"This, I too can do." our motto here at SOLE. You will get a Simple Outdoor Living Experience, unlike some, we strive to make Survival Training fun!
Operating as usual
GUNFIGHTS! Gunfights all Memorial day weekend! We will be doing gunfights here at the trading post every day at noon May 28th through the 30th!
I have not had to butcher anything in quite a while, most of our meat has been harvested. And I use that word “harvested” with thought. By it I do not mean that mostly we have gathered vegetables either. What I mean to point out is the vast difference there is between taking an animal's life when butchering vs hunting. Don't misunderstand me, death always has horror in it, and I do not intend to glamorize hunting beyond its due. [ 632 more words. ]
Buffalo Butchering I have not had to butcher anything in quite a while, most of our meat has been harvested. And I use that word “harvested” with thought. By it I do not mean that mostly we have gathered vegetables e…
There are some wilderness trips that are so soul expanding, you come back from them feeling that a whole new world has opened and you are a much better person for it.
Then there are trips that are so tough, so rainy, so steep, so cold and so hard that you learn new things about yourself you set new records of endurance, perseverance tolerance and toughness. You come back knowing you have, true grit.
Then there are those in-between trips where nothing really goes wrong but it doesn't really go right either. I just returned a few hours ago from one of these.
We got the horses unloaded and cared for, got the trucks unloaded, everything hung out to dry and all the gear put away then I jumped in the bathtub. While I sat there trying to soak the smoke smell out of my skin and get the pine needles out from behind my ears, I thought about our bummer trip. At first I bemoaned that it had not turned out the glorious excursion I had envisioned, but the longer I sat there soaking the more I felt bad about complaining. No one got hurt, no flat tires on either truck or trailer, none of the horses threw a shoe, it was really wet but no one slept cold and we didn't even forget the smores! So what exactly did I have to complain about! That made me feel some better then I got to thinking about the three beginners we took with us, it was their first horse back trip into the wilderness. I thought well, maybe the trip was for them. Then I realized all that I had gained from watching them and I felt really silly for being so ungrateful. I learned that a five year old can do a 20 mile horse back trip without whining any more (often less) than an adult; as long as you sing Seminole Wind anyway :) I leaned that a 16 year old on a 128 day straight instagram-ing streak can be separated from internet and phone signal and yet still smile and have fun. This kid had never ridden a horse before this week, had never went more than a day without a shower and had never slept out in the woods, yet he adapted and even though his face registered a little fear at his first horse back stream crossing he never quit and never gave up. But perhaps the most inspiring of all was the adult with a history of conflict avoidance, pushed to the boiling point by my outspoken opinionated father, not only didn't run from conflict but actually pulled his self back to gather and enjoy the rest of the trip. I am not sure if this person decided that my father was just a barbarian and he was better than that and would take the higher road. Or if he decided that negative criticism is inevitable in this world and never hurt anyone, only the taking to heart of it can help or hinder the person. Or if he realized that my old dad meant it out of love, he just has no tact, he is one of those people that says what he thinks without varnish and without you asking his opinion. Its not that pleasant to be around sometimes but it certainly helps you see the world from a different perspective. (Personally I think the world needs more people like this, I get so sick of phony, if it looks bad tell me! if it tastes bad tell me! Don't let me go around wearing stupid looking clothes or cooking nasty food!) But what ever he decided he pulled himself together and made the best out of the trip. I have seen a lot of people get mad, a lot get hurt their little peelings hurt, and a whole lot throw in the towel and run but I haven't seen many pull a stiff upper lip, wade through and show what they are made out of, it made me proud to see it. On the way bake he even told my father in a calm even voice I don't agree with you yet I am willing to look into it. Now that my friends it maturity! At a later date I am going to write on the importance of proper argument and reasoning and why I believe it should be taught from kindergarten on with the same emphasis as science or English. But for now I am going end this Epistle in marvel of human growth. This trip has made me once again examine myself, are you as tough as five year old? Are you as adaptable as teenager? But most importantly are you as willing to reexamine your core beliefs as you should be? One should never fear the examination of fundamentals, if what you believe is correct it will stand up to scrutiny, if not why would you want to believe a lie?
Lost In My Own Backyard
Small flecks of a late autumn snow flurried past my mil-dot cross hairs as I endeavored to scope out my surroundings. My horizons were limited to about the average American’s ideal “long-distance deer shot”. “Not a big problem,” I told myself. “I’m not a Marine Sniper anyway.”
I lowered my 30-O6 and checked the cloudbank overhead once again, still uncomfortably low. There was almost no breeze whatsoever, the snow that fell was slight at best and the present conditions hadn’t changed all day; so, I resigned myself to a cold evening hunt in late October. The climate seemed stable enough, “And besides,” I chuckled. “I’m in my own backyard for cryin’ out loud! What could possibly happen that would prevent us from getting home?”
I’m sure you, my dear reader, have heard that line before, usually preceding a careless mistake that should have been avoidable, right? Such was my case.
Backing up a bit; my name is Elisha Robertson, I’m a proud member of a rather extensive somehow related family that operates a small hunting lodge, trading post, and the S.O.L.E. survival school. I’m an avid outdoorsman, spending as much of my time hiking, antler collecting, horse riding/training, kayaking, and of course, hunting, as I possibly can. With me, on this hunt, are two other competent woodsmen, my nephew Yancey and adopted Brother Shane.
