Category: Hunting


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The more I get into the great outdoors the more respect I have for the ‘old timers’ and am amazed that human beings, before organized agriculture survived and thrived enough to bring us to the point where we have 7 billion people on this planet.

Hunting, fishing, gardening, plant identification (wild edibles), and making do with what was found in your local environment…woah…lots of work, patience and knowledge is needed for it all! And HOMESTEADERS way back in the day did by themselves with knowledge learned the hard way (hit and miss, mostly miss) or learning by/from example through practical knowledge and know how learned from the elders or just from someone who has more miles than you do on a particular subject.

 

Personally, I prefer to learn the easy way…from others. The advent of printing and finally the internet we have access to so much information/knowledge that I believe many are falling prey to THINKING they know how to do something or could do it, after all, it all sounds so easy But applying that knowledge in a hands on situation is another matter entirely. Finding someone who already has that hands on know how, well, that can be a daunting task, but it sure makes it a lot easier, especially when you learn from someone who will let you learn how you need to learn instead of by a strict set of rules. Guidelines are great, ridgity is not when you are trying to learn a new skill, unless it’s a safety rule.

 

Case in point, my partner in crime who has had the pleasure of trying to teach me how to hunt and track has taken on the challenge of teaching me how to fish. Now, you might think that fishing is easy and honestly, its easier than hunting! But there are so many ‘things’ involved in being successful (you can see his posts here on fishing at VaCreepinOutdoors) that its crazy, at least to me, but on the otherhand, me being an herbalist/homeopath I am sure he feels the same way about trying to learn from me about what I do well. And sometimes, just plain luck is involved too. I have spent hours just learning how to cast the line and am now comfortable enough that I am practicing getting it under trees. VCO showed me the basics and then let me run with it. Even got a compliment Saturday that I actually looked like I knew what I was doing!

 

Well, we went out carp fishing this past weekend and he cast in, first cast he caught a channel cat. Here I am sitting going: ‘reel it in! reel it in!’ and to me it looks like he is playing with it, letting it run out, reeling it in, letting the fish run back out, reeling it back in. This went on for a few minutes with him telling me that he didn’t want to bring the fish in with it ‘still green’. What the HECK DID THAT MEAN???? It was a nice size catfish, big enough for eating (wound up releasing it) but why in the world did he let it run? I mean, you hook the thing and bring it in right? That’s what you do with blue gill and the other smaller fish so why not these bigger guys?

 

Fast forward an hour or so, we’re just standing there with bread on the hook doing not much but watching the line for movement (there is a trick to ‘hooking’ a fish too by the way) and I am thinking, screw this and told him “I bet if I sit down I’ll hook a carp” he laughed and said, ‘yeah, then you get to figure out how to stand up with that thing pulling!’ I thought, ‘whatever’ and proceeded to sit down and dang it, do you know that within minutes my line was busy running out really fast and I am sitting on the ground trying to reel who knows what back in from the sitting position? He’s telling me to let it run out and then reel back in and all I can think is ‘gotta land this sucker’. But I slowed down, followed his directions (kinda) and lo and behold, after a good fight out comes this 4 lb carp! Big fish, strong and a fighter. It was kinda fun, but man! Reeling that thing in was like trying to keep two pitbulls apart that wanted to fight each other.

So, I learned something…what it means to ‘not reel a fish in green’. It means that you let it wear itself out (kinda like putting the 2 year old outside to run around) before trying to bring it onto land. A fish flopping around crazy on the ground is not fun to get your hands on as many of them have fins that will cut you or the darn thing will flop back into the water (have that happen to me before). And getting the hook out so you can put it on a stringer…well, its better, easier and much less painful to let that fish wear itself out than to fight it on land too. Lesson learned about ‘green fish’. The fight was fun and now I am hooked, but next time, I will let it run and fight in the water until it almost gives up. And it was released. Yes, it was pretty small compared to what a lot of people catch size wise but lesson learned about big fish fishing…let them run, play with them. Much less tiring that way and you are less likely to get hurt and keep the fish too or get the hook out with minimal damage to the fish. Btw, I still let him take the hooks out if he’s around.

 

Just for fun…I learned there are no hard and fast rules about bait that day too, you can catch bass with bread. I did it that same day. VaCreepinOutdoors calls it top water fishing…but with bread? He said he’d never heard of such thing…guess the joke was on him that day. Granted it was only a 4 inch big mouth, but by bouncing the bread through the water, it jumped right on.

