Shanty Tent - Outdoor Skills
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Shanty Tent - Outdoor Skills

Shanty Tent - Outdoor Skills


Shanty Tent - Outdoor Skills

Shanty Tent - Outdoor Skills

As good a camp as I have ever tried—perhaps the best—is the "shanty tent," shown in the illustration. It is easily put up, is comfortable, neat, and absolutely rain-proof. Of course, it .may be of any required size; but, for a party of two, the following dimensions and directions will be found all sufficient:

Firstly, the roof. This is merely a sheet of strong cotton cloth 9 feet long by 4 or 4^ feet in width. The sides, of the same material, to be 4>£ feet deep at front, and 2 feet deep at the back. This gives 7 feet along the edge of the roof, leaving 2 feet for turning down at the back end of the shanty. It will be seen that the sides must be "cut bias," to compensate for the angle of the roof, otherwise the shanty will not be square and ship-shape when put up. Allowing for waste in cutting, it takes nearly 3 yards of cloth for each side. The only 'abor required in making, is to cut the sides to the proper shape, and stitch them to the roof. No buttons, strings or loops. The cloth does not even require hemming. It does, however, need a little water-proofing; for which the following receipt will answer very well, and add little or nothing to the weight: To 10 quarts of water add 10 ounces of lime, and 4 ounces of alum; let it stand antil clear; fold the cloth snugly and put it in another vessel, pour the solution on it, let it soak for 12 hours; then rinse in luke-warm rain water, stretch and dry in the sun, and the shanty-tent is ready for use.

To put it up properly, make a neat frame as follows: Two strong stakes or posts for the front, driven firmly in the ground 4 1/2 feet apart; at a distance of 6 feet 10 inches from these, drive two other posts—these to be 4 feet apart—for back end of shanty. The front posts to be 4^ feet high, the back posts only 2 feet. The former, also to incline a little toward each other above, so as to measure from outside of posts, just 4 feet at top. This gives a little more width at front end of shanty, adding space and warmth. No crotches are used in putting up the shanty-tent. Each of the four posts are fitted on the top to receive a flat-ended cross-pole, and admit of nailing. When the posts are squarely ranged and driven, select two straight, hard-wood rods, 2 inches in diameter, and 7 feet in length—or a little more. Flatten the ends carefully and truly, lay them alongside on top from post to post, and fasten them with a light nail at each end. Now, select two more straight rods of the same size, but a little over 4 feet in length; flatten the ends of these as you did the others, lay them crosswise from side to side, and lapping the ends of the other rods; fasten them solidly by driving a sixpenny nail through the ends and into the posts, and you have a square frame 7x4 feet. But it is not yet complete. Three light rods are needed for rafters. These are to be placed lengthwise of the roof at equal distances apart, and nailed or tied to keep them in place. Then take two straight poles a little over 7 feet long, and some 3 inches in diameter. These are to be accurately flattened at the ends, and nailed to the bottom of the posts, snug to the ground, on outside of posts. A foot-log and head-log are indispensable. These should be about 5 inches in diameter, and of a length to just reach from outside to outside of posts. They should be squared at ends, and the foot-log placed against the front post, outside, and held firmly in place by two wooden pins. The head-log is fastened the same way, except that it goes against the inside of the back posts; and the frame is complete. Round off all sharp angles or corners with knife and hatchet, and proceed to spread and fasten the cloth. Lay the roof on evenly, and tack it truly to the front cross-rod, using about a dozen six-ounce tacks. Stretch the cloth to its bearings, and tack it at the back end in the same manner. Stretch it sidewise and tack the sides to the side-poles, fore and aft. Tack front and back ends of sides to the front and back posts. Bring down the 2-foot flap of roof at back end of shanty; stretch, and tack it snugly to the back posts—and your sylvan house is done. It is rain-proof, wind-proof, warm and comfortable. The foot and head logs define the limits of your forest dwelling; within which you may pile fragrant hemlock browse as thick as you please, and renew it from day to day. It is the perfect camp.

You may put it up with less care and labor, and make it do very well. But, I have tried to explain how to do it in the best manner: to make it all sufficient for an entire season. And it takes longer to tell it on paper than to do it. When I go to the woods with a partner, and we arrive at our camping ground, I like him to get his fishing rig together, and start out for a half day's exercise with his favorite flies, leaving me to make the camp according to my own notions of woodcraft. If he will come back about dusk with a few pounds of trout, I will have a pleasant camp and a bright fire for him. And if he has enjoyed wading an icy stream more than I have making the camp—he has had a good day.

Perhaps it may not be out of place to say that the camp, made as above, calls for fifteen bits of timber, posts, rods, etc., a few shingle nails, and some sixpenny wrought nails, with a paper of six-ounce tacks. Nails and tacks will weigh about five ounces, and are always useful. In tacking the cloth, turn the raw edge in until you have four thickness, as a single thickness is apt to tear. If you desire to strike camp, it takes about ten minutes to draw and save all the nails and tacks, fold the cloth smoothly, and deposit the whole in your knapsack. If you wish to get up a shelter tent on fifteen minutes' notice, cut and sharpen a twelve-foot pole as for the Indian camp, stick one end in the ground, the other in the rough bark of a large tree—hemlock is best—hang the cloth on the pole, fasten the sides to rods, and the rods to the ground with inverted crotches, and your shelter tent is ready for you to creep under. The above description of the shanty-tent may seem a trifle elaborate, but I hope it is plain. The affair weighs just three pounds, and it takes a skillful woodsman about three hours of easy work to put it in the shape described. Leaving out some of the work, and only aiming to get it up in square shape as quickly as possible, I can put it up in an hour. The shanties it should be, is shown in the illustration very fairly. And the shape of the cloth when spread out, is shown in the diagram on page 37. On the whole, it is the best form of close-sided tent I have found. It admits of a bright fire in front, without which a forest camp is just no camp at all to me. I have suffered enough in close, dark, cheerless, damp tents.

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

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