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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bow season surprise

For years I hunted public land in north Mississippi.  Most of the land was owned by the Army Corps of Engineers and it surrounded Sardis Reservoir.  It was decent habitat that held some deer but it received tremendous pressure from all sorts of activities that ranged from people running dogs for rabbits and deer to people going out riding four wheelers or just walking around and shooting.   This meant that any given day could produce conditions that ranged from fairly quiet to a full blown circus of activity around your stand. 
It wasn’t optimal but it was free...and free was the difference between hunting and not hunting.  We generally hunted the same four or five places all of the time, but every now and then we’d push into a new area to see what it held.  It was on one such outing to a new place that I had an experience that will stay with me forever. 
We were going to set up in a new spot this day.  It was a set of hardwood hills on the south side of the lake with uncharacteristically steep valleys.  The ground in this part of Mississippi is a series of rolling hills but there isn’t much that one could rightfully call “steep”.  This set of woods was different in this respect.  Here there was some steepness to the land, which led to deep draws between the hilltops, which in turn led to drainage at the bottom.
Drainage areas are a source of interest when hunting in Mississippi.  Mosquitos are everywhere, but where there are creeks that hold water you will also have another issue to contend with… the Cottonmouth water moccasin.
For those of you who don’t have Cottonmouths in your part of the world, allow me to introduce you to them.  These snakes are not only poisonous but they are mean spirited and stubborn.  The big ones will grow thicker than your fore-arm…so thick that even the long ones look stubby.   When they reach this size there is no mistaking the triangular shaped head that is the calling card of a venomous snake.  As bad as their venom is, their attitude is worse.  To help you get in touch with the attitude of the Cottonmouth I want you to think of an impatient crack-head that hasn’t had a fix in a week…this will get you close to understanding these reptiles.
Most snakes will leave the area when a person comes close…and if they can’t leave then they will at least lay low until you’re gone.  A cottonmouth ain’t goin’ anywhere when you come around.  In his view of the world it’s YOU who needs to buzz off.  Not only are they not going anywhere but they are going to threaten you if come close, and if you come close enough then you’re getting struck at.  No bones about it. 
Most times when you approach they’ll simply coil up and open their mouth as wide as it will go to show you both their fangs and their freakishly white mouth lining.  This white lining of the mouth is the genesis of their nickname “cottonmouth”.  The fact that it’s called a cottonmouth should be causing a light to go off in your head.  This snake assumes this threatening posture so often that it has come to describe them.  It’s not called the “closed mouth snake” or the “run and hide snake”.  It’s called the cottonmouth because it’s going to threaten you and then attack you…and the first sign you’ll get that it doesn’t like you is the wide-open, cotton-white mouth.  
This is an impressive display.  I’m not afraid of snakes at all…but every time I see this threatening posture from a cottonmouth it’s a bit un-nerving.  This snake would just as soon duke it out with me as back off. 
I’ve heard that while a bite from a cottonmouth won’t kill you…it’s going to hurt so bad that you’ll wish you were dead.  It dawned on me one day that of all the old Crocodile Hunter shows I saw where the Aussie guy grabbed some of the world’s most poisonous snakes by the tail…I never saw a show where he grabbed a cottonmouth.  I take this as further evidence of the snake’s nasty disposition…even the alligator dude didn’t want to fool with them.
So these are the bow hunters concerns in Mississippi during bow season, mosquitos and cottonmouths.
It was at the bottom of one of these draws that I mentioned earlier that I had decided to set up my climbing stand one October afternoon.  The weather in Mississippi during bow season is generally still hot…it’s basically mosquito season with a chance to kill a deer or get bit by a snake.  I honestly don’t know why it’s not more popular than it is. 
In addition to the mosquito issue you also have the sweat issue.  By the time you get to your stand it’s quite possible (one might go so far as to say “probable”) that you will have worked up a good sweat.  This is the last thing you want when deer hunting but it comes with the program when you bow hunt in Mississippi. 
I got to my stand this day around 3:00 PM and was delighted that I wasn’t just a completely sweaty mess.  I picked out a tree right next to a dry creek at the bottom of the draw, put my can of bug spray in my cargo pocket just in case I needed it for self-defense, and climbed up 12 or 15 feet to settle in.  Given that the creek was dry I was more concerned with mosquitos than snakes this afternoon.
If there was a decent breeze then the next few hours would be spent in blissful solitude.  I would be able to enjoy a comfortable afternoon, perched high in an oak tree while watching the sun turn the woods into beautiful kaleidoscope of orange, red, gold and yellow as its rays filtered through the fall foliage and onto the forest floor. 