 

Have fun, get out there and learn! Now I gotta figure out how to get new line on the reel.

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_MG_0102aFirst things first when you are out in the woods during the winter…that is the ability to stay warm. When we (VaCreepinOutdoors and I) went out I knew it would get cold and I did my best to think ahead.
Hypothermia during cold weather is probably more common than we realize… and CLOTHING is your first line of defense along with a little knowledge of how heat loss occurs.

I should know, went out hunting one early firearms season weekend, it was still about 40ish degrees and I am a warm person to begin with. Typically I get hot. It was overcast, chance of rain only about 20% and I dressed according to the weather forecast…just 3 layers, didn’t take anything for rain, no jacket, no coat, no hat, no gloves (blaze orange vest required!)…figured I would be good to go.

Yeah, sure…about ½ hour after settling in for the duration it started to drizzle, then rain…and don’t you know the temperature dropped too? Let me tell you something, I am a pitbull and won’t give up, but after getting pretty damp (not soaking) and handling the cold steel of the shotgun I use for hunting, with water dripping off the end of my nose…I started to feel the creepin’ cold setting in. About hour and a half of that (still raining off and on) I was down right cold and shivering. Still I sat there. DH was further down and finally called it a day (he was warm and dry btw having been ready for it if it came)…thank goodness…I didn’t realize until I stood up and started moving just how far down the road of hypothermia I had traveled, shaking like a leaf, a bit disoriented (in my own backyard!!!) and freezing cold to the bone. And did I mention my toes were numb? My clothing was only damp mind you, but my hands were frozen and fingers hard to move too, hair was wet and well…lesson learned. I actually went out the following day and bought a blaze orange water resistant, blaze orange hoodie…definitely warm and it is now my go to when I go out in the woods.
Soo…with that said…

#1 is clothing…dress for the weather and overkill is not a bad idea…you can always take things off but you can’t add enough if you get cold. Layers, water resistant, nylon, wool…and take extra with you just in case, especially socks. I also have a couple of different gloves I take with me, one pair is rather thin and another set is thicker. In this category I will include having the right socks and shoes. As VaCreepinOutdoors has pounded into my head lately, your feet is where most heat loss occurs. The thing about the head is a myth. Frankly I only wear a headband that goes over my ears and am just fine with that. And the ground is a heat sucker especially when damp or wet and its cold outside. Guess what touches the ground? Yep, your feet. I will say that cotton socks are a no go, wool socks, nylon are best. Cotton for the most part in the winter is a no go as it retains sweat which means heat loss.

Also, be mindful of your shoes. Unfortunately during this camping trip I chose to use my light weight hunting boots instead of my heavier ones, which turned out to be not so smart by the middle of the evening…toes were frozen after kneeling on the ground trying to get a fire going. Knees got damp and that was okay, I had some thermals on. But my right foot was resting on the ground (sole side up) so that the thinnest area on the boot was flat on the ground. Bingo…heat loss. And it was funny, but after those toes got cold the rest of my body started getting cold too. I wound up throwing on my heavy hunting coat on top of my hoodie, long sleeve shirt and jogging shirt that I like to wear when out and about (nothing like a bra to make life miserable!). And I will tell you something else…cold feet in cold boots next to a fire doesn’t work!!! I had thought to bring along some of those air activated hand warmers and wound up using those in toes of my boots, but those things took FOREVER to warm up, think it was about an hour or so before my toes unfroze. But more on those things later…

Got a bit of relief after taking my boots of for a short bit (long enough to stick the hand warmers into the toes of my boots) but put those babies back on…may have been better off leaving the boots off and putting my feet up close to the fire until the warmers were up and working.

I had my gloves with me but wound up still having to stick hands over the fire to warm the fingers up when I had to take them off to hook up sleeping bags…cold fingers and toes do not make for an easy evening of trying to get things done…walking is hard and dexterity goes out the door…

I wasn’t miserable camping in the cold but the experience taught me a few things about footwear and clothing…I had the socks right, but not the boots and definitely learned about heat loss due to the ground. Even slightly damp socks will suck the heat right out of you. Won’t be repeating those two mistakes again for sure. Waterproof, snow/winter boots, more than one pair of extra socks and making sure that I have a set of toe warmers open and ready to go if I even THINK that my feet are going to get cold. Also, I need to figure out some way of putting a barrier between me and the ground that easy and light weight to kneel on…VaCreepinOutdoors keeps some sort of oilskin cloth on him for that and think I have solved that problem.

