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Thread: To build a fire, or not build a fire?

  1. #1

    Default To build a fire, or not build a fire?

    Just wondering if some folks could weigh in on building camp fires while out hunting. It is great to come back to camp and sit around a warm fire, so much more enjoyable than just sitting around a jet boil camp stove while it boils your water. Do you think it will affect your chance of seeing game? I've seen caribou while sitting around a campfire, and I've heard of moose coming in to the sound of splitting wood. But, I also know that it's best to hunt with your binoculars so you don't stink up the country, doesn't smoke drift all over the country and stink it up as well? Or is it more of a natural smell? Any thoughts? I know it seems like an elementary question, but I was wondering about it the other day, thinking about my hunts and so forth, thought I'd see what other folks do.

    -bobble

  2. #2
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    I always have a fire - Sitting around a good camp fire is half the enjoyment of being out there. I have seen a lot of animals while sitting around those fires. I would think most of the animals in the interior are pretty fimiliar with the smell of wood smoke with all the forest fires we have.

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    Personally, 90% of hunting is the experience. Yes, we all want to catch something, but if you cannot have a good time doing it, why bother?
    Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. Albert Einstein

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Default hard hunting

    I'm 50/50 on this topic. Durring the early season the days are so long and the game so high and far back that by the end of the day I'm too exausted to build anything other than my tent.

    Durring the late season when the mountains are covered in snow and the critters are hopefully scurrying about the valley floors I'll get one built. I have to! The nights are too long and the weather is wet and cold.

    If I was bear hunting......I wouldn't until I had ol' man brownie down and in camp to enjoy the fire with us. That of course depends on the distance between camp and the hunting grounds.

  5. #5
    Member marshall's Avatar
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    I don't like to get the smoke smell on my clothes if I haven't made my shot yet. Last year I had no choice, everything I owned was soaking wet from 5 straight days of rain.

  6. #6
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Fires...

    I'm a fire guy.
    Whenever wood is present I just must build a fire. And my client hunters and myself seem to kill a bunch of stuff so success does not seen to be affected by the smoke. After a day or three everybody starts smelling anyway, so enjoy your campfire.
    dennis
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  7. #7
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    If there is wood available I will usually have a fire. So basically hunting bear, moose, bou then yes, for the most part chasing sheep it is the jet boil in the tent vestibule, but I am usually to exhausted to do much else anyway.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    For sure have a fire.Most every critter has smelled smoke caused by nature or winter fireplace or dump etc.Fact is I even smoke while hunting and my pipe seems to work good for bear.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I always have a fire- a cold camp is a miserable one. I agree with the previous poster that most Interior critters are accustomed to the smell due to wildfires and the activities of others so I can't imagine it would be that alarming. It might even mask your scent to a degree which would be alarming.

    Probably some speculation on the scent thing, miserable camping is a fact.

  10. #10
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default A fireless camp...

    ... is a cheerless camp.

    I hunted with a party near Igiagik many years ago for caribou (it was in the height of the Mulchatna herd days... man it was great then you latecomers!). It was very productive, and caribou were everywhere, but there were no trees , only willows. I was the last to get flown out from our camp. No people, no fire and that little nagging wonder for several hours as the day turned to dusk: will the pilot find me?, will he forget about me?... Kind of grim. Nicer with a fire to wait by. Today I would not think of hunting without a fire, camp coffee, my pipe, and a snort at the end of the day (don't want to start any controversy here about booze in camp).

    In the many hunts I have made- mostly in my younger days- we took moose and caribou within sight, or at least scent, of our camp and fire.

    Just got done reading again Fair Chase With Alaskan Guides by Waugh and Keim. A classic Alaskan book. Waugh would never have a camp, even a spike camp without a fire. In his opinion camp fires, camp food, and camp coffee were a huge part of hunting. I have to agree.

    Smokey smell may make a difference for hunting some kinds of game, but not moose or caribou I think.

  11. #11

    Smile yes, maybe....

    If I was living out of a back pack on a dedicated, "had to have it" brown/grizzly hunt and I was not soaking wet I would think twice about the fire as I would be about making tracks every where. Any other time I like them. Especially since my son-in-law is so good at cutting fire wood. Usually the river bottom/drainage we hunt moose and caribou at has wood laying around. Sitting in the lawn share around a fire is almost as good as looking at moose quarters hanging in the tree, at least at my age!

  12. #12

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    Thanks for the posts, it's interesting to hear different ideas from other hunters.

    I too have wondered if the more natural smell of woodsmoke will mask the smell we humans emit. It makes sense that it would. The other thing to consider is that if your smoke can drift, your scent can drift too. So, more than likely, if an animal creeps downwind from your camp, he'll smell you, fire or not. Just my thinking.

    And I totally agree, a fire really brings something cheery to a cold, wet, camp.

  13. #13
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    A fireless camp... is a cheerless camp.
    That goes into my top ten ODD quotes right there.

    I'm definitely in the build-a-fire crew. Heck, we even took half a truck-load of trees with us when we went up the Dalton Highway so that we could have fires every night. Well, the poles were actually for building a meat-hanging deal, but we ended up burning all the extras as the trip wore on. Even when I'm alone...or maybe especially when I'm alone...a fire brings a certain feel to the end of a day that a hunt would not be complete without.


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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    If I'm in an established campsite with a fire ring, yes. If not, or if I don't have a fire blanket or pan, no. Making fires wherever you happen to plop down for the night is a violation of Leave No Trace ethics, and can be dangerous; I once started a root fire and didn't even know it- the next party that came along saw the ground smoldering, and had to dig and pour water for hours. This was at Camp Island Lake in the early 90s.

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    Member Jason in Anchorage's Avatar
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    Default A must!

    dude...fires are a must if wood is available and weather permits.
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    Psalm 18:34
    He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

  16. #16
    Member Jason in Anchorage's Avatar
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    Default A must!

    another bro... A MUST!
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    Psalm 18:34
    He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

  17. #17
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Thinking back on this a bit more, it occurs to me that fires just build good memories. So many of my great outdoor experiences have ended around a fire. These two pics aren't from hunting, but for me they represent why a fire is so important while outdoors. I'll never forget my boy's first campfire, and I know that he and I will share many more in the years to come. If the scent of smoke costs us a bear or a moose, it's a trade worth making. As for the second picture, there are few foods finer than a roll cooked over a fire, then smothered with butter and honey.




  18. #18
    Member walk-in's Avatar
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    On fishing trips and river hunting trips, I always have a fire. Hunting in the high country, almost never. The one big exception is my favorite caribou hunting spot. We usually take the 4 wheelers up the hill in the dark early in the morning, and come back down after dark. Camp is next to a little stream at the bottom of the hill, and usually my partner's wife has a fire going by the time we get back at night. Lots of good memories of cooking fresh caribou tenderloins over the fire next to that creek at midnight or later.

    I don't think the smell of wood smoke bothers animals at all, BTW. I've seen lots of animals over the years as we were sitting around the fire.
    We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
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  19. #19

    Thumbs up

    A campfire is heap good medicine. A camp without a campfire is akin to a Birthday-party without cake and ice cream.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Member Grayling Slayer's Avatar
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    Second week of moose season, 50 miles upriver from the boat landing.

    $$Priceless$$

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