The concept of deer camp goes back generations and is so often associated with history, heritage, and looking back at the past. But for photographer, Austin Thomas, and his best friends Taylor Cook and Gunnar Lovekamp, it’s all about living in the present.
The group’s annual northern Missouri deer camp is an anchor of their friendship. It’s the one thing that takes precedent, for at least a few days a year, over the group of 20-somethings ever growing commitments to careers and relationships and family.
“I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like to, but ultimately no matter what’s going on, we make the time to get out there and connect back to the roots of why we love hunting,” Thomas says. “Whether we harvest an animal or not, we’re just there to spend good time together.”
The location itself is not without history—a renovated 80-year old cabin on Cook’s family farmland—but for Thomas, important aspects of the location are the lack of internet, TV, and reliable cell service.
“It doesn’t matter what somebody’s posting on Facebook, or what guy on social media shot a bigger deer,” he says, “It’s a chance to relax. It’s a chance to forget about everyday life and to just have this experience and make some memories with my friends.”
As they live in the present, the memories made and the photos taken this year may very well someday be the old timey photos hanging on the walls of the next generation’s camp.