Mid America Buckskinners Info Page
Camp Hints and Tricks
Missouri Iowa Nebraska Kansas
No, it's not skinning bucks............ Developed and maintained by JP Finn
I notice new and different ways that people have their camps while at campgrounds, Rendezvous and treks. Some of the things I will later try, some show me what not to do and some I just get confused trying to figure out what the point was.
Here are some tips that I have discovered that will make my visit to the cow pasture or park a little easier. If learning from your mistakes makes you smart, I must be ready for Mensa!
As always, pick what seems reasonable, possible and within your ability. With a little practice you will find what works for you and what doesn't.
There you are, out in the woods, and want to make a stew or pot of beans. You find a couple rocks to put under the pot, but the fire is on the side. You move the pot onto a log and a rock. Good! The fire is under the pot now.
A few minuets later the pot is half empty and the fire is out. The log rolled as the wood under it burned and the pot took a serious list. You know that the steam and noise from the fire by the emptying pot caused you to make a desperate grab to save the stew. Yes, it was hot. Nice burn you developed.
Rapid application of ice will help keep the burn from being quite as painful and irritating as it could be.
Three smaller rocks set right in the middle of the fire will hold the pot level, but a chest high tripod set over the fire to hang the pot from allows you to regulates the heat. That is why all my pots have bails.
A piece of chain makes a trammel. You'll need a "c" shaped piece of iron to adjust the height of the pot on the chain. Either hang the pot from it or use it to double up the chain, holding the bail in the loop.
While trekking, I usually make my own pothooks while in the woods with a couple forks cut from the brushpile. Turn one so you have a hook on either end and either splint them or tie them together. If you get real fancy, flatten the touching sides and make interlocking notches. The hook won't slip as you add weight to the pot.
A piece of string about 4' long will both tie the 3 or 4 poles together to construct a tripod and leave a dangle to hang your pot from. Remember to tie the string up when you aren't hanging a pot or it will get much shorter....
If you are planning to make "fire irons" from green wood, look for straight uprights that have a limb coming off from the side. (Like the top leg of a "K".) That will give you a place to pound without splitting the fork. If you pick a "Y" shape, it will usually split when you try to drive it into the ground.
Wooden tent pegs or any other driven item should be champered at the pounding end to keep it from splitting or mushrooming. Just whip out the knife and whittle a 45 degree slope on the end of the item you plan to pound upon.
Banding will also help, if you have a good supply of cord and know how to make a whipping or constricter knot. If you don't, a series of tight half hitches will work.
You are outside playing in the mud and dirt. Think of the campsite as your living room and keep it clean. Do not drop trash and crumbs everywhere.
If you are lucky, you will just have bugs. If you are a little less lucky, you will have mice, chipmunks and shrews. They draw in the snakes… If you are unlucky, you will have raccoons, opossums and dogs visiting. If you have no luck at all, expect bears.
My friend, Billy No Crumms discovered this principle the hard way in a north Florida cow pasture about 3 o’clock one morning. In the Library, you can read the real story, or his feeble attempt at a rebuttal of the facts.
I have found that setting an area off to the side of the camp for eating tends to keep the insects just a little thinner in camp. Think of it as the dining room…
Morning Sun, Afternoon Shade
Try to set up your shelter so you will get the morning sun shining on your camp. This will give you the best light, help dry the dew and give you a little extra warmth in the spring, fall and winter. Afternoon shade from a tree line or a large tent set up next to you will keep the camp cooler in the summer.
Don’t set up under the drip line of a tree. If it rains, water will drip from the tree for hours after the rain quits. If it storms, limbs may make an unexpected visit. On sunny days birds will add character to your tent and furnishings in the form of slimey blobs. You can recognize my awning from the recycled mulberry stains deposited by the friendly birds in my backyard after packing out wet and setting up the wet canvas to finish drying at home…
Try to set up so that the front of the camp is pointed towards the east. Most of the afternoon sun will be from the southwest, putting the gathering area in the shade from the camp. Also, this arrangement has the afternoon sun shining on the back quarter of the tent instead of the side. It will keep the tent a little cooler in the afternoon.
Partially pulling a stake and proping a stick or chunk of firewood under the back wall of the tent to let in a little air to circulate also helps to keep the shelter a little cooler.
Smoke follows you
Everywhere you move, the smoke from the fire comes to you? Build a reflector upwind of the fire. The smoke wants to go to the largest protected area that it can find.
I have found that the reflector works best if it is about the diameter of the fire away on the upwind side. No wind? There will be. (It works on windstill days also.)
I usually just stand some of the special (wet and green) rendezvous firewood behind the removed sod from making the fire pit. Lay a couple chunks of firewood on the ground behind the uprights for stability. This method also helps dry the wood so it can be burnt later.
Smoke in Camp
If the prevailing wind blows straight into or away from the camp, set the fire pit on the side instead of directly in front.of the tent.
Most places that don’t have a constant wind have morning / evening currents that change direction. Currents usually go one way in the morning, opposite in the afternoon.
Location, location, location!
Planning on doing a little blanket trading? Set up between the main camp and the port-a-potties or water source. Most everyone will wander by a couple times a day. Usually some enterprizing kid sets up a firewood delivery service, so that destination doesn't get near the traffic the path to the little blue house out back does.
(You might want to check the wind direction before setting up camp, though. See the above hint for another hint.)
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If you want to plaver, do so. Hey, jp!