So back in 1996

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Thunder5Ranch, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    I was much younger at 28 years old and in part due to a bet and in a larger part being totally sick of people and society. I am a very strong introvert by nature, I love people just hate being around them :) I headed into a large wilderness are with nothing but the clothes on my back and a knife. Two years later in 1998 I came out of the wilds wearing buckskins and furs with a beard down to my belly. This was meant to be a simple wager with a friend that said "Hey I bet you can't live off the land for 3 months." I have a problem with time and tracking it. I on a average day can't tell you what day of the week it is rarely know or care what month it is, and as proven yesterday when I was writing a check and had to ask what year it is. Time simply does not hold much value for me other than in a broad sense of it is Summer, fall, winter, or spring. I knew I was well past the 3 months when I came out as two Winters had passed by.

    The knife turned into a spear, the spear turned into a bow, the bow turned into deer hides. Theknife also turned into fish traps, a fire starter, woven baskets, and the most basic wood and vine tools. I found a nice little pocket cave and called it home for most of that time and wove willow saplings together for a front wall. Turtles, fish, rabbits and squirrels and foraged berries, roots, and greens were the first food staples. After working out the basics for snares and more solid traps coons and muskrats and the occasional beaver were added to the to spit. Once I had enough tendon for a bow string and a good supply of arrows carved and heads knapped out deer and wild pig became much easier. The first deer was part luck and part trick. I set a dozen fire hardened spears at a angle on one side of a dead fall in a narrow area and the idea was to drive a deer into that narrow pass between a rock wall and the creek and the deer to impale itself when it jumped over the deadfall. It did not work out so hot the first 3 try's. The fist time the big doe jumped and cleared my spear trap with a good 10 feet to spare, so I moved the spears farther out. The next two times she went across the creek. Finally on the 4th try she jumped and two of the spears went deep into her underside. She provided some much needed leather, gut, and useful thick bone. Most important she provided the tendon to dry, pound and braid into a solid bow string. After the bow was functional the deer came easy.

    I don't think a spoke more than a dozen words out loud over those two years, did not see a single other human. And I enjoyed the hell out of life, fresh water from a spring just outside of the cave, A pile of soft furs for a bed, a creek a few hundred feet away with a endless supply of catfish and small mouth bass, deer, a herd of wild pigs that were quite challenging to put on the spit. Turtle shell bows and cooking pots, clam shell hide scrapers and a warm fire pit that a combination of the cave and cold spring water cooled the smoke and kept it low instead of letting it rise. life was good.

    As all things that time came to a end. I came out of the woods and my little valley looking like a relic from a time long past. Walked to a gas station and found a pay phone and made a collect call to my friend I had made the wager with. Found out everyone thought I was dead and would never be seen again. Discovered my wife had divorced me sometime in 1997 LOL guess I should have told her I would be gone a while :) Learned more about what had gone on in the world on the drive to my friends house. A few days later went to the police to let them know I was not a missing person and never was, I knew exactly where I was the entire time. Called the now X wife and promptly hung up on her when the yelling started. Met my next x wife that I didn't marry until 2010 and not really looking like she will be the next X despite our differences we work well together and I would never get where I am supposed to be on time with out her leaving me notes in the morning. The X thought she had taken everything but I am not a believer in banks and kept good supply of dead presidents stashed away in the form of cash.

    I went and recovered that cash stash in 2000 and found that when closing on a piece of real estate $171,500 in cash is not acceptable, it has to be a certified check. Then I learned a bank won't open a account with a bag of cash. LOL $278,000 in cash and not a thing I could do with it. All earned legit BTW. Finally had a friend that does a cash business with food trucks that converted my cash to a certified check, that a bank was happy to open and account with, there was a 30 day waiting period before I could access the funds though. Bought 6 acres and a house well below market value for $230,000 sold it in 2007 for $412,000 and then spent $570,000 on the farm now, between land, tractors, implements, livestock, and all the tools needed to do what I wanted to do. Which was go back to the life I grew up in. Simple, hassle free and as independent of the system and society as possible. Between 1985 and 1993 was military and 1993-1996 was over the road trucking. I simply saved every spare dime I could over those years and it added up and combined with a small inheritance from my Grandmother gave me a decent size war chest to get things rolling. Selling the house and 6 acres just prior to the housing bubble busting and the financial melt down was sheer luck. I saw that house and 6 acres on a foreclosure auction site and it went for $79,000 in auction.

    Every now and then I think back to the cave and those two years and miss the isolation, not knowing and just plain not caring what was going on outside of that little valley. Even made a few trips back there over the years just to see. Took my wife once and listened to the complaining about why I had to pick a cave 28 miles from the nearest road LOL. Not much of my life there remains mice took over my furs and bed, even gnawed up my turtle shells. My spears were still leaning on the cave wall, fire hardened oak last a long time. My bow still sat on the large rock, that string I worked so hard to make long decayed, the leather quiver brittle and crumbled in my hands.

