camp cook -

Camp Cook: A Memorable Adventure! (Chapter 1)

Being a camp cook was not something I ever planned on doing, or even realized existed, until I moved to the Jackson Hole area many moons ago. I consider the time I spent as a hunting camp cook to be one of the most enjoyable job experiences I've ever had. It provided adventure in the great outdoors, and a challenging learning curve, in many ways. The hunters I met added a human interest element to the job that I found I enjoyed. I met a retired NFL player, Hollywood stuntmen, a police officer from California, CEOs from large business firms, and a professional gardener, among others. Some came as a group of buddies, or a father/son team that had saved up for a long time to afford the experience of an elk hunt together. I engaged in friendly chitchat with some, shared jokes with others, and enjoyed some rousing card games of Gin Rummy with few of them. Some were more outgoing than others, as is the case with all people. I found it easy to get along with all of them, and had to grin when one of the guides pointed out to me that it might be because no one was stupid enough to upset the cook! Unfortunately, the hunter/guide relationships were not always as simple. I remember one evening, shortly after the guides and hunters had started to return from a long day of hunting, my boss came to the cook tent and quietly told me to pee in his hunter's soup, hinting that they had not quite hit it off. The memories I have to look back upon from my hunting camp days are precious to me, and I have enjoyed sharing them with family and friends throughout the years. I was fortunate enough to work three elk hunting seasons as a camp cook; each season for a different outfitter/camp.
It was a seven hour horseback ride through the Teton Wilderness to the first camp I cooked at. I remember a couple of hunters that opted to skip the first day of hunting because they were so saddle sore from the previous day's ride into camp. Each group of hunters was booked for a 10-day hunt. On the tenth day, one employee would stay in camp to guard it from any grizzly bear activity, and the rest of us would take the seven hour ride out to the base corrals. There we would unload everything off the horses and mules, load it into our trucks and head to Jackson, which was about an hour's drive away. The next day I would do my laundry, errands, grocery shop, and repack for the next 10-day hunt. The following morning, we'd pick up the new group of hunters at their motels and head back to the base corrals. The horses and mules were then saddled and reloaded for the trip into camp, and away we'd go. We did this for about two months - early September to early November.
During those brief visits to civilization in-between hunts, I also called home to let my folks know I was still alive and kickin'. Back then, I didn't understand why they worried so much about me. I was having a great time! Now that I have a daughter doing the same thing, I totally get it. But, having experienced it myself, I also totally get what drives her to do it, and know of the life experience she is gaining while LIVING and working in the wilderness. Such an opportunity is a privilege and blessing. As I share some of my hunting camp stories and photos in the posts to follow, I will also include some of Kate's photos she has taken while working as a camp cook. I have only a few of my own, and cameras weren't what they are nowadays. I hope you'll enjoy my stories!   LINDA

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