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Getting Back to Basics: 3 Things You Must Do in a Post Covid World

Whether you’ve noticed or not, ever since this Covid pandemic, people haven’t been congregating to the level that they used to.  I, personally, am fine with that. I’ve never been a crowd loving kind of guy. And the fact of the matter is that it seems as if this level of isolation might very well become normative in our society.  As we reconnoiter from the effects of this first wave of Covid, it seems possible that we as a race might have to face many more variants of it or other viruses.

So, that being said, here are three things that you must do to get ready for the future, at least in regards to the entrainment industry.

  1. Go camping. While a well loved and basically traditional endeavor, camping also is a skill that can become centered around survival. One of the things I have done over the years is to slowly take some of t he modern conveniences out of my camping trip and substitute something rustic in it’s place.
  2. Go fishing. While an excellent form off relaxation, fishing also benefits from a survival standpoint. Good fishing skills can be replicated in a survival situation with nothing more than raw materials found in the wilderness. So go fishing at every opportunity and take your skills in fishing to the next level.
  3. Learn storytelling. In the old days, storytelling was the national pastime. Way before movies or books, humans were meeting around their campfires and keeping accounts  of their exploits in the form of the oral story.  It is just recently that the digital age has made storytelling obsolete. In this post pandemic world, s we get moved back into our clan mentality and away from the globalistic viewpoint, we will find the need to talk to each other again.  For me it will be a welcome change of pace.
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Fathers in Focus: 3 Reasons That You Must Take the Role Seriously

As we move out of Father’s Day and into the coming summer, I want to write to you and stress the importance of that most sacred of roles that we all celebrated yesterday, that of being a dad.

If you are blessed enough to find yourself fulfilling this role in someone else’s life, you need to bear in mind that this honor is one which God has ordained to you and is so important to Him that it is actually a role that he claimed for himself first.

For you see, whatever Holy Book you read, (be it the Bible or the Torah), it doesn’t take a genius to see two things very clearly. They are that first: God planned a big family,  and second: that he wanted each person in it to be involved in it’s continuation. ( I can’t speak for any other writing due to lack of exposure to them). That being the case there are three main concepts about God’s relationship with mankind that I believe stick out and are vital to the place that we as men have in the lives of our sons and daughters.

  1. We are their protectors. Not all mammals are born utterly defenseless like humans are. Deer and horses for instance will be up and running in just a few hours from birth. Many in the animal kingdom are vulnerable for weeks and months; but very few if any are utterly defenseless for years at a time. I believe that is by design and that it serves to mold us as men for the better part of our lives.
  2. We are their providers. Though this aspect of fatherhood is very similar to the first, there is a distinct separation between the feeling of safeness and satiety. Both are different aspect of existence that we as fathers produce in our offspring and both are vital to growth and emotional maturity.
  3. We are their teachers. And with this we come full circle. Through protecting, providing, and teaching we create that great circle of life in conjunction with the God who created us to commune with Him. As fathers we represent our Father in Heaven who made us co-heirs  and advocates of His wonderful plans.
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Product Alert: The All New 2022 Ford Maverick

The Ford Motor Company has recently  released a bombshell new product that I believe is going to take the survivalist/prepper community by storm. This is the new 2022 Ford Maverick, (which is scheduled to be made available in the Fall  of 2021), and this truck is a game changer on many different levels. First of all, the base price for this truck is a mere $19,900. This is for a standard size vehicle with front wheel drive and a hybrid engine that is expected to achieve 500 miles from one tank of gas. For a few dollars more, (about $5000), you can have the bigger engine with a tow package, better cooling system, and AWD. This still brings your base price for an all terrain, adventurous, economical, and sporty 5 seater pickup truck to under $25000!

The towing package is rated for 2000 pounds base, with a maximum capacity of 4000 pounds. This means that you’ll be able to easily tow most boats, utility trailers, and many small livestock trailers. The good news here is that unless you are a big time rancher or are interested in hauling horses around for some reason, this will likely be the only truck you will ever need.

