I was raised in south Alabama with most of my family being retired military. Being taught how to hunt, fish, and camp at an early age was not really an option for me but a way of life. As I grew older, the challenges of hunting, fishing, and camping became more difficult because I was doing more and more without the strict watchful eye of my dad.
After many years of learning basic skills, I started watching others to advance what I already knew. I watched Native Americans and sat under their teaching. I watched military leaders and as before, sat under their teaching. I watched a lot of people who knew more than I and then sat under their teaching. It was not about just watching, but about actually doing the skills they were teaching me.
A lot of this came to a head when my dad took me on a hunting trip in the swamps of South Georgia. He left me at the truck while he walked through the swamp to get to an undisclosed location. Although I had been on the land before, I had not been to this area and had not gone through this swamp, so I did not know where it came out or if it even did.
I stood there, at 10 years old, baffled at how my dad could leave me there. I know he had taught me to be ready to get out of the truck once we arrived, but I didn’t realize that also meant with gear in hand in under a minute.
Since this was a multiple day trip, I was not staying at the truck, so I headed in the direction that I had seen the bushes move after he left me.
Carefully stepping on the cedar knobs that were peeking out of the murky, mosquito filled, water and looking at the trees, I started moving a little faster because I was confident in where I was going. This was despite the fact, I really had no idea. I would see a slide on a cedar knob from something that slipped off of it such as a boot. I would notice a flattened area in the moss on the side of a tree where a hand might have rested for a very brief moment.
Man Tracking was a skill I was not used to. While I know my dad could have avoided all of this, including the occasional snapped branch about gun barrel height because he always slung it over his shoulder, I am not convinced that he left any of the signs on purpose. But I followed them regardless.
About an hour later, I came out of the other side of the swamp only to see my dad standing about 20 feet away from me. With a scowl, he asked, how did you do it. After explaining a little, I stopped and said, “I just used my instincts to survive”.
Fast forward to years later and remembering all of the experiences that I listed earlier. I knew I needed some type of formal training and not just what was in my brain.
I enlisted the help of several people and sought out several schools. Some are no longer in existence and some I cannot list because I was a civilian that was not supposed to be part of any of the training. All I will state is retired military family does have its privilege.
In my quest for attainment and expanding my knowledge and skills, I took informal classes from BushcraftUSA.com and then formal classes from OffGrid Medic and The Pathfinder School. The experience and skills were definitely a great lesson for me and filled in several gaps that I felt I had.
If I can also take a second to toot my own horn, I passed the Advanced Survival Class from the Pathfinder School without any other formal training. I’m still not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
That being said, I think I am more than qualified to give you these tips with you having the knowledge that I am confident in what I am telling you and it being based on solid, field-tested information.
I welcome your opinions and comments but profanity and ignorance will not be tolerated and will be removed.
Thank you for all that teach me and I pray that I share what I can with the world.
Use your instincts to survive