If there was no breeze then I would essentially be sitting perfectly still in a sauna with blood-sucking insects trying to kill me before I fell to death out of my tree stand.  Mosquitos might be the worst things on the planet.  Their high pitched whining grates on my nerves worse than a dental drill piercing a tooth.  The way they hover and try to land on your eyes, nose, and ears is maddening, and the fact that they can bite you clean through a set of blue jeans is shocking (in Mississippi they grow them this big).  For most people this is never an issue…you can just go to a place where the mosquitos can’t get you.  The bow hunter on the other hand has to be here, has to remain virtually still, and you only use bug spray as a last resort due to the scent it carries with it.  You are basically at the mosquito’s mercy.
So those were my possible outcomes based on the wind…which was completely out of my control.  Either way it was amid this awesome fall sunset that I would silently observe the forest as it transitioned from its daytime schedule to the night shift. 
The squirrels are usually the first to move.   Depending on where you are hunting you either get to watch the standard-issue gray squirrel, or if you’re lucky enough you are in a spot where you get to be entertained by the freakishly muscular red-squirrels.  These are like the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s of the squirrel world.  You may see some turkeys next, the birds of prey will be out and silently gliding through looking for a victim, and late in the evening you might even see a fox or a coyote.  If you’re really lucky you might actually see a deer. 
This particular evening was a slow one.  I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife.  The sun had set, darkness was upon me, and the hunt in the new area was a bust.  All I had to do now was climb down the tree, pack up my stand, throw it on my back, and hike back to the truck.
I worked my way down the tree in a methodical fashion, set my bow on the ground to my right, and worked on unhooking the stand and packing it up.  It takes a few minutes to pack up the stand but I’ve done it a thousand times in the dark so it’s not a problem.  Once I had it packed and on my back all I had to do was grab my bow and start hiking.
At this point it is pitch black in the woods.  I know that I laid my bow down to my right but I’m going to have to bend down to make out its silhouette against the forest floor.  As I squatted down next to the creek and reached out into the darkness I heard a sound that stopped my heart…it was a long, angry, pre-historic, reptilian “HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS”. 
I was young and healthy at the time and it felt like my heart had immediately stopped beating.  I was reaching out into the darkness to grab my bow, I couldn’t see a thing, and from somewhere VERY close to me is coming an angry and violent hissing whose sound is only amplified by the comparative silence of the night time woods.
I froze.  In my mind’s eye I could see it; I’ve seen it a dozen times before.  Somewhere in the dark near my outstretched hand is a coiled up Cottonmouth with his jaws agape, trying in vain to convey a warning with an aggressive display that I simply can’t see due to the dark.  My heart has started beating again and it’s trying to make up for lost time by going about 1,000 beats a minute.  I’m quickly trying to figure out what my next move should be.  Should I simply stand up?  Just pull my hand back?  Jump backward and risk landing in the creek?
As my mind tumbled through the options like a rubiks cube I felt a new sensation cut through all of the other information that I was processing.  Something wet was on my right leg.  What in the world?  Everything was now shrouded in confusion as my heart raced and the hissing continued. 
It felt like I had been stuck in this dark squat vs. the snake for an hour.  He hadn’t struck yet and I hadn’t run yet.  In reality it might have been only two or three seconds…but I aged a year in that time.  Now I had new information…the wet sensation on my right leg…and then it hit me.  I started a quick, nervous, relieved laughter out loud, all by myself deep in these Mississippi woods the moment it dawned on me. 
When I squatted down in the dark to retrieve my bow, my camo trousers had bunched up and depressed the button on the can of bug spray I had put in my right cargo pocket before I climbed up the tree earlier.  The hissing sound was the activation of the bug spray can, and the wetness that I felt was the result of three or four second’s worth of bug spray soaking my pocket and pants leg.  The timing of the bug spray activation, along with its snake-like sound, and the scenario I was in when it happened all combined perfectly to play a world-class trick on my mind. 
I picked up my bow and I marched out of that draw at a very quick pace, laughing like I had just dodged the grim reaper himself.  I couldn’t wait to get back to the truck and tell my hunting partner about my “brush with death” and let him share in the laughter.
We frequently say that the hunt isn’t about the kill…it’s about the chase.  This is one of those times when the story that you remember most has nothing to do with the animal, but with the process of finding him. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

