Tag Archives: camping

Eating Out

This week we are going to highlight a few useful plants that are native to the pacific northwest.  You have no doubt encountered these in the mountains and forests already.  If you forage for mushrooms, pick huckleberries, or just like to hike be on the lookout for these.  If you make a habit of identification then you will be able to find these plants with ease should the need ever arise.  As with any foraging of wild edibles DO NOT consume without being 100% certain you have identified it correctly.

 

Bear grass

looks like a giants q-tip and easy to identify.  Always find these at high elevation.  The root can be boiled and eaten like a potato, but is very stringy.  The most useful part is the leaves.  They are super strong and can be used for cordage, natives used this often to weave baskets.

 

Fireweed

Can be found in burnt areas and clear cuts.  Young leaves and shoots are high in vitamin C and can be eated raw or cooked, treat it like spinach.  In early stages of growth when the leaves are still pointed upward the whole plant can be cooked like asparagus.  The unique vein in the leaves can help with identification.  Can have a laxative effect if eaten in large quantities.

 

Pineapple weed

I always found this in heavily trod areas like rock driveways, but it can be found in the wild.  Often referred to as “wild chamomile” it has a very pleasant smell when crushed.  The dried flowers can be used to make a tea just like chamomile.  The leaves are edible as well, but are slightly bitter.

 

Wild Ginger

Found in dark forests with plenty of shade.  Look for it in our old growth cedar stands.  Treat it just like commercial ginger.  Although in the wild variety the leaves have a stronger flavor than the root.

 

We tried to pick a few that are not widely talked about, but are plentiful here in the pacific northwest.  Again do not pick and use any wild plant or fungus without being positive you have identified it properly and understand its uses.  Have fun looking for these plants and shoot us some pictures if you find these while out foraging.

 

 

 

 

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Backwood’s Proverbs…

It has been said that the burnt hand learns fastest… And speaking from the position of a man who still cannot grow hair on his hands or lower arms, there is probably some truth to that statement. We have all made mistakes when it comes to outdoor activities, and in our relentless pursuit’s in the woods. Kris and I have been tossing this idea around for a while and have been trying to feel it out as to what y’all would think. Neither Kris or myself really do the twitter thing, but we talked about how it would be funny to have our own hash-tag… You know, something that cool horn rimmed glassed, skinny jean folk could holler out when ever the feel the need. #RNAF was invented. What is #RNAF you may wonder? It stands for Red Neck As… Well you can insert what ever “F” word you want in the fourth position, but im pretty sure you know which one we are referencing in that acronym 😉 . Pretty much it just explains things that we all probably do, but to the rest of the world they seem to be a little out there to say the least. Mostly they are lessens that we have learned through experience, and good things to remember (even if they are a little redneck)…

paper plate

  • Paper plates are hillbilly road signs: Any one who has spent any amount of time in the woods know exactly what that paper plate says, and if you have the initials “GW” you had better be making a right hand turn in about 3.5 miles. It’s simple, and it’s stupid, and it works perfect. For less than a penny you know exactly where your going, even if you have no idea where your going. Its like having a GPS that you can eat off later if need be. To take someone else’s paper plate down is a crime punishable by death, and if it isn’t, it should be. Paper plate road signs are definitely #RNAF.

2-chains

  • Just call me 2 chains… I know what you are thinking, “Oh my God, this whole time we have been reading survival blogs that were written by Tauheed Epps (A.K.A. the rapper 2 chainz), Grant Willoughby, is just his pen name…” Nope, your wrong, in fact I have no idea who the scholar in the picture above is, except for the fact that his name is 2 chainz, and the 2 chains that I am making reference to are the ones that I carry in my chainsaw case. The weather is getting nicer outside, and as the snow keeps melting people are gradually finding their way back into the woods. But people forget that it was just winter, in so you have to go prepared for quite a few things. Your still going to hit snow, the roads are going to be muddy as hell, and trees fell down everywhere with the big storms that we experienced this year. Take a saw with you, and bring two chains for it. Put on the worst of the two blades (If you have never had to cut trees that are laying across the road, you have no idea what kind of damage dirty wet wood will cause to your saw, not to mention how easily one piece of gravel will grenade a decent blade.) Learn to go prepared and you will hardly ever need what you have brought, but leave out something critical one time and you will never do it again. Man all this talking about rappers makes me think that maybe I can be one, maybe ill get my old chain saw blades dipped in gold and wear those around my neck, maybe get me some corn rows…

Big tires on the 1 ton, you know we go mud diggin.