Clothing wasn’t a real issue having been there done that one before, but I did try out a ‘new’ type of thermal leggings and I will tell you what, I think they would be good for spring or summer, but will be going with Columbia’s Omni-Heat or the old fashion type in the future. My legs weren’t cold, but they weren’t warm either.

At this point I will go over signs of hypothermia just so you can be aware…its not fun nor pleasant as I can attest to personally.

Signs of Hypothermia:

Hypothermia is most often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in a cold body of water. Primary treatments for hypothermia are methods to warm the body back to a normal temperature.
Shivering is your body’s automatic defense against cold temperature — an attempt to warm itself. Constant shivering is a key sign of hypothermia. Signs and symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:
• Shivering
• Clumsiness or lack of coordination
• Slurred speech or mumbling
• Stumbling
• Confusion or difficulty thinking
• Poor decision making, such as trying to remove warm clothes
• Drowsiness or very low energy
• Apathy or lack of concern about one’s condition
• Progressive loss of consciousness
• Weak pulse
• Slow, shallow breathing

More on hypothermia here.

So, essentially clothing and the right TYPE of clothing for the weather is your best friend when going out in the woods. I did bring extra clothing just in case (that’s the nice thing about planned camping) but no true rain gear such as Frog Togs…an oversight on my part that luckily didn’t cause me any problems. So, lessons learned, mistakes not to be repeated (hopefully). Hope you get something useful out of this!

hypothermiaWith another winter storm coming in across the southern and eastern United States, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you the signs and symptoms of hypothermia which can be deadly if not treated promptly.
The snow and ice predicted over the coming days may leave you stuck in a car, with no power or have you outside trying to clear the wintry mess up or just going outside to play.

A must read and print off:
http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/safety/hypocold.shtml

All information below was taken from the Mayo Clinic Website:

Definition:
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia (hi-po-THUR-me-uh) occurs as your body temperature passes below 95 F (35 C).
When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs can’t work correctly. Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and to death.
Hypothermia is most often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in a cold body of water. Primary treatments for hypothermia are methods to warm the body back to a normal temperature.
Shivering is your body’s automatic defense against cold temperature — an attempt to warm itself. Constant shivering is a key sign of hypothermia. Signs and symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:
• Shivering
• Clumsiness or lack of coordination
• Slurred speech or mumbling
• Stumbling
• Confusion or difficulty thinking
• Poor decision making, such as trying to remove warm clothes
• Drowsiness or very low energy
• Apathy or lack of concern about one’s condition
• Progressive loss of consciousness
• Weak pulse
• Slow, shallow breathing
A person with hypothermia usually isn’t aware of his or her condition, because the symptoms often begin gradually and because the confused thinking associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness.