A return to fishing

Last year I started getting the urge to get back to fishing.  I hadn’t fished in years.  Once my first child was born something had to go…I could no longer hunt all fall and winter and fish all spring and summer.  My responsibilities as a father meant that a hobby had to go…and fishing went. 
I don’t know why the urge came to me last summer but if I didn’t start fishing again I thought I might go crazy.  I couldn’t get my mind off of it.  Eventually I called my brother in law and I told him that we needed to take his boat out and go catfishing.  This was a great way to get back to fishing. 
He and I had spent many a warm summer night sipping cold beer on his bass tracker on Sardis Reservoir and throwing stink bait to the channel cats.  One night a few summers ago we sat on that flat muddy lake in the pitch black of night under a billion stars in the July heat slowly sipping cold beer and spitting chewing tobacco while we told jokes we’d heard a million times before and waited for the fish to bite.  As this familiar ritual unfolded we saw a huge green burst in the sky to our south…fireworks.  A few seconds later we heard the boom.  As dark as it was out there it’s hard to believe that the boom could even find us.  The town of Oxford Mississippi was celebrating the Fourth of July that night and as far as I’m concerned the two of us had the best seats in the house…and we were miles away.  This was fishing.  It’s far more than just reeling something in; it’s just as much the adventure that surrounds the act of fishing that makes it so memorable.  With these types of memories in my mind imagine my anticipation when I called him and told him we needed to get back out there in his boat.       
Next imagine my surprise when he told me that we couldn’t take the boat out because it sank last week.
“What!?!” 
“Yep…I left it out at a pond after we chased some crappie and it came a flood, the lake crept out of its banks, the boat filled up with water, and the motor and all my rods and reels are underwater right now.”
“Wow….that sucks.”
And that’s how that went.  The urge hadn’t gone away and we were boat less.  I immediately began my search for a small used boat. 
The search
The first thing you realize when you start shopping for a bass boat is that you can spend a LOT of money on a bass boat.  Most of the new boats I was seeing were more expensive than my truck.  I couldn’t believe someone would spend $30,000 to $60,000 on a bass boat.  It made no sense to me…at first. 
The more I looked the more I liked them.  They were sleek, fast, and shiny...and they were packed with high-end electronics.  Marketing these things to guys is like hunting over a baited field.  It ought to be illegal.  Time and time again I had to fight the urge to spend huge amounts of money.  I decided that I would limit my purchase to $5,000.  With any luck I could score something for $3,000…maybe a used 16 footer with a tiller steer set-up.  Nothing fancy. 
The more I researched the more I realized that everyone wanted a lot of money for their old boat, and everyone claimed they had less than 20 hours on the motor…no matter what the age there were never more than 20 hours on the motor.  A lot of people lived a long ways away and I wanted to test drive the boat before I pulled the trigger.  Sometimes the boats would sell before I could arrange a time to drive them.  No big deal…if someone else would buy it sight-unseen then good for them.  I needed more re-assurance before pulling the trigger.
It was during this portion of the search phase that I really started to analyze how much speed I needed.  I knew how much I WANTED…but I needed to figure out how much I NEEDED.  As a rule of thumb…speed costs money.  Lots of speed costs lots of money…it’s an easy rule to remember…and I didn’t want to spend lots of money.  25 MPH was too slow…I can to that on my bicycle.  75 MPH was too fast...it’s expensive to buy and to fill it up.  Something in the 30 to 40 MPH range would do well.  This would allow me to quickly run the 9 miles from my planned launch site down to the dam…it was a compromise that would work.
Ultimately I messed around long enough that I found a real deal on a boat that was way more than I wanted to spend...but in all fairness it was cheap….really cheap.  The long story short is that I bought a new boat at a used boat price…it was a dealer display model…and they were going to hang a new 90 HP Suzuki on it for me.  Sweet…done deal.   After a bit of paper work I was the proud owner of my first boat.  The adventure started the moment I pulled away from the dealer with 18.5 feet of “potential “ being towed behind my truck. 
Taking it to the lake
I needed to get that boat wet as soon as I could.  I couldn’t bear the thought of the weekend going by without me putting my new toy on the lake.  I had a few small things to procure before getting underway (like life jackets, a fire extinguisher etc.) and I had a few days to get this done before the weekend arrived.  Once all of this was out of the way I waited for the weekend while continuing to plot my first voyage.  I studied everything I could about the lakes in my area.  What were the water levels this time of year?  Which ramps were best right now?  How crowded would they be?  What were the fish doing?    
For a new boat owner there are a lot of challenges…some of which can be fairly intimidating.  I needed to hook this thing up, tow it down the highway safely, back it in the water, and then not sink it.  At each step in this chain there is ample opportunity for stupidity to ruin your day.  I needed this to go perfectly.
Oddly enough, the most awkward thing involved might be backing the trailer up.  The process of backing a trailer is not one that comes easy to human beings.  It’s not something that comes natural…it’s all just a little off from how you think it should go.  If you’ve never done it just imagine using your toothbrush to brush someone else’s teeth….left handed.  You could eventually get it done but it’s going to take a while and some things might get banged up along the way. 
I had backed trailers before…but not a lot…and it wasn’t coming back to me like riding a bike does.  My biggest fear was getting stuck at a gas station or some other tight place I might not be able to back out of.  My second biggest fear was looking like an idiot on the boat ramp. 
