Everything changed with the advent of the Saturday opener. Since the early 70s, it was head out early Friday morning after Thanksgiving, stop at the Steam Valley Restaurant in Trout Run for breakfast and on to Tioga County to camp. That part ended a few years ago, when the restaurant closed.
The camp had been winterized after a fall turkey/archery trip or two, so we reopened it again for a week of buck season. Sometimes a few repairs were needed. More than once it was Friday night or Saturday AM, before water was back on, as an example. Since I retired, usually stay well into the second week. Some years spent the entire rifle deer season up there.
Trip to town for the groceries we got locally, after camp was up and running. Visits with the neighbors, some scouting in our woods. Saturdays we often did some small game hunting for grouse and rabbits.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, usually some spotlighting in the immediate area. Kinda miss that, for the variety of critters seen over the years: 'Coons working over a corn field, foxes, 'yotes and so on. Some years a bit of final target practice before Monday.
Now it's rush off to camp Friday morning and most of the day spent getting things in order again, that we once had three days to take care of. But I've adapted to the changes and moved on. Do miss folks stopping by over the weekends prior to Monday's opener, but that's how it goes.
As a side note, very little hunting activity going on around there Saturday and now, Sunday. I expect that to pick up, now that folks are getting used to those changes?
We haven`t changed our camp traditions with the Saturday opener. We still go up Saturday morning and get the camp opened up and our gear ready to go for Monday.. Usually stay up till Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.
Don't go up until the 2nd week anymore, hunt the home turf,4D, now the first week. Actually started doing this a couple of years before the Saturday open. Change was made due to passing of a life long friend, some of the other hunters either moved on or can't make the first week anymore. May go up mid to late first week this year though, not sure.
As of lately myself and one friend will move in Sunday of the second week and hunt until Friday or Saturday. Son and family will join us for a day or two, along with whoever else tags along or shows up. Usually have a couple of guys from the bear crew for a day hunt.
Another tradition (s) would be visiting a few neighbors , pre made meals brought from home and going to a couple local restaurants for an occasional evening meal and going back up to camp for the last three days of the second week.
The most consistent one that we do is to go up Thursday night and hunt the last two days of the early muzzleloader season. We have done this almost every year except two when we went up Wednesday night instead.
Originally it was for me and then my brother when we were juniors but we added others over the years and now it is our second biggest weekend outside of the rifle opener. Even though we haven’t had a junior rifle hunter in camp for the last 8 years we still refer to it as the Junior hunt weekend.
Any year the old girl growls about too many people coming for Thanksgiving, I've offered to head for camp to free up a place at the table. Hasn't worked yet in the past 30 years. Always gets the same response:
You aren't here for Thanksgiving dinner, don't bother coming back from camp.
I always put a snickers bar in my parka's pocket, and sneak a few into my brother and nephews' parkas, first morning while they're eating breakfast.. My grandfather handed me, and later my brother, one each morning we hunted together before we started the long walk from the cabin.
Manhattan toast at dinner first night, in memory of those moved on to happier hunting grounds.
End of the day hay wagon beers when we load up my mid-70's paraplegic uncle for the ride from his blind back to the cabin. (man I hope this one continues a good bit longer.)
Night before opener beers and Yukon with all the uncles and neighbor and whoever else was invited. Lots of stories. I remember this as a 8 year old. Down to the last uncle and neighbor and I am now 52. The neighbor asked me recently how I know so much history about my place. I told him I was a good listener growing up, for the most part. Lol