The One-Match Fire Always try to light a fire with a single match- even when an entire box of matches is at hand. This skill could someday mean the difference between a warm, comfortable camp and a chilly, miserable one. Place a softball-size piece of tinder on dry bark or on the ground. Good tinder ingredients include lint (check your pockets and belly button), cotton threads, dry-wood powder, bird or mouse nests, dry shredded bark or pine needles. Around the tinder, pile a handful of dry twigs. Over this nucleus, lean a few slightly larger, seasoned branches in tepee-fashion. Over the branches, lay some bigger pieces of deadwood. With the pile sheltered from wind and rain, ignite the tinder so the flames eat into the heart of the pile. Once the fire gets going, shape it however you want. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Clay Oven You can make a camp oven in a clay stream bank. Hammer a sharp pole, about as thick as your forearm, straight down into the bank about 3 feet back from the edge. Then, a foot or so down the side of the bank, scoop out the size oven you want. The entrance should be narrower than the inside. Dig as far back as the pole, then pull the pole out to form a chimney. Give the interior a hard coating by smoothing and resmoothing it with wet hands. Kindle a small fire within to harden this lining. When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat the oven with a fire, then scrape out the coals and ashes. Lay food inside on stones or leaves. Seal the chimney and front opening. The meal will cook without further attention. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Reflector Oven Reflector ovens are great for baking biscuits, casseroles, pies and more. You can buy one in a store, but it can be bulky to carry to a campsite. A makeshift reflector oven can be made by cutting two forked sticks and driving them in the ground near your campfire about 2 to 3 feet apart. Lay another stick between the two forks. Wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the top stick three or four times to secure it, then stretch it from the stick to the ground at an angle, securing it at the bottom with a heavy stick laid across it side to side. Now cover the sides with additional pieces of foil and you¿re ready to bake. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Bug Repellent Black pepper sprinkled liberally in the body cavity of a deer or other field-dressed big-game animal will ward off flies, yellowjackets and other insects while the meat hangs in camp. Tarp Shelter A small, light-weight tarp takes up little space in your pack and, combined with rope or heavy cord, can be used to make a simple lean-to for an unexpected night in the woods. Tie the rope or cord between two trees about 4 feet off the ground. Next, drape the tarp over the rope so half falls on one side and half on the other. Secure the corners and the middle of each side with stakes or rocks. If you want to reflect heat from a fire into your sleeping area, drape the tarp so one-third of it hangs on one side of the rope, two-thirds on the other. Secure the forward edge with twine stretched to stakes and the rear edge with stakes or rocks. Easy Cleanup It’s easy to clean camp cookware after you’ve made a meal if you rub a coating of liquid dishwashing soap on the outside of your pots and pans before putting them over a hot fire. The soap won’t hurt the fire, change the taste of the food or burn onto the pan’s surface, but it’ll shorten cleanup time. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Nature’s Brillo Horsetail plants, also known as scouring rushes, grow in moist soils throughout much of North America. The stems are very rich in silica, which makes them useful for scouring pots and polishing metal and wood. They also can be used as fine sandpaper. For best results, the stems should first be bleached by repeated wetting and drying in the sun. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Wild Chewing Gum If you run out of Dentyne in the woods, you can chew on the hardened pitch or resin of a variety of trees, including the sweetgum (A) and sugar pine (B). Outdoor Life Online Editor
A Simple Mousetrap Got a mouse problem at camp, but no mousetraps on hand? Improvise with a piece of writing paper and a large can or jar. Fasten the paper over the top of the can or jar with a rubber band or string. In the center of the paper, cut a large X. Set the trap beside something that the rodent can climb onto. Then suspend a piece of cheese over the X. As the mouse goes for the bait, it’ll fall through the slits and into the container. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Rust Remover Innovative pioneers learned that by boiling together the barks of maple, hemlock and swamp white oak, they could make a wash that would remove rust from iron and steel and prevent further rusting. Chirping Thermometer Some call the cricket the poor man’s thermometer. Count the number of chirps a cricket makes in 15 seconds, then add 40. The sum will be close to the outside temperature. Use A Good Ol’ Staff Walking staffs have many uses for the woodsman. With a staff in hand, you can carry heavy loads across steep slopes, rocks and bogs with confidence. When crossing marshy areas or streams, you can use a staff to probe for hidden obstructions and deep spots. The staff holds back bushes, stinging plants, spider webs and other things in your path. Best of all, the staff can save your energy on long treks. By leaning on it, you can take some of the weight off your feet. You’ll find other uses for your staff as well. Use it as a support for a camp tarp or wash line. Reach with it to retrieve food sacks hung out of reach of bears. Slip it behind you and hoist your pack to give your back a break. Use it to pry up logs and rocks so you can see what animals live beneath. Your staff can lift a hot pot off the fire or replace a broken tent pole. Mark it with feet and inches for measuring things in the field. A staff is handy in emergencies as well. Use it to reach a friend who’s tumbled into the water. Roll two staffs in a blanket to make a stretcher. A staff can support you if you fall through ice. Or you can use it, if needed, as a crutch. Outdoor Life Online Editor
North Star Guide If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, use the North Star to determine which direction is north. To find it, locate the Big Dipper, then follow a line starting with the two stars that form the front end (opposite the handle) of its “cup.” These point to the North Star (Polaris), which always lies directly over north on the horizon. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Spit-Roasting Here’s how to properly turn a hunk of spitted meat over flames. It is one of our oldest and simplest cooking methods, ideal for preparing anything from a haunch of venison to a bluegill. For the spit, choose wood like green oak or hickory that won’t impart a bad taste to the food. Ideally it’ll have a fork at one end you can use for turning. Shave the spit to flatten it along two opposite sides (this prevents the stick from rotating inside the food). Turn the food as it broils, basting with drippings caught in a pan or curved slab of bark placed beneath it. Outdoor Life Online Editor

and 9 more camping tips that can save your life!