Please keep in mind that your first line of defense against hypothermia is prevention:
Before you or your children step out into cold air, remember the advice that follows with the simple acronym COLD — cover, overexertion, layers, dry:
• Cover. Wear a hat or other protective covering to prevent body heat from escaping from your head, face and neck. Cover your hands with mittens instead of gloves. Mittens are more effective than gloves because mittens keep your fingers in closer contact with one another.
• Overexertion. Avoid activities that would cause you to sweat a lot. The combination of wet clothing and cold weather can cause you to lose body heat more quickly.
• Layers. Wear loose fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Outer clothing made of tightly woven, water-repellent material is best for wind protection. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does.
• Dry. Stay as dry as possible. Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. Be especially careful to keep your hands and feet dry, as it’s easy for snow to get into mittens and boots.
Keeping children safe outdoors
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the following tips to help prevent hypothermia when children are outside in the winter:
• Dress infants and young children in one more layer than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
• Limit the amount of time children spend outside in the cold.
• Have children come inside frequently to warm themselves.
Winter car safety
Whenever you’re traveling during bad weather, be sure someone knows where you’re headed, and at what time you’re expected to arrive. That way, if you get into trouble on your way, emergency responders will know where to look for your car. It’s also a good idea to keep emergency supplies in your car in case you get stranded. Supplies may include several blankets, matches, candles, a first-aid kit, dry or canned food, and a can opener. Travel with a cellphone if possible. If you’re stranded, put everything you need in the car with you, huddle together and stay covered. Run the car for 10 minutes each hour to warm it up. Make sure a window is slightly open and the exhaust pipe isn’t covered with snow while the engine is running.
Drinking alcohol
Take the following precautions to avoid alcohol-related risks of hypothermia.
Don’t drink alcohol:
• If you’re going to be outside in cold weather
• If you’re boating
• Before going to bed on cold nights
Cold-water safety
Water doesn’t have to be extremely cold to cause hypothermia. Any water that’s colder than normal body temperature causes heat loss. The following tips may increase your survival time in cold water, if you accidentally fall in:
• Wear a life jacket. If you plan to ride in a watercraft, wear a life jacket. A life jacket can help you stay alive longer in cold water by enabling you to float without using energy and by providing some insulation. Keep a whistle attached to your life jacket to signal for help.
• Get out of the water if possible. Get out of the water as much as possible, such as climbing onto a capsized boat or grabbing onto a floating object.
• Don’t attempt to swim unless you’re close to safety. Unless a boat, another person or a life jacket is close by, stay put. Swimming will use up energy and may shorten survival time.
• Position your body to minimize heat loss. Use a body position known as the heat escape lessening position (HELP) to reduce heat loss while you wait for assistance. Hold your knees to your chest to protect the trunk of your body. If you’re wearing a life jacket that turns your face down in this position, bring your legs tightly together, your arms to your sides and your head back.
• Huddle with others. If you’ve fallen into cold water with other people, keep warm by facing each other in a tight circle.
• Don’t remove your clothing. While you’re in the water, don’t remove clothing. Buckle, button and zip up your clothes. Cover your head if possible. The layer of water between your clothing and your body will help insulate you. Remove clothing only after you’re safely out of the water and can take measures to get dry and warm.

Hypothermia not necessarily related to the outdoors
Hypothermia isn’t always the result of exposure to extremely cold outdoor temperatures. An older person may develop mild hypothermia after prolonged exposure to indoor temperatures that would be tolerable to a younger or healthier adult — for example, temperatures in a poorly heated home or in an air-conditioned home.
Symptoms of mild hypothermia not related to extreme cold exposure are nearly identical to those of more severe hypothermia, but may be much less obvious. Signs and symptoms of mild hypothermia may include:
• Shivering
• Faster breathing
• Trouble speaking
• Confusion
• Lack of coordination
• Fatigue
• Increased heart rate
• High blood pressure
Hypothermia in infants
Typical signs of hypothermia in an infant include:
• Bright red, cold skin
• Very low energy
When to see a doctor
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you see someone with signs of hypothermia or if you suspect a person has had unprotected or prolonged exposure to cold weather or water. If possible take the person inside, remove wet clothing, and cover him or her in layers of blankets.
How hypothermia happens:
Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it produces it. The most common causes of hypothermia are exposure to cold-weather conditions or cold water. But prolonged exposure to any environment colder than your body can lead to hypothermia if you aren’t dressed appropriately or can’t control the conditions. Specific conditions leading to hypothermia can include:
• Wearing clothes that aren’t warm enough for weather conditions
• Staying out in the cold too long
• Unable to get out of wet clothes or move to a warm, dry location
• Accidental falls in water, as in a boating accident
• Inadequate heating in the home, especially for older people and infants
• Air conditioning that is too cold, especially for older people and infants
How your body loses heat
The mechanisms of heat loss from your body include the following:
• Radiated heat. Most heat loss is due to heat radiated from unprotected surfaces of your body.
• Direct contact. If you’re in direct contact with something very cold, such as cold water or the cold ground, heat is conducted away from your body. Because water is very good at transferring heat from your body, body heat is lost much faster in cold water than in cold air. Similarly, heat loss from your body is much faster if your clothes are wet, as when you’re caught out in the rain.
• Wind. Wind removes body heat by carrying away the thin layer of warm air at the surface of your skin. A wind chill factor is important in causing heat loss.

