Smoke Signals

Jan/Feb 2012

Staff Writer


 by Bill Cunningham

As mentioned the NAF Election has been completed. . . .something or other have been hung by the chimney with care because Christmas time is here and the merchants are begging us to spend to the point of financial ruin. Ferrell is planning winter outings for tests of endurance and the opportunity to exercise our knowledge of primitive arts. This winter has the weather men guessing because the weather patterns seem to have changed in many areas. Iíve been watching the weather reports in some of my here-to-fore favorite desert winter holdups and most of them are really cold this year. The others are crowded. Here in Duckett Draw there is enough snow on the ground for a white Christmas but not enough to ski onónot even enough to get into low quarter shoes. Bummer.

Winter though it is, it shouldnít prevent us from getting on the ground and practicing our skills or learning new ones. For instance, carrying nothing but flint and steel for fire starting, it can be challenging and (perhaps) fun to walk about and using only the stuff that can be found in the outdoors, get a fire going. Okay, if that doesnít seem plausible, take along some char and find something for a birdís nest and see it you can get it flaming instead of just smoking. Take whatever literature you favor and walk about gathering stuff to eat. Sure, summertime isnít always easy, but winter has its unique challenges. Should you have become stranded out there, how would you spend the nights without turning into a frozen-stiff corpse? You donít actually have to do it if you havenít the time or inclination, but if you want your skills to grow, do a walkabout finding the things and developing or honing the skills that would save you. If you donít do so good, well, the printed stuff on the fur trade era of the Rockies and plains, the eastern woodlands, and the northern swamps and rivers have plenty of references to those trappers and adventurers who didnít make it. We have the opportunity to learn the skills it takes to not be like one of those. But it ainít likely to happen if you donít study and practice. Go for it!

Bill Cunningham



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