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Setting Up Your Own Hunting Camp

Jan 3, 2008
The first thing to do before setting up any hunting camp is to ascertain whether camping is permitted. Most camps for hunting big game will be located on public lands such as the National Forests where camping is generally open to the public.


The two basic necessities for any big-game camp are a suitable supply of water and ample firewood. In the habitat of the larger species of big game, the water problem tends to solve itself. Moose, elk, caribou, and grizzly country is normally watershed country where rivers and lakes are born.

In such country there is usually ample fresh water. Moreover, the water found in high mountainous country has not been contaminated with sewage and pollution and is safe and pure. Higher country is largely wooded country, and the problem of firewood is easily solved. Most of the wood there will be pine, fir, spruce, and aspen.


Choose a campsite close to the water supply and as close as possible to dry wood. The sandy beaches or shore lines of mountain lakes, so long as they are well above waterline, often make good campsites. So do the points of small promontories overlooking a creek or lake. The edge areas where timber meets meadow, small elevated river bars, or small humps of semi-open land near timber are suitable campsites if water is handy.

In each instance, camp should be set up on some kind of elevated ground. This insures that the earth will be comparatively dry, and that sudden storms won't drown out a camp by draining water under it. For this reason, it is never wise to camp in gully bottoms, however attractive they seem to be. Flash floods in mountain and desert country can suddenly send awesome amounts of water through such gullies.


Once having chosen the campsite, the first thing to do is unload the pack animals, if you are packing into a hunting camp. It is a cardinal sin to allow any pack animal to remain loaded for even a few minutes once it has reached its destination.

The next thing to do is to get a tent set up. In the mountains, storms come up out of nowhere and can saturate people and gear in minutes unless dry storage space is provided.

Miner's tents are pegged down at all four corners and their tops tied to the crosses of two shear poles (dry standing jackpines or large willows make good shear poles), and the poles stood erect.

A baker tent is pegged down at the rear; the flap for its open front is placed over a ridgepole set upon two sets of shear poles, stretched taut and tied. Often one end of the ridgepole can be attached to a standing tree. This eliminates any need of guy ropes to keep the shear poles from wobbling sidewise.


A garbage pit and some form of latrine are necessary for sanitation. Both should be downwind and downstream of the camp, the latrine the farthest away, in a clump of trees if possible.

The garbage pit is simply a hole dug in the ground. Tin cans, empty bottles, vegetable peelings, and food scraps are all heaved into the pit. A thin layer of dirt spread on top each day over the accumulated refuse is the best guarantee against flies around camp. When camp is broken, the entire pit is filled and covered.

Camp latrines are of different kinds, depending upon the permanence of the camp and the availability of transportation. The simplest is a long smooth pole, anchored at toilet-seat height between two trees, with its middle over a dug hole in the earth.

With experience you will be able to set up your camp quickly and efficiently.
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