Tuesday, March 31, 2009

East Tennessee Bush

Sweat was dripping down and burning my eyes and mosquitoes tortured me with their constant attempts to land in my ears. I remembered all the other times I had climbed the Brier covered bank up off the road then fought through the tangles of vines left in the area cleared at the end of every summer. This pilgrimage led to the only public land that I know of where I can shoot a ground hog then skip on down to the edge of the lake and catch some bluegill without running into another human. The hike itself is not long but I have to carry my Marlin 22 mag, a telescoping fishing rod, a trash bag, and a cooler making the task much more difficult in the humid south. On this day I was alone and still in a state of panic over a 3 month old baby I had left at home. The smell of honeysuckle was thick in the air and the poison Ivy which climbed every third tree and covered much of the ground was a rich and dark shade of green. I entered the Field opposite the lake and was relieved to see that TWRA had mowed recently. I laid down under a popular tree shading me from the noon day sun and proceeded to glass the field with my Simmons binoculars. The little brown spot I had seen before now stood up and looked my direction. He was more than 200 yds away which is out of my 22 Cal. comfort zone so I left my supplies and crawled back into the woods. I slipped back out to the edge of the field but the whistle pig had moved during my short hike in the woods (closer to his hole as I later found out) so the shot would still be a little longer than I might of liked at 140 yds but manageable. I pushed my fanny pack out in front of me as I laid prone and let the barrel of my rifle lay on it. After placing my cross hairs at the top of the hog's head I slowly pulled the trigger and the mini bear disappeared. I waited a few minutes then walked to where I thought the G-hog had been standing. I was surprised to find his hole, and after closer inspection with a flash light I saw his back legs in the hole. Now, I knew he was dead but if you know how vicious a ground hog can be you understand my hesitance in reaching into his hole to retrieve my prize. I spent considerable time thinking about shooting him again....but that would ruin some meat. So I finally settled on poking him with a stick a few times then jerking him out quickly as though he would revive like a zombie . Freeze G-hog I said to my self and after laughing at myself and putting Mr. hog in the bag and jamming him into the cooler I sat down on the cooler at the waters edge and tried to finish my freezer filling day by fishing. Although I kept a watchful eye on the field in case he had company in that hole. That night as I sat cleaning the fish and ground hog, I couldn't help but feel connected to the world. I had retrieved my own food from the world. After packaging with a foodsaver and tossing them into my lay down freezer I said to myself "who needs McDonald's when you have McNature".

Thursday, March 26, 2009

movie Reviews "Alone in the wilderness"

I recently watched a video titled "Alone in the wilderness" . It chronicled the first year a man named Richard (Dick) Proenneke spent alone at Twin Lakes Alaska. I was surprised how entertaining I found this video since it was more of a video diary than a film and was shot on an 8mm back in 1968. It is the ultimate tale of self reliance, he not only builds his own cabin but he does it with tools he fashioned himself. The film intrigued me so that I have checked the book based on Mr. Proenneke's journals out of my local library. I highly recommend this to anyone who is fascinated by true wilderness and how a man can live in it on his own terms. Learn more about the man at http://www.aloneinthewilderness.com/index.html

Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't know what to read? I have the answer!

Where I live the only blogs I could find to read were about politics, the BIG ORANGE, or just what somebody is thinking about current affairs. So I searched and searched for blogs about the outdoors ( because that's what I like). I finally found one by a guy across the pond. (Suburban Bushwacker) It was fun to read but it also led me to the Outdoor Bloggers Summit, a clearing house of every type of person conducting many different types of outdoor activities. I had hit a gold mine. I still have not read all the blogs on the OBS blog roll. I do like the extra traffic it has brought to my site getting feed back is great and I love hearing what people think about my writing, even though I have a long way to go. I originally started blogging as an exercise to improve my ability to communicate via the written word, something I think we lack today and probably will never return to the eloquence of our founding fathers. with that said, the greatest gift I have received by being part of the Outdoor Bloggers Summit is having a never ending reading list. My family and I are in and out of the library daily dropping off and picking up but the blog roll at the OBS has become my supplement to the library connecting me to experts and beginners in various outdoor endeavours giving me an insight I never had before. I am sure the OBS is destined for great things, but as long as it keeps giving me an ever expanding resource to the outdoors I will be happy. I Think of it as a campfire in my computer that I can come sit at any time and listen to a tale or spin one myself. If you have not visited the OBS yet.......what's your excuse, I only linked to it six times in this post.
Sincerely The Envirocapitalist

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Surprise guest

The sun hung low and orange in the sky. I figured only an hour to set the two man tent up and get a fire started before dark. I had camped out alone many times but the feeling of impending doom that over comes me if I do not have a fire by dark always tickles me. After the sun had fallen I was able to get a small fire going and leaned back against a log I had drug down for the fire. I hadn't set there long jotting down notes in my field book when I first thought I heard the sound. ch.....ch....ch. It sounded like turkeys walking or humans! I don't scare easy and I am always heavily armed even when I am just hiking, but the sound of something staggering around in circles in the middle of the woods an hour after dark is unnerving. I finally couldn't take it anymore, and decided to investigate. At the time I was only 27 year old, extremely fit and a little cocky. I was probably just about a 2 hour brisk walk from the pavement and where my truck was stashed in what would today be the North Cumberland (or Sundquist) WMA. I had decided to scout this area for the impending deer season and was sorely disappointed in my findings today and had planned to push farther west in the morning. It was the lack of deer sign and indecisiveness that had led to me setting up camp late. I started out easing toward the walking sound then I thought "sneaking up on someone in the dark is a good way to get shot" so I turned on my flashlight and said in as manly a voice I could manage (I am only 5'7") CAN YOU HEAR ME? ...........yeah.........was the weak reply. I said OVER HEAR......he said OK. A minute later an older gentleman had walked into my light. He seemed a little disoriented but other than that fine. I said "what are you doing out here walking around at night. he said he had just misjudged how long his walk would take and and after it got dark it was hard to follow the trail and was taking him even longer. I told him he was still 2 hours from the road and he could use my cell phone to call who ever he needed to and sleep in my camp (fulfilling the good turn requirements I had learned as a scout in Elementary school.) The next morning I was more interested in getting my new buddy back to his car than running around steep ridges that held more geriatric hikers than deer. We made the walk to my truck in about 3 hours my comrade was not very chatty and seemed tired. after loading my truck up we drove north up the highway for at least a mile before coming to his car, this is when I first realized how lost this guy was. After dropping him off I thought how lucky he was to come across me that night and how getting lost can happen to anyone even a guy who had been hiking in that area for 20 years hunting ginseng and grouse. I re-learned a lesson from my scouting days at Copper Ridge Elementary that day.......Always be prepared, so lost can become found.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Geat Hikes series #1 ( The Twin Arches Loop)