Single shot up on the seat, lookin for those prairie chicken’s.

Busch light in the cooler, and my Stihl up in the bed,

day dreams of morels and shaggy’s, mushrooms goin to my head.

Got a perfect spot to go if I can keep it out the ditches,  

I won’t tell you where it’s at, cause I don’t trust no snitches!”

Maybe ill leave the rapping to the experts, but a mushroom hunting rap is definately #RNAF.

porta

  • Does a bear shit in the woods? Nope, and neither do most women. Bear almost always poop right in the middle of the road, and according to my wife, women don’t poop at all… However, she and my Mother both insist on having a porta-poddy when we go camping or head into the woods for an extended visit. I don’t know what they use it for, but it sure fills up fast. What ever they use it for, I know they won’t go if I don’t bring it. If you want to be able to share your favorite activities with those you love its important that they are comfortable too. But… Being a country kid at heart, I pride myself in always having enough camping gear in my truck to supply a small sporting good store for a considerable amount of time. First thing that has to go into one of my vehicles is always toilet paper, second is paper towels, third is a shovel. (In a pinch you can use paper towels as toilet paper, the reverse is not true, try to wipe out a deer carcass with toilet paper and you will know what I mean.) If you have a shovel and a roll of Charmin, the world is your toilet. But there are rules to be obeyed: Don’t do it where the dogs are likely to roll in it, cover it up so you won’t step in it, and if you find the perfect blow-down tree seat, it is your responsibility to declare it “the poopin tree” and inform all parties concerned about its location. Keeping it #RNAF.

I’m sure that there are a lot more, this is just the beginning. We will keep adding them as we think of them, but what we would really like is for you to comment with your #RNAF moments and traditions. Better yet, take some pictures and send them to us, we will post them up, just be sure to throw a  #RNAF on it. Take care until next week.

-Grant Willoughby 03/26/2017-

You wanna talk politics, gun control, and separation of church and state?

… Me either, lets talk about the important stuff. Like what a crappy hunter I am, and how much I still love doing it anyways. We at PWP took off last weekend for a little impromptu 4-day, every-critter-that-can-be-seen-can-be-shot-I-got-a-tag-for-them-all weekend. Since the blog picture wasn’t a pile of dead animals, you can assume that we didn’t exactly “tag out”. I guess we should be starting to get used to it. But elk is a hard critter to hunt anyways, They are finicky about where the want to live, temperature, weather, phase of the moon, they are truly the primadonna of the Cervidae family. (says the guy who can’t figure out how to put one in his freezer) But boy are they majestic, and more importantly, DELICIOUS. Se we test our patience,our bodies, and our bank accounts, for just one chance to put meat in the freezer, and horns on the wall. There is a reason why the success rate in Idaho is only a taste over 5%, the hunting ain’t easy, no matter what you have seen on hunting videos. We saw plenty of deer, mostly does, and a couple little bucks, but the season is still early, so we decided to just get rained on instead.

We did get to use some of what we preach though. Lets just say that there was an incident where a rifle (I’m not going to point fingers, but it wasn’t Kris’s or my rifle) took a digger off an ATV. Remember when you were in hunters ed class and they talked about mud getting stuck in a barrel? That story is real, and it is amazing how far soft muddle will travel up a muzzle if it falls in lawn dart fashion. Who brings a cleaning kit to hunting camp with them? I do. Who carries there cleaning kit on there ATV. I sure don’t. So, the hunt was over right? If there is one thing that we always preach, its to just adapt and start looking for a solution with what you have. There is no possible way to carry every tool for every situation with you every day. The important thing is to have enough, and having the ability to think outside of the box for your solution. (Just a little, for-what-its-worth, you can improvise a pretty good bore-snake out of paracord 😉 ) After getting the bore clean, we realized that not only had the barrel made contact, but the scope had also seen a battle, with cross-hairs no longer vertical, and aiming about 3 counties right. So we packed up camp, and drove back to town so that we could have the rifle repaired right? No way, were Post World Patriot, not better homes & garden, we loosened up the rings and scope mounts, squared up the cross-hairs, pulled the bolt, centered the bore on a target, then drifted the scope back to where it should be (just think of it as a poor kid bore site). 3 rounds and 20 minutes later we were back on the road, Even I was a little impressed.

