Hunt Camp Live
In the Ottawa Valley, there are actually five seasons each year – Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall, and Hunting.
For two weeks each November, the Valley comes to a virtual standstill as men, women, children, and pets switch into ‘deer hunt mode’ and split their time between home and the hunt camp. It’s been this way for generations and is truly a part of Ottawa Valley culture.
Since 2011, Valley Heritage Radio has been devoted time, energy and resources into capturing this way of Valley life by bringing you the stories of life at the hunt camp through the seasonal program Hunt Camp Live.
Originally called Live From the Hunt Camp, the program began as a five-minute segment aired once in the morning, and again late afternoon each weekday during the two weeks of deer hunting season each November.
The idea was simplistic, but also genius. (This, according to co-host Gerry Bimm, who “allegedly” came up with the idea. Hence Gerry pushing us to mention of the word ‘genius’ at some point in this bio.)
We’d assemble a hardy crew to visit different hunt camps of the Valley, armed with only tape recorders, cameras, and empty stomachs and livers.
Their goal was to capture a snapshot of life at the hunt camp, as told by the hunters and their families. It was never designed to tell the story of harvesting animals. Rather, it was to focus on the family traditions, stories, memories, music, food, and humorous moments that you only find sitting at a table by the woodstove, in a cabin, in the middle of the bush. Basically, it was a slice of Ottawa Valley life to offer our listeners some insight and humour for the two weeks of the hunt.
It’s now a 75-minute segment each weekday of the deer hunt. We present 10 shows in the first two weeks of November and it has bloomed into one of our most popular on-air programs. The acorn was planted in 2011. And today the mighty oak continues to grow. Well, perhaps it’s still a sapling. But someday. Oh, someday a mighty oak.
On the Road
The very first camp the crew visited was the Bluff Mountain Hunt Camp in Ladysmith, Quebec. Yes, that’s when things kicked off. It was back in 2011.
The gang recorded stories. Took photos. And left with more tales than they bargained for, along with full bellies and a feeling the new venture was going to be a success. But never in their wildest dreams did they think things would still be going strong more than a decade later.
Including that trip to see the Bluff Mountain gang, our Hunt Camp Live crew has visited more than 80 hunt camps across the Ottawa Valley from the edge of Algonquin Park to Flower Station, Kazabazua, Quebec and all imaginable points in between. No one is safe in Renfrew or Lanark counties, and you can’t get away from us in the Pontiac, either!
If we had a nickel for every kilometer we travelled for Hunt Camp Live, we’d have enough to buy a private jet and helicopter. (We could probably just buy one with the cash from Lesley’s swear jar, but that’s another story!)
We’ve been in camps no bigger than a garden shed, to others that sleep 30. Some had no running water and were heated with a tiny woodstove. Others had central air, propane furnaces and camp cooks with their own sleeping quarters. And we’ve even been to more than one camp that had a sauna. Yes. A sauna.
Some camps are right off the main road, while others not so much. We’ve been lost. Almost run out of gas. And more than once we’ve stopped at the wrong camp (because of bad directions, not because of our navigation skills).
We’ve never gone home hungry (though that one time we needed the good folks at Harvey’s to fill our bellies), and have had unbelievable willpower to not accept all the beverages offered to us. We’ve cut ribbons to christen outhouses and gun racks. Feared for our lives on ATVs built for the racetrack, not the bush. We’ve worn wigs. Ate two-week-old gravy. Learned about internal eavestroughing. Did a phone interview from a tree stand in Pumphandle, Saskatchewan. Learned new words from Lesley. Met inflatable friends. And laughed until we cried. And the music.
Yes, the music. So many amazing musicians along the way. And our apologies to the late Stompin’ Tom Connors for butchering Sudbury Saturday Night on more than one occasion. Every camp is unique and memorable and has provided stories that will last a lifetime.
The Hunt Camp Crew is a crackerjack team of Lesley Galbraith, Jason Marshall and Gerry Bimm. Oh, and we can’t forget John McMaster, our tech guru and intrepid buck contest reporter and weatherman.
Together, this motley crew keeps the show on the rails and works hard to keep the spirit and soul of the hunting tradition in the Ottawa Valley alive and well. They work hard, play hard and laugh more than they should as they bring you this one-of-a-kind radio program.
If you would like to find out more, visit the Hunt Camp Live Facebook Page, or better yet – if your hunt camp would like to be part of the program, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org Until next time – seeeeeya!