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The modern deer lodge: the Vegas of the Midwest

December 05, 2010 at 07:25 AM

The State Journal-Register

Thankfully, there are only two similarities between the Las Vegas and the Ruttin’ Buck Lodge and Resort.

Even though nothing at the cabin is as risqué, potentially embarrassing, or socially dangerous as Las Vegas, the Vegas marketing slogan can be modified to fit: “What happens at the deer cabin stays at the deer cabin.” I think it’s because it takes too long to explain the things to non-participants.

At the Ruttin’ Buck Lodge and Resort, “you had to be there” takes on a whole new meaning. I’ve been standing in the middle of things several times and I still didn’t get it until Boyd quit laughing and explained things to me.

Secondly, there are no clocks, at least none hanging on the wall in plain sight. Nobody needs a sweep hand to remind everyone this time is precious. There may be an alarm clock up there in the dark recesses of the loft where about a dozen hunters snore, scratch and mumble their way through the night, but I’m not about to climb up the ladder and peer into that chamber of horrors to look for it. That place would scare the daylights out of Davy Crockett.

Las Vegas is a 24-hour sensory overload where the casinos and entertainment providers have created an artificial environment. They don’t want you to know if it’s day or night.

At the Ruttin’ Buck Lodge and Resort, it doesn’t simply matter what time it is. Everybody leaves before the sun comes up in the morning, and when everybody is back at night, it’s suppertime.

The table fare at the cabin doesn’t compare to Vegas buffet spreads. It is far superior. Deer hunting is a hungry, meat, potatoes and apple pie business. Nobody has ever polished off a cabin supper then said, “This was a little too heavy. I wish we’d had a spring salad lightly tossed with raspberry vinaigrette, lemon pepper chicken on a bed of rice pilaf and brussels sprouts.”

When everyone is warm and full, and the conversation is relaxed, it’s a great place to just be yourself. That’s all anyone expects. Tomorrow’s hunting plan will be discussed and loosely tied to give Jeff more time to think about it. Even the young squirts are worn out about an hour after supper — after their second day of hunting.

Their version of Texas Hold ’em would throw a Vegas pit boss into cardiac arrest. Several hands may be won and lost before anyone notices the jack of diamonds has been lying on the floor since the first shuffle.

At the Ruttin’ Buck Lodge and Resort, everyone has the feeling that whether the hunt was successful, something good has taken place during the day. For me, when all the usual suspects are accounted for, the best part of deer hunting is right there in front of us.

I don’t need a clock to remind me that the time we get to spend there goes by much too fast.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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