Outdoorsman’s Man Cave

By: Luke Clayton

The term ‘man cave’ became popular about a decade ago. Outdoorsmen have long had their versions of man caves in the form of outbuildings with wood burning stove and a few old outdated chairs, possibly a worn out table or two. These were places to congregate, brew up a little coffee and get mud on the floor if they so choose without offending their fairer sex.

Man caves take on many forms, depending upon the size of one’s checking account and interests. I’ve some buddies with caves they call trophy rooms that are downright plush. The cost of the taxidermy work alone on the mounts totals more dollars than I will generate in a year but, these plush ‘caves’ serve the same purpose as the Spartan ones, they are a place to get away to and talk hunting and fishing and reminisce over old outings and plan new ones with good friends that share like interests.

I’ve been working on my cave for the past few months and although it’s still a work in progress, my buddies and I have already had some big times in the little eight-by-ten-foot building situated in the trees behind our house. My cave was born out of need. I desperately needed a spot to cook without disrupting my wife’s kitchen. I needed a place where a little grease could be spilled on the floor while frying fish or venison steaks, a place where I could cure and smoke pork from wild hogs I harvest or marinate duck breasts, in general a place totally detached from the house that was designed for cooking, processing my fish and game and, visiting.

My cave is definitely taking shape and I’m pretty sure there is not another one quite like it! It’s a custom job from the get go. I’ve designed its tight quarters to use every square inch to the max! I think the word ‘rustic’ would best describe my outdoor headquarters.

Here’s the inside of Luke’s ‘man cave’ with a distinct outdoorsy theme! It’s certainly not plush but some great meals and a lot of good hunting and fishing talk takes place here. photo by Luke Clayton

When one walks through the one and only door, on the left they will spot my Smokin Tex electric smoker. There’s a side window and I can open the window and door to create a draft and use the smoker inside the cave, VERY handy indeed! The smell of wild plum and pecan wood smoke has already permeated the inside of my cave, giving it the aroma of a smoke house, very pleasing indeed to my guests and I while we sit talking about a past adventure or the next trip for stripers or upcoming hog hunt. This ‘smoked effect’ is one perk that my buddies with their expensive ‘trophy room’ caves dare not attempt to duplicate!

Adjacent the smoker, against the left wall is a small defunct refrigerator that I use to store the spices for my sausage making or meat curing, it’s a sealed dry area that is also good for keeping staples such as flour, rice, dried beans, etc. On top of this converted refrigerator sits a gift from my wife. A very serviceable little refrigerator she purchased at a garage sale for a whopping five dollars. I keep my ice box stocked with fresh brown hen eggs, frozen hash browns, Head Country Salsa, grated cheese, onions, jalapenos, butter, homemade cured and smoked ham and flour tortillas. I can crank out enough breakfast tortillas to feed three hungry guys and myself in about twelve minutes!

Adjacent the ice box, I built a very sturdy table from two-by-sixes and placed a heavy duty 2-burner propane stove on top. On the shelf under the stove, I keep my cast iron skillet with lid, a couple of Dutch ovens and a big slow cooker, another gift from my wife. For some reason, she’s showered me with gifts for my outdoor cooking headquarters!

On the back wall is an assortment of mounted deer heads and antlers from many years hunting. I still have the floor against the back wall cluttered with boots, boxes containing shotgun shells, old magazines with articles I penned as far back as a quarter-century ago, bags of lead shot from my muzzleloading shotgun days, and other items I probably have not laid eyes on in a decade or two! I recently found the remains of a coon skin cap a lady made for me when I was about 14 years old! I do hate to phase that old token of my youth out, but the time has come! It’s taken on the appearance of some fur bearing critter of unknown species that had a bad run in with an eighteen wheeler!

Just in front of this cluttered floor are 4 metal chairs, this is where my guests sit and dine while I am preparing tacos, fried fish, quail or smothered venison. Not a lot of room for moving around, everyone is instructed to remain in place to avoid tripping over each other. Once I clear the floor in the back of the cave, I will build us a small dining table!

On the left wall sets a small upright freezer which is currently filled with an assortment of wild game and fish, which will become the centerpiece of upcoming meals. Adjacent the freezer is my latest addition to the cave, a sink and countertop with cutting board. I’d given much thought to the installation of this sink and prep table. I’d toyed with the idea of running water out to the building and rigging up a drain. The more I thought about it, the more I wished to keep things ‘rustic’. The steel sink has no drain and holds about 5 gallons of water, plenty for washing dishes or marinating or defrosting meats on a cold winter’s night. In front of the sink, I covered the heavy two by six countertop with a heavy hard plastic material, perfect for cutting meat and keeping clean with a little water and bleach. Below the sink, I’ve conveniently placed a couple of plastic 5-gallon buckets which I’ve filled with water. MUCH easier and simpler than worrying with freezing plastic pipes during the winter months.

If you’ve been considering the idea of creating your own ‘man cave’ maybe the outline of my cave will help you get started, unless of course your budget warrants a full blown ‘trophy room’.
I’m not sure a fancy man cave would serve my purposes. I might just find myself worrying about tracking mud in on the floor!
Listen to Outdoors with Luke Clayton radio at Catfish Radio.
Luke’s also doing an outdoor show for public radio, listen online at www.ketr.org.

Contact Luke with hunting and fishing news from your area via email at lukeclayton@prodigy.net.