Another factor to consider in this bold move by the Ford Motor Company is the fact that this truck is likely to drive the market regarding the availability, quality, and prices of it’s competitor’s small size pickup truck. It will also, ultimately, effect the trade in and resale value of any older trucks which might currently be on the road.  As a case in point, just last year, this writer was in possession of a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4 wheel drive crew cab pickup truck. Though it was in good shape, it had some issues; however, those issues didn’t prevent it from appraising at around $5000 and actually selling, (because they’re so hard to find these  days), for $6500. My guess is that in the Fall, that wouldn’t be the case.

Ernest Hemingway: 3 Reasons That You Must Watch This New Documentary

If you are an outdoor enthusiast and sportsman, then there is a new documentary out there that you absolutely must see. This documentary is just released on Monday April 5, 2021 and is available at no cost through the PBS channel.

I have always been a huge fan of Ernest Hemingway. His minimalist style of writing and life experience were second to none.  He was definitely a man’s man, and and any serious look into his life will illustrate that. He was the epitome of a survivalist and made do in war torn Europe and Spain on many occasions; he thrived with little of nothing or with great affluence the same. One of my favorite stories of Hemingway involved his life in Paris as a starving writer trying to learn the craft:

His first child, Bumby, would accompany him on walks to the park where, with old bread purloined from the dumpster of the bakery near his flat, pigeons would be enticed to come to the baby’s stroller. Here, the illustrious old man would snatch and wring them and then  stuff the still warm and feathery body into the folds of the baby’s blanket until there were enough in hand, (or swaddle as the case may be), to proffer a full meal of squab for the family for the evening.   It can be surmised that it was said; at one time,  by the locals, that Hemingway was an learned and dedicated ornithologist of the first order… though his genus of regard lacked any form of particularity

It is for these following reasons that you must watch this most informed and inclusive of documentaries:

  1. Hemingway was a hunter and an avid outdoorsman. His hunting writing gets so in-depth that some people have learned how to wing shoot simply from reading his narrative on the technique involved.
  2. Hemingway was a warrior and a poet. And though this cliché is quite common in  todays literary world, this is exactly the case in regards to Ernest Hemingway.
  3. Hemingway was a purveyor and user of military surplus equipment. Whether he was fishing in Michigan, hunting in Idaho, or on safari in Africa, Ernest Hemingway was a prolific user of military surplus tools and equipment. He stayed in military surplus tents, slept in old army cots, and even hunted big game with military surplus weapons. This expose and documentary are both enlightening and conducive to having a fire lit in your belly regarding the understanding of the impact of the written word. The air of nostalgia that surrounded Hemingway is eloquently captured here. Ken Burns, along with Lynn Novick, were able to show you the man without telling you how to take or partake of him; and they did it in an Ernest way.
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Springtime Dandelions: 3 Uses You Have to Know

One of the memories I have of my childhood, (I won’t call them fond so as to avoid deception), was that of my old grandma gathering a spring mix of greens for the family to eat. Now, to those of you who are less cultured, “greens” amongst the mountain people is actually an accumulation of any leafy weed that sprouts up from the recently thawed ground. For some reason, it was thought that fresh and tender equaled edible, and while that might have been true for the most part, it certainly didn’t equal palatable.

However, this isn’t true for dandelion greens. These are not only palatable, they are downright tasty and I’m actually surprised that they aren’t included in most spring mix salads you can get at the grocery store, considering their prevalence across the landscape.

In any event, here are three uses for the common dandelion that every serious outdoorsman or survivalist must know:

  1. They are edible. Both the yellow flowers and the leafy greens associated with the plant are food worthy. My favorite way to eat them is to have the flowers fried in batter like a hushpuppy (called fritters), and to have the greens freshly washed and sprinkled with vinegar and oil. I’ve also had them boiled like spinach with bacon and onion.
  2. They are potable. You can actually make a coffee of sorts out of the dandelion root. You can literally do  this with any root, but dandelion coffee is pretty ok, compatible at least with chicory coffee, (neither is as good as the real thing). To make the dandelion coffee, you must finely chop the root and then parch it in a pan over low heat of a fire. When it is brown and brittle, grind it up as you would coffee beans and brew as you would coffee… it’ll get you through some cold nights.
  3. They have down that is multifunctional. Whenever the flower goes to seed it leaves a head of down that can be used to enhance your tinder bundle, or if gathered in enough quantity, add insulation to clothing or bedding to create dead air space.

