Hunting camps of all shapes and sizes

By John Criner Outdoors Columnist

I love hunting camps. Many of my happiest memories are of camps with my friends. Who you are with makes the camp. Hunting camps come in all sizes, shapes and locations. Almost all are close to where the action is taking place, be it either fishing, duck or deer, or just a weekend get away cabin. The size or the “how fancy” a camp is makes little difference. Some of the happiest camps are just a small old cabin with a leaky tin roof and so full of people it just gets plumb crowded. Most of these camps have stacked twin bunks to save room and a hand-me-down refrigerator that someone’s wife did not like. It’s surprising how much good stuff that frig can hold! The couch and furniture is usually old from a members home. My first memories of a camp was my Daddy’s cabin on Green Lake near Holly Grove in White River country. I am sure it was less than a thousand square feet with a small kitchen on the tail end and a small screened porch where you walked in. The outhouse was rather fancy with lights and a small fan. The lake was about 50 yards downhill where the handmade cypress boat was tied to a tree. The old boats were heavy and low sided but they paddled easily and were very quiet and ours was powered by a 3-horse Johnson motor. I remember catching ice boxes full of big bream and also my first bass on a Lucky 13. It seems like I caught bigger fish when I was the boy at the camp. This was primarily a fishing camp that Papa shared with a couple of friends. The first camp that I had ownership in was at Snow Lake. There were five of us that started the 101 Hunting Club. I’ll tell you the origin of the name in a later column. To say it was ruff and tumbled is a gross understatement. It was a small farm house sitting in a field next to the woods and had been abandoned for many years. The roof had pieces of tin missing, half the doors and not many windows. It was built up off the ground about 10 feet to allow for high water from the Mississippi River and needless to say the steps and most of the front porch were long gone. Other than these small problems, it was PERFECT! We fixed up the place and we enjoyed many happy hunting and fishing trips in it. We now have a 3000 sq. camp with two bath rooms, a large den with a large fireplace and room to sleep 12 people. Very nice, but I would trade it in on the old original camp if we could have the same good times of that era and the folks that I enjoyed it with. Several have gone on to the Big Duck Blind In The Sky. Remember, its not the camp, it’s the company you are with. Hunting camp can be extremely nice. Think about the club houses at Five Lakes Club, Menosha, Mud Lake and Hatchie Coon. These are private clubs with a waiting list to join. These camps have both hunting and fishing and were started many years ago. I am sure there are several more that I have not been fortunate enough to visit. There are several commercial hunting clubs within an hour or so from Crittenden County and most of them have very nice camps with full time cooks and a comfortable place to spend the night. The most plush of the bunch is Kirby Carson’s Great River Lodge. It is on the tail end of Airport Road. It is so nice that people have wedding and business meetings there. For a hunting camp, it does not get any nicer. They have both duck and quail hunts. It’s as close to 5-star as a hunting camp can be. I have just become acquainted with a new club called Cupped Wings and operates out of Gilmore, Arkansas. That’s not very far up I-55 and on the way to Jonesboro. The head guide dropped off some ducks for Lakeside Taxidermy to mount and he showed pictures of this second season. They have been having great success. They are a full accommodations club with full time staff. I plan to check them out very soon. If I have left out any commercial hunting clubs, please call me and give me the details of the operation. I will be glad to tell my readers about them. For contact phone numbers of these places, please call me and I will be glad to get you in touch. Christmas is almost here and it is truly a wonderful time of year. I hope you can enjoy this time with friends and family. We plan to have the family sitting around a big Christmas Dinner at our home in Proctor. Later I hope to be at The 101 Club with my son and grandson. If the birds are flying, great! If not, the company will be wonderful. Good hunting and enjoy the holidays. Papa Duck Lakeside Taxidermy 870-732-0455 or 901-482-3430 Jhcriner@hotmail.com

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