Building the Grouse Hunting Camp: The Vintage Shed

Posted by on Aug 28, 2018 in Hunting, Minnesota Northwoods Life | No Comments

By Joel Schnell for

Traveling the backroads of grouse country, we catch a glimpse of the old working buildings of the Northwoods. The barns, sheds, chicken coops and farm houses tucked down an overgrown driveway edged with lilacs. In their day, a family scratched out a living in the woods and fields with daily trips to those outbuildings. The story they tell is one of hard but noble labor on the land. Part of the landscape now, these weathered soldiers bear a burden of winter snow for decades, until– exhausted… finally collapsing in a heap of boards.

At grouse camp I need a working building like this, one to hang a buck from the ridgepole for skinning, or age a ruffed grouse a spell before placing in the dutch oven. A place to rest the wheelbarrow and shovels until the next spring washes out that trouble spot on the driveway. A backdrop for a portrait of a tired grouse dog after a long day’s hunt. A vintage shed that looks like it always belonged in that spot.

Starting from the woodlot

I decided to use as many locally sourced and recycled materials as possible. First up- five straight maple logs 13′ long. Peeled by hand and given a good coat of stain. Then a spray of insect killer and they are ready for service as perlins.

If you’ve ever peeled logs, it’s a chore like splitting wood. Bit of an acquired taste. Not exactly my idea of fun, but immensely satisfying when completed.

More materials from my friend Craig’s List.

Somewhere, somebody’s old chicken coop is without a steel roof. I don’t expect there was much left of it but the roofing. I don’t know anything about it’s source but it’s my kind of weathered. A little caulk was need to fill nail holes where holes shouldn’t be.

The first load of deck teardown cedar. Beautiful stuff. Twenty bucks got me a trailer load. I love working with cedar. Cleaned up and stained, it was rewarded with a second life as my shed siding.

Framing up

Most of the dimensional lumber was scraps recycled from other projects. Much of it was salvaged from storage in the rafters of my father-in-law’s garage. I stained it to give a little extra protection from the elements. The only purchased lumber was treated sill boards for ground contact.

Steel roofed. Now we’re getting somewhere

More Materials

This project was more of a marathon than a sprint. Assembling the building materials took over a year. Patience is a virtue when shopping the free stuff section of Craigslist. Finally the last of my siding became mine, free for the hauling from another neighborly deck teardown. Some privacy fence teardown wood entered the mix as well.

Some red barn paint added the right color. A few more purchased materials included the plywood for the doors, fasteners, rolled steel ridge cap, and hinges. Almost there.

Wrapping it all up

Short of door latches and few more trim boards, the vintage shed is ready for action. I’ve already seen that it shucks snow and rain off the roof nicely. Sized at 8′ x 12′, it features an asymmetrical roof, with the longest side facing the sun and wind from the South. Short of straight-line winds, tornado or a dead-center hit by a falling tree it should serve grouse camp for decades.

An early winter snow, before the gable ends were finished.

Marked on the calendar

It’s a little more than two weeks away. Ruffed grouse season 2018 opens September 15. I’ll be out there, drumming counts be darned. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

By Joel Schnell

Posted August 28, 2018.

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