A Guide to Transformation from Neighborhoods Dude to Country Outdoor Person
Backlands and Old Country ways
A guide to Outdoor Living not just thinking and Dreaming !
Backlands and old country ways a life experience in how to transition from urban dweller to outdoor country life !
'A person takes on the flavor of the pot their mixed in',so mix a good recipe !
Finding the best pot to live in is probably life's most difficult tasks no matter who you are ,or where you come from ? I found mine at about the age of 12 years old . My family had a cottage on lake Elizabeth in Twin Lakes Wisconsin. My parents brought my brother , friends , and I there from little on. I was born in the great city of Chicago ,only 60 miles from Twin lakes ,so that became our little escape to the country ,especially back in the days of the 1960s and 70s. We also made our annual pilgrimage to Northern Wisconsin ,Minocqua, or the small resort community of Birchwood Wisconsin, became my Dad's annual summer pilgrimage for a decade or so . It was during one of those annual pilgrimages that I was bit by the" Great Outdoors "bug in July of 1975.
Every Summer we traveled to Birchwood Wisconsin,to spend a couple of weeks fishing and relaxing in the beautiful Blue Hills of Wisconsin community. My Dad's best friend Joe's cousin owned a resort between Birch,and Chetek lakes,we would stay at their resort became friends with the family . Their Son Rob was around my age we did what young men did in the 1970s .He would tell my Brother , and I all about the fishing , and hunting tales from his family , and Wisconsin area it had a strong impact on my pre teen mind ,it sounded so different to me from what was playing out in the neighborhoods of Chicago. I mean little league baseball ,and scouts sounded lame in comparison to shooting squirrels ,and catching fish in the lakes and woods. It sounded like that was the new playground I wanted to play in ?
That year 1975 stands out. My Dad had just took us ,and the neighbor boys , Joe and Paul on a camping trip to Twin Lakes ,we stayed in the tents without Dad even , while he slept in the cottage what an adventure ? I also had received a Daisy 99 BB gun for my 11th birthday the summer before which we brought along . My friend Joe showed me how to shoot it ,I picked the shooting skill up quickly I think that trip we shot everything from Butterflies to cans . When we ran out of cans we shot my Dad's full beer cans all shook up ,he was a big Hamm's fan back then , and he had those cans which are now collectors items that looked like a modern keg of beer . The beer shot everywhere I think we smelled like a brewery when done finished ? When Dad woke up he wasn't happy ,so we had to go to Town for a beer run .
That Twin Lakes trip was when my 12 year old mind began to bend towards the outdoor 's way of thinking instead of the playgrounds and the hoods! Two months later in July we made our annual pilgrimage to Birchwood Wisconsin. That trip seemed full of rainy Wisconsin days ,so my parents took us to town to get our annual Bluegill capital shirts ,or I should say short sleeve sweatshirts. I never knew why they made a short sleeve sweatshirt in the 1st place ? It defeats the whole purpose of a sweatshirt ,but they did a lot of strange fashion twists in the 70s. I went into a store at the time called fisherman Huds bait in tackle in there I found my very first Outdoor Life magazine . I took it home on the rainy day, and read it, and absorbed it all. The magazine altered my mind to the Outdoor Life style for good !
