No matter what time of the year you venture out into the wilderness it seems like we always need a campfire of some type. In the summer it serves many purposes to provide heat to cook on, smoke to help keep the bugs away and also as a deterrent predator animals (hopefully)! In the wintertime it provides heat besides a place to dry wet clothing and often times much needed light.
Often times building that fire can be a real challenge especially in damp areas like Monigue Island. Most of the wood found on the ground there in the fall is too wet to burn and if you do get it to burn a little it smolders and gives off very little heat if any. One of the best fire starters I have found is a road flare. They are cheap, last along time and even burn in the rain. If you know the area you are going to has very little wood and weight is not a problem, a bag of dry firewood weighs very little.
Once you get your fire going, cooking on a camp fire becomes a real challenge as there are a lot of men out there who could not cook very well on a stove at home let alone over an uncontrolled flame. The secret is not to get your frying pan too hot, rake some coals off to the side of the main fire and use them to cook over. Be extra careful where your frying pan handle is and make sure it is not getting as hot as the skillet is. There have been a whole bunch of badly burned hands out there by some careless guy grabbing a hot skillet handle. Often times however alcohol consumption plays a big part in this ordeal. Those rocks you place around the fire to help contain your fire also hold in the heat and work real well as a warming oven. However do not try moving them by hand as once again you could be severely burned.
In the wintertime especially if your camping on the ice an old fireplace grill greatly helps keep the fire out of the water created by the melting ice. You can get by with a whole lot less wood this way too. Besides the fact that your fire will burn hotter this way then being placed right on the ice.
Have you ever noticed in the summertime how the smoke seems to follow you right around the fire? No matter which side the fire you sit on it seems to be in your eyes shortly after you sit down. Often times it really has nothing to do with wind direction. Alcohol consumption might also play a role in this too however. If you're a real die-hard camper who has slept right next to your campfire then no doubt you have found holes burned in your sleeping bag too. Sparks from the campfire have burned or melted many items through the years while providing some very important heat.
For those of you who are geese hunters and have studied these birds flying in their patented "V" formation each spring and fall should know why one side of the v is always longer then the other......It is because there are more geese on that side!!! After working for 40 straight days across the Inlet that is my best attempt at being funny today! If your going out on the ice fishing be careful as it is NOT SAFE yet! See you next week!
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