By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Hunting clubs exist in all shapes and sizes and, like families, can fall into dysfunction or rise from it depending on their leadership. Rather than an experiment in democracy then, it follows that many of the best and longest-lasting clubs are governed in the style of a benevolent dictatorship.
Like many of the oldest tenets of the outdoors, the attribution for the term’s first use in the hunting club world has been lost to history but its application has not. J. Wayne Fears, of Alabama, has written extensively on the subject, and virtually every club I’ve visited over the years has proven the practice to be true.
“A hunting club democracy often leads to the forming of cliques, with the reigning party setting up rules and regulations primarily for their own interests and not necessarily for the best interests of the other club members,” Fears writes in “Deer Hunter’s and Land Manager’s Pocket Reference.”
Since most of us go to hunting camp to escape the tedium of everyday life rather than immerse ourselves further into it, the last thing we’re apt to enjoy is a squabble among our buddies when it’s time to decide which fields to plant and with what, where new stands should go and everything else that goes into the decision-making process that accompanies the management of any combined investment experience.
all about fellowship
With that tranquility established beyond any reasonable doubt, then, what most of us find is a hunting camp experience whose simple joy of being far outweighs any other goal.
“I enjoy the fellowship and all the tales,” Johnny Crane, of Fulton, said of the regular gatherings at Bull Mountain Bottom Hunting Club. “Sometimes there’s a big crowd, usually there’s just a few of us here. Either way, the fellowship is the key to all of it, no doubt.”
“I’ve belonged to the same hunting club for more than 40 years, and to me, the traditions of camp itself are a big part of hunting,” Fox Haas, of West Point, says of the club he enjoys in south Alabama. “If you’ve got 15 different people you’ve got 15 different opinions so, when it comes down to decision-making time, you need someone in charge whose last word is truly the very last word.”