Thursday, January 17, 2013

What I carry in my pockets when woods roaming....

I might walk in the woods for an hour or two and never resort to anything other than the canteen slung over my shoulder.  A pleasant walk, quiet contemplation, and then I’m back relaxing on my cabin’s porch listening to pauraques and great-horned owls welcoming the night.  My walks are usually near sundown but occasionally it’s a morning walk.  It depends on the time of year and the weather.  In South Texas not many people venture out under the noontime summer.  Likewise, I recall living in Michigan and during winter there were days when even a short jaunt to the St Joseph River a mile from campus was dangerous.  Once I fell through the ice up to my thighs in 10° Fahrenheit with a wind chill of zero.  The walk back to the dorm was torturous.  That was a long time ago and these days I make a habit of always carrying some essential items in my pockets.  Mind you, these items are not in a bag draped over my shoulder or dangling from a carabineer.  They are snug in my pockets.  I seldom use them except for one item; nonetheless, these things are on me and available if need be.

I carry two pocket knives.  One is a Swiss Army Knife “field-master” model and the other a Case carbon steel in the trapper configuration.  Occasionally I’ll switch the trapper for a canoe model.  I also carry a pocket diamond sharpening stone, a butane lighter and a bandana.  Those items go in my front pants pockets.  Slipped into my back pocket is a small AA flashlight and the pocket is secured with a button.  In my shirt pocket I’ll have a bottle of antibacterial lotion.  In the woods antibacterial lotion is important especially if you get cut on a thorn or some other object.

I could carry other things like parachute cord or a compass or some sort of “bushcraft” knife.  But I seldom carry those things, at least not in my pocket or on my belt.  If you watch some of these YouTube videos you’ll see guys walking around with five or six pounds of stuff draped on their belts and in their pockets and….well, that’s up to them.  A couple of years back a fellow showed up to go woods roaming with me and he had all kinds of gear hanging onto him.  Like a walking bushcraft magazine advertisement.  There was so much jingling and tinkling emanating from this guy it was driving me nuts.  So I politely asked him if he might shed some of his paraphernalia.  He didn’t look very pleased but when I explained it was making too much racket and would spook the animals he agreed.

The above things go into my pockets glued to my body so-to-speak.  I don’t ever want to get separated from those items.  The SAK is essential because of its saw blade.  I might find occasional use for some of the other SAK tools but the saw is the key item.  I use the Case carbon steel folder because it keeps its edge and I use it like others might use a fixed bladed bushcrafty knife.  I don’t go around batoning things.  In South Texas we don’t baton wood all that much.  Mainly you just find a rotting piece of dry mesquite, make sure there are no scorpions or black widows using it for a house, and then slam the dried mesquite hard on the ground.  It will break up and walla! you’ve got firewood.  Mainly, the Case trapper is used for making trigger mechanisms on hog traps or for impromptu whittling.  The bandana is vital for all things applicable to bandanas not the least of which is wiping away perspiration.  Most of all that little flashlight is a lifesaver.  That’s the one item I invariably use because I can never manage to get back to la casita before nightfall.  Been doing that all my life and have no plans to change.  That habit drives some people crazy.  A long time ago I took one of my relatives hunting and I put him in a deer blind and said, “Keep quiet” and then I moseyed off into the woods to find a spot where a buck had been messing around.  Well, as the sun went down I started hearing all sorts of shooting like a war was going on.  It was coming from the direction of the deer blind where my cousin was supposed to be sitting still.  So I started moving as quickly as I could toward The Mighty Hunter and he was still shooting.  “What the hell is going on?” I kept wondering.  Now earlier I’d heard a bunch of coyotes wailing it up in the direction of the deer blind and that’s always a great thing to hear.  But my relative (who was carrying a Ruger Mini-14) didn’t appreciate the falsetto wailing of coyotes.  No sir.  He went to blasting and just shooting off in every direction like a wild man.  When I arrived at the blind about thirty minutes after sunset I got an earful.
          “Where were you…you *#&(&*%!!
          “I was hunting.”
          “Didn’t you hear all those coyotes?”
          “Well, yes.”
          “I was surrounded.”
          “But you were safe in a deer blind.  And besides, those coyotes weren’t going to hurt you.”
          “They were everywhere!  And I was….”
          Well, the story goes on but I’d best end it here.  Later on down the road I’ll post more about the things I carry when woods roaming.