Nothing teaches you about being prepared like running the drill. So here we go: a day in the wood with nothing but my go bag. I will be able to see what I did wrong and what I did right. I suggest you try this out after reading about my experience.
So it’s the end of November and the weather is 55 degrees F. So far I consider myself very lucky, but it is raining. The first thing I want to do is get a fire going and then we’ll go over my go-bag.
I’ve collected some tinder, kindling and firewood for the night, but most of it is wet. I was able to pick some pine sap, so this will help things out. I found a birds nest sitting in a hemlock that was dry—I consider myself lucky. Using some char cloth, I caught a spark from my old lighter and I sit the char cloth into the birds nest and blow lightly till it ignites. I set the bird nest on the floor and put the pine resin on top. Slowly, I add the kindling until I can finally add the firewood. I feel good that I have a fire, and I can get camp set up.
I look through my bag and take out my tarps and rope. I will use this for my tent and floor since it’s wet outside. Stringing it up is easy with some rope through he grommets on the tarp. Then tie it to the tree so that any rain will roll off. It all seems easy because I have been doing this since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
It’s a really nice day so far and I keep my eyes open for the wildlife. I might as well stake it out because hunting season is days away. I’m getting thirsty, so I go into my car and get out a gallon of water. I always carry a couple gallons of water in all my cars. You never know when you’ll need a drink, wash your hands or to fill the radiator.
I brought some 550 cord and I have my turtle hooks. I’m going to set out some lines and see if I get to eat turtle for breakfast. To set my turtle hook I use some catfish bait I have in my pack. I wrap it in a piece of cloth then thread my hook through to trap the bait. If I don’t do this all the small fish and crayfish will just eat my bait. I set out 3 lines following all the regulations but I am on private land on a man-made pond. I’m done and getting hungry.
It’s time for a snack. I have ramen noodles, power bars and crackers. I feel so lucky to have enough to pick from. I really want some pine needle tea so crackers might be the way to go. I even had a small jar of blueberry jam for emergency use in my bag. That was a great idea! Sitting here drinking my tea watching my fire and my cell phone goes off. I was so startled I almost pulled out my pistol and shot it. I really would like to toss it out at times.
Well I guess it’s time to call it a night. I like to watch tv or read before bed so I get out my head lamp and start reading one of my favorite books “SAS Survival Guide.” It’s small enough to pack in my go bag and makes for interesting reading. It’s amazing that every time I go through it, I seem to find new information. I’ll read for an hour and go to bed.
It’s the next morning and I feel sore. I should get one or two of the foam bed liners. My back hurts and if I had to run for my life I probably couldn’t. Note to self, pack a hammock!
I’m going to hike down to the pond and check on my turtle lines. I can see 1 of my lines pulled in so something’s on. As I check my lines I was lucky enough to catch one medium snapper turtle. Just a typical snapper: stinky and mean. At least I know what I’m having for breakfast, and it’s not ramen!
Have you ever cleaned out a turtle? The best way is with a hose or air compressor, but I’ll have to get rustic with this one. First things first: tie the string to a tree or rock and when it pulls back, chop it’s head off. Now it’s fairly safe, but it still has sharp nails and don’t bother waiting it out. The nerves stay alive for a whole day. Next cut off the feet this way it’s not grabbing your hands while trying to clean it out.
The best way to clean it out while camping is to poke the knife in behind the back leg and yank out all the guts. If you find eggs, it’s a bonus: they taste great. It’s ready to cook now. Lay it on it’s back over the hot coals. It cooks in it’s own juices, so wait till the shell starts falling apart and the legs pull out easily.
It’s like I thought: a bit muddy tasting. When I catch them at home, we put them in a tub of clean water and change it daily for a week or two. This purges all the nasty swampiness. I also carry some salt, so I season it a bit and enjoy a great breakfast.
I’m really having a good time and thinking about things to do. I don’t have much to do but eat and write. I think I’ll try out some of my equipments I brought along. I try out some of my knives and try to shoot a squirrel with my slingshot. I got him in the tail, ok I missed, but I got real close.
I figured it’s time to go home. It was only a one nighter and everything went smoothly. My main complaint was that I should have a hammock in my pack. If I were to spend a few nights out, I would have made a better canopy: this one kept flapping in the wind making noise while I slept. I also should have brought a rag or two. Cleaning that turtle was messy.
Going out and testing your skills and equipment is paramount. If you don’t test and practice, you don’t have a clue of your shortcomings. The only way to truly be prepared is by running scenarios. Keep prepping and live it: don’t just talk about it!