Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid. — John Wayne
Even though John Wayne would be accused of breaking every law of political correctness in his short quote, I have to admire the blunt, simple message he conveys. No amount of government intervention can legislate or increase intelligence. It’s up to the individual to make choices—whether they are wise or foolish.
In an age of bailouts, we see the government continually coming to the rescue when companies or individuals make foolish choices. When you take away the consequences for bad choices, and most of us call this experience, we are taking away the basic message that you are free to take a chance, but the outcome may not always be positive whether it is financing a home, buying a truck or starting a business.
Farming and hunting offer the individual a sense of independence as well as a chance to hone critical thinking skills. Just knowing you can provide food for your family without relying on the government offers a great deal of satisfaction. Farmers do this everyday by raising livestock, poultry, eggs, milk and produce. Outdoor enthusiasts can provide food through hunting and fishing. Whether you are farming or hunting, a little ingenuity can help you stay independent.
On the Hunt
Here in Alabama, deer season in most counties closes at the end of January, so you have a few more days to harvest that buck or doe. By the time January rolls around, food sources may be running thin. This is a good time to revisit those winter food plots when deer are building up energy for the rest of winter. If you don’t have food plots on your property, look for honeysuckles. These are evergreens and, since they keep their leaves year round, deer will often be found browsing in these areas at the end of the season. J. Wayne Fears has recently released a pocket size Deer Hunter’s Reference Guide. This small book is a quick reference of valuable information for managing plants and land for deer, gathering deer harvest information, butchering tips, hunting lease management information, deer facts, downrange ballistics, hunting safety, getting the correct pH of a food plot, forming a club and finding a deer biologist where you live.
According to Fears, "Whether it is the ballistics of your favorite deer rifle, how to score a trophy buck in the butcher shop or on the hoof, writing a hunting lease, fertilizing honeysuckle correctly, making your own food plot mix or determining the weight of a deer without a scale, you can find it in this handy little book."
To get a copy of Fears’ book, visit www.protoolindustries.net.
On the Water
If you are searching for a versatile water craft that will take you to isolated hunting areas, haul camping supplies downstream and across lakes, or give hours of enjoyment by simply paddling down remote rivers in Alabama, look no further than the canoe. January is an ideal month to find a good deal on canoes because the off-season results in lower demand and better chances for price negotiation. Knowing the parts of a canoe and paddling terminology can make you a water-wise, river traveler. The following is a list of canoe terminology:
Aft-Toward the rear of the canoe.
Beam-The width of the canoe.
Bow-The forward most part of a canoe.
Bowman-The paddler in the forward position.
Center line-The imaginary longitudinal line running from bow to stern.
Depth-The distance from the canoe’s floor to the height of the gunwale measured at the boat’s center line.
Flare-The amount the sides of a canoe curve outward from the perpendicular.
Flotation-Material encased under bow and stern decks allowing the canoe to float.
Forward-Toward the bow.
Freeboard-The distance between the waterline and the gunwale of the canoe.
Gunwale-A strengthening rail, running the length of the canoe on each side which is fastened to the top of the sides.
Keel-A longitudinal extrusion fastened to the canoe’s bottom, on its center line, to give strength, protection and added control.
Port-The left-hand side of the canoe.
Portage-Carrying a canoe and/or contents over land to another body of water.
Rib-Frames on the inside of the hull to give additional strength.
Starboard-The right-hand side of the canoe.
Stern-The extreme end of the canoe.
Sternman-The paddler in the rear position.
Thwart-A support extending across width of canoe from gunwale to gunwale.
Transom-The square stern in canoes designed for stern-mounted outboards.
Windward-From the canoe, the direction from which the wind is blowing.
Around the House
Did you get blood on a new pair of jeans while butchering a chicken? Did that newborn calf leave blood stains on your new Carhartts? Don’t settle for stains for the life of the garment. Simply use hydrogen peroxide to bubble the blood out. I’ve even used this trick the day after I got blood on my pants from a deer harvest…and it works.
On the Farm
January can take its toll on your pocket knife. If you’ve counted the number of strings you’ve cut off round bales this winter, you can see the signs of a dull blade. An accurate way to restore factory sharpness on the blade of your knife with a whetstone involves using a black, felt tip marker. Simply run the felt tip along the blade edge creating a visible guide with which to sharpen. As the blade edge is honed against the whetstone, the marker line will indicate whether the blade angle is correct or not.
If you don’t have a whetstone, you can flip your coffee cup upside down and sharpen your blade on the coarse, ceramic ring on the bottom of the cup. I have a John Wayne coffee cup saying, "Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much." You gotta love a guy who wasn’t afraid to be politically incorrect.
A more politically correct way to phrase John Wayne’s original quote is, "Life is tough, but it is easier when you use ingenuity.
John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.