|Written by Thomas Conroy|
Introduction: Scout fires are believed to be named for calvary scout's in the old west, as a way to keep warm without giving away your location due to the casting of light or smoke. Scout fires are small and set up below ground level, and if made properly can provide a moderate amount of heat making an outdoors man comfortable for an extended period of time. The smoke and light supplied by a scout fire are directional, that is, the fire can be positioned so a military scout could have a fire without being detected by potential enemies. For this reason scout fires were and still are a favorite of military scouts that may be required to stay hidden and stationary for long periods while assessing threats on the terrain before them.
Step 1: To build a scout fire, it is necessary to dig a hole in the dirt about 12 to 18 inches deep, and a little larger than the length and width of a human body. For the length of about 60 percent of the hole, place leaves or boughs about the size and width of a human torso to serve as soft bedding, and this will also serve as insulation. In a true military application, a "roof" would be woven for the hole out of tree branches and leaves to cover the hole so as to retain heat better and to disguise the location. The basic idea of a scout fire is to lay in the hole with a blanket over yourself, and to have a small fire going about the size of a human fist between your thighs. This small fire will produce enough heat to take a chill off and allow for some much needed sleep.
Step 3: After getting comfortable in the hole and a fire is started, a blanket or poncho is then pulled over the head and supported either by your knees of two sticks to trap the heat, as any smoke from the fire escapes between your feet. Very small amounts of wood is added to the fire as necessary to keep the fire going and to stay warm.