Friday, November 19, 2010

Redundancy - It Can Be A Good Thing

re·dun·dan·cy   /rɪˈdʌndənsi/ Show Spelled
[ri-duhn-duhn-see] Show IPA

–noun, plural -cies.
1. the state of being redundant.
2. superfluous repetition or overlapping, esp. of words.
3. a redundant thing, part, or amount; superfluity.
4. the provision of additional or duplicate systems, equipment, etc., that function in case an operating part or system fails, as in a spacecraft.

The word is a big part of my hunting system. If you were to see me when I pack my car to go hunting, you might think that I was going for a month or at least that double the amount of people were going on my 5 to 7 day trip. Some years, I have thrown so much gear into my car so that it was doubtful that a deer would have fit in there had I bagged one. No, I am not one of the guys who drives around with a deer on the roof of the car, I have it cut up before I start my homeward trip and then put it all in a cooler or three - so it has to fit in the car. I guess the coolers are a good place to start. I bring two with me when I remember them. One makes a great gear holder on the trip up, the other holds lunch and snacks. Of course, if I get a deer I have to dump everything out and then fill them with frozen venison for the ride home Yes the guy who butchers it also freezes it). Notwithstanding the redundancy of having two coolers along, if I actually get a deer, two likely will not be enough and I'll probably have to buy a third cooler to hold it all. Nope, my coolers are not the biggest! If Brendan fills his tag, he will have to figure out something for himself - like maybe spending some of his own cash this time around for a cooler or three.

The cash department, now there is something concerning which I think almost everyone would agree - redundancy is a good thing. More cash on hand is almost always good.I bring along enough for what I expect to spend on the trip, then try to double it. The doubling of the cash, like the doubling or tripling of the coolers, is relative to the cutting up of the deer. It is darned expensive to have a deer butchered. When I started hunting seriously, over 25 years ago, I soon learned that if I had squirreled away enough cash for food, beverages, lodging (not always needed since I often had a place to stay on my uncle's farm), gas for the car and change for the tolls (pre E-Z-pass days) and whatever else I might need to get me through - it was not near enough if I bagged a deer because I had to have it cut up. Back then it cost a whopping $25 to $35 but bear in mind that gasoline was probably .50 cents a gallon and everything else was dirt cheap compared to today's prices. Now it will cost me about $125 for one deer to be cut up; so much I am tempted to bring it home whole on the top of my car or propped up in the passenger seat, and try to do it myself with a hand saw, a cleaver and knives.

Knives, there is another thing on which I double up or even quadruple up for my hunting trips. The knife is one of the most basic formed tools that humans have ever used yet, regardless of how basic, it can be one of the most useful tools in our possession at any given moment. I would hate to be out in the woods, driving in my car, or even riding on the subway without one. Being out on a hunting or fishing trip without one could simply ruin your day. I mean what is I do shoot a great trophy sized deer and then reach for the hilt of my knife in its sheath and come up empty handed. 'Heck, where is my knife', I wonder. Then I remember feeling like I got stuck while walking through some heavy undergrowth and as if a bush had grabbed me on my right side about a half hour before while still-hunting. I literally had to violently jerk my body to get free. Must have been that the knife somehow got pulled out of my sheath then; probably never find it now. Oh well, I reach into my right hip pocket and come up with a good folding knife. I proceed to field dress the deer without having to worry that not doing so in a timely manner will lead to ruining the meat or the chances of having the head and cape mounted.

When hunting or hiking, I make it a point to carry at least two knives and many times carry three. One is almost always a straight edge and the others are folders. There are plenty of other reasons like the one given above that could cause me to lose a knife. So, I almost always carry more than one while afield. About the only reason I do not have more than one would be because I forgot one or both, or lost one somewhere along the way. I am much less likely to wind up with no knives if I make it a habit of carry two or three at all times when out and about in the fields, forests or on the water and come to think of it when pounding pavement on city streets too.

