ESCANABA - The other day I was readying to head to the office when I saw my wife sorting through a pile of pictures. She was looking for some shots from years ago that showed our children growing up and some of the other great memories of time that were to fit into a collage frame.
"I found your turkey pictures from last spring," she said as I breezed through the room.
"How'd they get mixed in with that pile," I asked, "And what else is with them?"
Photo courtesy of Tim Kobasic
Tim?Kobasic’s souvenir wall at his camp is adorned with a lifetime of hunting memories. The west and north walls of the camp showcase some of the Kobasic’s personal hunting trophies including each family member’s first pair of buck antlers.
Turns out there was a whole group of camp photos from last year, including some of the improvements to the souvenir wall and heating system.
Like the picture frame Mary Kay was trying to fill, the camp souvenir wall holds memories from years gone by that provide an account of what has taken place in the nearly two decades we owned the place, each year having some memento added to again mark a memory of an event or individual that has been there and left a lasting impression on all of us.
The west and north walls hold our personal hunting trophies, the deer antler racks taken throughout the years. Only a few are what might be considered large. The rest are normal, including some smaller sets that may not impress the viewer, but for us they are a reminder of days gone by and times of success in pursuit of whitetails.
Tim Kobasic is outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.
Both of my boys' first bucks are represented as well as mine that I took back in 1976.
The east wall sports nothing more than plastic covered insulation and new joists. That side of the camp had deteriorated through the years and was settling about an inch annually. Until it was replaced, we had to take the inside door off each year, before hunting season, and shave an equivalent amount off so it would open and close.
The replacement project was done the same year the hunting documentary "Anatomy of a Hunter" was shot, in part at our camp. I don't have an explanation as to why we never finished it, but it sure stands proud against the memory of the old wall and yes, the door was also replaced.
The unique and noteworthy mention of the heating system is just that after repairing the one sagging wall and replacing a couple of leaky windows, we saw an immediate improvement on keeping the place warm. In fact it was so good that I took out the original gas space heater and replaced it with one half the size.
However, the heat from the new system didn't migrate to the front sitting room area of camp like the rest of the place, so I had to invent a means of bringing it there.
Oh, I could use a little electric heater, but that would negate the energy savings I realized with the new gas heater. I had to come up with a way of mixing the air around so the rooms would be heated equally.
Now I'm no engineer or home heating expert, but I've seen them on TV. It can't be that big a deal, I thought. I did know a lot of super warm exhaust was going out the chimney and if I could corral that heat and redistribute it to the front room of camp, I'd be saving even more energy while adding comfort.
Beginning in early October and intently working the following weekends leading up to deer hunting season, I devised a contraption I refer to as a "heat bonnet collector."
By design, the device would shroud the existing exhaust pipe off the back of the main space heater. It would travel along the hottest points of the pipe, conducting heat within its body and diverting it in an exact direction toward its most needed location.
I spent hours snipping the tin piping opening, leaving little tabs to draw heat away from the pipe yet tight enough so that it would collect inside with enough volume to be effective.
By trial and error, I was able to keep mistakes down to a minimum having ruined only about 10 sections of ducting to get it just right. There'd still be a return on my investment.
The next step was to figure a means of redirecting the collected surplus heat toward the front room. A quick trip to the Good Will store found an electric fan just about the size needed to cover the inlet side and push air far past the outlet side of the bonnet.
God must have liked my idea as when I went to make my purchase, I was informed that it was appliance sale day and I landed the motorized gem for $2.49 instead of the $4.99 original price and the cord was long enough to not require an extension. Money, money, money!!
Once completed, the unconventional - never seen before - one of a kind - "Original Auxiliary Heat Energy Collection and Distribution Unit Modem" (OAHEC-DUM), as I thought it should come to be known up and down the river, stands today not only as a unique piece of modern day engineering, but an energy saving heat source.
I was so proud that once everyone saw it and had the experience of its warmth, I had to know their impression. They initially seemed speechless.
My son Jake put into perspective the thoughts shared by everyone else when he said, "Well Dad, if it doesn't catch on the way you intended, you'll at least be guaranteed a position as a midget amour maker if that industry ever comes back".
It is his comment that made for great laughter and makes the heater another lasting memory, as good as any picture we have.
I hope you all share simple memories like these. I also hope you take a little extra time this weekend to remember family and friends, especially those in the military, who once made it and continue to make it possible for us to have these experiences of good times together.