Wanting to minimize the opportunity to look stupid I picked a lake that I knew wouldn’t be terribly crowded, and then I planned to check out a few boat ramps to see which one would be the easiest on a rookie.
Lucky for me it began to rain like crazy on the way to the lake (yes I remembered to keep the plug out).  When I got to the lake it was coming down in long, dark, grey, wind-whipped streaks across the water…it was a typical and torrential Mississippi thunderstorm.  The last place any sane person would be at this moment would be the lake.  This was perfect.  I had huge parking lots and boat launches that were completely devoid of vehicles.  I used this time to practice my backing skills.  I just drove around the parking lots and practiced backing into spots, backing around corners, down ramps, you name it and I backed my trailer down it or into it.  It was a great opportunity.  I couldn’t hurt anyone else and I couldn’t hurt my ego either…how often do you get a combination like that?
The weather breaks
Once the rain broke it ushered in a beautiful afternoon.  The sky turned blue, it was cooler, and the humidity level had dropped so much that it no longer felt like Mississippi.  It was time to launch.  This was it…the maiden voyage. 
A quick check showed that the plug was in, the boat was unstrapped, key was in the ignition and I was ready to go.  I had the wife back me slowly into the muddy waters of Lake Enid, I twisted the key, and the Suzuki four-stroke purred to life like a contented mountain lion. 
The first 2 hours of operation would be used to break the motor in per the manufacturer’s instructions so we putted around at low speeds, all the while playing with my fish finder.  After about an hour I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen a single fish on the finder.  I KNOW there are fish in this lake…why aren’t I seeing any?
A short time later as I was passing some flooded timber and telling the wife all about how these types of places hold fish, the finder beeped to indicate a fish was nearby.  I got more excited than a kid with his first BB gun.  I jumped up, asked the wife to take the wheel, and I grabbed my ancient Ugly Stick that was packing a white and chartreuse spinner bait.  A word needs to be spoken about the spinner bait at this point.  I’m basically a bank fisherman, and in all the years I fished from the bank I never, ever caught a fish on a spinner-bait.  I don’t even know why I had it tied it on.  At any rate the fish-finder said there was a fish here and I was going to catch it…with this ridiculous and historically ineffective spinner bait. 
I took my spot on the bow and the wife dutifully positioned the boat per my instructions and I made cast after cast into this triangle of water framed by tall dead trees looking for all the world like old telephone poles jutting out of the water.  On my third cast I felt an old familiar feeling.  It was the bump-bump of a fish hammering a lure.  I was so shocked that I almost forgot to set the hook. 
I pulled back on that rod and the other end of my line came alive!  Fish on!!!  I was so excited that I couldn’t tell you how long it took to get that fish in but when it was all over I was holding a Lake Enid Crappie and staring at my wife with a big, toothy, speechless grin.  Her expression back to me was one of shock…complete and utter shock. 
I couldn’t believe how easy this fish finder made things…I was really wishing I had bought one earlier.  You just drive around ‘til you find a fish then you catch it.  These things ought to be outlawed…it’s literally like shooting fish in a barrel.  A few pictures and high-fives later we get back to driving around looking for more fish on the fish finder.  These were big times and high adventures.
The rest of the day
The rest of that afternoon we just leisurely putted around and talked and enjoyed the view.  At one point we were way in the back of Enid where it gets shallow and were drifting in on some more flooded timber and right in front of us a huge bald eagle launched out of a tree, spread its enormous wings, and flew off over the lake to find a quieter place to spend the afternoon.  It’s not every day you get to see a bird that magnificent, that large, and that close.  This first trip with the boat was turning into quite the adventure.  It was kind of a cross between discovery channel and a fishing show…but it was real…not just seen from my couch.
I can’t remember exactly how or when we called it quits that day.  I do recall that I didn’t see any more fish on my fish-finder, and I do recall a long and satisfied ride home.  I had taken my vessel to the lake, I had competently sailed its waters, I had hauled in its bounty from the deep, I had seen a bald eagle up close and in the wild, and I had lived to tell about it…what a day.  It certainly beat sitting on the couch watching re-runs of Man vs. Wild. 
This was the beginning of my addiction.  It was also the beginning of my education on fishing and boating.  I’ve long since learned that the fish-finder doesn’t really work the way I thought it did on day one…and I’ve also learned that the more you go out there the better it gets.  That boat has helped me see a million things I couldn’t have seen from my couch.  It’s let me live those things as much as just seeing them.  From this boat I’ve seen countless sunrises and sunsets, I’ve seen giant orange harvest moons rising large over calm black waters at night, I’ve watched my kids catch fish of their own, I’ve seen my wife struggle to pull in a 10 lb. blue cat on a jug line, and I’ve seen everyone jump off it’s decks and into the care-free waters that surround it.  This is more than 18.5 feet of fishing vessel…it’s 18.5 feet of life itself.  It’s also infinitely large because there appears to be no limit to how many memories you can fit inside its hull. 
I’ll go to sleep tonight reliving memories I’ve made on that boat…and I’ll be amazed at how far we’ve come since its hull was christened in the muddy waters of Mississippi’s Lake Enid. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What's a redneck to do?

