EXPLORING, SCOUTING, AND JUST BEING CURIOUS
By Steven E Stillwell
I took a refreshing hike the other day and decided to get off of the beaten-path. I love this time of year, because the weather is still cool, and the bugs are moderate. During my trek, I spotted a couple of game trails, animal dens, plenty of water sources, and some possible hunting spots. It’s always a good idea to carry a weapon, especially if you decide to go as far back as I did. If you don’t have a sidearm, carry a walking stick, because anything is better than nothing!
It’s amazing the things you’ll find when you take your time and pause to look around. Each and every hunting season, I’d always find an old bottle, lost or discarded items, valuables, or some other interesting keepsake. You can do this anytime of year, you just have to find the time. If you’re fortunate enough to discover a couple of antler-sheds, then this will give you a general idea of what bucks survived the previous hunting season. Getting out and being alone like this will also give you some time to reflect, unwind, and relieve a little stress. In other words, it’s great for your mind, because that’s where anxiety and worrisome thoughts will manifest.
Some of the adventurous people reading this column might be able to relate to the following deliberation. How many of you have always wondered; what’s over the next hill, beyond that clear-cut, or on top of that mountain? Thoughts like that are what compel us to go the extra mile to find out. Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised, and on other occasions, disappointed, but we still had fun satisfying our curiosity. I remember a story my Dad told me 35 years ago. He had a friend who decided to climb a certain mountain located in the Rockies. The area was remote, and there was little hiking traffic. As he made his way to the top, he realized that he was blazing his own trail. The guy thought to himself, I might be the only one who’s ever been up here? When he reached the top, he found an empty six-pack and an old comic book.
Years ago, I went varmint hunting in East Texas with an old friend. As we hiked though the dense forest, we discovered a duffel bag in the middle of nowhere. When I picked it up, the canvas carrier was heavy. It felt like it was stuffed full of paper. It reminded me of a cash-bag stolen in a bank heist. A thought crossed my mind; maybe there was $100,000 dollars in this sack? Apparently my buddy was thinking the same thing, because he got this weird look on his face. With bulging eyes, and trembling hands, he grabbed my arm and excitedly proclaimed, “If it’s full of money, promise me that you won’t tell anyone. We’ll split it; okay?” I never answered him, because I was laughing so hard. When I unzipped the duffle, it was full of dirty books. We’d found some fool’s adult graphic novels! While I was thinking about all of the reward money they’d give us, and the newspaper articles they’d write, my compadre was planning his retirement. Needless to say, we left the bag where we found it. Stay alert while you’re cruising through the woods, because you never know what you’ll find.
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