Risk Factors:

A number of factors can increase the risk of developing hypothermia:
• Older age. People age 65 and older are more vulnerable to hypothermia for a number of reasons. The body’s ability to regulate temperature and to sense cold may lessen with age. Older people are also more likely to have a medical condition that affects temperature regulation. Some older adults may not be able to communicate when they are cold or may not be mobile enough to get to a warm location.
• Very young age. Children lose heat faster than adults do. Children have a larger head-to-body ratio than adults do, making them more prone to heat loss through the head. Children may also ignore the cold because they’re having too much fun to think about it. And they may not have the judgment to dress properly in cold weather or to get out of the cold when they should. Infants may have a special problem with the cold because they have less efficient mechanisms for generating heat.
• Mental problems. People with a mental illness, dementia or another condition that interferes with judgment may not dress appropriately for the weather or understand the risk of cold weather. People with dementia may wander from home or get lost easily, making them more likely to be stranded outside in cold or wet weather.
• Alcohol and drug use. Alcohol may make your body feel warm inside, but it causes your blood vessels to dilate, or expand, resulting in more rapid heat loss from the surface of your skin. The use of alcohol or recreational drugs can affect your judgment about the need to get inside or wear warm clothes in cold weather conditions. If a person is intoxicated and passes out in cold weather, he or she is likely to develop hypothermia.
• Certain medical conditions. Some health disorders affect your body’s ability to regulate body temperature. Examples include underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), poor nutrition, stroke, severe arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, trauma, spinal cord injuries, burns, disorders that affect sensation in your extremities (for example, nerve damage in the feet of people with diabetes), dehydration, and any condition that limits activity or restrains the normal flow of blood.
• Medications. A number of drugs, including certain antidepressants, antipsychotics and sedatives, can change the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.
Diagnosis:
The diagnosis of hypothermia is usually apparent based on a person’s physical signs and the conditions in which the person with hypothermia became ill or was found.
A diagnosis may not be readily apparent, however, if the symptoms are mild, as when an older person who is indoors has symptoms such as confusion, lack of coordination and speech problems. In such cases, an exam may include a temperature reading with a rectal thermometer that reads low temperatures.
Until you can obtain professional medical care:
First-aid care
• Be gentle. When you’re helping a person with hypothermia, handle him or her gently. Limit movements to only those that are necessary. Don’t massage or rub the person. Excessive, vigorous or jarring movements may trigger cardiac arrest.
• Move the person out of the cold. Move the person to a warm, dry location if possible. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, shield him or her from the cold and wind as much as possible.
• Remove wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove it. Cut away clothing if necessary to avoid excessive movement.
• Cover the person with blankets. Use layers of dry blankets or coats to warm the person. Cover the person’s head, leaving only the face exposed.
• Insulate the person’s body from the cold ground. If you’re outside, lay the person on his or her back on a blanket or other warm surface.
• Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may appear unconscious, with no apparent signs of a pulse or breathing. If the person’s breathing has stopped or appears dangerously low or shallow, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately if you’re trained.
• Share body heat. To warm the person’s body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with blankets.
• Provide warm beverages. If the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated beverage to help warm the body.
• Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a plastic fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm water in a plastic bottle or a dryer-warmed towel. Apply a compress only to the neck, chest wall or groin. Don’t apply a warm compress to the arms or legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
• Don’t apply direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the person. The extreme heat can damage the skin or even worse, cause irregular heartbeats so severe that they can cause the heart to stop.

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing signs and symptoms of hypothermia seek medical treatment!

_MG_0086aNothing like experience gets you ready, tests you and your theories, equipment and yourself and your own skills, attitude, body…and there are always surprises, even for the pros (eh hmm…vacreepinoutdoors I am talking to you lol!) Be it in the home or out in the woods camping overnight, there are always lessons to be learned, new ways of doing things and refinement that takes place while you are ‘practicing’ and putting your skills, knowledge and gear to the test.

Vacreepinoutdoors and I went out this weekend camping…mostly because he likes to camp and pit himself against the elements and hone his own woodlands skills (and test out some new gear) but me, the newbie babe in the woods…for me this was a test to see if even during the good times I could function out there in the woods…Obviously I survived, but I also learned a lot of which I will be sharing with you this week in different blogs addressing different issues.

I knew enough not to be arrogant about the situation and quite honestly was a bit scared (gulp) simply because I have never camped in the winter with minimal gear as we did this weekend. But I trust dear heart so off I went into the wild….so my friends, if you haven’t done something before, besure to go with someone you can trust your life with who know knows more than you…and being out in conditions that you aren’t used to, you better trust your partner.

