23 November 2016 – Thankful

It is cold outside, not bone chilling but cold. I have released the hounds for their morning fun chasing birds they cannot reach and squirrels that I could easily pick off with a slingshot or the .22 but I don’t need any meat at the moment. Maybe soon.

I sit with coffee in hand in silence. There is no ping, no beep, no cars, no planes, nothing except what God wants me to hear.

As I take another sip, I start to hear the chirping of the brilliantly colored, male cardinal. Not far away is the equally beautiful female. She sings a great song to me.

When I sit like this nature comes alive. Squirrels seem to forget I am there. They alarm only when they meet me eye to eye or when one of the dogs start to move. It’s as if I have become part of the landscape.

A cold wind starts blowing and I cling tighter to my warm cup as I take another sip. I wonder if it is worth disturbing everything to go grab my coat or better still, my wool blanket to sit for longer. I have been outside for about 30 minutes and know there are chores to do but I still debate. I decide to stay for a little longer and let the wind blow on my bare legs and arms and pray the shorts and t-shirt will keep me from getting too cold.

The hounds spook another squirrel and run over for reassuring pats on the head telling them they have done a good job. I am brought back to the tasks that need to be done as I gaze around the property once more at the breeze blowing more of the orange and red leaves off the trees. It won’t be long before winter is officially here and the rest of nature will follow their instructions.

As I get up from the stump I am sitting on, I hear four geese coming. They honk in unison and fly directly over my head in the familiar V pattern with one trailing. The study of the aerodynamics of this and why there is a trailing goose still fascinates me.

I look up in the sky towards the heavens, give a small smile and thank the Lord for what I have seen and all that He has provided for me. As I turn to leave the beauty of the day, the dogs realize the signal and come as they are trained to do. We enter the porch without having to knock off any mud or shake out any clothes.

Although a short period of time was spent outside this morning, it was an eternity that will never be missed nor desired to reclaim. The beauty alone of the outdoors is why I did what I did to earn this and why I do what I do now.

Thank you Father for your beauty and all that you have given to us.


01 February 2016 – The Backyard Outing

I sit in a hotel room pondering yesterday’s activities. It is cool and definitely rainy today. The sky is overcast at home as well.

Yesterday brought a different thought pattern when it came to the weather and I didn’t face any sort of cabin fever or melancholy. Instead I went outside to initially change the tarp configuration from a tetrahedra style to what is considered an envelope.

The original Forrester’s tent was good considering the tarp I am using is a rectangle and the Forrester as well as many others is really designed to be setup using a square. The tetrahedra style that I was using was a mix between it and a pyramid or normal tent style. It was something I picked up from David Canterbury’s video and it worked great.

However, in always learning and always improving, I wanted to try something different. Maybe I should have just gone with a simple Lean-to configuration since I had another tarp for a floor. The Georgia clay keeps the ground very cold and I like having something between my body and the clay other than the grass. Even with the envelope style which provided a floor and an additional tarp, there was still not enough ground warmth regardless of the temperature reaching 65 degrees and the sun shining.

I think it was great that I had the foresight to bring the fixins to make coffee. I finished the quick shelter and checked to make sure that it was minimally, if at all, visible from the fence or road. Thankfully the tarp is woodland camouflage and because the background was thick brush, it is very difficult to see even when you know it is there. Thank goodness for evergreens.

A quick, yet small fire was made in order to heat the water. It did not need boiling since I did bring it from inside the house, but it needed to be hot so I could make a proper pour over coffee.

Pour over coffee, I delightfully found out, is a very strong coffee in which water is literally poured over the ground beans and the whole concoction is run through a filter. While this provides a strong coffee, it also provides a great natural flavor from the coffee beans themselves. It is becoming my favorite very fast. The only issue I have with it is the time it takes to actually make this great cup of coffee. It is much easier to just put a pod in the machine, put the cup under it, and push the freaking button. Some mornings I am lucky to be able to do just that.

After enjoying the coffee, putting up the video cameras and petting the dogs, it was time to wrap it all up. I packed all gear in my Pathfinder Haversack and walked the twenty-five yards to the house.

While this was a short outing and just in the backyard, I was able to get some dirt time and practice my skills. It is not just about having the knowledge in my brain but if I don’t try and hone them and perfect them, the brain knowledge does no good.

I can read how to fix a sports car and think I am the greatest mechanic ever. Unless I put the knowledge into practice, I will never be a mechanic, much less a great one.

25 January 2016

After many months I apparently now have a burr in my saddle to start writing a book again. I pondered this many times and have written several pages but never completed the work. As the files were found and compiled, it amazed me how the story leaps off the pages and beckons me to continue filling in the blanks.

