CENTRALIA, Okla. -- Out in the middle of nowhere, a giant well-lit American flag hangs throughout the opening weekend of whitetail rifle season each year at the only home for miles.
It’s a 97-year-old home barely modernized. It has running water that’s undrinkable, and a toilet that only flushes properly sometimes. The exterior is chipped by 10 decades of tornado warnings, 110-degree summers, winter ice storms and dust blown at 30 mph.
And as powerful as the eyeful of red, white and blue is on the side of the 1916 home, many guests at the annual Brothers & Company Deer Camp say it’s the village of perfectly placed white Montana Canvas tents among hay bale lined walkways that make an equally lasting impression.
Click the image to see photos of the Brothers & Company Deer Camp
A large permanent pavilion with walls made of the famous white canvas serves as a central gathering spot for all meals, as well as a sanctuary for an informal but spiritual singalong following the Sunday morning hunt.
Brothers & Co is a Tulsa-based advertising agency serving several highly-respected outdoor brands as treasured clients. There’s one thing that becomes readily apparent at its three-day Deer Camp each November -- while they hold it to strengthen business relationships, they do it with God, country and an unapologetic amount of authenticity.
They know who they are, and they aren’t afraid to share it. The authenticity wins the day as folks from brands like BoatU.S., Bushnell, Carhartt, Folds of Honor, Remington, Toyota Trucks, Under Armor and Zebco gather each evening for a beverage around the large fire pit.
Indeed, this is the real deal. While cozy bunks and propane heaters inside the tents do all they can to make clients comfortable, some clients still choose to pass on showering and a spot on the only flush toilet.
The deer hunting is free range across hundreds of acres of slightly rolling hills, grassy prairie, clusters of mature trees and ponds. No high fences or heated blinds. The mature bucks in Craig County, Okla., seem well aware that the advertising agency with 40 years of history is there in an effort to show their clients a good time.
Successful whitetail harvest seems to occur in this camp at a percentage very much on par with most hunting camps in America. And for guests that aren’t into deer hunting, duck and pheasant hunting is also available.
Four company employees who spend their weekdays writing creative copy, editing video and building websites serve as informal guides to a whitetail world they live and love on weekends. They haul guests down dirt roads in the darkness of 5 a.m., point in the general direction of tree stands located down pitch-dark trails marked only by a ribbon, and drive-away after a double wish of ‘Good luck, and please be safe.”
As it should, safety truly comes first in this camp. Hours prior to the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call of Saturday’s ‘opening morning,’ the safety talk is served with dessert that follows Friday’s dinner of grilled rib-eye as thick as an encyclopedia.
While clients like Zebco’s Bob Bagby have been coming here for a decade, Remington’s Ed Mazzeo is new to camp and is awed by the hospitality, but also the realness of the whitetail experience.
“I’m amazed that you can have this many people in camp, and everybody goes out of their way to get to know you,” the shotgun specialist said. “It’s like fantasy camp for deer hunters, but there’s nothing fake about it.”
Opening morning begins with a prayer in which Roy Barnes, the elderly father of Brothers & Co Senior VP, Eric Barnes, says simply, “Father we thank you for the chance to live in a country where we can hunt.”
It’s a statement whose authenticity is played-out throughout the weekend as each client’s deer, and one 385-pound nuisance wild hog, is hauled into camp and delivered to a somewhat sacred patch of ground.
It’s a spot on the camp lawn right next to the 97-year-old house, where a giant American flag hangs proudly as the background for a photo that will long preserve the goodness of an advertising agency’s camp saturated in all that is good about America.
Go to 2013 Deer Camp