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The Wrong Turn

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 On Aug. 31, Bill Lawrence, 40, got separated from his hunting partners and remained lost for five days. As told to Colin Kearns.

Wednesday. I’d just killed my first squirrel when I glanced over for my friends Russell and Cris. They were gone.

Russell was the only one who’d hunted these woods, Meeman-Shelby Forest north of Memphis. We’d been hunting for 20 minutes and were deep into the forest. Russell and Cris stuck together, while I drifted to their left. I tried to stay within eyesight of them, but I was also watching for snakes. The last time I saw them, it looked like they were continuing in a straight line. Then I stopped to shoot the squirrel.

I thought I had an idea where they were, but an hour later I wasn’t any closer. I shouted, but the thick woods only swallowed my cries. So I turned to hike back to the truck, but an hour later I was even more lost. I kept walking, though, figuring I’d find a way out.

I walked, stopping to rest now and then, until it started to get dark. I’d fired a couple of shots but got no response. It never got cold, which was good because I had nothing to build a fire with. I doused myself with bug dope, then lay down. With my vest, I was able to cover my face and roll up the bottom end to use as a pillow. That dead squirrel in the pocket added a decent cushion.

I heard helicopters but they couldn’t see me through the trees, and I wasn’t going to run through the woods in the dark. I just prayed they’d find me tomorrow.

Thursday. I finished the last of the two water bottles I’d brought with me that morning. The days were hot, and I was walking and sweating a lot. I needed to stay hydrated. Fortunately, it rained that morning, and I managed to catch a half bottle’s worth of water.

I mostly squirrel hunt, but I have enough experience hunting deer and rabbits that I can identify tracks—and I know that if you follow those tracks, they’ll often lead to a water source, which in my case was a puddle in gumbo mud. I dipped my empty bottle and watched it fill with gray, grimy water. I didn’t want to drink it. I worried it’d make me sick. But what choice did I have? I was already getting dehydrated.

The taste was nasty—dirty and sandy—but the dip of mint Skoal I had in my mouth made it at least drinkable. I figured I should eat something, too, even though I wasn’t starving. I turned a dead stump over and found some nightcrawlers. They tasted about as bad as the gumbo water. I don’t know how many I ate—only that I’d never eat another one.

The rest of Thursday was a lot like Wednesday: Walk, then break for a nap. Walk, then nap. That second day, as I was walking—with no real end in sight—is when I started talking to God. Why is this happening? If I don’t make it out, will you take care of my wife and kids?

imagesTJNT6CHZThat night I awoke to a WHOOSHWHOOSHWHOOSH. Dazed, it took me a moment to realize that it was another chopper—and that it was right above me. I stumbled to find the flashlight in my vest. But by the time I turned it on, it was too late. After the chopper left, my flashlight burned out.

Friday. I kept moving and praying—all day. Walking gave me a purpose. Praying gave me strength. I truly believe my faith is what kept me from ever panicking. That afternoon I stumbled upon some persimmons. They were the most delicious things I’d eaten in a long time, and they were just sitting there on the ground, perfectly ripe, waiting to be found.
Saturday. I heard a low-flying chopper that morning. I took the T-shirt I had on under my camo shirt, tied it to the barrel of my Mossberg, and rushed to the nearest open area where I waved it around. But it never got close enough.

I was weak and tired. My body ached. For the first time I started to think I might not get out. I had started with 15 shells, and by then I only had four or five left. I’d been firing them and leaving the shells at spots where I rested. But on Saturday I decided to fire the rest I had at once. I didn’t know how much more of this misery I’d have to suffer, and I didn’t want the option of taking my own life.

Later that afternoon, as I was resting, I heard two sounds: a Harley-Davidson and a chain saw. I decided to stay put for the remainder of the day and save my energy. Tomorrow, I’d travel toward those sounds. I just knew that if I didn’t get out on Sunday, I never would.