    Time passes and while I don't put much stock in time or its passage, it was 20 years ago today that I walked into the woods and 18years since I walked out

    Not really here or there just part of my story and life I thought I would share. Life is a lot easier here on the farm, but the sense of achievement is not nearly as great or rewarding as finally getting the fish trap strong enough to hold a 10 pound catfish, or watching that big doe land on the spear trap, or just making a leather pants to replace the jeans that are falling apart on you. The bed with a mattress just never is quite as comfortable as that pile of furs was as you lay there watching the flames in the fire pit dance and hear the owls calling to each other as they stalked the woods in search of mice.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  2. Meat

    Meat Monkey+++

    ^Good thing the owls never called your name. [afro]
  3. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    Can we move this to the story-telling section of the site?
  4. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Thought this was the back to basics section, and it does not get much more back to basics.
    chelloveck, Yard Dart and Oltymer like this.
  5. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    Long periods of wilderness living seem to erase the time awareness that most modern's deal with on a daily basis. I call it time erasure syndrome, and suffer from it myself. In the wilderness nature calls all the shots, whereas in the modern world that is so insulated against the natural one, the calendar and clock prevail.

    Making a bow string from natural materials is far more complex than those who have never tried it realize. Most natural fibers don't hold up well under the strain, and sinew may be difficult to attain without a bow. I finally learned the Cherokee method of using squirrel skin in the rawhide state. Neither sinew or rawhide work well in wet weather though, as sinew wants to unravel, and rawhide wants to stretch when they get wet. I've been told dogbane and stinging nettle fibers make the ultimate natural strings, but still have that to try and learn.

    Tillering a fine bow and making arrows are the easy part, which in and of itself is not so easy, with the bow string being the capstone of success for natural archery tackle. I have learned to keep my survival bows down to around 40 lbs. of pull because that weight is more forgiving of string construction and yet it still has enough power to take deer. In Alabama the minimum bow weight required for deer hunting is 35 lbs., and it works.

    The You-tube videos on the subject of survival bows invariably have the builder using modern string material like Dacron B-50, or Fast Flight. Window blind sash cord works very well too and seems perfect for a 40 lb. bow. As insurance I carry a long Flemish bow string in my pocket survival kit, and constructed it using B-50 Dacron built to 50 lb. specs.
  6. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Folks often wonder why I often consider crafting that bow string was such a crowning achievement for me. It is just a bow string after all. I have since made many bow strings the strongest by far and least prone to moisture problems was made from hemp fibers, next strongest was from lambs quarters fibers. No matter which material making a string from scratch is a very long and tedious task. A short bow I try to stay in the 30-35 pound range, long/recurve I go up to 45-50 which while not sounding like a much is a lot harder to draw and hold than it sounds. I got pretty decent with a david sling but found it to be rather impractical for most game other than rabbits when they pop out of the brush. Gut can also make a good string if treated right but is not as durable as tendons. Squirrel hide particularly from fox squirrels is some of the toughest and most durable material around. I make moccasins furside in out of them smoke tanned and use leather thongs to hold them to mulberry wood soles. Quite comfortable and last longer than anything you will get from china. Squirrel rawhide also is an amazing material with hundred of uses. LOL I consider squirrels to be the ultimate survival animal, food, hides, innards make great catfish bait and bait for snares, deadfalls and box traps. Leg bones make great tips for gigs and fish spears and who does not like squirrel tails for cave deco :)
    Mountainman, chelloveck and Motomom34 like this.
  7. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Never fear T5R.... You aren't the only one who took a couple of years to Decompress, as a Young Man.... My Partner and I, left the Civilized World for two years, after He finished a PHD in EE, and I almost Graduated with a BS in Chemistry.... We lived in what is now, the North Cascades National Park, on the Pacific Crest Trail.... I learned a lot about myself, and Wilderness Living. When they made it, a National Park, we returned, to our Home, in Seattle... I got married, he started a Consulting Business... Those are times to look back on, with Joy... and were some of the Best times of My Life... other than My Life, since I got married.... We all travel different roads, in this life.... Some take the Trail Un-Traveled by others, others take the Freeway, like those on a Kommiefornia Freeway Police Pursuit... Driving around in circles, until they run out of Gas.... You can't outrun the Cop Radios, or hide from the Cop Choppers... But they continue to try.... Fools Errand....
  8. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    No two paths are ever the same even if they run along side each other for a while :)
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  9. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Going to make me some thistle bowstrings, whenever the neighbors stop cutting down my stalks (!!!!). Supposed to be SUPER strong cordage, and not as effected by humidity and wet weather.
    Do you think that tallow would help, or mess up the cast?
  10. SpearoG

    SpearoG Monkey

    That was beautiful to read. Longest i've went out of civilisation(ish) was 6 months back in 2014 when in Australia. My Grandfather gave me the keys to his converted bus as I was planning a month long drive around the country. So easy to lose track of time when you're out in the bush. I'll try dig up some pictures from old SD cards. Hands down best experience i've had in life so far. Started in Perth, WA. Drove up north along the coast camping on beaches every night fishing from the beach and spearing for my tukker. Got up to Exmouth and started heading east. Sleeping under the stars every night. Feeling proud about every little milestone. Got my first (and only) hot up in QLD and had a few "experiences" with crocs which made me question how stupid I was being. Took up a part time job as a dive instructor in Cairns for 3 weeks when money was running low and started heading south. Sadly I was in SA when the bush fires hit and got out while the roads were still open. 2 weeks spent along the southern coast contemplating what I wanted to do with my life when I got back. Got some cracking photos from the trip that i'll look out and met the most beautiful people i'm sure i'll ever meet such as an elderly couple in the middle of nowhere in Cape York and a lad in the Kimberley who was boar hunting and got his ute stuck in a water crossing. Pulled him out and said our goodbyes then bumped into him 2 weeks later and he showed my how to butcher a hog.

