It’s the week before deer camp, which means two things:

For one, the past few days have allowed my dad, brother and I to start checking the 10-day forecast.

All you need to know about how far north we’re headed is that the local weather station on Weather Underground is listed as “Lawn Next To Open Field.” If you’re not familiar with the app, in a city, the station is typically a specific street, building or address.

We won’t be near any such city. Nearest civilization is about 15 miles away, with the majority of the road needed to get near the “Lawn Next To Open Field” consisting of gravel and dirt.

If it snows, like that 10-day forecast has been calling for, we’ll not want to leave camp until it’s time to leave for good.

Which brings me to the second sign that it’s the week before deer camp: Typically Dad emails the packing list.

(Note: This year I received no such reminder. Methinks he saw this coming when we posted on The Gazette’s Facebook page about hunting lists and knew I was up to something. Luckily, I found an old one in my email.)

If you forget one of the essentials on this list, you’re left to hope that someone else brought an extra or that you can survive a few days without it.

I’d qualify rifle and shells, knife, blaze orange clothing, boots (though I did forget them one year and was lucky enough to borrow a spare pair), wool socks and long underwear as some of the essentials. And it’s definitely nice to have a checklist to use as these things go into the large, blue plastic bin that will be bungeed shut for the trek north.

But then there are items that I would classify as nonessential. Most of them get erased from the Excel spreadsheet list before I even print it out.

Some highlights:

  • Deer tag. Sadly, you couldn’t bring one along anymore if you wanted to. Though many in our camp still wear our years-old green slips on our backs, for posterity’s sake.
  • Camera AND cellphone. That these two items are listed separately should tell you how long the list has been around. In fact, just bringing that cellphone essentially allows you to also cross off deer tag, license and flashlight from your list, as well. It is not, however, a substitute for toothpaste, deodorant or blue jeans. Give it five years, there will probably be an app for all that, and Cousin Matt will be able to print them out from his phone to his 3D printer.
  • Gazetteer/atlas. Again, this dates the list. Using Google Maps this week, I was able to zoom in on the exact tree I’ll be sitting in exactly one week from right now, despite the fact that it’s literally in the middle of nowhere.
  • Shaver. People shave at deer camp? Who are you trying to impress?
  • Aspirin, Tylenol, Sinutab, Pepto, medical kit, prescriptions. If anyone in a three-county radius has a headache, apparently Dad is a walking pharmacy. Just send him a text message and he’ll bring the kit over.
  • Chocolate bars, granola bars, chips, nuts and beef sticks. I promise we’re not actually squirrels. If you looked at this list, you’d never know were feasting all weekend on prime rib, roasts and pork chops. Perhaps I’ll add running shoes to the list.

I enlisted our Facebook followers this week to help me add any other quirky items to our list we might be missing.

There weren’t many responses. Hopefully that means hunters were out in the woods instead of in cyberspace.

But two or three readers agreed that all hunters should take either some toilet paper or baby wipes with them out to their deer stands. You know ... just in case.

I’ve only been hunting for about five years, and I’ve never been stuck in a “just in case” moment. But now that I’ve typed those words and jinxed myself, I’d better be prepared.

Dad, add it to the list!

Eric Schmoldt is the sports editor for The Gazette. Email him at eschmoldt@gazettextra.com

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