Sunday. I came to a hill that I wasn’t sure I had the strength to climb. I sat down on a nearby log and prayed for strength. When I finally got up and walked to the hill, I glanced to the left where I saw a trail. And I took it.

Two miles later I hit a blacktop road. I fell to the ground crying. I flagged down a couple of motorcyclists who came down the road and told them who I was. “Son,” one of them said, “there’s a lot of people looking for you.”

They drove me to the camp the search team had set up nearby. Just as they got me on the stretcher and were about to drive me to the hospital, I was given a satellite phone. Kim, my wife, was on the other line. My eyes welled. “Hey,” I said. “I’m alive.”

Survival Analysis
Bill Lawrence had no method of striking fire, carried nothing to signal with but his shotgun, and possessed no tool to navigate to safety but his brain. When he became lost, he had nothing to eat but nightcrawlers and no means to disinfect water. He was unfamiliar with the country and carried no map. To sum up: He struck into the woods about as unprepared as a man can be. But before you criticize him too harshly, take a look at yourself. Have you ever been similarly unprepared for an emergency, using the excuse that you only plan to be gone a few hours and won’t stray more than a few hundred yards from the road? I know I have.

Lawrence’s ordeal should be a cautionary tale for all of us, emphasizing the importance of carrying basic survival gear every time we go afield, no matter how small that field we intend to hunt. A compass, a whistle, a sparking wheel, Tinder Tabs, and chlorine tablets weigh about as much as a tin of Altoids, and easily fit inside one. S - - t happens. Have a hat for it.

Lawrence’s reaction to being lost was to walk and then walk some more. By doing so, he disobeyed the four steps that almost ensure survival: Stop. Shelter. Signal. Stay. Had he stopped walking, tied his undershirt to a treetop or placed it in an opening where it could be seen or, better yet, spelled SOS in a clearing with branches or stones, then hunkered out of the wind to wait, he probably would have been found quickly after being reported missing. Ninety percent of search-and-rescue operations are resolved during the initial hasty search, usually within 10 hours.

One thing that Lawrence did do right needs to be emphasized: He never panicked and was determined to survive. The right attitude is one positive that can make up for a lot of negatives in any survival situation.

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The Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener

A number of years ago, Work Sharp, which is a division of Darex, set the cutlery world on its ear by introducing an electric belt sharpener that would put an edge on most anything in seconds, and without overheating the blade, tearing off steel, or baffling the user.

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Now, Work Sharp has outdone itself by having custom knifemaker and designer Ken Onion put together an improved version that bears his name. The new Ken Onion Work Sharp has a more powerful, variable-speed motor, wider belts with better abrasive, a guide that lets you adjust your bevel from 15 degrees to 30 degrees, and upgrade kits that expand its already awe-inspiring capabilities. Using its full range of accessories, this tool can sharpen anything from a shovel to a scalpel.

Among its features is something I haven’t seen before—a work chart printed on heavy cardboard (also suitable for framing, in case you’re tired of your Vermeer or Lautrec) that shows you just how to proceed with all this technology. Let’s say you want to sharpen a hunting knife, so you look under “Hunting Knife” and below that you choose between “Haggered” (That’s how they spell it, and it’s the wrong word, but what the hell.) and “Dull.” Choose one of the two sets of directions  that follow and you get the angle and speed at which to sharpen, the progression of belts to use, and how many strokes you give the edge on each side.

Especially intriguing is the subcategory called “Bragging Rights,” below which appears “How sharp can you get?” and below that, “Ridiculous,” following which is a formula that will get your knife sharp enough to perform corneal surgery.

What Worksharp does not make much of, and should, is the fact that its system gives you a rolled, or Moran-style edge, which can only be gotten with a belt. The rolled edge is convex in cross section rather than flat, and is very strong and long lasting because it leaves more steel where the metal meets the meat. When I asked Worksharp why they didn’t make more of it, the answer was that not many people appreciate such a refinement. So be it. But now you do.

