When I moved to the nearest town 15 years ago, I signed up for a wilderness survival course in Mountain Home, Arkansas. In case you need a refresher: Basic survival is learning how to hunt food, make shelter and survive in the wild. It can be difficult; no newsflash!
My Wilderness Survival school was like every other -- I learned how to use a gun (how complicated is that?), trap and cook a pot roast. It took a couple of days to learn all of the basics, but it was great for bonding with the other students, despite the fact that we were (probably) all white, middle class guys with tufts of golden hair and varying degrees of wisdom and experience.
But I did learn a lot, and I'm grateful. It was a fun experience, and the lessons I learned have been invaluable ever since.
My survival skills, however, have gotten even better over the past 15 years. By the time I got to the mountain lion incident, I was able to trap multiple rodents, save a few horses during a flood and take down a mountain lion that threatened my home. (You can read about that below.)
And I now fully understand the challenge that traps and traps of the kind that I learned are, and how to use them well. If you've never used a trap, you can use this video to quickly get the basics. And if you've been in a rural area and you've never had your own trap, feel free to join me at some point to learn more about these amazing tools that can save your life or a loved one's.
If you have your own traps, I'd love to hear about them or if there are any traps on your property that you'd like to be visited. Also, please share any tips you learn, these can be vital to others. Just tell me what traps you have, and that you're using them!
Also, if you've been really into the outdoors lately, I'm seriously considering moving. A summer camp at the mountain top where we spent our last three summers is now closing, which means I have 90 days of opportunities to stay warm in tents, set up Cinder Blocks and make a great campfire. Is this you?
I've met a lot of amazing people and experienced a lot of wonderful adventures. It's bittersweet to have to leave, but I know that as my life continues to evolve I'll be able to figure out a way to balance the two.
I can't say that in its entirety, being a hermit has been all that wonderful. Being a hermit is hard.
It's incredibly lonely. No cell phones. No TV. I miss meeting up with other hermits regularly, but my sense of belonging is the same, if not better. At least I have the feeling that when I start going to a rock concert or a game of darts with my buddies, I'll know it's time to get my car out.
I have a strong interest in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and I'm always actively researching scientific papers. So, yes, I think I have a good, super interesting job.
Ultimately, I don't feel completely comfortable without my car. If I don't have it, I'll be on my very own, trying to play it cool, but my mind will be wandering to other things. And I have to admit, it's kinda hard to be super chill when my car is around the corner.
But, one of the neat things about living here, and working as a tax accountant in Eureka Springs (a small town about 35 miles north of Mountain Home) is that I still get to socialize with other like-minded people. I'm really involved in a variety of networking events for which I get to meet others who have similar interests. (I especially enjoy mountain biking, for example.)
My personal goal is to get a job in the forest service in Idaho, or maybe even Alaska. Either one of those states has a lot to offer me in terms of the forest health and logistics, so I think there's a great environment for me there.
I want to stay close to home, but I'm not out of my element completely, yet. So I might pick up some outdoor skills -- I'm considering learning how to shoot, and the location of the coolest mountain camping spot is within sight of my home, which is interesting.
The point is, I've learned a lot of skills, and I've met a lot of people who inspire me. So I'm still going to live a full life, but doing it through an entirely different lens.
I think I'll be living that way, and I'm sure that in the future I'll find good reasons to stay.