So we didn’t whack em and stack em like we had hoped, and as my son grows ever closer to being able to hunt (I tested him yesterday, I went up north and did some duck hunting, then asked if he wanted to come out and see how to clean a duck. He put on his boots, came outside and watched the whole event, even asking me to explain what all the organs were, little did I know that I needed a biology degree to show my 5 year old how to keel out a duck … Needless to say, not only is he ready… But he will probably shoot a bull before I do.) I realize that hunting, much like all things that are truly important, is a labor of love, and the experience and the journey is as important as the destination. Hunting trips and hunting camps are pretty much explained in 3 steps. The preparation, the hunt, and the afterglow. The preparation is the planning, the excitement, and even the ride out to your “spot”. Its glorious, the hope for excellence is over the top. The day is fresh, clean, and full of potential. The hunt is the work, half of you wants to dance like a 5 year old, while the other half remains stoic. Teddy Roosevelt didn’t dance, neither did Papa Hemingway, keep it together man 😉 . The afterglow can be the ride home or the camp chair around the fire. That is where you catch up about all things hunting and life. You talk about the family, how junior is doing in school, How your new rifle is way better then everyone else’s, about your new honey-hole for small mouths… All the important stuff. As much as the filled tag, and meat in the freezer drives you, it wouldn’t mean much without the experience. If all we care about is meat and horns, there are plenty of racks for sale on craigslist, and Walmart is open 24 hours. But if you truly love the the hunt as much as I do, please take someone new into the woods. Show them the experience, and remember to look around a bit, breath the fresh air, and enjoy the sunrise. Long after you have ate the last pack of deer burger from your freezer, the memories will still keep you hungry.

-Grant Willoughby 10/23/2016-

Why is your freezer empty…

If you are reading this on a Sunday, we can draw a couple conclusions…

Conclusion #1: There is a chance that you are a fantastic hunter. With archery elk opening on September 6th, archery deer opening on August 30th, and fall bear (you pick the weapon) being open since August 30th also, there is a chance that you have already tagged out on all of your big game for the year. Now you are just biding your time until October 1 so that you can slay a bunch of ducks and geese. If that’s you… Got any ideas how a fella could fill his freezer that you would like to share? If Not, then we can move on.

Conclusion#2: You  have been out hunting a few times already and are wishing that you had bought a B tag, and never decided to pursue critters with stick and string.You just needed a break. Hey I been there too my friend. There is a reason why people say that any animal that is harvested with a bow is a trophy, The amount of miles covered (quietly) and the amount of work entailed in  putting yourself into range with a bow is truly commendable. But you know as well as I do that the chances of shooting a critter from your couch are really limited. (If you regularly shoot critters from your couch, and you decide that you want to adopt a 33 year old fat guy… I might just know one. 🙂 )

Conclusion #3:You either go to church on Sundays, or Sunday is your “family day”. Both are acceptable answers, and I respect both answers equally. We would all love to spend every waking moment in the woods chasing dinner, but most of us have regular jobs that allow us very little free time. With only 2 days a week that don’t require a time clock, it is pretty hard to juggle your real priorities, God, Family, and Hunting! I personally try to limit my hunting excursions to one day out of the weekend (and boy is that hard to do when you got onto a good scrape the night before, or saw a ton of green heads land  just after shooting light  when you were picking up dec’s.) But, as for me at least, I feel that it is important to spend some time with the fam. Now when my boy gets old enough to carry a rifle and give it a go himself… Well, I should  just start apologizing to my wife now…

All things being considered, I think most people fall into group #3. That being said, It is always important to hedge your bet a bit by being proactive. So here are a few things that you can do before rifle season opens so that you don’t have to waste what little hunting time that you have getting ready.

havalon-piranta-edge-hunting-skinning-knife-6

1: A man is only as sharp as his knife: It sounds silly, but a sharp knife is one of the most important items that any outdoors men can have, especially a hunter. With a little practice and a small sharpening kit you can maintain your own blades in almost no time, and its always better to start with a sharp blade and be able to touch it up. Believe me, having to sharpen your knife mid-deer stinks. You can take an hour or two (after work) and probably sharpen all the knifes and hatchets that you will need for your hunt. Another nice tool to have especially for game processing is  the Piranta knife made by Havalon. They are basically a gutting and field dressing knife that uses replaceable 2 3/4″ hermetically sealed scalpel  blades. If a blade gets dull or breaks, just swap the blade out. Is it a replacement for a good fixed blade knife? I don’t know that I would say that. But I do know a guy who raises buffalo, and it is the only knife that he uses for processing them out (field dressing and caping) and that says a lot.

