Dumpster Diving

I went out to the flea market today and found a nice Dewalt palm sander for $10. Something I was in need of as I plan to retry making some glass laminated bows.  I was leery of it working but got home and it ran like a top. I thought that would be the prize for the day but my luck continued.

I finally cleaned up all the osage shavings in the basement that were left in a pile that I used as kindling to start the occasional fire in the fireplace over the winter . But spring has finally arrived and the shavings made their way into bags and to the dumpster. As I flung one in I noticed a bunch of thicker than usual lumber. Closer inspection confirmed it was Douglas fir some of it 8/4. Even closer inspection confirmed most of it was super straight grain with some of it having 20-30 growth rings per inch. These were no Home Depot boards.

I grabbed the five boards I could reach, all conveniently cut to 3-1/2’ to fit in the dumpster. These boards will be fashioned into my new hunting arrows for this year and next year and probably for many years to come if I don’t miss too much. I am wife will be happy that I replaced the wood taking up space in our basement with more wood.

Just after dropping the boards in the back yard I dropped all of the “Little Tikes” toys that my children have out grown: A slide, a tricycle and a basketball hoop all made for toddlers in my neighbors back yard. It made its way to a good home next door where they will be appreciated and played on.

Today exemplified the old line “one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure”.  In defiance of present day “use it and throw it away” mindset it feels good to be frugal and help others be frugal as well.

Happy Places

I spent a few hours in one of my happy places yesterday. It would not meet the “trophy place” criteria, a designation I like, coined by Steven Rinella in one of his Meat Eater episodes, but over the years these mundane places aggregate memories of small adventures and over time become magnetic in their own right.

After spending some time in “trophy country” out west chasing wild trout my enthusiasm for the hatchery brood stocked in my local waters has waned in recent years add young kids into that mix and I usually only spent a day or two chasing these trout every year with the aim to get one ritualistic meal and to justify the cost of the extra trout stamp required in addition to my fishing license.

The stream I went to is a place my father has taken me since before I could even reel a fish in. Every year for more than two decades it was the place my father and I, as well as occasional friends and extended family would head for the “opener”. It was in this place that I caught my first big fish when I was only 5 or 6 years old and I caught my biggest trout on a beautiful late May day in one of the big holes two decades later.

In this same deep, hole in high school where an equally cabin fever induced friend joined me on a winter trout expedition and he took an unintended swim in that freezing hole right in front of me. We can both laugh about it now but it took him a while.

As I walked the banks and waded the waters these people and occurrences ran through my mind. These memories are what make this place special. I added a memory of this place yesterday not of the fish I caught but someone else’s.

The highlight of this small adventure was watching from a distance as a young girl, perhaps 10 years old caught a big sucker up river. The excitement and joy was contagious as I watched grinning as the girl and her mother fought, fumbled and photographed the lowly sucker with unbiased pride.

When I get the urge to trout fish this is the place I imagine myself… happily.

Playground Twist

I often find myself peeling the inner bark from fallen basswood branches as my children play at the playground near our home. Working the fibers into two-ply reverse wrap twine has become second nature. I do it without even looking. This is a remarkably easy skill to learn, literally taking minutes, which could possibly make the difference between living or dying if put in a survival situation. But it shouldn’t need to come to that to appreciate this primitive technology.  Continue reading “Playground Twist”

Bluff Country Cutlery

A couple weekends ago I was admiring the bluffs of the fabled Buffalo county WI. Not scouting deer but attending a wedding. With 5 other couples from my wife’s college days. Usually a fun crowd as they prove again this weekend and outdoorsy but more a camp, hike, ski style. So it could be tough to find something sportsman-like to do but I found myself doing one of my favorite outdoor activities this morning, making wood smaller. Continue reading “Bluff Country Cutlery”

Why hunt?

My 5 year old is a huge fan of the “Wild Kratts”, the modern day equivalent of, Marty Stouffers “Wild America”, when I was growing up. It is children’s television programming with everything a kid could want to know about nature and wild animals. My son is encyclopedic regarding their 11 seasons worth of animal information. Unfortunately the Wild Kratts show rarely show an animal being caught and eaten by a predator, giving a skewed perception of nature and they are cartons but I still prefer it to most of the children’s programming available.

Surely as a response from this show my son asked me the other day “if you love animals why do you hunt them?” It is a common question non-hunters have asked me in casual conversation over the years. I never really gave it much thought nor an answer, mostly leaving it at “you wouldn’t understand”. But I am obligated to answer my son as honestly and fully as possible and I think my initial response still captured much of the drive for me. Continue reading “Why hunt?”