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Today is October 4, 2022


Closing Mississippi’s season with Bo

Closing Mississippi’s season with Bo

Bo standing in camp. The surroundings must appear ancient to him, but he later said, “That was the best sleeping I have done in a long time.” Photo: Tony Kinton

    We have camp secure, Bo and I. Housing is a David Ellis Range Tent, a 10 by 10 suspended by peeled-pine poles. Inside are foam sleeping pads, sleeping bags, a pair of wool blankets and an olive-oil lamp. This latter will flicker its mystical glow well into the night as I attempt to answer with clarity and sincerity Bo’s grandiose questions about the hunting world and my many experiences in it, these now encompassing more than 50 years. Goodness, time has done anything but creep.
     Outside the tent is a canvas fly, this also 10 by 10. It will serve as a place to sit while a small 18th century-style brazier emits its diminutive but warming flame just beyond the fly’s eve. Two oak-and-rope holders nestle containers of water, one for hand washing and one for drinking and making coffee. There is also a two-piece oak table that I envisioned one late night when I should have been sleeping. I built it so that it would slide together on either side of the fly’s middle pole, thus producing more usable space under that fly. I also built the oak-and-rope holders so that they fold into a compact package for travel. Somewhat favoring a throw-back to antiquity, the camp is highly functional. I like things that way, old and functional. No new gadgets to clutter one’s mind. I hope Bo will like such systems as much as I.
     I have been watching Bo since camp was set. He split with a hatchet some fat pine kindling into usable splinters. These I will employ to start the evening fire. He is now tinkering with his new .22 rifle. Quite the marksman he has become. And safe too. Not once during my observation have I seen him abandon prescribed protocol. I worry little about him now in that regard. And those same splinters split today will serve well tomorrow. For it is then that I will teach him the fascinating tactic of starting fire with flint and steel and char cloth. He needs to know that. His survival could depend upon such skills. But even if it never does, he needs to know so that he can understand what it means to be self-sufficient and will know how it was done by individuals long ago.
     Another day has slipped quietly over the pines. We slept well last night. I heard Bo stir but once, and this hardly noticed. He did so when a collection of coyotes whaled a plaintive song near camp. Though signaling little danger, this sound still causes chills, perhaps because of its wildness as opposed to its threat. Today we will end another season, and my young companion will try his hand at the flint and steel. We will cook breakfast over the fire he generates. All has been well.
     Bo is growing up. The nature of that process is change, and I am sure he will. But I hope the whirlwind of young adulthood will be kind to him. I hope he will still want to strike fire with flint and steel and char cloth and sleep in canvas tents and move quietly though the squirrel woods. Those decisions are his and time will reveal the outcome. I hope I have done my best. And I look forward to the others: Grant and Carson and Ford and Ethan. All, like Bo, are great nephews, but I could never have had sons or grandsons who would be more entrenched into my very core than these. Boys, to each of you, all the best this life has to offer.

    Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. “Uncertain Horizons,” book two in Kinton’s “Wagon Road Trilogy,” is now available. Order from your local bookstore, or Kinton’s website:

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