One of the greatest aspects of spending time in the outdoors lies in the ability to experience positive changes in lifestyle, and the knowledge of how to smoke fish and meat in camp is among the best. A well-prepared meal of smoked fish or meat is a rare feast that will not soon be forgotten, and will most certainly become a staple of future outdoor endeavors. While camp cooking is usually a quick task over an open flame, smoking fish and meat in camp takes longer to complete but the extra effort is immediately justified with the first bite of food. Smoked fish and meats retain natural juices much better than food cooked on a high flame as well as absorbing the flavor of the woods on which they were smoked. Leftovers that were smoked keep and taste better, and smoked fish and meats when added to soups and stews inject a rich flavor that cannot be obtained otherwise.
In order to smoke fish and meats in camp it becomes necessary to build a device in which to hang meat or fish that will retain both heat and smoke. However prior to this a fire pit should be dug approximately 2 feet by 2 feet in size and about 1 foot deep in the ground. Next, create the apparatus on which the food will be placed – either a spit of a cooking grate positioned 2 to 3 feet above the top of your fire pit.
A “smoker” will be constructed next in the process, made of wood which can be fashioned in several ways. The first way is to build a tee-pee of branches that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter, tied together at the top using vine, rope or even a shoelace. One small area of this should be left open to allow a camper to tend to the fire and turn the food as needed. The gaps between the branches can be filled using moss, tree boughs, or a wet piece of canvas or even wet cloth. Another configuration of a make-shift smoker can be to use branches to make a smoker that resembles a log cabin’s construction, with only three sides and a top. Either way, the idea is to trap smoke and heat while allowing oxygen to access the fire to produce smoke.
When these steps are completed the next task is to collect appropriate firewood. Hardwoods or fruit woods are best for smoking fish and meats as they burn evenly and infuse foods with wonderful flavor. Oak, Maple, Hickory, Cherry and Apple wood will never fail in making smoked foods taste great. Attempt to gather a variety of wood sizes as it will make controlling temperature and the amount of needed smoke much easier.
After placing the fish or meat to be cooked on the spit or cooking grate, start a small fire. The trick is to keep the fire small, while constantly adding wood a little at a time. Occasionally let the fire burn down and add some small twigs to the hot coals, as this will help create smoke. After 2 to three hours fish and meat of moderate size will be done and ready for consumption. For larger items like whole chickens or turkeys, the cooking time is closer to 4 to 6 hours.