Someday I hope to own a piece of hunting property on which I’ll build my dream cabin.
I hope it’ll be home to countless family gatherings, and I’ll sit in my rocking chair on the front porch and watch my grandchildren run around. This dream is years away, but having a hunting base camp is something I’m enjoying today.
I have a good piece of property to deer hunt, but since I don’t own the land I can’t build a cabin. I could pull a camper to the property and leave it, but a good camper is expensive. When it comes to my shelter, I outfit an oversized tent into a first-rate base camp.
I use a Cabela’s Ultimate Alaknak tent, but there are many models of traditional wall tents and other oversized tents that would work. My tent is 12 feet by 20 feet. I have found it’s perfect for a group of four. There is plenty of room for cots, gear, food storage, a wood-burning stove and foldout chairs. My guests and I are able to spread out in comfort.
When fully outfitted, my tent is as comfortable as most back country cabins and is far easier to transport than a camper.
It can be taken into the back country on horseback or hauled in a trailer behind an ATV. It can be floated down a river in a canoe or taken across a remote lake by boat.
Wherever I choose to hunt, from the vast north woods to the central plains to the Rocky Mountain west, my base camp is as comfortable and reliable as a hunter could hope for.
You need a tent that is truly a four- season shelter. Make sure there is ample ventilation to provide for comfort through the warmth of summer and early fall. Windows with mesh screens and condensation vents around the perimeter keep moisture to a minimum. Doors backed by screen doors keep bugs out but let breezes blow in.
During the cold months of late fall and winter, you want a tent set up for accommodating a wood-burning stove. Make sure you protect the floor where you set your stove, and extend the stove pipe through a stove jack made from flame-resistant fabric.
There are a couple of important accessories that add significant value to my tent base camp. A tarp shelter attaches to the tent for additional space for storing gear, such as cooking equipment, coolers, packs and more.
It’s also the perfect place to remove and leave your boots, keeping them safe from the elements, and you won’t track mud or dirt into the tent.
A floor liner is an important piece of equipment for extending the life of your tent floor, by helping to protect it from rips or tears. You can use a specially made cloth, rugs or grass carpet. A floor liner is easily removable, making cleanup much easier.
Old canvas wall tents have been popular with hunters for well over a century. Using one of them or a modern-day version to set up a tent base camp is a great way to set up comfortable camps for short periods of time wherever you happen to travel.
Once you have experienced the comfort that comes with the space found in an oversized tent and once you have sat around a wood-burning stove inside your tent while rain or snow falls outside, you’ll realize spoiling yourself with a base camp hunting tent was a great move.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears weekly in the Daily Reporter. Send comments to dr-editorial@