When camping in nature, you need to be ready for any uninvited guests who might drop by. Oftentimes they invite themselves to dinner.
Back when it was just the five of us camping and my son was a baby, we went to Highpoint State Park in northern New Jersey. At this point, we were still getting the children used to camping, with all the bugs around and dinner taking hours to cook on a two-burner camp stove where only one burner really works.
Well, the smell of hot dogs called to more than just my girls. A large buck came tromping right up to our Coleman stove. Even my scream didn’t startle him. It startled my husband and children in the tent. The five-year-old unzipped the door and came out.
“Freeze,” I told her.
“It’s a reindeer!”
“Yes,” I said, go back into the tent.
My husband shouted from the tent windows: “Bang pots together!”
Right! The pots that were on the picnic table, beyond the deer. Right.
The deer wouldn’t back up from me and the stove. So I turned off the stove and took the dog pot with me to the picnic table. The deer followed. I put the pot down and picked up an empty pot and lid. I clanged them together at the deer. He just looked at me as if to say, could you please move so that I can get a hot dog.
By this time, my husband had come out of the trailer with a squeaky toy and started squeaking from a distance behind the deer. I continued banging the pot from the front. The deer’s body flinched. His ears started twitching. His tail flipped. He lowered his head and I thought I would be sick. But he stayed rooted in his position.
My husband and I continued our assault on the peacefulness of nature and finally the deer gave up on the prospect of having a nice quiet hot dog meal and left. I couldn’t carry the pot back to the stove; I was shaking so much, so my husband finished cooking the hot dogs.
We ate in the tent instead of at the picnic table, all sitting on the floor, cross-legged, telling stories. This was before our new camper with the indoor kitchenette and tables.
It is NOT a good idea to feed the wild animals when camping. Also, never dump cooking pot water into the environment around camp. The smell of food lingers to wild animal senses and draws the animals into camp. Always wash cooking dishes at the sinks all campgrounds have available for this purpose.