 

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Uncle John’s Truck: The Final Chapter

…As cliché as it sounds, the drive up into mountains was like a dream. I sipped hot coffee from one of my dad’s Stanley  thermoses as I huddled comfortably in the drivers seat in a fleece lined, camouflage, hooded sweatshirt my mom had bought me at the local hardware store on clearance.

Life was good right then and right there; I felt young and old, independent and vulnerable, lonesome and fulfilled. This was the closest thing to a grand adventure that I had experienced up to that time. The Pirelli tires I had recently purchased for Uncle John’s truck chewed the gravel of the country road that led to my mom’s new woodlot.

It was still dark when I got to deer camp, (I had basically left the night before and drove all night). And I grabbed some sleep nestled in the warm front seat of the truck. I woke up from my snooze well after dawn and immediately set up my camp. I backed the truck down to  the little creek that meandered through the property and pitched grandpa’s old Army tent about 10 yards away from the bank. I chose to have it facing the creek so that I could sit in the front of the tent at night and look out over the glistening rocks and rippling flow of water as I drank camp coffee in the moonlight. I was going to be here a week by myself and had three deer tags to fill.

It was a little past noon when I had finally set up the tent and had cut enough fire wood to last me the day. I was hungry, so decided to make some oatmeal in my cookpot and sprinkled some brown sugar and almonds into it as I sat back in my camp chair and enjoyed the semi-warm weather. In a few minutes I planned to go find a likely spot to set up my tree stand and to throw a bag of apples and turnips out around it. As I was blowing on the steaming thick mass of chewy goodness I heard splashing.

I turned to see a good buck crossing the creek. He was about an eight point, not too big and young; maybe a three year old. His nose was to the ground like he was trailing a doe but he was in the water. He stopped and looked directly at me and huffed. I think he was commenting on the smell of my oatmeal. He didn’t seem overly impressed in any way. “it’s going to be a good hunt”, I thought as he meandered on down the creek line, leaving me to my oatmeal.

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Uncle John’s Truck: The, (next to), Final Chapter

That Fall arrived subtly, it was a very smooth transition and arrived more from the acknowledgement of the date on the calendar than it did from an awareness of the change of season. It had been a fairly mild winter, not too sunny and mostly rain for some reason. This had made it pretty insignificant in regards to the various sportsman adventures that I was used to having. Political unrest in the venue my dad worked at kept him pretty busy and he didn’t have much time to run to our fishing hole, even on the days that were nice and sunny.

And so I went about my routine, I was working at McDonald’s still even though I had finished my training. I was volunteering at two different fire departments, and since that was my passion, I focused my energy there. But with the advent of deer season coming into the scene, I suddenly started getting buck fever.

Over the summer my grandpa had died and he had left my mom some acreage in the woods of hilly eastern Ohio. It was a long way from where we live, but it was definitely teeming with wildlife and I decided that I was going to have a deer hunt there to enjoy my first deer camp as a full grown man, (I had just recently turned 18), and would be eligible to finally hunt without adult supervision. I also wanted to test myself as I had never been in any sort of survival or wilderness situation without the supervision of my dad or older brother.

I took advantage of the local Black Friday Sales to purchase a deer stand and a really good sleeping bag. My dad offered up grandpas old military surplus army tent for me to use since work wasn’t going to be able to let him go to the regular deer camp we usually pitched that year…

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Uncle John’s Truck: A Story of Coming to Manhood in Rural America (part 5)

… I can’t really describe the taste of those fresh fish fillets fried over a hot little fire on the river bank. I was by myself which wasn’t really what I preferred, (my dad had other obligations over the weekend), but even so, as I settled into the little bedroll I had pitched in the bed of Uncle John’s truck and I listened to the screech owls scream at each other in the creek bottoms, I couldn’t really imagine that life could get much better.

I was wrong about that.

