|April 29, 2020
The ring of fire, the billowing smoke & dancing flame defines the place at which we gather every evening at hunt camp. Whether you pitch a tent, sleep in a camper or rest in the luxury of a lodge, the evening fire is what draws us together. We drink, exaggerate, and swap myths, laugh, cry, shout & share too much sometimes. But would a hunt or fishing trip be the same without the fire?
If you hiked in to camp it may not end up being a bonfire, it might just be a small camp stove but a fire is a fire in camp. Other more sophisticated arrangements may include comfortable seating, end tables and crystal decanters filled with iced down liquor. No matter how you get there, the dancing flames draw us in like moths.
Your experiences may differ however I’ll bet it involves some amount of time gathered close to others watching timber as it shrinks into hot coals & eventually cold ashes. My personal experience is that the fire is set as the first person back to camp arrives and stores their gear. All in preparation of dinner but most importantly for the telling of tales from the day’s activities & observations.
We’ve all probably been there but if you've hunted or camped enough years you have come across a “no burn” order which sort of puts a damper on this campfire thing. We’ve found that a gas burner with a pot of chili on top works as a small camp fire if you gather around it. Especially if it’s cold outside. Outdoorsman & woman know how to adapt so "no burn" means just getting a bit closer when the flames are smaller & from gas. That being said, it’s hard to beat the smell of oak or other hardwood and the crackling & dancing flames. It also isn’t the same if you aren't constantly trying to avoid the smoke chasing you out of your seating position. An unnamed individual that I've camped with can use untold words while trying to dodge the smoke as it moves us from side to side of the fire!
As I mentioned our camp fire is the primary method for cooking dinner so we depend on a good bed of coals. In order to get there we typically go through stages of the camp fire that you might recognize. The initial smoke filled startup, the point at which someone introduces the wrong size of wood into the improper orientation within the fire puzzle. Experienced fire folk know that the camp fire is indeed a puzzle which should be perfected. There is no room for ill organized attempts at stoking the fire! Some "heated" discussions have been generated by poorly placed firewood.
Moving along, as noted we cook on our fire however before we do we spend an hour or two discussing what happened that day, what’s happened in the past, what we hope happens tomorrow and of course stories that we’ve all heard at least 1/2 dozen times before. Deep thought rarely occurs while circling the flames. In fact rarely do we deal in facts or figures that require any serious thinking. Everyone knows that what they are hearing is primarily made up on the fly without a second of reasoning behind it. Alcohol typically drives this behavior however the justification for untruths is inbred into the hunter/fisherman.
Don’t just take my word for it, look it up. The art of hunting or fishing and the tales told afterwards of such endeavors almost always stretches the truth. If only to add importance to the sport of whatever it was you were attempting to achieve! And to achieve the requisite results one needs a camp fire to draw out the best of who we are. Truth be told.
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Wikipedia - Campfire defined