Oh it is a web of a tale which gives a new meaning to “spinning a yarn”. While it is obvious the adventures have left my brain, it is not so clear as to whether they will escape to the general population or remain dormant, tucked away in an electronic folder, and never to be read by another human.

This thought causes me to chuckle after thinking of how many crime and mystery shows I have seen where the cases take a step forward after someone hacked into their laptop and found a mysterious file. While this would not win any awards for cracking a mystery, it might give some people food for thought.

The prelude is complete and maybe I will release it to general public to see the response and determine whether I should complete the work or not. For that matter, I wrote a short story but feel that since it is a complete opposite of my novel, it might be best to keep that one in the vest pocket so to speak.

While I do not claim to be a Stephen King or even an Ernest Hemingway, maybe I could sell enough books to buy me and the family one of those fancy coffees from the local Starbucks. I would only have to sell ten books at $2.99 each on Kindle to make that happen. Maybe I should start at $4.99 then drop the price when they do not do so well.

Dang it! Now I have gone and shared a little too much. If folks read this, they might get that idea and wait on purpose.

“If you can’t write well, make sure you have something worth writing”.

I saw something similar to this earlier today and maybe that is what needs to happen. The story weaves in facts and dreams about my life and the lives of my family and so it becomes hard to determine what is my life versus the life of the main character. I suppose that Wes would have to share his side of the story to tell you whether he is pulling from my life or his own adventures. The fact that he is ex-CIA should have some bearing as that is not part of my life but instead, completely fiction. Or is it?

I am not sure some times because the voices in my head help me keep my life straight most of the time, while other times are not as clear. Whether my past included a three letter government entity or whether it did not, I guess, is not as important as I think it may be.

Questions regarding whether I was a government spook cause me to wonder if I could get some discount at the coffee shop if it were true.


Until then,

18 January 2016 – Weekend Outing

Thanks to my lovely wife, I was able to spend some much wanted downtime with a good friend of mine. While this was not necessarily deserved, it did cause me to reflect on a couple of things.

First, the outing. We were able to head out early Saturday morning and arrive early at a chosen camp site in Raven Cliffs Wilderness. This made it possible for us to spend the day, the night, and then leave when we wanted to on Sunday. What this meant for us was, relaxation.

Setting up camp after a hike in, does provide to be somewhat of a chore but it is the type of chore you do not really mind doing. It is kind of like getting out of your big comfy chair to let the dogs outside only to realize you needed to get up and stretch anyway as well as get you a snack or something else to drink. So you really did not mind letting the dogs out.

With a long day, the setup was fun because we were able to take our time and get things set the way we wanted to as opposed to settling for what was available. That also meant we were able to choose the choice campsite because we were the first ones into the forest.

It was very nice to talk and spend time with my friend but one of the best parts, in my opinion, was we did not have to rush or have any time table. If I wanted to go shoot a video, then so be it. If he wanted to carve a spoon, then let it happen. His carved spoon was fantastic and I learned a lot watching. The only requirement we had was the fire needed to stay fed and provide warmth.

This downtime was something that all people need in their lives because it gives us time to reflect on the day, week, month, or even year. Our lives were not meant to be a tedious schedule but we have allowed that to happen and thusly control us without taking the much needed break.

This leads me to the second part of this thought. I was so thankful for my wife during this trip. Yes, I did let her know and yes, I often think of her when I am “out with the guys”. Maybe this part is just for the wives to read, but she let me go. Freely and cleanly, she let me go be a guy in the woods for the weekend. Now here me on this. No, I do not need my wife’s permission to go to the woods. However, I do not want it to be a burden to her when I do go, so I ask what her plans are and make sure all things are taken care of before I walk out the door.

This, in essence, allows me to be a man. I will repeat that. By taking care of my wife and not putting more worry or burden on her and by asking her if it is okay for me to go to the woods, it allows me to be a man. It shows my wife respect, the respect she deserves as a human and even more, my wife. As a man, I want, I desire, I have an innate responsibility to take care of my bride. As a married man, we all have that internal desire and responsibility to be the knight in shining armor that she wants.

It is because of this non-task, I am able to thoroughly enjoy my weekend out in the woods and increase my “dirt time”, as well as hang out with some of the coolest people I know. It provides a learning environment for anything I am trying to work on, helps me to listen to instruction, and accomplish tasks that need to be done all without having to worry about what is going on at home.

