The great thing about Deer Camp is that each member can contribute one main meal, and that’s usually enough for the whole trip.
Good choices for Deer Camp are meals that were prepared and frozen in advance, and only need to be added to a pot over the fire. Chili is always a winner, and you’ll be spending most of your time outdoors so you don’t have to worry about any, um…unfortunate aftereffects. Soups and stews are also good choices.
The bottom line is that if you’re new to hunting, it’s not the time to get fancy and try to become an outdoor chef. Parts of you will be very frozen, and won’t work as well as they do at room temperature. If you chop through your finger, you probably want to be able to feel it as soon as possible.
Aside from the meltable main course, it’s good to have as many hand-edible sides as possible. You’ll be burning a lot of calories, and you want to replace them. Deer Camp is not the time for dieting, because survival is so much more rewarding. Crackers are great for adding to any pot meals like those listed above. Cheese sticks are great for protein, as are energy bars.
Sandwiches might sound like a good idea, and they are in good weather. But if it’s freezing out, putting together various slices of this and that will quickly become a pain in the ass. You also might be eating huddled around a campfire, where you won’t have a table in front of you. Therefore, things that require a knife and fork become kind of cumbersome.
Personally, I’m kind of addicted to milk and it’s been great for Deer Camp. It stays cold without refrigeration in the winter, replaces fat and protein, and is just generally awesome. Treat yourself, dammit, you just hiked over a billion hills. Water is also important, but you should be drinking that all day anyway.
Alcohol is an at-your-own-risk thing. It’s generally off-limits at public parks, but it’s also generally overlooked by rangers when campers are behaving themselves. I asked my dad about it once, because those old guys like to drink. I don’t know how they do it, and get up the next morning. They usually have a full bar’s worth of alcohol on the nearby picnic table, and the rangers come over to chat all the time without ever complaining. My dad said it’s one of those rules that gives rangers a way to kick unruly campers out of the park if they need to. Otherwise, if you’re being a good camper, they don’t mind.
The only caveat with Deer Camp alcohol is that you have to get up really early the next morning, and want to be at peak physical ability. That being said, once you get your deer, drinking becomes the fun thing you can do in front of others because you can sleep as late as you want 🙂