    Man what i'd do to do it all again.
  11. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Tallow is good, my personal opinion is saturating in hot beeswax is better. I have heard others that have used thistle and also milkweed. I think at a point it becomes academic as to which material is better. Each has its ups and down and none last forever. Tendon and Gut eventually stretch but are the most durable. Plant fibers break down faster and the fibers break. braided horse mane now that I think about it has been my best string to date overall.

    The experience of living wild and free whether a week or a decade is priceless. I am glad there were no crocs or gators in my little creek LOL I much prefer things in the water being my meal, not me being their meal :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2016
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  12. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Well, I live in basically a swamp, so that whole "damp" thing is a serious issue. Can only use self bows, that sort of thing. Haha.
  13. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    Great story , I really enjoyed reading that .
    Thunder5Ranch likes this.
  14. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    I always wondered if blow guns were more popular in high humidity regions due to bow strings not holding up to it.
  15. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    No, because they do not pack the punch. I started making atlatl's a few years back as a stop gap between "Naked and Afraid" and a bow, and have found that to be a reasonable substitute within the limits of practice. Been toying with a sling, but have not had the time to dedicate to it to do more than embarrassed myself. I like the Cherokee blowgun a great deal, but every time I cut cane to make one, some yahoo or other runs over it while it's drying!

    Honestly, though, I figure the real money is in fishing. Everyone gets so caught up in deer that they forget about bass.
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  16. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    If the primary purpose is food in a primitive situation, deer are not a efficient use of time or energy. Far easier ways to obtain calories and protein. You are dead on with the fish Axes, fish traps and basic spears are one of easiest things to make, line and hooks not so much. Simple start is to go for roots, greens, nuts, hate to say it but possums are insanely easy to find and even easier to catch. The easiest things give you base protein and calories and the time to build more complex things like traps. Using a duck bill spear to get fish and turtles, takes a lot of practice. The appeal of deer is usually for the wrong reasons and people will spend more calories going after them than the deer will return. Deer should IMO only be a primary target after you already have the base food supply working and some reserves built up. The deer when looked at as a resource for many things other than food, then becomes practical. Long light weigh bones, the largest hide available in many areas, sinew in longer lengths, etc. Deer simply offer a bigger package of resources but at greater investment of calories and a lot more hit and miss than gathering or trapping fish and smaller critters, but the smaller critters and vegetation offer more calories and protein for the investment.

    Slings like the fish spear take a lot of practice, I have not picked a sling up in a solid 15 years and I can promise it would take many hours of practice for me to hit a large target let alone being able to hit a squirrel or rabbits head again. It is one of things as you sling stone after stone and miss the target time after time that would be very easy to just say screw it and give up. Best advice I can give is get accurate and then work the power up. All the power in the world is useless if you can't hit the target.

    If given the luxury of taking more than a knife into the wilds, say 3 things. Knife would still be #1, As your your name implys A axe or atleast a a hatchet with a hammer side would be #2, and #3 would be a good long steel file. Starting fires was a total PITA A steel file and several types of rocks makes fire starting much easier. Sitting there sometimes for hours spinning a stick on a block to get a ember going made some nice blisters and callouses, more than a time or two I thought my hands were going to flame before a ember would form. Rasping a chunk of flint down a file would have been a lot easier. A hatchet or axe would have just been a all around great tool to have for a multitude of task.
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  17. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    My rule for 3 items lists are 1: large lightweight fixed blade I can carve with 2: Hand Ax (3" blade minimum) or full sized ax (love bearded axes 30" handle+) and 3: ferro rod. We do not have any native rock in my half of the state. The natives had trade networks to bring rock in. I'm left to fend for myself. Haha.
    4 and 5 would be a Stainless Canteen and a Diamond hone.

    Personally, I take a hunter-gatherer approach. If I'm doing anything, I am also looking for food. Opportunism is key, not just deliberate stalking 5-10% of your time, I would say. Then everyone forgets to throw the guts on a hook, or in a trap, or in a fish trap, and to save the hides for winter. Heck, even fish skin "jerky" boils into the "elmer's glue of survival".

    The biggest issue I have with learning to sling is that I have to prepare my shot from gumbo mud, then bake it.
    Dunerunner and Mountainman like this.
  18. Darksyde

    Darksyde Monkey

    How I envy you...
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