There is so much to gain by listening to old time wisdom. This is dedicated to every old timer who ever influenced a youngster, I’ll bet you can think of at least one.
When I was a teenager I frequented the home of an old man named Cliff. He chewed “spruce gum”, wore heavy red and black wool coats and always seemed to have a big buck hanging from a tree until just before ice fishing season. When spring rolled around it was time to get busy with traps for muskrat, beaver, otter and mink. The spring trap lines would roll out and encompass entire days checking and resetting traps only to come home and “put the fur up” late into the night. Just as the spring trapping season wound down old Cliff would get ready for turkey season.
Now years later, I have acquired knowledge from my own experiences and often think about the old timers like Cliff who influenced my hunting, trapping and fishing success in no small way. But times have changed like all things do and the days of plaid shirts, wool pants, red and white spoons, and even the age old trapping techniques are slowly slipping from the great American outdoor life style.
As much as I enjoy camouflaged clothing, thinsulate® boots, GPS’and all sorts of other fancy hunting gadgets, I sure miss the simple old way of doing things. As I reminisce about all the old wisdom that’s slowly dissipating from our hunting heritage I can’t help but realize how much we have retained – that is- how much still holds true today.
Authors Father-in-Law a knowledgeable woodsman in his own right, shown here skiing at Chief Joseph Pass in 2013.
Take What You Need
“You can take it off if you’re too hot but you can’t put it on if you don’t have it with you”. These words have saved my butt from freezing more times than I can count. For several years I thought that meant getting the biggest pack I could find and stuffing it with clothes. I’ve slowly refined my interpretation of this axiom and bring an extra pair of wool socks, long johns and a hat. I leave enough room in my pack to put my coat when I get too warm and carry a whistle and compass just like my grandpa did. By making sure I have everything I need, I don’t need to worry when the weather starts changing. I’ve added a few things to grandpa’s list like a GPS, map, small first aid kit, water filter, bottle, lighter, headlamp and some granola bars though I still prefer homemade doughnuts along with summer sausage and cheddar cheese. Bottom line, make sure you have what you need out there. This still holds true today.
Pay attention to the wind
Even with all the quality scent elimination products on the market these days including sprays, shampoos, deodorants, foot powder, laundry detergent, carbon suits and all sorts of cover scents you should still be mindful of the wind. Stalking any big game animal successfully requires the wind to be in your face. If it’s not you’re as good as busted! Old timers didn’t have scent free anything – yet they still harvested some impressive game animals. They accomplished this by playing the wind and making good shots. This still holds true today.
I remember my father walking me back home on a shortened hunting adventure when I was around nine years old. I was being too loud and he was frustrated. As I sat on the couch and watched him walk out the front door with shotgun in hand, I was heartbroken. But I got the message loud and clear. As I’ve hunted my way through life, experience has taught me that staying quiet is more than just not making noise but quiet clothing is essential.
I am so surprised at all the so called hi-tech clothing on the market that’s just plain loud. Good old fashioned wool is still the best choice, though micro fleece is a close second in my opinion. When choosing new clothing, grab the sleeve and give it a shake. If you can hear it crinkle, it’s too loud. All the best camo patterns in the world won’t help you if game hears you every time you move in your stand or take a step.
Classic wool clothing and the skill of “holding your mouth right” with go a long way to success and enjoyment. Some things never change. (photo courtesy woolrich wool company www.facebook.com/woolrichinc/photos)
A good friend of mine and I used to go fishing with his father Floyd when we were boys. Floyd seemed to have a knack for catching fish and shooting deer. When I asked him why I wasn’t catching fish or shooting deer he’d say; “You’re not holding your mouth right.” It took me years to figure that one out. Now when I am struggling with a challenge, I shut up and listen. By staying quiet and paying attention to successful outdoorsman you’ll improve your craft. This still holds true today.
“It’s getting day light in the swamp!” Words my father would say to get me up early with plenty of time for a solid breakfast before heading out the door and getting in our warmed up station wagon. These words were spoken to get me moving early so we wouldn’t miss one minute of hunting light. These words influenced everything in my life, so much so I had them written on my bow as a reminder to get out there and pursue my goals and give it all I’ve got. These words were usually accompanied by; “You can’t get your buck by sleeping all day.” (Just for a little reinforcement). The take home wisdom here is the more time you spend hunting the better your odds become for tagging whatever you’re after. This still holds true today.
Putting it All Together
Even with modern materials, some basic things never change.
I am certain that if old timers would have had the same products available to them that we have now, they would’ve bought the best boots, bows, scopes, and clothing just like most of us do today. Every time I crawl into my down sleeping bag that weighs in at just 1 pound or raise my 10X binoculars I appreciate technology.
We are fortunate to have so many high quality products available at affordable prices. Old woodsmen were forced to wear what they had, like it or lump it. But no matter how many products flood the market, some things will always stay the same. We’ve still got to take what we need, pay attention to the wind, keep quiet and get out there in order to be successful.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a seasoned outdoorsman in your presence, take advantage of the situation. Sit down, ask questions and hold your mouth right. In years past we were able to learn a lot from old time hunters and this most definitely still holds true today.