Hunting shacks underwent changes for the Floyd family
by Rich Floyd
Deer hunting out of a shack has been a treasured tradition in our family since long before I was born. Though we have had our own place for nearly 60 years now, before that the shacks were opportunistic.
I can remember two of them. The first was an abandoned lumber camp somewhere around Skibo, outside of Hoyt Lakes. (We lived in Eveleth at the time.)
We called it the tar paper shack. Old timers will know why. It was around the mid ’50s when we used that shack.
I turned six years old in the fall of 1955, so of course, I didn’t deer hunt yet, but I remember my brother, Ted, and me shooting a BB gun at busted dishes left after a bear had broken into the place, making a big mess.
I also remember Dad taking Ted and me to a bear den he found, where he held us up over it and had us “spit in a bear’s eye,” though I don’t suppose a spec of spit actually got in its eye. I would guess we abandoned that shack because someone in the party found a better one.
That next shack was an abandoned farmstead we called MacDonald’s Farm. It was located up the Partridge River from Allen Junction outside HoyteLakes. In later years I wondered if someone by the name of MacDonald had actually been an owner at one time, or if Dad just made that up (hearkening back to Old MacDonald’s Farm). He was prone to do things like that.
However, exploring a 1962 USGS quadrangle of the area just a few years ago, I found “MacDonald Camp” printed right where the shack would have been.
I have some fond memories of that place. The guys had to fix the roof and clean the old farm house out before it was habitable. It had a dirt floor. A barn was attached via a “breezeway.” This place was a young boy’s dream. We made a cannon by laying a log across the axle connecting a pair of wagon wheels. We shot 22’s. We trapped weasels. I recall asking Dad if wails we heard at night were those of wolves or owls. There is much more I could tell, but space is limited.
We moved from Eveleth to Ely in 1960 (I hate to admit I’m a packsacker), and Dad, being tired of having to find new hunting shacks every few years, bartered some work for a couple acres on which to build a somewhat permanent log cabin.
Though it had no electricity or running water, I had a hard time referring to this mansion as a shack, but old habits die hard. This was where Ted and I actually started deer hunting. Our hunting parties usually consisted of about six people, but one season we had 13 men and boys in that 16x20 one-room shack.
About 10 years later Dad acquired more land adjacent to it and built another cabin just for himself and our mother. Eventually, our hunting party moved into the new place and the old one went to pieces.
We finally burned the old one down so as not to have to pay taxes on a dilapidated building. Our “new” one, still with no electricity or running water, has, over time, deteriorated into a shack, but a fine shack if I do say so myself.
It appeals in two ways that, in my opinion, any good camp must—solitude during the day and comradery at night.
The first one - McDonald Camp - Sept. 1959.