All I thought of for the rest of the trip and that year was fishing , hunting ,and woods and waters. It seemed that the Outdoor Lifestyle should be my dream lifestyle? I began to ask my parents about their experiences with rods,and guns ? The first thing my Dad told me about was his experiences growing up. Most Summers growing up in the 30s and 40s he would spend up on his Aunt and Uncles farm near Antigo Wisconsin . That farm was started up by my Great Grand parents in the very early 20th century ,Grandma lived there until she some how hooked up with my Grandfather they settled in Chicago area . Her Brother George Johnson inherited the Antigo area farm and operated the Northern Wisconsin dairy farm. My Dad was shipped up as he called it for Summer chores ,but there still was some time for fishing and fun. He told me about how his Uncle George had in 1940 caught a huge Brown Trout in the Springs near Moose Lake ,big enough that he won a prize from Field and Stream magazine. Wow that really impressed my Pre-teen mind . I wanted to know more ? He said that at the time his Uncle George's Trout was put on ice and displayed in the hardware store window in Antigo for all to see. I asked him if he knew the magazine issue so I could try to located the magazine to read for myself the enchanting tale? My Dad was sketchy on that account ,but I thought maybe Grandma would remember? My Dad showed me the Deer rack that our Uncle George sent him. Uncle George told him it was the best he ever shot. Later my Mother told me that she heard my Dad got Buck fever ,and could not shoot the Deer ,that he was with Uncle George when they saw the Buck ,but my Dad froze and could not shoot it ,so later in the season Uncle George saw the Buck and shot it ,and sent him the rack to remember? Wow this was Great stuff for a already outdoorsman enticed mind ,and mystery to solve also?
During that annual pilgrimage up North we made our way up to Hayward Wi. while I was cruising the tourist shops in downtown ,when I came along a book display that contained a book called "Whitetail" fundamentals and fine points ,by George Mattis ,I turned it over and the back cover had a picture of a older man with his 30/30 standing in the November woods .I read the author's story and discovered that the book was written by a Birchwood Wi. native ! Immediately my interest was inspired, I opened the front cover and discovered the book was signed by the author George Mattis,plus it was an Outdoor Life book. I new I had to have this book so somehow was able to make the purchase? I don't remember those details but I still have the autographed edition today !
That fall all I thought about was hunting ,shooting and the outdoors . My Dad would take me,my Brother ,and friends up to our cottage on Twin lakes we would shoot our BB guns ,and chase Rabbits and Squirrel around the about 5 acre back swamp that the family owned , the swamp became known as the backland to us . That Fall many memories were generated ,We would pull a mattress into the main room where the heater was put it on the dining room table, and sleep on it so we all could stay warm . To this day I can still hear the puff of that furnace kicking in ! We would wake up early at sunrise and walk out with our BB guns into the swamp the backland .We did see some rabbits and squirrel , but I never put one down with the Daisy 99. It was great getting up those crisp fall mornings ,we could hear the gun shots of the local duck hunters also out on the lake too, catching our attention .
My Dad saw what was starting to brew in my soul then. He told me about how when he was in the service stationed in Nebraska,on furlough they would check out a couple of guns from the Bx and hunt rabbits along the railroad tracks they would have so much fun ,and good eating . Well that fall we never put a rabbit down ,so my Dad finally went to the store and purchased a Rabbit for me to try . He fried it up it taste just like chicken. Dad said the that he was going to get back into rabbit hunting, and that Christmas gave me a single shot Winchester model 37 20 gauge shotgun. That was the coolest Christmas gift I think I ever received ! Dad told me that he was going to get a shotgun too before next fall a, 16 gauge he thought with a choke on it and we would take up small game hunting. How cool this was turning out my heart thought ? One cold January Saturday morning a couple weeks past Christmas we headed up to Twin Lakes Wi. I was going to shoot my first real gun . My Dad stopped by his friend Dick the local tavern owner for a warm Tombstone pizza before we went out in the cold and wind. Dick told us the best place to practice shoot was at the local sportsmen club in Powers Lake Wisconsin ,so we headed out in the cold wind to the gun club that would eventually play a big role in my journey from the hoods to the woods ! I remember that day one special moment of many with my Dad. We found the club at Powers Lake, the gate was open so we drove in parked by the trap houses and walked out in the cold wind found a box placed it on the ground in front of us my Dad handed me 1 shell out of his pocket and said fire away when ready and to hold the gun tight !
