September 19, 2014

Elyria
Sunny
72°F
test

Gear Check

Mayapples, trilliums, distant gobbles and rainstorms will greet the woodsy this spring. You’re ready, is your gear ready?

Mayapples, trilliums, distant gobbles and rainstorms will greet the woodsy this spring. You’re ready, is your gear ready?

Life is an adventure, but you have to make it happen. I break out of cabin fever like a madman just sprung from prison.  It’s not just the opportunity to be in the outdoors without freezing, but it’s a chance to see nature’s fireworks show without having to get up and leave every time the weather changes. The defining factor is often your grizzly resolve, and your gear.

I’m sometimes ridiculed by folks for buying expensive gear, but you have to understand that your average outdoorsman spends perhaps two weeks a year outdoors.  I am outdoors almost every day.  If I bought the cheapest gear, I’d be replacing it constantly.

When you get a day in the field make the most of it, stay out all day.  Spring Turkey hunting is only legal until noon, but that doesn’t mean you have to go home. Chances are it’s 15-20° warmer at noon than when you headed into the woods in the morning.  It may have rained on you too, so take ten minutes to get dry.  While you’re swapping out clothing, fire up your Sterno stove and make a lunch.Change your boots, grab you gopher rifle, and head back out after lunch. On days that were fruitless so far as Turkey hunting goes, I’ve bagged dozens of woodchucks and coyote. If the varmints aren’t showing up for you, grab your fly rod and go catch Blue gills or Steelhead for a while. You can do a greater variety of outdoor activities in the spring than at any other time of year, so you’d better have your gear in order!

Begin with the basics, your boots. The men of Rogers Rangers talked about the three B’s; Beans, Bullets, and Boots. At this time of year you might choose one of the varieties of popular rubber boots for wet weather. Here the old axiom holds true get what you pay for. I’ve tried several brands of rubber boots and have had the best success for comfort and durability with “Muck” brand boots (No they don’t give me a kick-back). However, I find that the Neoprene uppers on some models of these boots are not fit for my kind of brush bustingand they often snag on the chutes of multi-flora rose that are everywhere in the spring. I keep a second pair in the carmore suitable for hiking like my canvas Rocky’s.Before you waterproof your hiking boots, clean them thoroughly with a toothbrush and water. Let them dry overnight, and then apply sno-seal liberally.  If your boots are leather, mink oil might make a better water barrier. As a rule, I always carry three pairs of dry socks.

If you’re heading into territory with whichyou are at all unfamiliar, be sure to bring along a compass and GPS. On a cloudy or stormy spring day GPS can be very inaccurate. Remember to take bearings from the moment you step out of the truck. At this time of year, especially when light conditions change,one hillside looks like the next, and it’s only prudent to keep tabs on your location.  Bottled water is convenient to grab and take with you, but the plastic is thin and noisy.  Carry a canteen.

I’ve said itbefore, but I haven’t said it enough; you need to always have the means to make fire in any weather with you.  That means a cheater stick, like a small flare, candle or paraffin stick. There are a lot of commercially available fire starters, but remember, Purel is highly flammable and you can get several butane lighters for a buck. There is no such thing as “cheating” when it comes to survival.

Basic rain gear means a rain coat and traditionally that means a poncho. I hate ponchos. Here’s a piece of outerwear that was fashioned on the pattern of a house dress and doubles as a tent. What could be less functional? I’m big on well-made military surplus, and as a rule the U.S. always has the best stuff, but check out the Swiss rain gear in a pattern called “Alpenflage”. Rather than a poncho that lifts from the edge, it’s a cape so it can open at the front. Not only does that make it possible to use your hands without getting wet, but you can open it to warm up at a fire, without becoming part of the fire.

Do yourself a favor and buy an extra can of spray-on water repellent and spray the shoulder and collar areas of your outer coat. When it begins to drizzle just enough that you don’t need your rain coat, this will buy you an extra hour of staying dry.

Remember, Spring-Time isn’t all warmth and sunshine but that’s no reason to sit on the couch. Be an outdoorsman, get outdoors!