https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/short-but-sweet-a-camping-trip-is-always-worth-it-alps/

by Jace Bauserman 

 

Most years, by now, my family and I have put a mess of crappie in the Lund and have scouted and hunted for turkeys. 

Not this year.

Why?

On March 8, 2024, I had back surgery. A Microdiscectomy was needed to remove part of a herniated disc at L5/S1. The recovery process meant no boating or strenuous activity for four weeks. And then, even still, I needed to exercise caution. 

By mid-April, I was feeling strong enough for a family camping trip. I planned to head south, not far from my Colorado home, and scout for turkeys. 

My bride of 20 years and my daughter couldn’t make the trip, but my two sons and our foreign exchange student were excited to make the trip. 

 

Why Camp? 

I have a 20-foot Jayco, and the trip was only 60 miles from home; we easily could have come and gone morning and night. 

Why did we opt for Browning Camping’s Big Horn 5-Person tent, McKinley sleeping bags, and Fireside Chairs?

Simple.

There’s something magical about tent camping that you can’t get staying in a trailer or RV. It’s the work of setting up camp — the labor the entire team puts in to create a livable spot where fun can be had. It’s the firepit construction and the gathering of kindling and wood. Laughter and jokes as a spot of bare earth become something more. 

 

The Spot? 

One of my favorite turkey haunts is the land in and around a no-name canyon in southeast Colorado. Walls of rock mixed with sagebrush flats, cottonwoods, cedars, and a creek make the perfect setting for hard-gobbling Merriam birds. 

Before we went walkabout, though, camp needed to be set and lunch prepared. With all hands on deck, the fiberglass-pole tent with a top-tier hub design that makes setup a breeze came to life. Titan XP cots were deployed and covered by the McKinely bags and a few pillows. 

Hunter, my oldest and our foreign exchange student, built the firepit while my youngest, Brody, headed out on wood patrol. 

As I put the finishing touches on the tent, I heard the crackling and pooping of cedar, and its aroma, mixed with a hint of beans, and Ramen, told me lunch was almost ready. A few Mountain House meals were also on the menu. 

Plopping our butts in chairs, we sat in silence. The need to fill our stomachs was strong, but mainly, the silence matched the tranquil spring day, and we sat thinking of vibrant fans, deafening gobbles, and the possibility of finding a shed horn or two. 

The Fireside Chairs are a staple of any Bauserman camping affair. The compact but stable foldable design is unbeatable. The oversized beverage holder is a bonus, and the durable mesh fabric allows airflow to create a comfortable seat. We also are massive fans of ALPS Mountaineering’s Escape chairs. 

 

A Good Sign! 

I was just about finished attaching the weatherproof fly when Hunter said, “Shhh.” 

We all stopped, wondering why he shushed us. Then, I heard it. It was faint — a long way off — around the canyon bend and up the creek. Still, it was gobble. 

We quickly surmised the remaining camp chores could wait. We gathered our ALPS Shield Bino Harness’ filled with glass from Leupold and Zeiss and walked to the canyon rim. 

Our foreign exchange student Nills thought he spotted a black blop easing across a distant sage flat but lost it. When glassing, I always tote my Weekender Stadium Seat from ALPS Mountaineering. Though this weightless beauty is designed for sporting events, I’ve found the comfy bottom and stiff back perfect for glassing.  

After setting the tripod and adding my spotter, Nills’ suspicion was confirmed. A single tom, a gaggle of jakes, and nine hens were scratching for seeds while bugging in the semi-open flat. It was an incredible sight for Nills, his first-ever wild turkey encounter. 

Wanting to get closer, we inched off the canyon wall and made a gnarly 900-foot descent to the bottom. As we made our way up the creek, inspecting cottonwood draws, sage flats, and cedar-dappled hillsides, we found plenty of wild turkey evidence. Occasionally, I would tickle my aluminum pot, and more times than not, a gobbler would thunder back. 

I toted MSR cookware in my ALPS Pursuit, and because darkness comes late in the West during spring, Mountain House and Backpacker Pantry meals were on the dinner agenda.

We returned to the canyon rim with guidance from our Browning Blackout Elite Headlamps. It was sketchy, but thoughts of birds flying to the tops of cottonwoods kept us putting one foot in front of the other. We would stop occasionally to get our breath, and every time, a treetop gobble would bounce off the canyon walls and make us smile. 

It was an epic day in the turkey woods, and the best part was it was now time for a crackling campfire, stories, and smores. 

 

Camping Brings Out The Best In Everyone

The fire was vibrant, and tales of the day’s scouting mission—some true and some exaggerated—were told. Some marshmallows were perfectly roasted, with a brown crusty surface and yummy goodness trapped inside. Others were burned black, but the charcoal taste wasn’t so bad when stuffed between two graham crackers with Hershey Chocolate. 

We stayed up late, spinning lies and laughing wildly. As a father and outdoorsman, I don’t take these moments lightly. My outdoor brain often calls on memories made around a campfire. Camping brings out the best in all of us.

Our annual turkey scouting camping trip was shorter than usual, with kids in high school sports and busy schedules. 

When we got home, my wife asked me, “Was it all worth it?” You did all that work and only got to stay one night, right?”

I looked at her, slightly dumbfounded, as she loves to camp. Then I told her tale after tale of our trip. She laughed, smiled, and said, “Yeah, of course it was.” 

 

 

The post Short But Sweet … A Camping Trip Is Always Worth It – ALPS OUTDOORZ appeared first on Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

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