ob32: Shoot your rifle: Its the easiest thing to take for granted. “It shot straight when I put it away last year.” Yes it did, but it has been stoved up in a case or gun cabinet since then, it has been cleaned and oiled, and maybe it has even been knocked around a little bit. I try to pull my shootin irons out a couple weeks before season starts and give them a good once over. Make sure all the screws are tight, run a few dry patches through the bore, then take it out and put a few rounds down range. if all goes right, the rifle prints right where I’m aiming. At this point I DO NOT clean the bore until hunting season is over, a bore that is clean and oiled will shoot to a different of impact then one that has been shot in. because of the residual oil,  rifles will tend to ( but not always) throw the first couple rounds high, due to less drag, and settle as they wear off the oil. Plus it gives you a little time to re-familiarize yourself with your fire arm. I know it is expensive (I shoot a .338 Win Mag for elk, and at $50+ a box I feel your pain) But if you cant afford to burn a half a box sighting in, you probably cant afford to hunt.

pile-alkaline-batteries

3: Batteries, batteries, batteries: What do you have in your hunting kit that uses batteries? If you said everything you are correct! GPS, walkies, range finders, flashlights, head lamps, if your lucky… a camera. Yep, you already thought about those, but what about for your ATV and truck?  Make sure everything has a good battery in it, and make sure they are all charged up and ready. Foul weather brings out the worst in everything electronic. While your at it, maybe change the oil, air filter, and even throw a little fuel additive in the gas tank. Be prepared for all the challenges that arise in the field, you know what they say about an ounce of prevention…

hunting-gear

4:Packs and survival gear: This is by far the easiest and most fun pre-hunt preparation you can do. Dig out your pack frame, your hike pack (hopefully if you have been listening, your survival gear will already be in there. 😉 ) and check the condition of both, as well as what you have in inventory. Do it in the living room, in the middle of the floor and get the kids involved. If they see what it takes to do what you do, they will be super excited about it when they get to do it themselves. Matches, lighters, fire starters, knives, sharpening stones, tinder, game processing bags, meat sacks, something to boil water in… Its awesome, it is exciting, and its what you are about. Share the experience, if you don’t have kids, do it with your hunting buddies, when you compare and contrast what you carry, you may just learn something new, or you may get to share some lessons that you had to learn the hard way.

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5: Fellowship: I am very lucky to have a group of friends that share the same values as myself. In that, most of our conversations usually are about either hunting, fishing or guns. Big surprise huh? No, that’s not all that we talk about, but much like every road in Idaho leads to the bunco, all conversations lead to those topics. If you want to get ready to go on your fall hunts this year, I have a super easy recipe that will get you there. Grab a 6 pack, wrangle up your buddies, and talk about hunting. Talk about how much fun last year was. Talk about the ones you got, the ones that you missed, and about “the Big One” that you just know is out there. Talk about how good the coffee was in the morning, and how tasty the beer was when you got back to camp. Talk about hunting camp breakfast! Talk about how much it rained, or snowed or whatever. Reliving last years adventure is a sure way to wet the taste buds for this year. The memories that you make afield, are addicting. The more you make the more you want to make. Start a tradition and stick to it. Wouldn’t you love to be able to one day talk to your great grand children about your hunting adventures and show them a picture like the one above?

22 days… That is all the time left before opening day of Idaho’s general elk and deer season. The time is running down, fall is in the air. I wish you all the best of luck in all of your adventures, if you don’t hunt, that’s fine, fall pike  fishing is some of the best of the year, no to mention the steelhead run on the Clearwater. In whatever you do, make memories and traditions that will last a lifetime. Even one day in the field, will make the five days that you spend in the salt mines well worth it. Be safe, and good huntin’.

-Grant Willoughby 9/18/2016-

Remember When…

Sorry that I didn’t post a blog last week, I actually had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time in the great outdoors that I spend so much time  raving about. Ma Nature gave us all she had, skeeters the size of hummingbirds, a day of rain and hail that would drown a fish, and heat that would make a lizard sweat… Yes I Loved every minute of it, and if I had enough money banked up, you would have to read this blog on smoke signal, you bet your last nickles. But that isn’t the case… For now. And before I go any farther I would love to wish you all a happy Independence, The 4th of July is a day, there are 365 of them, Yes the 4th of July is the day that we adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Damn neat  stuff if you ask me, but we should celebrate our Independence everyday, if you need a day to be a patriot, then maybe you should reevaluate your life choices. If you see a vet wearing a service hat, or a license plate that proudly shows someones service to our freedom and independence, tip your hat, and if you feeling real froggy, jump at the opportunity to shake a hand and thank them for what they have done for you, and for all of us. They offered there life to protect your independence, would it really be that hard to be humble and give a simple thank you? The red white and blue is staying strong because of our brothers in arms, and I feel that I speak for all of us by saying… Thank you

