Camp cooking without the clank

by Linda Gabris | August 19, 2013

clank - eggs, sausage, potato in a foil made basket cooking on fire
If you want to travel light (and quiet) in the outdoors, unload the cookware from your pack. When I was a child, learning to fish and hunt with my dad, we’d often take off into the woods with only the bare cooking necessities: a salt and pepper shaker, a gunny sack of flour, sugar, a couple of onions, a few potatoes and a tin of lard.

Everyone loves cooking wieners on a stick, but have you ever cooking a fresh caught trout or grouse this way? Here are some of our panless time-tested methods for enjoying good food in the outdoors.

Fish on a stick
When cooking fish on a stick, clean them but leave them whole with the skin on.

For smaller fish, run the cooking stick through the mouth and secure it in the tail meat just below the backbone. Cook the fish over coals until the skin blisters. To cook a larger fish, make a basket using a latticework pattern on a three-forked stick of suitable size (willow or other flexible branches work best). Secure fish in the basket using a couple of additional twigs for easy flipping.

Game spit
If you have more than one piece of game, this method works great.

Cut two sturdy forked sticks to use as legs for a spit and plant them firmly on each side of the fire, far enough back so they don’t burn. Cut a third stick to use as a spit. Skewer whole birds or rabbits, for example, onto the stick and secure it in place by threading a smaller stick through the legs or body. Set the loaded spit onto the spit legs and roast your game over coals, rotating often, until the meat is tender.

If you have fat in your pack, use a pine or spruce tip as a brush to baste the meat while it’s cooking. Mashed cranberries, blueberries or other wild berries sweetened with sugar can be brushed on the meat when it’s about done to add a tangy glaze.

Wild kebabs
Cut grouse breast, venison liver or tenderloin, or other available meat into bite-sized cubes, or slice fish into steaks, and thread it onto a cooking stick. Make an even tastier meal by alternating the meat or fish with wild mushrooms (just make sure you know which ones are safe to eat). When your stick is loaded, roast the kebab slowly over your campfire coals.

These are just a few examples of how to easily cook your fish your game with makeshift cookware. Panless camp cooking is all about being creative and resourceful.


  1. NonStickSteel wrote: One thing to remember when using "sticks" to cook over the campfire: always look for twigs that are young and green - mature wood is drier and is more likely to burn, especially when cooking for longer periods of time. Also, when cooking whole fish, fill the cavity with fresh herbs and skewer the fish in a way that makes the fish look like it's swimming through water (in a wavy pattern). Skewer poultry using two sticks through each side of the bird so that it doesn't roll around on you when cooking it. Much easier this way.