To this day I don't think any person forgets their first gun shot ? I remember the kick and the burning gun powder smell it is something you can't envision ,only experience. Thinking of that experience ,makes me want to share it with all people ,and is a huge reason I believe I am writing this book, There are so many life rewarding experiences to be shared in our natural outdoors experience. I am so lucky that my Dad had a little background to share with me . It makes me wonder how I would have turned out without that family backing, and in today the youth that wish to live what I call the outdoors or good life ,but have no path to follow to achieve their desire? Hopefully I can guide them ,and the number of single parent families ,with a couple of paths to what I want to share a very rewarding life blessed with nature's goodness. Some folks are just okay with being raised in the hoods that's okay ,but I believe the reward is greater experiencing our natural goodness ,along with our man created goodness, and that both should exist in each and every sole ? But many are trapped in the hoods never given a chance to grow any other way? Hope this writing can lead them down their path ? A very alarming trend that is happening right here in Langlade county which I now reside just in the past year 2 area Boy Scout camps have been closed, and sold. One owned by the Northeast Illinois council, the other the Southeast Wisconsin council.they both were huge scouting operations,run by urban Scouting councils. This trend is not a good sign . It tells us that the urban youth are not in desire to attend the camps, or even be apart of the scouting programs which have long been one of the few paths to follow to experience the outdoors and nature. Myself I never made it past Cub Scouts Webelo . I went through the ceremony to become a Tenderfoot , but then gave up scouting for Little League Baseball. In my own life experience ,my friends Paul, Joe, and Murph all were given tastes of the outdoors and nature via the boy scouting programs. I remember Joe and Paul telling me about their experience at camp Makajawan which coincidentally is up in my neighborhood of Elcho Wi. of learning to shoot .22 a the scout range at the camp . This experience was etched permanently in their young minds,and they were shown firearm safe handling, which is so important because shooting is a sport as my Dad use to drill into us"there is no mistakes boys" which means you follow safe gun handling to a tee ! Recreation shooting sports can be a very rewarding pursuit ,and so many firearm misconceptions are against that pursuit created by the urban conception that guns are only made to kill ? Yes a gun can and is a protector ,many people never experience their use until they enroll into the military,but usually look at firearms differently after they are taught their use. Too many young people sadly only see or hear of firearms and their dark use in gangs and murders . Even in urban environments safe sport use can be achieved ,it is every gun owners duty to teach that to their family and friends ! We must change this trend which is worsening by the actions of the terrorist shootings indeed. Educate the public that shooting sports can exist ,and it's only a improperly formed mind that does these actions. The notion that this would cease if guns were banned is totally untrue ! The best defense against those actions is firearms ,and showing people the proper use of them.
So how does a person learn about firearms and safety ? One good way is to use the internet to search out a good gun club to contact ? Another good thing to do is read books on the subjects of hunting and shooting that was probably my biggest avenue to learning back in the 1970s ? Now the internet can also be added to the books and magazines . Most gun clubs these days are eager to help people with firearms education ,or certainly can steer you to the proper places? Most states these days require a firearm, or safety course before gun, or surely hunting use ? Find the nearest one to you and register to attend if you need help many gun clubs members might be able to help you ?
In my case my Dad took Dicks advise and we started going to Powers Lake Sportsmens Club on a regular basis ,they had a wonderful program of monthly Trap shoots, and a good safe rifle range to improve your skills on . Eventually we became club members . My Dad also worked with some friends that were regular shooters of trap ,and also hunters . He asked them to come up to Powers Lake and help to teach us about the sport, one weekend and they did. I remember my first round of trapshooting I think I hit 1 clay pigeon , but I really remember my Dads friend Cliff right behind me ,coaching and encouraging me along the way. He also was there to be sure all gun safety was performed ! This is the way all of today's Sportsmen need to be ,in order to save the future of guns and hunting . Which hunting has decrease from about 18 million users in 1980 to around 10.5 million hunter in America today. I got those figures off the net . Seriously thats a huge decline almost 50% . We outdoorsmen must do everything we can to turn the trends around ? That's why I feel there is such a need right now for me to share this book to keep the spirits of the outdoors flowing in the 21st century and beyond ?