So I went camping last weekend (like I already stated) and between ducking the rain, skirting the heat, and trying to find a donor to transfuse me after the hummingbird-skeeters drew my last few ounces of life nectar, I started thinking about where my life is and where it all came from. Man, I must be getting nostalgic in my old age (all 33 years of it), but I long for what I remember back then. So if you care to voyage with me down the road of yesteryear, we will knock the dust off our childhoods and revisit what was…

Remember when summer was what made the whole school year worth doing. We all longed for hot days where all we had to do was waste the day swimming, or hiking or just doing general useless crap. I don’t know about you, but my boss doesn’t give me 3 months of free time for working for 7 out of 9 months. As much as we all have our opinions about school, we all loved summer. Now I hate summer, its just that crappy lull between spring bear and turkey hunting, and fall bear, turkey, elk and deer hunting. Yeah there is some fishing to be had, but I start feeling bad when I haul a fish out of the water just so it can  deal with the heat on my level, its like “here I coaxed you out of your hiding spot in hopes of a meal, but what I really wanted to do is bring you up to my personal hell, starve you for breath, make you get hot, then throw you back” don’t get me wrong, I love to fish (and if I’m going out, I want to catch every damn fish in the lake) but even I feel bad for making a fish experience 98 degrees (Yes the temperature, and the band).

Remember when riding bikes was an awesome activity? If you had a bike, and an idea, it was probably going to happen. Ride to the lake? Sure. Ride to a friends house? Ill be there in a minute. Lets be real honest here, if you see a grown ass man riding a bicycle, and he isn’t wearing a spandex iron-man outfit with a helmet shaped like a tear drop, he probably got a DUI. That is what we have been conditioned to. I guess we lost the lust for peddling when we learned to run the clutch on a motorcycle.

Remember when you would see animals in the woods, and you didn’t instantly start counting points or trying to score them on the Boone and Crocket system. I am horrible about this one. When you were younger you would be sitting in camp and a deer would walk by, you would get all excited and say “wow that’s a deer, that’s really cool!”, Now a deer walks by camp and instantly you go into full blown Tim Wells Slock’ Em’ mode. You say things like, “decent looking deer, if he makes it another three years he may progress to a 140 class buck, you know someone should plant a food plot out here. Let me check the range finder… Yep just what I thought, 117 yards exactly. That’s a chip shot with any rifle that I own.” blah, blah, blah,blah, blah, blah, In all reality if it were deer season, that buck would be no where in the county, and if he did somehow get drugged, and tied to a tree that was exactly 117 yards  from your shooting position, the buck fever would probably be enough to make your knees knock, and you may even upchuck that Nature valley granola bar that you had for breakfast. Would you make the shot? We would all hope so.  Maybe animals were just more fun, when we weren’t all experts on them.

Remember when a perfect meal was anything that Dad cooked on the barbecue, or anything that came with fries? Life was so simple, and yet we were still fulfilled. Dad’s barbecuing burgers, and mom is making some jo-jo’s in the oven? You felt like you had just won the lottery, you may even brag to the neighbor kid across the fence, “Oh your having tuna casserole huh? Yeah were having hamburgers and fries. How does it feel to know that your parents don’t love you?” Lets face it, we all still love barbecue, but as we have grown older if not wiser, we try to complicate things in order to sophisticate them, and leave childish things behind us. I feel the need to throw my own topspin and twist onto everything that I cook, if I’m making burgers its always some off the wall concoction of seasonings added into the meat, and some cheese that I have a hard time pronouncing on the top. Oh yes we will have fries, but once again I cant leave good enough alone. This situation come up quite a bit. I try to invite my parents over for dinner once a week, and they almost always accept with one stipulation “Don’t go to a ton of trouble, Just make something easy.” To which I will reply “Oh sure, nothing fancy at all. Ill just toss some burgers on the grill.” Yeah right, Maybe I got dropped on my head as a child, or spent too much time in the paint booth when my dad worked in the body shops, but my brain won’t allow me to keep it simple. By the time that my parents get to my house, I have usually spent 5 hours in the kitchen, and $80 at the grocery store. “Yep just, Throwing some burgers together, but I wanted to do a half sausage-half burger slider. No one in town had any raw andouille,  then I was going to go with chorizo, but none of the sausage looked decent at all.. So I just picked up some pork and a couple spices and made my own sausage. Since I had to get the grinder out anyways, I decided to grind my burger too, you guys like london broil right? That’s what I thought, Since I added some spice to my sausage, I wanted a decently hearty bun, but no one makes a slider bun that has any life to it. So I threw together some pretzel buns with home smoked chipotle peppers… No it wasn’t any trouble what so ever. I made a bechamel cheese sauce with Havarti and smoked provolone. For fries I used  only fingerling potatoes, that were hand harvested by people who don’t have thumbs…” I think you get the point. Are the meals good? You bet. Would we have enjoyed dinner and the company just as much if I had used regular 80/20 burger with salt and pepper, Franz burger buns and western family crinkle cut fries? In all reality, yes. Maybe I will take my own advise, and learn my lesson… Probably not.

