Buying & Selling

Off the Grid Hunting Cabins

When searching for hunting land, we often try to get the best bang for our buck. We search for the properties featuring the most acres, the biggest cabin and the most amenities that fall into our budgets. But what do you really need in a hunting camp?

That depends of course that is only going to be used for hunting and what your definition of “roughing it” is. With a little creativity, budget-minded land buyers can quickly erect a comfortable dwelling on raw land.

Pre-fab cabins, DIY bunkhouse plans, small but adequate storage sheds for the weekend hunter are available at the click of a mouse these days.

Access to utilities is becoming less of a must-have as solar and wind power systems become more efficient and less expensive, yet totally capable of providing enough power to run low-wattage electronics.

I’ve found out that too much of a good thing can really change the experience you have on a property.

We own 280 acres in Carroll County, Illinois. There wasn’t a dwelling on it, so the summer after we bought it, we built a bunkhouse in the woods. It was close, yet far enough from the road to have a “camp” feeling. Up by the road, we built a storage shed to house the tractor and all our hunting gear. While the cabin in woods didn’t have electricity, the shed did.

In the bunkhouse, heat was a wood stove. Lights were lanterns. Water came from three 5-gallon potable water jugs we refilled after each stay. The sewage system was an outhouse with a 5-gallon bucket of powdered lime next to the hole.

Fast forward a few years and now there is a 730 square foot turn-key cabin with all the bells and whistles a home away from home has. It’s nice, but it’s different.

We can now accommodate more guests, but when it’s raining, they’re gathered around the satellite TV watching football and not hunting. In the old days (this is what we refer to the time before the new cabin was built), you went hunting no matter the weather because there was nothing else to do.

In the old days, you built a fire in the evenings after the hunt to stay warm. A by-product of that was storytelling and fellowship around the flames. Now, the baseboard heating system of the cabin sends everyone to sleep a lot quicker.

In the old days, coffee was rationed out as it brewed over the propane stove. It was liquid gold on a cold morning after a late night playing poker. Now there’s a Kuerig – the same one that’s in the break room at work and at my home – on the counter. In the old days, you appreciated the java a little more.

The cabin changed the experience of our hunting trips. More electrical outlets, less card games. More comfort, less time in the stand. More space, less whittling on the porch.  

I miss the old days. They were more off the grid. They were more shared. It felt like a hunting trip.

That brings me back to the point I am trying to make to buyers of hunting land. Everyone is different, but remember, it’s hunting camp. Primitive doesn’t mean bad. Access to utilities may not be a deal breaker, especially today, when alternative energy options are becoming cheaper and perhaps a better option than plugging into the grid.

Before you start your search for the perfect piece of hunting land, have a clear vision of what you want it to have and what you want your time their to feel like. Then, find a piece of raw land and create it. 

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