A Living History Skills series by Colonel Jerry Tubbs

With cooler weather on the way, most of us turn our attention toward getting together around the campfire and renewing old friendships. Now is the time to sort through you camping or personal gear and take out those items that just do not fit the Texas colonial period. Here are a few suggestions for you first timers to use to help get you on the right path and perhaps save you a few dollars at the same time.

Personal items for the men: Proper footwear, no cowboy boots or Nike's. Moccasins or Brogan shoes are preferred. (Modern day Ropers will pass as period footwear also)
Buckskin pants or broadfall pants held up by suspenders, drop sleeve shirts
Broad rim felt hat, top hat or head rag (scarf), no cowboy hats
A good belt knife, patch knife
Shooting bag or possible bag, haversack with shooting supplies, fire-starting kit, maybe some food items such as dried corn, jerky or hardtack. Try to avoid carrying anything of modern nature on you person.
If you wear eyeglasses, frames without a nose bridge are preferred over those that have them since this is a modern addition to frames. James Townsend & Son have for sell in their catalog a good quality 18th century style frames at a reasonable price. They can also be reached at 1-800-338-1665. For colder days or evenings, a hunting frock or capote

Personal items for the ladies: Proper footwear, moccasins, slip on shoes with little or no heal. Drawstring style skirt, bodice, pinner or drawstring apron, chemise and a bonnet or work cap. Straw hats were favored also. Stockings (we do not want to show our ankles do we?) Eyewear as mentioned above. If cooler weather prevails, a shawl, capote or hooded cape and gloves or mittens. Chatelaine or sewing kit (We men are always tearing something)

Camp Items: Here is a subject total dependent on the individual or family needs. These are some basic items you should have:
A small folding fire-grate
Fire starter kit with flax or tow for the birds nest (I like to use jute)
A tri-pod that can also become a cross bar set
Several "S" hooks for hanging pots
Fire poker
Water keg or containers for holding liquids
Tentage with accessories to erect
Ground cloth and plastic tarp for floor of tent
Bedding items (wooden folding cots are period correct)
1 small frying pan and 1 small Dutch oven
Coffee pot or tea pot (chocolate was also popular)
1 or two candle lanterns (western style oil lanterns are too modern) with candles
7 dust (I prefer to apply this for insects before laying the floor down

I could go on and on but these items make for a good start. I try to carry no more than what is listed above when I camp alone. If my wife comes camping, so does enough camp gear to fill a Suburban and a twelve-foot lowboy trailer. Regardless of your situation, try to keep everything to a minimum, leaving more time for visiting and less on setting up and tearing down.

There is one item we cannot get around and that is the ice chest. It is a modern necessity for the majority of us. Hiding the darn thing can be as simple as covering it with a blanket to setting it inside of wooden box made for that purpose. I have read of one re-enactor that went to the trouble of burying his igloo in a hole and covering the top with hay. He claimed that he only used one bag of ice for a four-day camp because of the cooling effect of the earth. If you try this idea, let me know if it really works. Panther Primitives has for sell in their catalog a cover made from canvas. (1-800-487-2684) Although it does cover up the ice chest, you still get the feeling looking at it that there is an ice chest hidden inside. The easiest way to conceal your ice chest is of course, just keep it inside your tent away from public scrutiny.

When it comes to feeding myself, I again try to keep it as simple as possible. Individual and family needs will vary but preparing some foods in advance will help until the cook becomes accustom to cooking over a campfire. Stews can be the easiest to prepare in camp or ahead of time by having all the vegetables precut and bagged separate from the meat. You could even prepare meals at home and freeze them for later use in camp. As I stated in my previous articles, keep in mind the period of time we are recreating and focus on period correct meals so if the public is visiting you may stay in character.

I hope that I have been of some help preparing you for your first encampment. Remember to be patient in acquiring your camp gear. Do not run out and buy something just because someone else has it. Make your purchases carefully because most of your gear will be with you for a long time.

See ya around the campfire.

Creating a Character

Is That Gun Real?

What's in the Bag?

You need an Edge

What's Cooking?

Lighting up the Night

Keeping an Eye on the Sky

Getting Started

Then & Now

What type of Primitive Shelter is best for you?


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