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Deer camp is annual holiday for Dlugas

November 13, 2009
By Todd Guerne

ESCANABA - Two weeks away from the daily grind many of us go through sounds like a good idea any time of year.

To spend two weeks at deer camp during the firearm hunting season is even more special for avid outdoor enthusiasts like Dan Dlugas of Wells.

The 71-year-old Dlugas has been going to the same camp annually for the last 50 years. The camp is located on County Road 535, six miles south of Bark River.

"The camp is part of a 160 acre farm where I was raised," said Dlugas. After his parents sold the farm to a couple from Detroit, Dlugas bought back 40 of those acres where the camp was located.

Dlugas left home Wednesday morning to get the camp ready for visitors and the start of the firearm hunting season. This year, Dlugas says he and five other guys will be there for the two week period, but others will come and go.

"Most of the time it's just guys, but this is a family deal too. My wife (Sharon) and the grandchildren will show up periodically," he said. "Sometimes you get a newcomer from the big city who will spend a couple days and then be on his way."

There is no electricity or running water, but the camp isn't completely void of conveniences.

"We have a generator and we haul water from home for drinking, showers and dishes," Dlugas said. "Plus, we have satellite television to watch the football games when we get tired of hunting."

The 16-by-28 foot camp sleeps eight people, but more show up for Thanksgiving.

"I spend Thanksgiving at camp every year," said Dlugas. "We started having the holiday dinner there in 1969. About 20 people come for the meal. It's so nice to eat out in the woods, we really enjoy ourselves."

Most people who own or attend a deer camp are men, but Dlugas says that's not the case here. "Women are always welcome, we enjoy having them out there," he said.

A highlight of camp each year is guitar music provided by friends of Dlugas. One is an attorney who lives in Minnesota, the other a retired meat inspector from Green Bay.

"They start playing around 8 p.m. and sometimes they're still stringing and strumming at three in the morning," Dlugas said with a laugh.

Of course, no deer camp would be complete without hunting at some point.

"You don't really see a lot of deer," said Dlugas. "When I get out in the woods in the morning, there's all kinds of harvesters and logging trucks and the deer get spooked. But it's no big thing."

Dlugas retired 10 years ago from Wells Township, where he was doing maintenance. His home on North Third Street in Wells was built in 1969 and he spends much of the summer at his cottage near Nahma.

But every year for two weeks in November, you can find Dlugas and friends at deer camp. "The camp is very enjoyable," Dlugas said. "I could even live out here if I had to."



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