Arguments can be made, and have been made, about the benefits of indoor plumbing. Central heating can be a plus, too, as can the ready availability of drinking and cooking water.

But, alas, hunting shacks worthy of their names boast none of these.

Which is the way it should be.

True hunting shacks, whether with straight walls or leaning, roofs leaking or sealed, are scattered throughout Minnesota, from Worthington to Warroad. Nods to a past both glorious and inglorious, these hovels — and some are that — are gathering places each fall for reconnection and revitalization.

Some are outfitted with gas cooking stoves, which is OK.

But for a welcome escape from civilization’s eternal rat race, the inside heat must be supplied by the warm embers of crackling wood, be they hot coals lining the bottom of a 55-gallon drum, distilled ashes in a Franklin stove or a single oak log aflame in a highly efficient soapstone.

The interior décor of these retreats screams hillbilly. Nails for coat hooks have been machine-gunned into walls. Bunk beds lean and creak. Food crumbs, card decks, tattered copies of Field & Stream and an arsenal of .30-06s, .270s and .243s suggest either the onset of hunting season, the utter illusion of human progress, or the impending intervention by uniformed authorities.

Critical to this aesthetic are outhouses, or what the British refer to as “thunder boxes.” The best of these, with reading material featuring tales of big bucks and bear attacks, are located neither too far from, nor too near to, the headquarters shanty.

So, yes. Hunting season.

Come in. Don’t mind your boots.


Dennis Anderson