Keystone State Deer Camp: Baydot Camp

Keystone State Deer Camp: Baydot Camp

Deer camp.

Baydot Camp in 2007.

What memories does it bring to mind?

The many exciting stories shared around the campfire — stories that dredge up the hunting tales of old?

The memorable hunts with your dad or grandfather?

The yearly visit to deer camp with family and friends to participate in the long-awaited deer hunting season?

Deer camp hunters are a unique bunch, family and friends, young and old. Deer camp through the eyes of a youngster is much different than through the eyes of a seasoned deer camp hunter.

The young generation hangs on every word from the tales of hunting veterans, while the weathered generation fans the energetic and optimistic flame of another deer season at camp. One commonality for both is that deer camp cultivates the fertile ground of a deer-hunting heritage.

Deer camp is a historical tradition throughout the U.S., especially in the Midwest and the Northeast. Throughout these regions, camps dot the landscapes — from farmland to forest. And all camps have a storybook that adds a chapter each year. Hunters in Pennsylvania use this time at camp as an extension of the Thanksgiving. It really is a time of year to express gratitude for a multitude of God’s provisions.

Throughout the years, camp goers come and go. Some grow up and move away, while others pass on from this earth. Sad and joyous times are forged at camp.

Baydot camp is no different. Young and old family and friends gather each deer season for a joyous time. This camp is more than a deer camp — it’s a family camp.

Baydot Camp

Family and friends gather at Baydot Camp.

For nearly two decades, Baydot has been a place for people to gather. People at this camp sense the warm and welcoming atmosphere like a family gathering during Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The small camp is in western Pennsylvania — on the fringe of a diverse landscape among roughly 300 acres of mixed northern hardwoods, pines stands, old and reclaimed strip mines, and a beautiful stream traversing a portion of the property. It is originally the McCall family camp. The camp is named after the owners (Bay – the nickname for Carl McCall and dot – short for his wife, Dorothy). Also, it is only one of two deer camps in the immediate area.

The inside of the camp welcomes each visitor into a hunter’s haven. Like most camps, the hint of wood-fired smoke catches the nose of each camper. Pine wood walls are lined with several antiques, taxidermy work, and old farm tools. Everything about this camp exudes the genuine atmosphere of a hospitable camp.

 

 

 

Tradition of Hunting at Camp

The night before opening day at Baydot Camp.

Several traditions take place in the hours leading to the first day of deer season at Baydot. The inaugural “Welcome Hunters” sign greets visitors from the front porch railing. On the night before opening day, hunters participate in a 6 p.m. poker game.

Also, Ron, a family friend, shares his favorite chili along with his wife’s cookies. The morning of opening day starts with a delicious breakfast by Carla Royer and her sister, Lori, Ron and John Royer also sport their “lucky shirt” with hopes to bring down the giant buck.

Traditions create memories for camp goers, and these memories remain the topics of conversation throughout the years.

Memories of Hunting at Camp

2003 Super Bowl Year. From left to right: Ron, Kale Royer, and John Royer.

Memories from camp can be so plentiful that they become hard to sift through.

Soon after the construction of the Baydot, Ron cut the ribbon of buck harvests with a 5-point in 2000 or 2001.

The blockbuster year to remember for hunters at camp is known as the “Super Bowl Year.” This is the best year and day of buck hunting from camp. Ron, John Royer, and Kale (John’s brother) harvested their personal best bucks. The icing on the cake was that all of the deer were harvested before noon on the opening day of the 2003 Pennsylvania rifle season (the second year of the antler restrictions in Pennsylvania).

The flintlock season for the ages!

Furthermore, another record book year was the 2017 flintlock season. Five does were harvested. This is the most recent favorite story at camp.

In addition, many campers look forward to the special meals: jerky, ham and bean soup, and the scrambled eggs, sausage, and pancakes.

Lastly, some of these memories at Baydot have been recorded for all deer hunters to enjoy. John Royer, the grandson of Carl McCall, has published these memories on YouTube channels: Leatherwood Outdoors and Leatherwoodoutdoors2. Also, some of John’s friends contribute various types of hunting and trapping videos. The videos on these channels are concise yet very enjoyable and entertaining to watch.

Fun Facts From Camp

Each deer camp is distinct, especially the fun facts the pile up each year. They are stats that become the nostalgic remembered history of camp. Some are forgotten while others become the staple story to tell each year at camp.

Ron’s 2003 Super Bowl Year buck.

Deer camp at Baydot is full of all sorts of fun throughout the year, especially during the weeks of deer hunting season. Like most deer camps, records (though not complete) have been kept of the deer that have been harvested over the years.

The biggest buck (during deer season at camp) shot is Ron’s 13-point buck (see photo on right). This was the buck he shot during the “Super Bowl Year” in 2003.

And the largest buck (antler score) shot on the property was harvested by a neighbor, Bud, and his grandson in 2009. The buck’s gross score was about 160 inches. Another fun fact: The longest dry spell of not killing a deer belongs to John Royer’s dad. He hasn’t killed a buck.

Last John harvested a buck in 2015. This was a large, typical main frame 10-point. John shot the deer with a 30-40 Krag-Jorgensen. In the past, the 30-40 Krag was used by the U.S. army.

John’s 2015 record book rifle 10-point buck.

This Danish gun replaced the 45-70 for official use in 1892 after thorough consideration of other rifles by the United State Ordinance Board. This rifle was brought into production in 1894 and remained in production until 1903. The gun John used on this hunt was built in 1899, according to the serial number. A distinct feature of this model was the rear sight, which was borrowed from the 1898 model. [1]

This fertile ground of deer hunting from camp has been something hunters have always anticipated. Hunting is a privileged opportunity to take part in the faithful management of God’s creation and enjoy His handiwork. It also gives hunters the opportunity to forge lifelong relationships.

Deer camp combines a passion for the outdoors with the desire to establish relationships with like-minded people. May the tradition of deer camp in Pennsylvania continue to flourish. And may hunters participate in the faithful management of the healthy habitat and populations of deer.

Click here to view “Deer Hunting 2016 Rifle Season Pennsylvania” from Baydot Camp on the Leatherwoodoutdoors2 YouTube Channel.

[1] Bruce Canfield, “U.S. Krag-Jorgensen: The Foreign Rifle,” American Rifleman (October 2010). https://www. americanrifleman.org/articles/2010/10/11/us-krag-jorgensen-the-foreign-rifle/ (accessed November 19, 2017).