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Veteran outdoorsmen: a wealth of know-how

Posted: August 28th, 2013 by Bill Dance

As rugged old (well, speaking for myself, I guess) outdoor folks, we all like to think that we could “survive” if thrown into the wilderness, and maybe we could. But the reality is most likely that few of us could (and even fewer want to) survive like TV’s Survivor Man.

Technology is great, don’t get me wrong, even if it can be very humbling. (Heck, I thought I was catching nearly every fish out there, until modern age electronics came along!)

There thousands of outdoor skills or tricks of the trade that the famed “old timers” in our hunting and fishing camps know, and probably take for granted. The sad thing is that someday this information may be lost simply because technology (a new gadget or gizmo) has taken the need away in the name of convenience.

And somewhere in the rush for new-and-improved, our judgment of what makes a good outdoorsmen seems to have become blurred. It’s become easy to think or assume that someone is a good outdoorsman simply because he has all the high-tech toys that are supposed make things easier, and that’s not true.

Sometimes the guy shooting a multi-thousand-dollar shotgun is humbled by a fellow with single-shot; or a guy on the bank catches a 10-pounder while being watched by another from a high-tech bass rig.

High-tech is not the end all. But then too, I am not going to lie to you and curse it either. I’d much rather use my latest and greatest gadget, but isn’t it nice to know, if you have to, you can still catch a fish or two with out ”em, if you had to.

There is–minus the technology–a lot of basic, old-time woodsmanship out there (knot-tying, tent pitching, camp cooking, sign reading and countless other hunting and fishing tips and tricks). Most likely such know-how is riding around in the head of a senior someone who learned it because he had to back in the “good old days.”

The old saying about pages being ripped from the history pages of life every time an old person dies is very true.

It falls into the same old sad and familiar quote: “You know? So-and-So used to know how to do that,” or worse, “There’s nobody left around here that knows how to do that, and as far as I know, no where you can go to learn.”

It is true, Death often takes needed knowledge, and who knows? It may be knowledge we could (or even should) have kept, if only we’d taken the time to ask or listen.

And this know-how doesn’t have to be the most complex things in the outdoor world. It can be the simple tips like: quick repairs fot fishing tackle, or how to sharpen a knife, relieve insect bites or a particular way to fry crappie.

It’s all something to think about. And the next time you go to hunting or fishing camp, you might want to try and pick the brains of the elder outdoorsmen residing in your school or herd. Listen for things that are nice to know if ever the need arises.

Who knows? Maybe the old timers will cooperate and let you in on some old-time tricks of the trade, or maybe they’ll just tell you some outlandish outdoor tale.

But don’t worry if the latter is the case. A good outdoor yarn is also something worth stretching… from one generation to the next.

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance


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