Great trail for the whole family with a few steep staircases to climb to start the trail. The Twin Arches trail is well maintained and marked with red leaf blazes. Take your time and view the huge rock formations along the way some are very interesting. Once at the Twin Arches there are more sturdy staircases that will lead to a trail on top of the Arches with views that can be safely enjoyed at an elevation of 1730'. The South Arch has a clearance of 103' and a span of 135' and the North is slightly smaller at 62' clearance and a span of 93'. Although horses and bikers are not allowed on this trail they are permitted on various trails throughout the Big South Fork. Here is a topo of the loop. About six miles if you do the whole loop, less if you take the short trail to the arches and retrace your steps. Plan to spend all day the views are worth it.

Trailhead: From Oneida TN. Take 297 West turn left on Leatherwood Ford Rd. Travel 19 miles to 154 North turn right. Travel 1.9 miles turn right on gravel road Divide Road. Travel 3.9 miles turn right on Twin Arches Road. Parking area 2 miles ahead. Please view bulletin board for information of area. (Lat:36.54074 Lon:-84.73614)

For your prospective the sign at the bottom of the photo is as tall as a man. It is a breath taking sight. the largest natural arches I've ever seen.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Should of sat still

Muzzleloader season in Tennessee is the first time you get a crack at bucks and does with a gun. I had made the pilgrimage to Jackson Co. In hopes to score on opening day. All I had with me was my pack a Knight wolverine muzzleloader and a warm jacket. I had started up the western ridge at daylight climbing a couple of hundred feet in elevation before finding a bench field and a dry pond. That is where I began still hunting around the inside of the ridge line. Three steps stop, look, listen, and wait. I did this all day jumping two does and enjoying the early fall weather. I eventually came full circle back to the bench Field below the dry pond where I found this fresh rub.
Should of sat still at the dry pond..........

Monday, March 02, 2009

Big South Fork 09'

This year was truly a camping trip with the boys, we didn't do any hunting but it was still interesting. The cast this year included some original Heiskell Boys: Big Ron, Wild Bill, and Crazy Stacy. plus the builder of the above pictured home away from home Chris, James, and Josh the Eagle Scout. On Friday the boys had to clear fallen pines from the trail to the campsite , a regular event in East Tennessee in recent years since the beetles struck. Later at the Ranger Station near Bandy Creek a wild eyed employee of the national recreation area asked us how we got to the campsite since the trail was blocked. Why with a chainsaw of course.....WHAAAT a chainsaw....You can't have a chainsaw in the area. The boys were bewildered at this news, we have been camping here for a decade or better and had chainsaws every time. After taking a severe tongue lashing from the lady who sold us our camping permit, and calming Chris down since he was terribly upset by the women's bulging and twitchy left eye, we retired to our campsite.
We stayed up late that night re-living greatness of the past, cooking large hunks of meat over the fire, Shooting our handguns, and basically being boys. Billy had brought pistols in most every caliber, Chris , and Stacy had sidearms as well and I brought my 380 acp. We attempted to out do each other in marksmanship way past dark and fell asleep without a care in the world (well except it only being 20 degrees F.)
We always bring deer meat to eat and make cooking utensils from the forest around us. This camp out had, by the next morning turned into a eating trip more than a hunting trip. I have not eaten that much meat and practically nothing else in my whole life, but it was so good.
All the campers had not even awoken on day two when a Federal officer walked into camp. It was apparent from the opening that the wild eyed woman had told on us for the chainsaws. What happened next was a little embarrassing since two of my fellow brothers tried to hide the bright orange chainsaw underneath the truck then we all acted natural. After a dressing down and orders to never bring chainsaws to Big South Fork again the officer made us show him our camping permit and carry permits for the pistols we had been shooting. Luckily the officer didn't push the chainsaw issue any further and we were not in violation of any other laws that I know of.
Undeterred by the authorities we still made a walk about into the wilderness were Billy with some eagle eyes spotted a nice shed (6 points on one side) and scouted out a pretty nice place to hunt next fall. A bottle neck occurs between a bluff and a thicket created by a abandoned field. I hope to be there next fall.
That night we passed the antler around the campfire and told tales of the animals we had killed or almost killed and consumed more fire cooked meat. This typified the activities at Big South Fork 09'
With a thin blanket of snow covering the camp we packed up and left our old faithful campsite for maybe the last time. While we do go to the Big South Fork to hunt wild hogs occasionally we really don't want to be harassed by a pig in camp. Now that the authorities have found our refuge we will probably find elsewhere to camp. While we didn't hunt, hike much, or almost kill ourselves this year I did have a good time with my pals and spending 72 hours outside gives you a appreciation for how far from nature we are in our daily lives and how much I yearn to live closer to it.