I started working on this in early December but didn't get around to posting it with the holidays and all.
Now that it seems winter is here, I won't be able to get out to Camp on the weekends like we do in the Spring, Summer and Fall months. I really miss Camp in the winter. Oh we get up there once in a while but it isn't the same as being able to go and stay for the weekend.
When Arlene and I were younger and in much better shape, we would drive to the start of our camp road and then snow shoe in to camp pulling a sled with all of our gear for the weekend. It is harder to do that now and even if we could, it is difficult to do when you are staying in a travel trailer. They aren't exactly designed to be used in sub-zero temperatures. I wish I had the money to put a nice cabin up there.
Now that I have lots of time on my hands, I thought it might be nice to share a history of Camp Chicken with everyone. It has only been called Camp Chicken for about the last 10 years. Before that it was simply called "The Forty".
My Great-great Grandfather, William Rutledge was a pioneer homesteader in Marquette Township, which is in the Northeast corner of Mackinac County in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. He came to Goderich Ontario from Tyrone Ireland with his parents and there married Betsy Ross in 1861. In 1882 he and his family moved to Blairville, where my parents still live today, only about 3 miles from Camp.
His son, John Thomas Rutledge, my Great-Grandfather came to Pickford in 1890. He homesteaded the 80 acres that is now Camp Chicken. The 80 acres of property was sold at some time but recovered by my Grandfather Elmer Rutledge, John Thomas's son and was owned by my Grandpa Elmer and Grandma Gladys until their deaths. Gram passed on at the age of 100 years and 6 weeks on April 18th of 2004. Now the 80 acres belongs to my Mother Gloria. At some point it will pass on to my brother Chris and I but I just think of us as trustees as it will eventually belong to my nephew Ross, Chris's son. Neither my sister or I have children, so Ross will naturally inherit Camp Chicken.
So, for as long as I can remember, we have been going up to "The Forty" as my Grandpa called it, even though it was actually 80 acres.
Some of my earliest memories of "The Forty" are of going up there with Gramp and Gram to walk around or to shot the old .22 that Gramp had. I must have been about 5 years old when he taught me to shoot. He was a stickler for safety and everything I know about shooting, hunting and safely handling firearms, I learned from my Grandpa and my Dad, Harry. I remember being so excited when I was old enough to go small game hunting with Gramp and Dad. Now when I go hunting, I feel that connection with them and it's like Gramp is still right there with me, telling me what to do. Sometimes when I'm hunting deer at Camp I feel like it's Gramp thats sending me a deer to harvest.
The Anti-Hunting Crowd just don't get that part of hunting. I don't hunt just because I like shooting animals. I hunt because it keeps that connection to my Grandfather and my Father alive. My Dad is in his 80's now and doesn't hunt anymore. It's the memories and the tradition and connection to family that is the most important part of hunting for me. Everytime I go up to Camp and go hunting, I feel like I am honoring my family and my ancestors. And because of that, I try to be an honorable and ethical hunter. I never shoot more than I or my family need and I eat what I shoot.