They say practice makes perfect, but I would beg to differ as nothing is ever perfect when it comes to being prepared. Technology fails, or the old school way just won’t fly right for you. Just when you think you know what you are doing in practice or theory, something akin to Murphy’s Law will come knocking on the door. And believe me, it will. Testing your gear and knowledge before you really need it is great and can be a lot of fun. But it will also show you where your strengths and weaknesses are on a lot of levels. Unfortunately, practicing a particular situation doesn’t necessarily give you a replication of what it would be like if the chips were down and it really counted. It is PRACTICE. Its NOT the real game. And even in a somewhat controlled situation as this weekend was (ie we could go home), things happen and they did…things went right and new ideas worked out.

More to come! Stay tuned! Be sure to checkout Vacreepinoutdoors new youtube videos too…he’s who I hang with and learn from and so can you.

Once again, my friend over at VaCreepinOutdoors is at it again…comparing two different types of small ‘bug out’ type cooking methods.
Check it out:

Bugging out is NOT a preferred way of getting anywhere, but in an emergency…maybe your get home bag or for just in case, you can see the difference between the two.
Personally I have the small canister stove….just in case.

Btw…the small burner comes from amazon for only $7…sometimes DYI is NOT the best option!!!

remember to like and subscribe VaCreepinOutdoors…tons of great videos on survival and making the best in the worst case…

Surviving off the land…fact or fiction?…do you believe, that in the event of an emergency situation that you could simply go out into the woods and survive? Or that in order to get food on the table that you will take that old .22 and go kill some meat in the woods or that simply dropping a fishing hook in the water everyday that you and yours could live? That foraging alone in the woods and fields will get you what you need on a daily basis? That all you have to do is throw some seeds out there and presto, within weeks you will have an abundant selection of veggies to eat daily? This is a myth…and the golden hordes (read that city dwellers) that may or may not come out if and when the supply chain or money dries up don’t know it is a myth.

Dream on and don’t come knocking on my door when you figure out that its all a lot harder than you thought it would be and you are starving because you failed to ‘get’ the fact that subsistence living or living ‘survival’ style in the woods just won’t get it no matter what the ‘professionals’ say. Remember that word ‘professional’ and what that means, it means THEY DO WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING AND DO IT WELL AND REGULARLY!!! And they always have back up…which you don’t see…just in case (hmm, 3 is 2, 2 is 1 and 1 is none).

Fact is that hunting, fishing, gardening and foraging are all SKILLS that must be developed and even then, it is HARD WORK that takes a lot time. And even if you have the skills do any hunting, fishing, foraging or gardening, there are no promises at the beginning or end of the day that you will get what you need for that day, let alone for future days when you get nothing on a particular day.

Case in point, I have for a few years tried my hand at gardening. All the knowledge in the world doesn’t mean diddly when it doesn’t ran or rains too much…or frost comes early or you get an attack of bugs (or critters!) that kills your plants or eats your hard won fruits and veggies before you can get to them. Have had it all happen plus other interesting things…such as some veggies and fruits just won’t grow on my property despite how much work I put into them. Some methods of gardening just don’t work in my area. It is has been and is still a process of learning my own land and area that has led to some successes and a lot of failures that teach me what not to do and sends me back to the drawing board to try something else/different the following year.

Another case in point that I have recently learned….hunting and fishing are hard work and frankly, start up costs are EXPENSIVE. Now you could argue that you don’t ‘need’ a lot to get going with either and I would agree with you, but you need the basics…A fishing pole, bait and that’s all right? Hmm, well, if you think so…depends on what you are after and if you are innately talented at fishing to get by with just any old fishing pole and bait. How are you gonna clean it? Do you know how to use that pole? Or even tie a fishing hook onto the pole? Yeah…are you getting the idea now? And by the way, there is skill involved, tricks to the trade if you will…last time I went fishing (see the bluegill video) my friend caught 5 in minutes and me, well, lets just say that once I could get a cast off those little suckers ATE THE BAIT and I got nothing.

Now we can go onto hunting…where do I start there. I was kinda one of those persons until recently that thought all you did was get the rifle and go out. First off, you better be able to hit what you are aiming at…so do you know your ‘weapon’? are you good with it? Because the last thing you want to do is take a shot and spook dinner down the hill or forbid this from happening, you don’t make a clean kill and the thing runs off and dies somewhere and you either don’t find it or have to go miles trying to track it (do you know how to do that?). Did you know that an animals senses are super sensitive? The can, in general see us, hear us and smell us long before we see or hear them. So can you sit still? Walk quietly in the woods? Do you know how to blend in smell wise or better yet, NOT SMELL? (try that one when you haven’t had a bath in days and its 90 degrees outside). Okay, now, do you know how to get up in a tree? Trust me when I tell you that if you think a climbing tree stand is EASY to use you got another thing coming and from what I am told, hunting from the ground is iffy at best, though doable if you can hide yourself well enough. Good luck sneaking up on a deer or rabbit or even a squirrel. Can you find a trail or the signs that an animal is a frequent visitor? If you can’t then you are relying on luck and stupidity of an animal that is used to being hunted one way or another. And lets not forget that there are most certainly others out there looking for the samething as you are.

