It should be invisible from trails, and from opposite ridges.
It should be screened by tall trees, preferably evergreens, so that the smoke of a properly fed fire will not betray it by day, nor its light do so at night.
There should be plenty of down-wood in the neighborhood, so that the noise of chopping may be reduced to a minimum.
It should be not far from a regular trail; because you must go back and forth yourself, and if you should make a new trail it soon would attract notice and speculation.
It is impossible for a man, even though he be alone, to camp more than a day or two in one place without leaving footprints that a woodsman would notice, unless the weather is extremely dry. The problem, then, is to mask the points ot ingress and egress.
If your presence in the country is known to low characters, establish a woods alibi, by building another camp away from the real one, but somewhat more public. Build a fire there every day or two, freshen the browse bed now and then, and leave litter and footprints indicating recent occupancy. The more shrewdly this false camp is located the surer you are to lead busybodies to spy after you in the wrong places.
An example of a successful masked camp is illustrated in Fig. 68.
An old trail up the creek is used by herdsmen, hunters, and others going up into the mountains. Fishermen commonly wade the creek itself. On the south side of the stream is a forest mostly of oaks and chestnuts. On the north side is a laurel thicket in which stand numerous birches and hemlocks. To the north is a cliff or steep-sided ridge, at the base of which is a spring.
Neither hogs nor cattle will go over into that laurel thicket when there is an open forest of mast-bearing trees on the other side of the creek, and a regular trail running through it. Consequently nobody looking for his hogs or cattle will cross the stream at this point. Nor is there anything over there to attract game or its pursuers. About the only people who would be likely to go into such a place are timber cruisers, who, of late years, actually count every tree, or blockaders (moonshiners), or spies serving the revenue agents.
If'you know those woods, you know how long it has been since its timber was "cruised," and the likelihood of it being gone over for that purpose this year. Anyway, cruisers are decent fellows. The spring branch and the solitude of that north side would be attractive to blockaders looking for a new location; but if they picked on it, they would erect their still on the branch itself, low enough down from the spring so that they could run water through a spout to the worm of the still. Spies searching for such gentry would go along the branch, and, finding no sign, would waste no more '"me there.
A man Camping in that thicket would have to have some way of getting in and out. It would be much too wearisome to go a new way every time, crawling through the laurel. That means he will make a trail of his own. He leaves the regular trail and steps into the creek not far from a point opposite the mouth of the spring branch, and up that branch he wades a short distance until out of sight of the creek. Here he turns out into the thicket to the left and trims a trail to the spring, starting a few yards back from the branch so that no marks are visible from it. Directly below the spring he starts similarly a trail to the camp site, where he trims out as much space as he needs. Dead trees wind-thrown from the cliff supply him with almost smokeless fuel, and dead laurel, of which there is plenty in every thicket, gives him an abundance of excellent kindling that is really smokeless. When he chops, it will be so early in the morning thnt nobody else will be within sound of it, for it is an hour's walk, at least, from any house.
Whenever he goes to the spring, or returns from it, he drops a dead laurel bush at the entrance to the side trail leading to camp, the sprangling forks of the bush being thrown outward, which would deter any stranger from pushing through just at that point. The entrance to this side trail, like the one near the mouth of the branch, is "blind"; i. e., not visible from the branch, as you have to part some bushes to find it.