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.

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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.