Saturday, February 27, 2010

alone in the woods

I have spent many nights home alone, At least technically alone. When you are home alone you have a T.V. which talks at you, a telephone you can use anytime you wish, and the realization of all the neighbors in shouting distance. I have also spent many a night alone in the woods, really alone. I enjoy hiking but most dedicated hiker's would call me a slackpacker. I rarely hike for more than a few days at a time. Mostly I day hike, hunters like myself call it scouting however I prefer to call it exploring. On the occasions in my life when I actually had a free weekend outside of hunting season I enjoy taking to a trail for a overnighter. I enjoy solitude and you will never be more alone than sleeping in a tent 12 miles into the backcountry. It is dark, really dark. and there are no human sounds at all, no one to turn to. You do everything yourself. If you get hurt it is up to you to get yourself out of the situation. It is the definition of self reliance. I think that is really why some people are scared to sleep in the woods alone. The extra sensation and heightened awareness makes me feel alive. You should try it sometime, see what your made of. Walk till you are tired, make camp, feed yourself and sleep alone.... if you can.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How much is a rockfish worth?

It was a seemingly normal summer day in 2007 when Stacy called me saying I should come with Ron and him rockfishing below Fort Loudon Damn. Earlier he had produced pictures of himself holding fish as long as a man and I had thought "how many fish steaks could I get out of that". There are not many fish safe to eat in Loudon lake due to mercury and pcb's, but the Rockfish or Striper (as some locals call them) can be consumed, at least for now. I jumped at the chance to battle these non-native giants with two of my best friends. Stacy, who could grow a beard in middle school, had not changed physically in a decade but was no longer the wild man that gave him the moniker "crazy Stacy" on the football team. Since returning from a short college football career he had graduated college and became a family man. His amazing instincts for harvesting game makes him one of my favorite people to hunt with. On the other hand Ron had grown to 6'3" tall and weighed at least 250lbs which happens to be 100lbs heavier than when he wrestled in high school. He is the hardest working man in the world, holding down two jobs for as long as I can remember and still spending more time in the woods hunting and trapping than the rest of us. I myself had gained weight like Ron but with out the growth in height. I went from being little Gabe at 5'7" to being "stocky" to anyone not wanting to insult the bowling ball I had become. I always expect adventure when I am with the boys since they seem to have little fear of anything and a curiosity of whats over the next ridge. But I had no Idea how close we would come to meeting our makers this day. We slid Stacy's 15' modified V aluminum boat into the river and started up stream toward the damn. Even though Stacy had used this boat in the boils below the damn before, I wondered if he had considered what difference adding me, a 200 pound man, to the back end would have. The first sign of trouble was during Stacy's explaination that we may not have that good of success because the moon was wrong. Then he mentioned the fact that my job was to put the two naked wires laying behind me against the battery terminals to start the bilge pump anytime the boat started filling up with water! The roar of the boils were evident before we could see them. the water being generated from turbines at the bottom of the damn looked like a whirlpool in a class 5 rapid. For the first 30 minutes we bounced around in the boils pumping water and trying to cast large plugs in to the concrete cut-ins on the face of the damn. Ron was standing at the front of the boat tempting fate every time the boat was jarred by the upheaval of water when Stacy had to gun it in full reverse to keep us out of the most dangerous area. First I felt water rush in over the back and up onto my legs. then I felt my heart jump as I reached for the afore mentioned naked wires to get the pump pumping. I was having trouble since water was over the battery and something kept hitting my elbow. When I realized that the something was the gas tank I almost panicked. Luckily Stacy stayed calm and set the engine full forward and shot us up into one of the cut-ins in the damn we had just been casting into. For reasons I am unaware of the water is as calm as a swimming pool in these little concrete coffins and this gave me time to regain my cool get the battery in the dry and proceed to pump the calf deep water out of the back of the boat. After some heavy duty pushing by Ron and some fancy boat work by Stacy we popped out of the cutout and raced across the boils to safety. Oddly enough this was the first time I noticed a family of Mexicans on the rocky shore fishing and I wondered what they thought about the crazy rednecks that just attempted to drown themselves for a few lousy rock fish.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Debord Falls

It was a nice drive up through Wartburg, passing through classic East Tennessee scenery some good (mountains), Some bad (Trailers and junk cars). I thought it fitting to go to Frozen Head State Park since we would get to see the new prison which is replacing the famous and historic Brushy Mountain Prison due to its recent closure. I wanted this trip to be a fun little excursion for the family but also serve as a information gathering mission for a possible Cub Scout camp out in the future. The park is Known for its hiking (the Cumberland Trail passes through) and has an easy trail perfect for the family that goes to a water fall (Debord Falls).

After a short and gradually up hill hike we came to a exciting  staircase which led us to the base of a water fall. The boy led the way and directed us on the safest path. It gave the trail a destination feeling.

 We had a blast, wife,kids, and dad. The wife sunned herself on a nearby rock and took pictures of me, the boy, and the girl having fun. Your Pal the Envirocapitalist.

© 2009 The Envirocapitalist

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Here is my rant!

I always hear people say that hunters don’t need to hunt they just like killing. I can't take it anymore, I am tired of people saying that it costs me more money to hunt than to buy beef by the pound. It is not true for me.  I live in a rural mountain community in E. Tennessee and I can’t afford to buy enough Beef to feed a family of four. So I use reloaded bullets(which I only shoot 10-15 bullets a year which includes sighting in and killing 2-4 deer myself a year) in a 30-06 that my father passed down to me for free to kill deer which I cut up my self. (I did buy a vacuum sealer and an lay down freezer 10 years ago) but it costs me next to nothing to put 6-7 deer in the freezer every year. I also help a friend with a large garden so we can split the bounty (he has land, I have knowledge) It would be like saying I don’t need to grow my own potatoes I just like digging. I think deer meat is much healthier than beef as well. I know the meal. No one else handles it. My family will never have E-Coli from beef or tomatoes. although it does not bother me, I don’t like killing anymore than I like cleaning fish or picking blackberries. I like being outside and I like eating blackberry pie. I like being self sufficient. You have to kill a deer to eat it. I also like shooting guns. I shoot them at targets, coke cans, and furry woodland creatures that taste good. I didn't kill the can but I enjoy the challenge of marksmanship. I have no hard feelings toward trophy hunters. I receive most of my meat from trophy hunters who call me after they shoot a rack buck and I come and get the deer to cut up for my family ( win win situation they get the trophy, I get the meat).  However I do have a problem with the perception that all hunters are trophy hunters. I hunt because it feels natural. As natural as growing tomatoes.  More natural than driving to a large crowded building and pointing to a hunk of meat that another man picks up, wraps and hands to you. Even Though you have no idea where it came from.  I do enjoy my time in the woods........far more than time in the super market.  Your pal the Envirocapitalist.

Friday, February 05, 2010

WDVX - Real Music from Tennessee

I highly recommend checking out WDVX  If you like Americana or Bluegrass music.  It is a local, listener supported radio station here in E.Tennessee that streams over the web. So people from all over can enjoy our musical culture. Your Pal the Envirocapitalist.