August is an easy time for most people.  It’s so hot outside that many folks only have to choose among indoor air-conditioned activities.  It might be shopping at the mall or going to a movie…but whatever it is it will involve an active avoidance of the outdoors.
For your average redneck things aren’t so simple.  I’d like you to keep this in mind next time you see one (a redneck that is).  He is under a great deal more pressure than you can imagine.  He too might like to see a movie, he likes air conditioned places, and he worked hard all week so he could use a break.  But he has a different set of choices in front of him.
You see most of his favorite activities happen in the outdoors…where you only get a few months of “air conditioning” out of the entire year.  Not only do his activities take place in uncomfortable temperatures but there are deadlines to work with as well.  Right now it’s late August.  Dove fields need to be prepped, deer stands hung, shooting lanes cleared, duck dogs trained, duck blinds built, arrows fletched, broad-heads sharpened, the bow needs to be shot regularly ahead of archery season, and all of this needs to be worked into an already busy summer fishing schedule! 
Those of you who think you have a tough time because you can’t decide if you should see a movie or go shoe shopping need to take notice…you have it far easier than the average redneck. 
This rednecks plan is to keep fishing for a while longer.   One of the nice things about living where I live is that geography makes some of the decisions for me.  The decision on whether to fish after work is made for me because Pickwick Lake is 100 miles from my house…I simply can’t get there after work.  As distressing as this sounds, it actually works out well for me because it forces me to take care of other high priority items. 
Now that I know I can’t fish after work I have time for things like working out, or re-loading the ammo I shot last week at the pistol range, or working on my bow.   In a strange way I guess it’s a really good thing that I don’t live at the lake…I imagine I’d never get anything done if I did.
I’m not sure what the rest of the year will look like but I have a lot to squeeze in.  I bought a boat last year and that caused me to push bow season back.  In years past I was ALWAYS in a tree on October 1st.  It didn’t matter if things were falling apart at work or if there was an important funeral to attend…life would have to do without me on opening day of bow season because on that day I belonged to the woods.  I took no phone and I took no breaks…for all intents and purposes I disappeared from the face of the earth for a day.
That changed last year.  Really it changed over the course of several years.  The first change came with the birth of my first child…but that is an article for another time.  Today’s focus will be on how the boat changed bow season. 
Last year I was fixated on bass fishing.  I’d run up to Pickwick every chance I got.  I’d steal away for the afternoon and fish until after dark, learning all I could about this terrific fishery.  As bow season got closer I noticed that the lake was getting more and more empty.  At times it seemed that I had the entire place all to myself.  It was great. 
When the first weekend of bow season arrived I had a choice.  I could go to the woods, work up a big sweat walking to my stand, sit and feed the mosquito’s for hours, and trying to avoid the poisonous snakes on the way out in the dark while swinging my “spider stick” the whole way back to the truck…OR…I could pull my boat to the lake and have hundreds of miles of shoreline to myself and enjoy some of the best fishing the year has to offer along with great “sittin’ around” weather. 
Hmmm.  I went to the lake.  Some afternoons were better than others…mainly because I’m just not great at fishing.  With fishermen like me on the lake you really don’t need “limits”…the fish just work it out amongst themselves how many will end up in my boat.  Usually they come up with a sacrificial bass or two…just enough to keep me interested but not enough to put the population at risk of collapse.  Ultimately it was a great decision for me.  I got to catch fat spotted and largemouth bass, blue cats, smallmouth, white bass…you name it…and the boat ramp was never crowded.  For me it was one of the best trade-offs I could make. 
I got to watch a ton of top-water action as bass pushed huge schools of shad to the top.  The sunsets were beautiful, the trees began turning orange and red, and as a bonus I got to enjoy the sweet smell of campfires as I motored back to the marina through the cool evening air of fall.
I think I just talked myself into going fishing….but it’s 4:00 PM on a Sunday and I’m 100 miles from the lake.  See how this works?  Now I’ll have to go out back and kill weeds.  I really need to move closer to the lake. 