It was a few weekends later that my church youth group announced that there would be a creek run and that we would be participating. For those of you who are uneducated, a creek run consists of gathering any and everything that will support your weight through buoyancy, and floating it down the river. While you’re doing this you will be laughing, splashing, fishing, and trying your best to drown yourself and all your friends. It was a really great time, and unlike in the past, where I would have had to ask my dad to strap the two kayaks to his Subaru and take me to the drop off, this time I was able to throw both kayaks in the back of Uncle John’s truck and head out by myself. I also invited along the particular object of my affections at the time. Unfortunately for me I hadn’t bothered to tie my swim trunks particularly tight, and while I was showing off at some point they came of and got swept away in the current. I ended up having to borrow the object of my affection’s towel to wrap around my naked waist, and then I had to drive her home with no pants on. And “that” so they say, “was the end of that”.

Summer was a true blast in that truck, regardless of my failed attempts to woo the opposite sex, but the real excitement of having a truck came with the fall and winter…

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Uncle John’s Truck: A Story of Coming to Manhood in Rural America (part 4)

…On that same note that truck was maintained pristinely. Uncle john was a Dodge man. When I first met him he drove a Dodge Rampage and worked at a water bottling company. The fact that he was the type of guy who could keep a Dodge Rampage on the road for at least twenty years after all the rest of them were gone should tell you something.

Somehow, my Aunt Kathi told my dad that Uncle John hadn’t actually sold his old truck yet, and my jaw dropped when Uncle John called me and told me he would let me have his truck for the amount of the insurance settlement on my car. My dad and I wasted no time getting the title transferred,  and just like that; I found myself the proud owner of a well maintained Dodge truck that had been immaculately taken care of.

The acquisition of this truck opened a whole new world to me. Where before I had been somewhat limited in my hunting and fishing forays, ( an older model Ford Focus will not get you very far), the advent of Uncle John’s trucks was like having a passport to a whole new world. The first trip I took was out to the New Miami River to have an overnight camping and kayaking excursion. My dad and I had each bought a kayak a couple of years before and whenever we went kayaking together, we would stow them on a rack on the roof of his Subaru Impreza and we would go. However, we wouldn’t go very far because a Subaru Impreza won’t actually go much farther than a Ford Focus will.

My dad had gotten some fishing pole holders and had installed them in our kayaks by using a doorknob cutter on a cordless drill and some marine rivets. So that first night on the river I spent fishing from my kayak and catching crappie and smallmouth bass in the river inlets…

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Uncle John’s Truck: A Story of Coming to Manhood in Rural America (part 3)

As soon as I was free of the crash and saw the scene, I knew someone had to be hurt, (it never really occurred to me that I was the someone who should have been hurt). I immediately reached back into my car, rummaged around in the debris until I felt the familiar canvas of my medical kit, and rushed to the Expedition that I knew had been occupied by the woman. I picked her first for two reasons. First, I knew she was of “young mother” age, and, though an Expedition is technically an SUV, for many it serves the same purpose as a mini-van, albeit a 4 wheel drive one. So I fully expected there to be a child restraint seat or two in that Expedition. I wasn’t wrong, there was a child restraint seat in the back; however, it was unoccupied.   Second, I was a little pissed at the old man in the huge pickup truck to be honest.

As it turns out, both of the other drivers were fine, and even I was fine, though I turned out to be sore as hell for about a week afterwards. Unfortunately my car was destroyed front and back.  My dad came and got me and together we followed the tow truck to the impound lot, we grabbed the plates off of the front and back, grabbed my personal gear… and left my first car in a dirty old gravel lot, crumpled and destroyed, surrounded by the corpses and skeletons of other peoples dreams and visions that had been decimated in like manner.

I don’t know what made my dad think of it, but he recalled that his sister’s husband, my Uncle John, had mentioned a few weeks earlier that he had bought a new truck and had his old one up for sale.  Uncle John is one of those guys that you want to have as a neighbor and a friend. He stands 6’7″ tall and weighs in at about 450 pounds. He’s not fat though. He’s a big solid chunk of muscle on a steel alloy frame. He used to pick up trailers and pull them to a bumper hitch while the rest of us were trying to back up and align the two. John was also the type of guy who really took good care of his things. A chainsaw, for instance, was taken apart and cleaned after use instead of being thrown haphazardly into the bed of a truck…

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