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Briar Patch Outdoors

Florida Wilderness Skills Trip (Part 2)

by Keith A. Williams

The trip was originally planned to be with limited gear, consisting of a knife, compass, water bottle, and insect repellent, but a few allowances were made to accommodate the different skill levels of the participants. Also a couple of tarps were also used for some of the shelters to prevent the total devastation of the landowner's population. The most popular water container was the 40 oz. Klean Kanteen, which is not surprising, since its seamless stainless construction make it a shoe-in as a water boiling/storage container. It was interesting to note the variations in the cutlery that were chosen for the trip, which included my personal 12" Ontario machete, a Mora Clipper, a TAK and RAT-7 from Ontario Cutlery, a Bark River Golok, an Indonesian Golok, Alan Blade Pac-Pal, Alan Blade Puukko, Becker BK-7, custom knives by Chris Arrington and James Gibson, plus a few other that seem to have slipped my mind.

Whether they used a tarp or natural thatch (or a combination of both), the shelters we built and used tended to be a variant of lean-to, and a pair of participants shared most. I'd probably go out on limb here and say that Tim had the shelter with the best thatch work of palmetto shingles, though Jason did a pretty good job with his as well, in his intent to build just the basic roof and use less material. Fernando and Mike came up with a really nice elevated platform, which would have kept them well above the level of any rising water. This was a potential threat because prior to our arrival, there had some pretty heavy rains upriver, and the river was already pretty high. We had originally planned to use canoes for transportation to the area but the current would have made it all but impossible to come back upriver without going overland. Thankfully, we ended up using two boats with outboard motors. Fortunately, even though it threatened to rain almost every evening, we actually received very little. As an additional benefit to the dryer weather, the mosquitoes were not nearly as bad as one could normally expect for this time of year. In fact they were really not much of a concern. Unfortunately, the redbugs were out in full force!

The trip lasted for six days and five nights, and during that time, we spent a lot of time gathering a whole assortment of roots, tubers, herbs, mints, leaves, and berries. These, we used to balance out our protein rich diet, from the all the bream, catfish, gar, snake, frogs, and other critters that we proceeded to fatten ourselves with, during our stay in this natural wonderland.

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Briar Patch Outdoors
219 Holmes Street
Durand MI 48429
(989) 288-0168

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