Down East Camp - Outdoor Skills
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Down East Camp - Outdoor Skills

Down East Camp - Outdoor Skills


Down East Camp - Outdoor Skills

Down East Camp - Outdoor Skills

The old Down East "coal cabin" embodied the principle of the Indian camp. The frame was simply two strong crotches set firmly in the ground at a distance of eight feet apart, and interlocking at top. These supported a stiff ridge-pole fifteen feet long, the small end sharpened and set in the ground. Refuse boards, shocks, stakes, etc., were placed thickly from the ridge-pole to the ground; a thick layer of straw was laid over these, and the whole was covered a foot thick with earth and sods, well beaten down. A stone wall five feet high at back and sides made a most excellent fire-place; and these cabins were weather-proof and warm, even in zero weather. But, they were too cumbersome, and included too much labor for the ordinary hunter and angler. Also, they were open to the objection, that while wide enough in front, they ran down to a dismal, cold peak at the far end. Remembering, however, the many pleasant winter nights I had passed with the coal-burners, I bought a supply of oil-cloth and rigged it on the same principle. It was a partial success, and I used it for one season. But that cold, peaked, dark space was always back of my head, and it seemed like an iceberg. It was in vain that I tied a handkerchief about my head, or drew a stocking-leg over it. That miserable, icy angle was always there. And it would only shelter one man anyhow. When winter drove me out of the woods I gave it to an enthusiastic young friend, bought some more oil-cloth, and commenced a shanty tent that was meant to be perfect. A good many leisure hours were spent in cutting and sewing that shanty, which proved rather a success. It afforded a perfect shelter for a space 7x4 feet, but was a trifle heavy to pack, and the glazing began to crack and peel off in a short time. I made another and larger one of stout drilling, soaked in lime-water and alum; and this was all that could be asked when put up properly on a frame. But, the sides and ends being sewed to the roof made it unhandy to use as a shelter, when shelter was needed on short notice. So I ripped the back ends of the sides loose from the flap, leaving it, when spread out, as shown in the diagram. This was better; when it was necessary to make some sort of shelter in short order, it could be done with a single pole as used in the Indian camp, laying the tent across the pole, and using a few tacks to keep it in place at sides and center. This can be done in ten minutes, and makes a shelter-tent that will turn a heavy rain for hours.

On the whole, for all kinds of weather, the shanty tent is perhaps the best style of camp to be had at equal expense and trouble. The cost of it is about $1.25.

Sears, George Washington. Woodcraft. New York: Forest and Stream Publishing, 1884.

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