(Photo from http://www.montanacanvas.com/ )
I have loved canvas wall tents since I was a child, camping out with my little brother all summer long in our field in a big old green tent. It was the size of a room and required alder poles to be cut for the supports. We would plan our camp set-up for weeks as soon as it started to warm up in the spring. When I came home from school, I would head out to a nearby alder stand with a hatchet, and start cutting the perfect poles. On those hot summer nights, we built our own campfires, cooked hot dogs over it, grilled sandwiches in pie irons, and sat up telling ghost stories. The smell of old musty canvas would fill our noses as we went to sleep.
Every October, my dad would head off to Idaho to hunt for elk with my grandpa and some friends. I knew it was an important trip because my grandma sent them with all kinds of homemade cookies, huckleberry pies, and Halloween candy. If we were lucky, he'd bring home some extra! They set up hunting camp in a white canvas wall tent with a wood stove, keeping them warm and dry on the cold mountain mornings, in rain storms and in snow flurries. When I was in college, I went to hunting camp with my dad a few times. We'd get up early every morning in the dark and scout around all over the mountain to see where the elk were. As the sunrise came up over the hills, we'd head back to camp for a hot breakfast around the woodstove. I would hunt grouse during the day, sit around the campfire and eat delicious hearty meals. Then I had kids and life got really busy. My husband and I haven't really made time for hunting since, though we've missed it.
On our trip to Eastern Oregon last week, we happened to be out there on opening day for bird season and a week into deer season. Seeing all the hunting camps set up with their cozy canvas wall tents and woodsmoke curling out of the chimneys sent a pang of longing through my heart. I wanted a hunting camp of my own! So, we decided that it is long past time for us to take up this family tradition. Starting next year, we are going to do a week of family hunting camp. It will be our fall adventure and vacation. Since we eat meat, the origins of that meat is very important to us, and you can't get much more natural and grass-fed than an animal you hunted yourself out in the wild. If you're going to wildcraft, forage and grow your own food, the same ought to go for your meat. And when it comes down to it, all I really want is a canvas wall tent to call my own. Every outdoorswoman needs one!
We wondered how we were going to make this plan a reality. Those tents aren't cheap! Even on Craigslist. When my dad got back from his hunting trip to tell us the good news that elk was coming our way, I asked him if there were any old tents in the family lying around somewhere. He said he would give us my grandpa's tent to use, complete with the woodstove and floor covering! Eureka! My hunting camp dreams are on their way to becoming a reality. Next October, I'll be sitting around the woodstove in my cozy wall tent, drinking a cup of coffee and stirring a pot of stew. And maybe, just maybe, we'll be bringing home some venison, or elk, or ducks to fill our freezer for the winter.