Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spur of the Moment Bag Packing

The middle of November is right in the thick of almost every hunting season here in Nebraska, and I spend a lot of time in the woods, and cleaning meat at this time of year.
Though, during the last few years, I've been on a bit of a withdrawl from this passion, because college has kept me busy in the city. Not to mention those darn group projects. You know, the group projects were the team always wants to have weekly meetings to discuss nothing important. Yep, you feel me? Well, I was suppose to have one of those meetings tonight. Then, they canceled it about 5 minutes before I was about to leave. Said something about not having a reason to meet..... I love it when people use common sense!! It makes me happy!!!!
So this is what I reasoned: It's almost 8:00pm about 20 degrees F out, Genetics for tomorrow is canceled, and I don't have work until 2:00pm..... I'm going bag packing!!!
So after my wonderful epiphany, I grabbed my sleeping bag, a tarp, and my .22. Then loaded the ol'

Jansport bag pack I found at a garage sale a while ago, and out the door I flew. Some of the Wildlife areas around me close down the park roads, to save on tax money, because then they don't have to pay park workers for winter maintenance. These parks are still open to hunting and fishing, you just have to park on the main road and trek in (just the way I like it).
After locking up my car, I walked until I couldn't hear the road anymore, and decided I was good and lost. First, a little recon to make sure the places was decently safe. Then, pitch the tarp, and off into the dark to see if I could find any coons.
The funny thing about Raccoon hunting is this, all my friends are usually much more successful than I am. But then again, I hunt raccoon the legal way. My preferred method of raccoon hunting is to sit in the bush, all lights off, and call them in with a raccoon squawl or a fighting coon call. This usually works great if the coons are close by, but that's not always the case. Tonight was a peach of a night to be out though! Cool as a cucumber! and calm too; I could hear everything! A few lone mice flipped leaves looking for food around me. I could hear the uneven sound of rabbits loping around through the scrub. And what is more, I could hear the scratch of claws supporting a heavy body scrambling around in the tree tops. That's a good sign! After a good sit, with nothing coming in to my calls, I decided to check out the area where I heard the coons up in the trees. I've found coons will often times hear you coming towards them, then they will find a fat branch, high up in a tree, to hide behind; virtually invisible to the naked eye at night.
I decided to head back to camp around night time noon (that's mid night for all you day time folks). My shelter was a tarp, a sleeping bag, and the clothes on my back. The whole thing was just an idear I thought of on my way out here. I call it, the tarp burrito, you can check it out in the YouTube video here>>>>>
The whole shelter actually kept me pretty warm the whole night, granted, the majority of that success comes from dressing properly for the occasion. I slept in all my layers, these include a polyester tshirt as the base layer, then fleece long sleeve and pants, then a tightly woven wind and rain proof coat and snow pants. I was content as a fat coon in a nice den :) As I flipped back the tarp to great the balmy 20 degree F morning, I had to do the full round of stretching to work the stiffness out of the joints. Then, off to the woods I went to collect some chow!
In the day light, I could easily see habitat and what I wish I would have see last night. I saw plenty of narly old coon den trees (oh, I'll be back another night. You can count on that!) And I finally spotted a squirrel dart up a huge cotton wood tree in the distance. As I neared the tree the squirrel was no where to be seen, but I would consider myself as close to a professional squirrel hunter as they come, and I know the ways of the squirrel! (You may laugh, but its true :D ) I parked my hieny about 20 yards away form that tree and worked my magic, which entails a whole lot of nothing. The trick with squirrels is a little patience and know-how. You see, squirrels will climb a tree and hid on top of a branch so you can't see them, but they're curious. They know they didn't hear you leave, so they quietly sneak over to another branch and peak their head out to watch. If they see you, they'll just sit there and watch you, and if they don't see you, after five or ten minutes, they'll start to move again. So I just sat there, enjoying the view, and on the other side of the tree, I spotted the rust-red colored head of my Fox Squirrel peaking over a branch at me, and that's all I needed. You don't have to worry about moving too much as you get into shooting position, they won't move. They think you haven't spotted them. So I raised my Ruger .22 and squeezed off one shot, which is all I ever need, and I had breakfast!
Back at camp I went to work skinning the squirrel and preparing a fire, which you can check out on the video if you fancy that too :) Whenever I cook any meat out in the wild, I prefer to cook it as a stew if I have a metal container of some sort.
First, I just think it tastes a lot better, and second, you will loose a lot of nutrients to the fire if you just roast your food. Essentially, when roasting food, the fire will burn off some of the nutrients your body would normally burn, and out in the wild, you'll need all you can get! I just bring water to a rolling boil, chop the meat into as small of pieces as my cold hands will allow, and cook it until it's not red on the inside. I know, my cooking is really sophisticated. But there's just something about harvesting your own food, cooking it over a fire you started with a spark, and surviving like our ancestors did. It just connects you; it completes a fella and feeds the primitive fire within us all. Don't misunderstand this now, survival really sucks! You're hungry, cold, and aching all over most of the time, and you feel miserable. That's why we all live in houses with heating and plumbing and the works. But knowing you have the ability to make it out there, to survive, well it makes you feel pretty boss, and gives you a new perspective on life. I encourage you to get out there and feed your wild within!