The Great Outdoors

Right now the great American outdoors are waiting. They are waiting for us to come experience them...to make memories in them...to walk them...to swim them...to hunt them and to fish them.

I have fished, hunted, hiked, mountain biked, and camped in a number of places across the United States and I'm always blown away by how beautiful this country is, and how relaxed I feel after having been immersed in it even for a short while.

No matter where you live in this country you usually have some wonderful outdoor getaways within a short drives distance. I live in the Mid-South as we call it here in South-West Tennessee. The states of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas come together in a nice corner right about where Memphis sits. While most of my outdoors activity takes place in the southern region of the country, I've had plenty of opportunities to take in the sights of other regions. Some of my favorite memories are of hunting pheasant in South Dakota or mountain biking in Colorado, or deer hunting in Illinois. I'm not aware of a part of this country that doesn't have something great to offer in terms of outdoor activites...we just need to make time to experience them, enjoy the simple pleasures they provide, and make lasting memories in them.

When I die and my life flashes before my eyes I doubt I'll be fondly recalling all the times I mowed the lawn or raked the leaves. What I'm certain I will recall are memories such as watching my son shoot his first whitetail deer, laughing with my brother in law when ants invaded his pack to get his cookies, sharing a hard won dinner of fresh pheasant with a group of friends in a warm cabin that sheltered us from the bitterly cold Dakota winds, or sitting by myself in an ice covered forest watching the most brilliant fire-orange sunrise turn a million branches into into a kalideascope of brilliantly glowing crystals.

These are the reasons to make time for the outdoors...it's what life is all about. Life is more than making sure that the lawn is cut and the garage is clean. I'll trade a messy garage for the sound of my daughter laughing as she jumps into the lake any day of the week.

This blog is about enjoying life through the outdoors...I hope to bring a lot of like-minded people together and perhaps inspire new people to join us out there. Many people are rightfully intimidated by taking the first step toward something they think they might want to do...whether its fishng, or hiking, biking, or hunting. I encourage those folks to adopt the old Nike slogan "jut do it!". Its really that simple. If you are new to the outdoors you will find that a lot of knowledgable people will happily help you out along the way. One place to start is this blog. Keep coming back for ideas for your next adventure and just email me with any questions yoou have. Now get out there and do something!