasco, and Texas Pete.
Outlier Etiquette: Texas Pete and Tabasco are not interchangeable.
5. A tray full of snacks (junk food).
Men get hungry, they get hungry at odd times. Every hunt camp needs a tray with small candy bars, six packs of nabs, and bags of chips. (They might not keep them at home, but with guarantee, every man will grab a bag of Cheetos when they are available). For those feeling health conscious, nuts are always good. It is always best if the tray is filled with things that don’t go bad from week to week.
Outlier etiquette: One man should never eat all of one thing. Do not lick cheeto fingers if you are sharing a bag.
6. A bar.
By bar, let’s be clear: it’s not the liquor I’m talking about it’s the place set aside and the service items on it. Folks are picky about liquor as a commodity, you could ask them for twenty bucks and they’d hand it right over. Ask them if they want to leave half a fifth of whisky as they are packing up and you might witness a grown man running into a building as if it was on fire and his first born child was inside. The bar needs to be some special place set aside. A tray, a table, a side bar, even some vanity that is set aside and arranged so that men can park their bottle of choice and have the proper items for accruement when assembling a cocktail. The bar doesn’t need be exquisite, but it requires the following items: an ice bucket, a cutting board and knife, a decent old fashioned glass for everyone, a towel, cocktail napkins, tooth picks, a jigger, a silver stirring spoon, and a sufficient supply of limes, olives, club soda, tonic, bloody Mary mix and celery.
Outlier etiquette: If someone needs to muddy up a drink with Coke or ginger ale the onus is on them to set it on the bar as they arrive. Special barware (like the friend that only drinks from dart cold cups or the one that brought twenty koozies with his logo) is welcome, but don’t junk up the bar with it.
7. Good places to sit.
In the worst hunt camps, there is one good chair and it goes down from there. Hunt camps are a place to relax and every man needs a good place to sit.
Outlier etiquette: Sit your ass down, you’re making me nervous.
Men like fire.
Outlier etiquette: Not really any, oh, if outside: don’t pee in the fire.
9. A Bible.
Despite the perception of an escape to vice, the hunt camp is a place where men muse and reflect and Bibles get well worn.
Outlier etiquette: Be respectful of a man with the Word in his hand. Behave as if the Lord is watching.
10. Something for young fellows to do.
There are going to be boys and teenage boys around occasionally. If the conversation gets too mature the last thing you want to see them do is pull out some electronic device or get into mischief.
Outlier etiquette: You can make men out of boys be serving a good example, not by sneaking them to the dark side– take your boy huntin’ instead of huntin’ your boy.
11. A gun rack.
There is just something ceremonial about placing arms in common. Whether it be a rack for flyrods, a wooden doweled gun rack, or just a wall in a room to line shotguns up along, keep the armamentarium of the hunt together at the end of the day.
Outlier etiquette: Never touch another man’s gun without his consent. Be sure they are unloaded.
An old record player and a stack of vintage vinyl. Nothing is better that the thump and hiss of an old Patsy Cline or Hank Sr. EP in the background.
Outlier etiquette: Don’t assume everyone wants to ‘turn it up’.