Those of us that work or play in the outdoors can accurately say that there are many things we need to remember. A simple walk through the woods can lead to many situations. Some of which we don’t want to think about, but nonetheless we need to consider when we venture in. Most of the issues we address revolve around safety. We are taught that letting someone else know when and where we are can make the difference between life or death. Make a plan and let someone else know about it. It makes sense. A simple piece of paper can be your best shot at living to walk again. When we practice these things, it makes a day in the outdoors or a trip out on the water a much better, and more secure activity. Assuming we have all these things in place, we then turn to our purpose for being where we are. Is this a walk in the woods or a hunting trip? A fishing excursion?

We all understand how complicated things have become when we plan our days in the wild. All of the products, gimmicks and tools that have flooded the market in the past decades have made most of us shy away from staying with the most primitive and basic fundamentals that really matter the most.

Granted that science, research and field testing have honed our abilities to bestow a more “successful” journey. But success is gauged by our personal evaluations and not by any one standard. If we think about it, we need very little to harvest that big game animal or catch that monster fish. Our day packs were filled with mostly survival tools in the beginning. A few things that helped us be a little more comfortable were added and we did it the hard way. Now, when we turn on the TV or open a magazine, we are bombarded with so many things we are told would make such a big difference, we get so confused and deflected because we think we need these things to make it work. When a young kid picks up these things, it seems that we exploit the very instinct that is innate in a child, playtime. Lets face it, most of these products are basically toys. We pack our bags with all the bells and whistles and toys that we believe are going to make the animals do something they would not normally do, to get them to “submit” to us and our agenda. Don’t get me wrong, some of these things can make a huge difference. But when we are trying to teach our young our way of life, sometimes we forget the way it has evolved. We forget to start where we started.

Think about it. If you plan on catching a fish, what do we need? A hook and a piece of bait. It’s that simple really. Now we all know that our success with this is increased dramatically when we fine tune this practice by what we are targeting and what we know about any particular species we want to target. We practice and evolve our tactics into what we know works for what we want. After that, it gets to be a never ending battle with all the things that are put in front of us.

In my opinion, when we can fill the freezer or get that picture of a personal trophy by doing it without spending a fortune, and working for it, we have done something that is an accomplishment and not a product endorsement. Alot of us are trying to take the work out of it and that has diminished the value of our feeling of accomplishment. There is alot to learn when we think about being in the wild, but the basics are the most important in the long run. If we let the confusion and indecision get the best of us, we let the purpose slip away and begin to get discouraged. If we remember what it’s all about, we can continue to enjoy our time in the great outdoors. And that is ultimately the whole purpose. Perpetuate a feeling of heritage and enjoyment. If we can draw a line between necessity and convenience, we can fully understand what our goal is.

Captain Craig Mann is a Western States Sportsman Pro-Staff member and experienced outdoorsman.

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