Remember when you use to be able to go shooting? You would load up the family, pack up the arsenal, and head out to the woods and shoot until your little heart’s were content, and your thumbs were wore out from loading mags. In fact you would shoot until you had no ammo left, because you knew that you could stop at just about any sporting goods, or hardware store and buy any ammo that you needed. Every gun that we had was pretty standard, custom calibers were out there, but not as  common as they are today. In so you could find all the usual suspects everywhere. O and do you guys remember bricks of .22lr ammo (yes all 500 rounds per box), that you could purchase for around $10 a copy for the good stuff. Go to one gun show and take a look at what those bottom feeders are charging for a brick. If I’m paying $60 for a brick of .22 lr., You can bet I will be bringing back any misfire for a refund!

Remember when phones had to plug into the wall of your home? Most family’s had a phone that plugged into a wall, and in most cases, it had a cord attached to it. How awesome was that? You heard the phone ring, hoped up and ran over to it, and picked the phone up without even having a clue who was calling (no caller idea), or who they were calling to talk too. What excitement. And to cap it off, the phone calls weren’t usually even for you, they were always for your Mom.  So you would hand her the phone where she was sitting (Moms never sit by the phone, they always find the point that is the farthest away that the cord would still reach.) and then you got to play limbo, and high-jump with the cord for the next 45 minutes. It was awesome, and we all loved it. Now we all have cell phones, that tie us directly to everyone else no matter where we go. We know who’s calling us, and we know who they are calling for because we all have our own phones. There is no excitement to that. Our phones have voice mail, but that isn’t half as cool as getting home from someplace and getting to check the answering machine… Remember when those little tapes would start to get worn out and stretched, so sometimes when people would leave a message it sounded a bit like a satanic speak & spell on LSD, and you  had to guess who had left the message? Or my personal favorite was when you had run in from outside, and pick up phone.It always took you 3 rings to get to the phone, you would pick up the phone and start talking to your friend about all kinds of dumb kid crap, forgetting that the answering machine had started recording. Next thing you know, your Mom now not only knows all your business, but she has a tape recording to use as blackmail. Watergate didn’t have anything on my Mom. Boy those were the days.

Modern convenience has changed our lives drastically, and even though I poke a lot of fun at how “soft” we have become, I am very thankful for being able to know both sides of the coin. Yes I can get into and out of the woods just fine on my own with a map and compass, but I love my Garmin GPS. And anytime that my Wife is taking the kiddo to go see her mom, I find comfort in the fact that she has a working cell phone, and if something comes up I can be there in a minute. But I do think its important to not forget all the happiness that it took for us to get to where we are now, how a simplified life, was an easier life, and in a lot of cases a more fulfilling life. Turn your phone off every once in a while (just not before you check out our website and blogs), and make your kids do the same thing. Throw some hot dogs on the grill and just eat them with ketchup and mustard (even though  I know its tempting to  wrap them in prosciutto, roll them in panko and deep fry them with a side of kimchi …) Most importantly, make time to get your family away from all the craziness of the modern world, just get away for an afternoon, no twitter, no snapchat, just family time together. Go fishing, or go fling a little lead. Shoot some bottle-rockets for petes sake. This is America after all, and you deserve it. Happy 4th of July.

-Grant Willoughby 07/03/2016-

 

pitchin’ tents, and gettin’ wood…

First of all, before I go on my over-hyphenated, half-cocked reverie about all things Post World Patriot, I would like to remind everyone that Memorial day is not just about the great sales at Home depot,  or loading up the family, to go in the woods to play Lewis and Clark. To all of you who had a loved one who gave their life to protect the best country in the World, I solute you, and may their memory never be forgotten…

Ok now I will regress to my former state. So sit back and let’s get this series of run-on-sentences rolling. I usually talk about guns, I hate to say it, but firearms are kind of my security blanket. So I’m branching out a bit this week. So here goes, Lets get weird!