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If your needs are more modest, there’s another Worksharp product that costs far less than the Ken Onion Sharpener (which is $150) and that is the Guided Field Sharpener 221, which is about all I ever use, and which is so good that I have three—one in the shop, one in the kitchen, and one with my hunting gear. It ‘s about the size of a large folding knife, offers five sharpening steps (of which I only use only two) and costs $34.95. It’s as foolproof in its own way as the Ken Onion Sharpener.

Contact: Worksharptools.com

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Coolest Brand Cooler

Now this might not be good for your stand directly (blender and all LOL!)  But it would be great to have on location for spike camps etc.  Great idea!

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Disabled Archer – Heal Wounded Soldiers

Jeff Fabry is one of the world’s best archers. He’s a five-time Special Games world champion, a three-time Paralympic medalist and he’s aiming for gold at the 2012 Olympics in London this summer.

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What makes his talent unique is that Fabry, who has only one arm, has mastered the art of firing arrows with his teeth. Your dentist might advise against it, but Fabry, who will compete on the U.S. Paralympics Team in London, says his chompers are holding up just fine.


“I’ve been doing this for 13 years and my teeth still look and feel the same the first day I started. Everything is going good, luckily,” Fabry said.

But the road to firing arrows with precision was not a straight one. At 15, Fabry lost his arm and a leg in a motorcycle accident.

“My buddies were out hitting the hills hunting and I was stuck at home and I was like, no, I don’t like this, so I figured out a way to shoot and it happened to be with my teeth,” he said.

Fabry pulls the arrow back by biting on a mouthpiece that he made from a nylon dog leash.

“It was trial and error to find what I considered to be the perfect mouthpiece, where I could be proficient,” he said.

Fabry is sharing his passion with our armed forces. He teaches the sport he loves to members of the Wounded Warriors Project, the nonprofit whose mission is to help injured service members cope in civilian society.

“What I’m really proud of is being able to work with our vets who are coming back from the sandbox with different disabilities,” he said.

Jim Castaneda, a member of the Wounded Warriors, said he is thankful that Fabry introduced him to the sport. While serving in the Navy and stationed in the Philippines, Castaneda suffered a traumatic brain injury and a stroke.

“It’s changed my life completely … I found something that I can do and I really enjoy it and love something now,” Castaneda said.

“I’m not just sitting there anymore, like watching my life go by and feeling sorry for myself. Now I’m actually getting up and doing something for myself and trying something else.”

That kind of feedback is a bull’s-eye for Fabry.

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“That makes me feel good about myself,” Fabry said. “I got hurt before I could join the military, and this is kind of a way that I can give back to my country by helping our heroes.”

Will Wilson, who works for Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy’s Wounded Warrior Program, says Fabry is a coach and mentor for his team.

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“Jeff is absolutely fantastic. He has a great demeanor and is able to communicate clear and concise direction,” Wilson said.

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Mule vs. Mountain Lion – Which One Wins?

A couple from Montana were out riding on the range, him with his rifle and her with a camera.  Their dogs always followed them, and on this particular day a mountain lion decided to stalk the dogs (you’ll see the dogs in the background watching).  Very, very bad decision……for the cat.

The hunter got off the mule with his rifle and decided to shoot in the air to scare off the lion, but before he could get off a shot the lion charged in and decided he wanted a piece of those dogs.  With that, the mule took off and decided he wanted a piece of that lion.  That’s when all heck broke loose….for the lion.

As the lion approached the dogs the mule snatched him up by the tail and started whirling him around.  Banging its head on the ground on every pass.  Then he dropped it, stomped on it and held it to the ground by the throat.  The mule then got down on his knees and bit the cat all over a dozen or more times to make sure it was dead, then whipped it into the air one last time, walked back over the couple – that were stunned in silence and stood there ready to continue his ride…..just as if nothing had happened.

