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by Scott Crawford | Sep 16, 2020 | BIG GAME, HUNTING
Like Moths to the Flame

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.

The ring of fire, the billowing smoke and dancing flames define the place where 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 and share too much sometimes. But would a hunting or fishing trip be the same without the fire?

If you hiked 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 and eventually cold ashes. My personal experience is that the fire is set as soon as the first 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 and 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 campfire if you gather around it. Especially if it’s cold outside. Outdoorsmen and women know how to adapt so “no burn” means just getting a bit closer when the flames are from gas and smaller. That being said, it’s hard to beat the smell of oak or other hardwood and the crackling and 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.

As I mentioned, our campfire is the primary method for cooking dinner so we depend on a good bed of coals. In order to achieve this, we typically go through stages of the campfire that you might recognize. The initial smoke-filled startup, the point at which someone (no names will be mentioned) introduces the wrong size of wood into the improper orientation within the fire puzzle. Experienced fire folk know that the campfire is indeed a puzzle to be perfected. There is no room for ill-organized attempts at stoking the fire! Some “heated” discussions have been generated by poorly placed firewood.

Before we get cooking, 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 half a 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 bred 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 albeit 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 campfire to draw out the best of who we are. Truth be told.
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