Kids (and Adults for that matter) are growing farther and farther away from our frontier roots. I was lucky enough to be born and raised in the Panhandle of North Idaho, and my parents were (and still are) troopers. We camped and fished all the time in my youth, not only because we were under an hour from some of our favorite haunts, but because it was a reasonably priced weekend activity for the whole family. The camper was already on the truck, and all we would have to do was throw some drinks and ice into the cooler, grab a bag of groceries, and we were on our way. As time progressed so did our camping, and Dirt dikes were bought, ridden, wrecked and sold, now my parents and I have transitioned to quads. One word to the wise, once you have an ATV, camping never really seems the same without one. Yes I still go for hikes around camp, but the freedom of being able to take the ATV to other locations to forage, hunt, fish, or hike is awesome. Plus it makes it way easier to bring back game or fire wood. ATV’s are a ton of fun but not something that you have to have in order to enjoy the woods. So what I figured I would do this week is put together a list of things that I think are great family activities, that not only bring us back to the woods for an impromptu “spirit vacation”, but also bring the family closer together. Many a memory and photo album have been filled with “The Adventures of Camping”. Try these ones out with the fam some time and you would be amazed at how much fun you will have.

Camp in a tent: I have a camper now,but when I first started camping on my own I used my tent a few times. A tent is about as close as you can get to really roughing it, without sleeping out under the stars. (I have slept under the stars too, but as for a family get away, I believe the tent to be more practical and I think most would agree.) Practice setting your tent up at home first (preferably when there is little wind and the sun is shining), that way when you get to your camp location you have a reasonable idea how to get your home-away-from-home set up. Plus you look like a boss when you have your whole tent set up before you buddy has found his tent pegs.

Don’t camp In a campground: I know some of you are reading this and thinking to yourself that there is no way that people actually “Pay to camp”. But to a lot of people, that is their idea of camping. Restrooms, running water, maybe even a power plug-in. All for somewhere between $25-$129 /night. Sacrilege I say. If you go to your local forest service station you can buy a forest service map that will show you all kinds of places that can be camped at for free. The reason I go to the woods is to get away from people and all of the modern conveniences that clutter our lives. If I wanted to sleep 15 feet away from some kids watching Netflix, I would just stay at home. I don’t recall in Robert Frost Poem “The road not taken” where he said “I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence, Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one that had WiFi, KOA made all the difference.” That even made me sad just to type it out.

Buy a BB gun: You knew there was no way that I could sit for over 15 minutes without talking about guns a little bit… (And technically a BB gun is not classified as a firearm, and in so I am tap-dancing a grey area on this one.) We always had a BB gun in camp, it’s what you did all day long, and even Mom would join in on the fun. I can still remember my first dabbling into the world of the pellet rifle. My parents bought me a Crosman 760 Pumpmaster (yes I still own it), and boy is it a thing of beauty. It has the wood furniture,  it holds 18 BB’s in the magazine tube (as well as about 7 pounds of them in the reservoir. :)) and it could shoot pellets by loading them one at a time into the loading gate. No C02 cartridges to worry about, all the air pressure needed was generated by a levered pump that was mounted integrally into the forend. If I had received a dime a pound for all the Crossman Copperhead BB’s that left the end of that barrel, I would surely be writing this blog from a 1000 acre ranch somewhere by now. Everyone started out shooting some sort of BB rifle, and we all learned a ton about ballistics by shooting them. We learned trigger control, proper safety and shooting techniques, and we all had good and safe fun. Just think back to your youth and the first time you heard the metallic “TINK”  of a BB hitting a soda can and try to keep yourself from smiling… It is physically impossible.