I have spent the time, effort and energy to get my self set with gear for hunting and fishing. Archery season just started last weekend…I got the bruises and weary muscles to prove that I now know how to use a climbing tree stand. So up I went last Saturday after getting up at 4:30 am to get to a spot that my friend, who has hunted for years picked out for me beforehand. And I will tell you that just GETTING to that tree that I had to climb was interesting (lesson learned: make sure all gear is secure on the body otherwise you will be chasing it in the dark). Then up the tree I went right around dawn, get settled, get the gear up to me (do you know how to safely do that???) and there I sat, watching, waiting, just sure a deer or turkey would come through…okay, next thing is this, its hard to stay alert when you can’t move. Think I nodded off a couple of times. Then after a few hours of sitting in my ‘perfect’ spot I hear some people further down the trail yelling and then a dog barking, not to mention it was getting hot. (Did I forget to mention did you think about what you were going to do when nature called?? Haha! Yeah…) I sat there so long and still enough that the squirrels were paying me absolutely no mind. And those things are sensitive suckers (never did get one earlier in the season, but there they were this time, lots of them!). I could go on and on and on, but long and short of this story is that hunting IS NOT WHAT YOU READ ABOUT OR SEE ON TV. Its hard and iffy in good times, now imagine that if a good hunter can’t get a kill during the good times (such as my friends that I went with last weekend) then what will it be like when you are hungry, tired and stressed out to the max? Back to the drawing board and practice more and cross my fingers that next time providence is on my side. Oh, by the way, do you know how to clean that animal and field dress it? I think you get my point…And I will tell you this, when it hits the fan I am NOT stepping out into the woods for a few weeks, I want to live and with a lot of people thinking they will just go out and kill to eat all I can foresee is a lot of accidents happening and none of them ending well. Every year people are killed and maimed hunting by accident and this happens in the ‘good times’.

Lastly, foraging…forget depending upon it for long term survival. It’s a good fill in IF you know what you are looking for (and you had better be good at plant identification unless you want to get sick or die) and can then find it…but it is what it is…foraging for survival and again, it is a skill and takes time, practice and knowledge…if you think that just having a few books on hand will get you what and need without actually going out there and doing it…good luck…And did I mention that you will be out there with the critters competing for the same food?

There is a reason why humans gathered into groups and began establishing formalized agriculture and animal husbandry (raising animals). It created conditions in which civilization could be established and more reliable food sources. But even then, things happen and fail (look at the hippies for confirmation of this). Can you imagine the hundreds of people who ‘think they can’ only to finally conclude that they can’t? Then what? Failure happens more often that success, remember that.

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but what I am doing is trying to point out some basic facts, that IF YOU FAIL to do something now, learn how to do something NOW and PRACTICE that NOW you will not just be able to go out and ‘do it’ and in fact, you may just get yourself killed in the process since you will be under stress and most likely tired and low on energy and most likely there will ALOT of others ‘trying’ to do the same thing, in the same place, at the same time as you are (and I won’t tell you the stories about idiots who will shoot at a noise in bushes…hmm…is that the bush you are picking berries from?)

And that brings up one last skill that we as a collective have laid by the wayside…situational awareness…basically that means you know what is going on around you and are alert to potential dangers and CONSCIOUS enough to identify them and take the appropriate action, at the appropriate time.

Instead of playing video games or going to the mall, start to practice growing a garden…go find someone who can hunt or fish and partner up with them to learn how to do this NOW. Do you really need that new iPhone? Or a ‘new’ car? Or that extra night out eating? Invest your money in the best equipment you can afford now or trade for it. Take the time to go out and actually do what you think will help you in the future to get by during the hard times. The learning curve is steep people, because trust me, its not as easy as you think and even those with the can do, do or die attitude will fail at some point in time. Learn skills now while you can, when it doesn’t count so much and when the time comes, you will have the advantage.