Speaking of pounding the pavement, I sometimes do a lot of walking while hunting, sometimes not. Almost every time I hunt though, I wind up crossing water. Waterproof boots or not - my feet often get wet. I find one of the best fixes for this, when hunting, is to change to dry socks. Of course, I wear wool socks while hunting and wool will keep you warm when wet but I don't think it does as good a job when soaked. In addition, wet socks cause your feet to get that dish-pan hand sort of look and are much more prone to getting blisters. A change of socks or two is usually in my back pack when out hunting or hiking - wet socks be darned!

The topic of getting wet naturally leads one to think of water. Here is something you need a lot of during the course of a day. Water hydrates you, helps keep you comfortable in both hot and cold temperatures, and can help stifle bouts of coughing. These are all very important considerations during a hunt. I usually carry at least three bottles of water while hunting. I also carry a Camelback pack with a hydration system. Depending on what I am doing, I may or may not fill its bladder. When hiking out in AZ, I always filled it and also carried a couple to few bottles of water with me. When hunting or hiking here in NY state, it depends on how much walking I'll be doing. On this hunt I will probably only bring along 3 to 4 bottles of water. Note, I could carry all that water in the bladder, so why don't i do that instead of carry 4 bottles? If you have ever fallen while hiking and landed on your backpack, you may realize you can burst the bladder. I could also burst the bottles but with 4 of them chances are one or more will survive the fall and I will still have something to drink. Not so critical where I will be hunting, there is a lot of water around, unless of course I fall far from water, break a bone and have to stay put a night or more in the woods or under the desert sun.

Ah, the sun. It brings up another concern. If it is bright and making it hot, or behind the clouds and allowing it to get cold, or if it is rising or setting and causing glare - there is one thing that can make life easier for you - a good hat. I carry hats for warmth and to help prevent glare. The hats I usually carry are either weather proof, water repellent or will keep you warm when wet. One of the best hats I carry in my pack is a boonie. It helps keep my head dry, helps somewhat to keep it warm, and definitely helps to fend off glare. I also carry a watch-cap or two while hunting, mostly just for warmth but at least one of them is waterproof and keeps my head and hair dry. While fishing I often wear a ball cap. Hats are easy to lose because they can blow off your head in high winds or just be left behind if you take a break while hiking. I try to always carry 2 hats with me while hiking or fishing and usually three while hunting.

All this duplicity can wind up making a back pack pretty heavy when you consider that not only do you have your basic pack fillers but you have doubled or tripled up on a good number of them. When hiking, my day pack weighs in at about 20 to 30 pounds, much of the weight change depending on how much water I have along. The thing is, with what have along, if I did fall in the wilderness and say break a leg, I could probably survive for several days to well over a week on with what I have brought along with me and remember that is stuff in my day pack.

The only drawback I have ever encountered, besides it being heavy for an older middle aged fat man to carry, is that because it is so heavy I wind up making way to much noise in the woods to still-hunt. So I thought once upon a time. Now, after years of carrying a heavier day pack, I realize that it is okay to lug it along as long as I do everything right while out there stalking game. Things like taking 4 to 10 steps at most then waiting for about 15 seconds to as long as a minute before taking another step. Believe me, after a couple of hours doing that the 20 to 30 pound pack weighs a ton but I would rather have it with me so I can enjoy my lunch inn the woods and if need be so I can live to see another day in the event of some sort of accident. Speaking of lunch, did I mention I also pack some extra food...

Heck, is it that late already? I've got to go pack all our gear into both of the cars we are taking this year. Nope, I do not always take two cars on a hunting trip, just this year Brendan has to be at school on Monday and if we do not already have a deer by then, I am staying upstate a few more days. By the way, I planned to leave earlier this morning, that is until someone came home at 3AM snockered. He is still asleep but will get dragged out of bed in about another minute. Later for you, I have some dragging to do. All I can add is thank goodness we are not redundant about who is till sleeping, otherwise we may never get going.

All the best,
Glenn B