Fortunately, and even though the hunter didn’t get off a shot, his wife did get photo shots of the entire event.

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Never underestimate the power of family LOVE!

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How to Use Wood Sorrel for Food, and Hangovers

If you had a little too much green beer over the weekend, don’t worry — you weren’t alone. St. Patrick’s Day may have a rich historical point of origin in Ireland, but here in North America, it’s often just an excuse to chug cheap brews died into verdant colors. So here’s a little shamrock for the outdoor lover who might still overindulge.

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Wood Sorrel

The little green plant known as wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta) has often been mistaken as clover because of its three leaflets. On closer examination, you’ll find a big difference. Sorrel’s leaflets are heart shaped, while clover leaflets are round or oval. Wood sorrel grows in both sunny places and shady spots on the edges of woods throughout North America and it has many relatives growing coast to coast.

Wood sorrel usually tops out at under a foot tall, and it typically has small yellow flowers, though some species have more pinkish or purplish blooms. Looking much like a classic shamrock, the fresh leaves can be eaten raw as a tasty sour salad green.

4-Leaf Clover

4-Leaf Clover

You can also make a helpful hangover cure with wood sorrel. A handful of the leaves can be steeped in hot water for 10 minutes and then chilled to make a cold drink. This cold beverage looks and tastes like a green lemonade, and has the remarkable ability to calm nausea and soothe upset stomachs, which often go hand-in-hand with the headaches of hangovers.

While there’s no problem with the occasional consumption of this plant, use it in moderation over the long term. The sour tasting oxalic acid in wood sorrel can inhibit the body’s absorption of calcium and possibly contribute to kidney stones over time.

Look for related edible species such as the violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea), the pink wood sorrel (Oxalis montana), and other members of the Oxalis genus.

Have you eaten this wild edible? Or used it to treat nausea? Leave us your comments.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Girl Shoots Mountain Lion That Stalked Her Brother

During the course of a single week, three cougars were killed at a family ranch in northern Washington. The latest big cat was killed by 11-year-old Shelby White, who shot an emaciated lion that had been stalking her older brother near their home.

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Thomas White awoke at 2:30 a.m. to the barking of the family dog so White walked outside and discovered a cougar trying to enter an enclosure of cows and calves. Although he scared away the cougar without incident, the lion returned two hours later and White drove it off a second time.

Later that day White’s three children arrived home from school at 3:30 p.m. The cougar turned up a third time when his 14-year-old son Tanner White was doing his chores outside. Tanner had finished feeding the dogs and was walking back toward the house when the cougar emerged from its hiding spot by a vehicle in the driveway. Tanner didn’t notice the cat following him and walked safely through the basement door.

His dad was in there and said, ‘Close the door!’ because there was the cougar, right behind him.

Shelby White, 11, was the only member of the White family with an unfilled cougar tag.  She retrieved her rifle and shot the cat where it stood outside, just 10 feet from the door. The 4-year-old female cougar appeared “very, very skinny” and weighed just 50 pounds. A healthy mature female cougar should weigh twice that, according to Treser. “It was starving to death,” Treser said.

Shelby’s cougar was the third big cat taken on or near the family ranch in a single week. Two days prior a family friend tracked a cougar within 200 yards of the ranch. The hunter shot the 2- to 3-year-old female cat near the White’s driveway a couple days earlier.

The youngest White child also tracked and tagged a cougar on the property. Nine-year-old Cody White and his father spotted paw prints near the White house  and followed them to the family’s calving pasture. He discovered a 120-pound male cougar and shot it on the hillside.

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Additional tracks and big cat sightings have occurred in the region since and a total of 10 cougars have been harvested during the season. Five were taken by hunters and the other five were killed by wildlife officials after the cats attacked domestic animals.

The number of cougar predations and encounters in the area is above average. Wildlife officials suspect cougar numbers have increased or the big cats cannot find enough deer to survive without resorting to domestic prey.

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