Forage your dinner once:  I was 12 years old,  with my first hunting license in my Velcro wallet, and we were going camping for Labor Day. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. This was the first time that I ever harvested all that food that I was going to eat. My life long friend Greg and I had spent the morning plucking Brook Trout from the creek behind our camp. In the early afternoon we went out shroom hunting with his uncle and brought back a bucket full of coral  mushrooms. But the day wasn’t over yet, we loaded up the shotguns and headed into the woods, determined to collect a few Ruffed Grouse (I always thought they were “ruffled” grouse, but google tells me that I have been saying it wrong all of these years, you learn something new everyday I guess.) A few hour later we returned to camp, grinning ear to ear with a limit of grouse a piece. My Mom, being the master chef that she is, took the grouse, the brook trout and the coral mushrooms, egg wash and  floured all of them, and promptly fried them all in a cast iron skillet over a Coleman stove and we feasted like kings. From that moment on, I was hooked. A person (especially those new to the woods) can be well served by talking to someone who knows the local flora before foraging wild plants. But once a few simple plants are easily recognized, foraging can be a lot of fun. If you want your children to eat better , make them a  fresh batch of pancakes, with huckleberry’s that they just harvested themselves. If you want to get a little more fancy, make a simple syrup with the same berries. I’ll bet you wont even have to wash dishes, the plates will be so clean.

Make it fun: The biggest Reason that children would rather  play video games, then go camping is because they believe that its boring…This is really sad to me, how does someone get bored in the woods? You are always way to busy to get bored when your camping. If you’re not cooking, your cleaning. If you’re not cutting wood, your starting a fire.If your not hiking, your fishing. But some children have been brought up in an environment where things are instant, if you don’t like whats on TV, you can watch Hulu, or play a game on their Iphone,  or their xbox… Blah, Blah, Blah you get the point. Well the woods doesn’t lend itself well to that kind of thinking. But by the same token, the easiest way to sour someone on the woods forever is to make them miserable when they are in them.Just because I like to traipse down deer trails looking for wild asparagus doesn’t mean that my 5 year old Son will. So whats an outdoors-men to do?  Well here are a few things that I have tried that have worked pretty well.The first one I just think of as little bites. If I want to go hiking and I want him to go, I need to cater my trip to his abilities. Shorter trips are almost always better, especially if you break up the trip with several breaks for snacks, drinks, and just to look around. Enjoy the time with them, and more than likely they will enjoy the time with you. Encourage your children to look around, and take everything in. If they see a cool tree stump, be excited about it too, if they see some flowers and want to know what they are, take the time to pull out your field manual and try to figure it out. You will be amazed at how much you both learn by then end of your trip. One thing I always try to do is remember what it was like when I was just a kiddo and everything was new to me. Its Ok to laugh and joke and play. It is your get away and however you decide to spend it is fine. Bring games. There are no rules that say that you cant set up a ladder-ball or Horseshoe pit in your camp.  Industrial revolution makes an awesome invention called the “Softshell Ice Cream Ball”. Think of it as a soccer ball with 2 openings, you put ice and rock salt in one side, and your milk and ingredients in the other. Then you go run around rolling and throwing the ball for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes you have a pint of Ice cream, and a happy kid. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Make a s’mores oven: Ok so this is kind of a fun one that will impress your kids or friends. I personally don’t really care for s’mores too much, but I make it a common practice to have at least one a year whether I want one or not. The problem with s’mores is that they are a mess factory filled with sugar. You cant really get away from the sugar (its jet blown sugar, sugar in the chocolate, and sugar in graham. there is no way around it.) But you can get around the mess with a little invention i found some time ago called a “S’more Oven” and it is about as simple as can be to build.

List of materials needed for the project.

mallow1

  • 16 oz. beverage can.
  • 1 Large box of strike-anywhere matches.
  •  Knife or scissors.
  • Pair of pliers or a Leatherman.
  • Graham crackers.
  • Chocolate Bars.
  • Marshmallows (the big ones)

Directions for project.

  1. Cut the top off of the can Carefully. (freshly cut aluminum cans are extremely sharp!)mallow2
  2. Press the large box of strike-anywhere matches (or a trimmed down 2″x 4″) into the open side of the can to make the round can into a rectangular shape.2mallow
  3.  Cut all 4 corners of the can to a depth of 1 inch from the open side.1mallow
  4. trim off  2 of the short flaps, and one of the long flaps.
  5. Fold the remaining flap to a 90 degree angle.
  6. Assemble s’more as follows. 1/2 graham cracker on the bottom, then the marshmallow on top of that, 2 pieces of chocolate on top of the marshmallow. Then remaining graham cracker on the top.mallow5
  7. Press crackers together gently and place inside the can.3mallow
  8. Place can next to fire , using the flap to stabilize your s’more oven.mallow7
  9. Let Your s’more cook for  a couple of minutes, then carefully remove the can from your fire ring wall (I use tongs).
  10. Carefully remove your perfectly cooked s’more, and enjoy. Look Ma, no mess.mallow8

 

Happy Memorial Day ya’ll, and Be safe.

-Grant Willoughby 5/28/2016-