The flip side of that, which may cause some lash back, is some men do not care what goes on at home. They tear down their wives, are inconsiderate reprobates, and are more than self centered jerk faces. (yes, I cleaned up that comment three times before I hit the publish button)

I guess the best part of it is, I am rested and relaxed. I was able to take care of my wife when I got home and get to do it all again in the future without listening to nagging or any hassle.

One last note: I AM NOT PERFECT. I do not claim to be nor am I saying that my way is the only way to do things. It is merely a suggestion and an example that works for me.

Folks, enjoy yourselves. Enjoy your life. And, if you are married, enjoy your spouse but be respectful.

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive

12 January 2016

I was preparing my Duluth Canoe Pack today with wax in order to make it waterproof. When determining what to use, in my mind, I had two options: regular wax or petroleum based wax.

While there are a few items, like packs and bags, that are impregnated with a petroleum based, I did not want to do that with this pack. According to the manufacturer, either would have been fine. Filson’s, which was the oil-wax combo, was actually designed for re-treatment.

It did not take long to wax it up and it was not a difficult task. Given the option, in the future I will order one that is pre-treated just to save time since the cost difference is negligible.

I am reviewing my day and realize I was able to achieve a good number of tasks. Many of them were me getting prepared for an upcoming trip. It will be a short jaunt but it will get me outside for a while and let me exercise my brain and enhance my skills. The original intent for this trip is to work out any bushcraft skills we may have learned. Effectively this will be dirt time.

It amazes me how many people will read a subject and “learn” a task but will not put it into action to test themselves or see how it would work in a real life scenario. I think it is no different than someone who buys gear and lets it sit on the shelf until it is needed only to realize they do not really know how to utilize the gadget or widget. In essence, someone would be better off using their brains and the knowledge therein as opposed to weighing themselves down with more things to carry. Heaven forbid they have to bug out due to an impending doom scenario. They would probably die before getting ten miles due to the weight of their own gear.

Of course, I say this knowing that in my younger days I would carry a house on my back if it meant comfort because I was not sure what I was doing. As I started learning, I started dropping weight in my pack and what I would carry. I eventually got my backpack down to 25 pounds on one long camping trip, mainly because of canned foods and extra water for the dog.

I kept learning and got it down to fifteen pounds. While that is a good number, it did not include food. I keep telling myself that I am not an ultralight hiker so as long as the weight is not painful, I will be alright. However, there is something to be said about hiking into a campsite, with the mindset of me being comfortable while camping and it still weighing fifteen pounds INCLUDING food. (overnights usually are around 12 pounds)

My children and friends ask me how, and the answer is really simple, “I carry the rest of the weight in my head”. This means that even though I keep a lot of useless crap in the old gray matter, apparently I have a special place for things that are useful and things that can keep me out of a bind.

What is even funnier is the fact that I keep reading books from the old folks like Kephart, Sears, Beard, Kochanski, and Mears along with the journals of folks like Lewis and Clark and Uncle Daniel Boone. The information is priceless and am thankful for folks like Dave Canterbury, Steven Watts, and David Wescott that turned me on to such a world of knowledge. It truly opened my eyes to a ton of insight and even though it is old school, some of it is a new way of thinking for me.

I guess it is off to bed now. Something about a good night sleep that sets right with me and I can already smell the coffee.


Papa Bear Journal – Introduction

While I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, some folks think I hold valuable information in the old gray matter. That being said, this is the location for some of the thoughts and activities that are going on with me and the brood that helps me. Some of it is fiction and some not so much. Stay with me for the ramblings of an aging man that hears the woods calling knowing he must go.

These are, the Papa Bear Journals.

08 January 2016 – Mantracking

The other day I was practicing, or possibly honing, my tracking skills, using my dogs as the reference. Their feet are large and easy to see and they are heavy enough to leave a deep imprint in the dirt, mud, and sand. This reminded me of a time when I was younger and I was tracking a two legged animal, my dad.

My dad has always been a stickler for once he has said it, it must be done. We arrived on our hunting land and he gave me directions. I had been looking out the window trying to determine patterns for the game trails so I could actually kill something that season. I snapped to attention when the driver side door slammed to the old Dodge truck.

In a hurry, I almost fell out of the truck trying to keep up with my dad. It was too late. He took off and I got my gear together as I was wondering what were the directions he gave me and what was I supposed to do since he was nowhere around. I saw his general direction but that was about it as he was soon shrouded by the branches of the tall pines and the disfigured cyprus trees that shot out of the swamp.

After gathering my wits and pulling up my big boy pants, I shouldered my Noble 12-gauge shotgun with the BB site. I loved that gun especially since it was the first shotgun I actually owned. The ones I had used during previous hunts and scouting trips were borrowed 16 or 12 gauges. There was even a double barreled 20-gauge on one of the trips.