We had spent the morning in another location, and came home for a late lunch (not our usual protocol) and headed out again for a quick evening scouting excursion on the mountains right behind our ranch. Our hunting lodge isn’t far from the mountains, barely fifteen minutes right into the San Juan Mountain Range of South-Central Colorado. Now, I hope the reader doesn’t have images of some easy trek to the top where everything living around the area is vulnerable to a sharpshooter with a 50 BMG…because that is NOT the case!
We ascended the wide ridge-top through the scattered pinion trees, surveying constantly for any out-of-the-ordinary silhouettes or sudden movements. As the daylight steadily wore out, the clouds seemed to settle lower in the valleys, bringing with it a more formidable amount of precipitation. Sight distance fell to fifty yards; yet, I was scarcely discouraged, knowing that elk would be nearly as handicapped as I. So we pressed on, right down to the wire. Leaving what I thought was just enough time to make our way to the Jeep before darkness really set in. But unknown to us, we took the wrong ridge back. Somehow, in the limited visibility we were afforded, the ridge had apparently forked and we simply assumed we were following the same one back. Whereas we actually followed the branch of the ridge that lead us too far south. There hadn’t been any snow, which meant there were no tracks for us to follow back. Well, long walk make short story, we ended up tripping our way over rocks we hadn’t seen before, dropping over a steep bluff and back onto the prairie. By this point we had figured out there was some kind of mistake, we stopped for a brief colloquy and agreed on the direction of our house. Toward it we marched figuring that turning around to re-climb the mountain would burn our last few minutes of day light and it would be better to just walk home rather than look more for the Jeep.
Presently we descended from the cloud bank and blinding snow to a point in the lower foot hills where we could see yard lights from our few, scattered neighbors some miles distant from us. Yancey and I both knew these lights from our earliest memories, but familiarity breeds comfort, and comfort can bring overconfidence.
“Those lights are at the Rock house,” I told Yancey. “Meaning, we are just too far north of the Jeep.”
He’s a deep thinking, slow responding man, with perception and reasoning that usually trumps my own. Finally he agreed, knowing that I didn’t make this observation simply to be a know-it-all or to pass the time. He knew I was planning another attack and I didn’t disappoint him when I presented my argument: “That means we must be one ridge north of the Jeep.”
“Possibly,” he allowed, after another thoughtful intermission.
Sensing his reluctance to agree whole-heartedly, (knowing my intentions of turning back in search of the jeep), I continued and put the icing on the cake. “The old gravel ditch has to be in the valley between us and the ridge where we parked the Jeep. Once we cut across it, we’ll both know exactly where we are.”
This sounded like solid logic even to him, and Shane (who had rabbit hunted that gravel ditch before) agreed with both of us.
We struck out again, however – at the bottom of valley, there was no gravel.
“It must be the next one,” I shrugged, stubborn and unwilling to give up the chase.
Yancey frowned disapproval but went along anyway. Shane offered to head home for help while we continued the search, but Yancey and I both agreed adamantly that no one should ever split off alone. So on we went, the next valley provided no gravel either. Finally, at the top of the next hill, we hit County Road BB and a yellow road sign.
Yancey burst out in a mocking, yet relieved, fit of laughter. Shane didn’t understand what was so funny, and I didn’t know how we missed the ridge with the Jeep on it. Once more, democracy dictated that we follow the county road to our driveway, and once more we set out.
As we marched, the bull headed machinations in the Irish side of my brain began to turn. “We know where we are now,” I said. “No doubt about it.”
“We haven’t really been lost all along,” Yancey cut me off. “It’s snowing, there’s a heavy cloud on the hill tops and your blooming Jeep is white.”
I had to admit, he had a good case. “We’re hours late already,” I shrugged. “Truth be told, if we walk right to the Jeep, we’ll be home quicker than walking some five miles around the long way to our two mile long driveway.” He didn’t relish the long walk either. Shane was already on my side by now.
“It’s embarrassing enough to spend two hours looking for the Jeep, but it will be worse if we don’t show up with it after all this.”
“What would be worse is if we don’t show up at all.”
“Dang that logical-minded stuff!” I told myself as his argument seemed bulletproof.
“This time, we’re really quite safe. We all three know where we are. We can always march ourselves home if we really can’t find our ridge, but what about next time? When we’re miles out in the middle of nowhere? How will we push ourselves then if we can’t push ourselves now and make up for our original mistake?”
It was a terrible argument, and it shouldn’t have worked. Probably wouldn’t have if he wasn’t worried about my nagging later, or the laughs we’d get when we walked in the dining room door and told our pitiful tale.
The real truth was, our exertions climbing the mountain early in the afternoon had left us sweaty and tired. Now, walking on the nearly flat lands, our body temperature had dropped bit by bit, none of us feeling it at all. Classic case of 3 dead hunters, all succumbing to hypothermia.
Fortunately for us, (not necessarily our pride), the other hunters were out looking for us by this time. My dad picked us up only a few hundred yards from the Jeep….about to miss it again.
When you find a familiar place that gives you some confidence back, God is tossing you a life vest, don’t ignore it in hopes of swimming to shore…he may not throw you another one.