1-2016-04-30 18.29.45The more you know the less you need to take
                                                  -Mors Kochanski
In bushcraft, camping and general outdoor activity, gear is the big thing talked about, and purchased. It has become a multi-billion dollar business, we make our living from outdoor gear that we make and sell. There is quite a range these days from simple inexpensive equipment to items costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. When I was young and growing up, our outdoor life revolved around boating. My dad loved boats, he even built a large cabin cruiser one winter. We camped about every week from early spring late into fall. Our camps were nearly always at lakeside somewhere, all over the Western United States and into Canada.

In my younger days, things were different then, our camping was simple and austere by today’s standards. Even the animals seemed to behave differently. When I was four  years old I was camping with my grandparents in Yellowstone Park, in the cabins there. One morning my grandmother called to me, there was a little bear cub wandering through camp, I went up and petted it, as did many others, soon its mother moved it along and out into the woods where it came from. Today that is unheard of, something like that seems like it would result in certain death. But then no one thought anything of it. We were just enjoying nature at its finest.

Later in my life when I was about 11 years old my dad bought me a pup tent. I was made out of green canvas shaped as an “A” frame, two poles held it up, a door in the front could be held open or shut with some ties sewn into it. The back end of the shelter it was not squared off, but extended back to a point, giving extra space. That old pup tent saw a lot of use, it and me were nearly inseparable. There were camp outs in the back yard, beside the big shade tree. I remember learning the hard way about those old canvas tents. One night a rain came up and we noticed we were getting wet anywhere we touched the canvas. If we didn’t touch it we didn’t get wet. The canvas did not drip, but was damp on the inside. We never thought anything of it after that, we knew what to do in the rain.

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One night a friend and I were camping out in the tent and we laid inside talking about kid stuff. We could see the light of the moon through the tent, it being nearly full, was very bright. We crawled out of the tent to lay on the grass and stare at the moon. We saw that the moon was bright enough to cast a shadow. Getting a stick about 18″ long we drove it into the ground. We saw how the shadow was moving, so we pushed in smaller stakes as the shadow moved. As the night passed we found that we could visualize the path of the moon, we could use that to determine East and West. We even tried to figure out how fast the moon was traveling, but we were way off in that, but hey we tried, we had fun, and we loved our time camping. That Pup Tent was our version of a “Man Cave” in those days. We used to bring in our flashlights and our Boy Scout books and learn and plan things.
A couple of years later our family took a vacation to Yellowstone Park, dad wanted to put the new boat he built on Yellowstone Lake, and do some fishing too. All my family slept in the Camper at night, but not me, I did not want to miss a minute of the outdoors, I slept in my trusty Pup Tent. One morning around breakfast Dad started telling us about the bear in camp during the night. It was trying to get in our cooler where the fish were being kept cool till morning. I didn’t believe Dad, I thought he was joking around with us. I had not heard anything to awaken me while in my tent. Then Dad showed us the cooler, it was an old steel cased Coleman Ice Chest. We could all see how dented up and scratched it was. Dad had awakened in the camper with all the commotion outside, saw the bear, then got out some pots and pans and banged them to scare off the bear. That satisfied me with Dads story. One thing I never thought about till later in life, Dad just went back to bed, he didn’t bring me to the inside. No one thought anything about being hurt by a bear back in those days. Guess I was secure in my little canvas Pup Tent.

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You know I have now graduated from tents to tarps and have not used a tent in about 5 years. I still like the feel of the outdoors, I like to look up from my bed or out of my hammock at night and see the stars in the sky, the shadows cast by the moon. Sometimes the little white eyes of raccoons, trying to be marauders in camp. Sometimes I’ll see deer grazing their way through camp. In the morning before I get up, I can watch the birds flitting about, pecking at whatever they can get for food. After all these years my love affair with camping outside the hardshell of trailers and cabins, using just tarps and such, is still alive and well.
Gear can be a lot of things, for me I like to keep it simple, always have. If you have a few minutes check out our tarps, and our poncho shelters that convert into tarps or hammocks. Link to shelters. Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, for “Simplifying Survival”

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