Between the heavy, long barreled shotgun, my bulky coat, and the shoulder pack that contained a few extra shells and some jerky, I was weighted down for a 10 year old. At least that is what went through my mind as I crossed through the swamp. But I had a more important mission, finding my dad.

I started off in his general direction but with over three hundred acres to cover, I was not sure if he would keep the same direction or switchback. Keeping my eyes peeled and using the scatter method of stopping and scanning, I came up with nothing.

Suddenly, there on one of the cyprus stumps, a boot scrape. we had never seen a gator on the land, so I was pretty sure this was a boot scrape. It had the rough edge of what looked to be my dad’s boot tread but I was not sure whether it was fresh, intentional, or even him.

I started to scan other tree stumps then the actual sides of the trees to see if there were impressions in the soggy bark or displaced moss. After a few broken branches from the thick areas, I was sure to be heading in the correct direction.

Upon reaching the other side of the swamp, I saw no signs. No tracks meant I had lost him somewhere in the middle of the swamp and I was not one hundred percent sure of where I was anymore. I kept wondering if I had gone to far and ended up on the adjacent land or was I still on ours.

There! About five paces ahead of me, at the edge of the swamp, was some disturbed pine straw. I could tell it was not natural by the fluff and the way it was shifted. No quail, rabbit or dove made this and it was an unnatural way for it to be moved for it to be a deer. I moved towards it while constantly scanning for the next sign.

Ah, comfort. I saw mud at the edge of the tree line and there was another track where the mud and straw met. Three, four, five prints right in a row. This was definitely a man.

I continued walking for another ten minutes after stopping for some water from a fresh mud hole. If I remembered correctly it was from a Virginia Whitetail deer print that was left just as they were making the next step. There had to be two because of the patterns made in the mud but I was thankful for the drink and I knew we were not hunting today, only scouting.

The morning started getting warmer and I was at ease in my woodland surroundings. This was where I spent a majority of my time in one way or another. If I was not hunting or scouting, I was fishing, camping, or just hiking.

I kept the scatter approach going and there in the distance I caught the glimpse of a bright orange cloth peaking out from under some low hanging branches. I walked about ten paces then hollered as not to surprise whoever it was.

The man slowly turned around with pure shock on his bearded face. After questioning me on how I tracked him, my dad asked how did I know to do that since he never taught me how to track a man. I told him that I used my instincts.

For the record, none if the tracks or signs were intentionally made by him. This is where I truly learned about how to be INSTINCT SURVIVALIST and use my instincts to survive.

07 January 2016

07 January 2016

I feel in my beard the itch that calls me to go outdoors. I struggle with the reality that I have to actually work for a living, at least for the moment. In reality, I cannot wait until it is that time where the call of nature wins out and I obey, leaving the worldly things behind and moving out onto a large parcel of land in the mountainous country.

As I sit here imagining what those days will be like, my mouth turns slightly upward much like the moon that hangs in the dark night sky. The picturesque valley houses many trees and a thick fog comes from the lake. As I look to the west, I see the shadow escaping the last grasp of darkness. The lowly fog grasps for its hind quarters as the tines from its massive antlers reveal their fullness to me. I smile knowing that it is not quite hunting season but I will surely meet this foe in due time. For now, I tip my hat in respect and get ready to slowly walk towards the dimly lit forest after gulping the last bit of morning coffee knowing that tomorrow will surely be thick and oily campfire coffee.

I slide into my Duluth Pack and check the weight. It is sufficient and the contents will last me for at least a week. After kissing my wife and petting the smaller dogs, I start moving closer to my overnight destination. She hollers through the screen door wanting to know when I will return. As I turn and smile at her while shrugging my laden shoulders, she knows it means if she does not see me in a week’s time, to send a rescue party.

This isn’t my first time out, nor will it be my last. I always return within the week, usually bringing some gift of juicy or dried meat or some necessary tool I carved out of wood out of necessity. There are no telling how many spoons, forks or kuksas I have made and eventually given away as gifts. I hone my skills each time I go out as I am never to old to learn.

The barking of the large dogs that came with me in my daydream, snap me back to reality as the sound was coming from the ones in this time. Each nuzzling me to get out of the comfortable, writing chair and pick up the green, slobber saturated crocodile to play with them. I grin knowing where I just was and again, long for the time when the dream is a true reality.

As for now, I make sure my clothes are ready, look over tomorrow’s shortened schedule, review and adjust my master task list, and get ready to slip under the cool covers so I can read before turning the light off falling into a deepened sleep as the darkness surrounds me.