In 1952, four of us started a deer hunting camp east of Bigfork, Minn. Two of the original four are still active in the camp. In the ’50s we used a lean-to. Yes, even in 10-below weather. Another party of hunters started calling our party the “Lean-To Boys”: the name stuck, and we are still known as the Lean-To Boys throughout the Bigfork area.
In our 60-plus years we went from a lean-to, to a tent and a fish house, to our first cabin in ’65. In 1992, after 25 years, we were told to get out or the cabin would be burned down. Cabin No. 1 was “squatting” on government land. It was a sad situation for the Lean-To Boys.
We were in a real bind — what to do now? We opted to use a surplus squad tent. It worked but was impossible to heat. In 1999 my son decided we’d had enough of that miserable tent. In the mid-90s the group had been able to purchase an 80-acre parcel, and on our 20 acres my son now built cabin No. 2.
Over the years our party grew from four hunters to six, and now we have 12 to 15 in camp each year. The first cabin was for six hunters; now the new cabin sleeps up to 16. We old-timers still feel the first cabin was our best arrangement.
Our new cabin is very adequate and works out well for us. It is spacious and easy to heat. We have a good cooking area, one that works well when we need to have our “SOS” ready for 14 hunters early on opening morning.
At this time we have second-, third- and fourth-generation hunters in the Lean-To Boys camp. My friend’s dad was one of the original four hunters. In ’53 and ’54, when the other three original hunters were in the armed services, he kept the deer hunting camp going. We are not the oldest hunting camp, but at least one of the four founders has been in camp each year since we started in 1952.
Our hunters come from a variety of occupations and various locations throughout Minnesota. Although our interests are varied we have one thing in common: We love our deer hunting and our camp. We have also hunted bear, grouse and waterfowl from our camp. The other hunting and outdoor activities we do make our cabin even more useful.
SEND US YOUR HUNTING SHACKS! Cabin Country is celebrating your beloved hunting shacks through the fall. Please send your photos and stories to email@example.com or submit online at www.startribune.com/hideouts. We're also looking for stories from ice-fishing houses and cozy winter cabins.