Hey there. Glad you stopped by today. It recently occurred to me that I’ve never really told you my story, how I got here, and what I’m trying to do with RusticMan.com. So, this post is for you. Really it’s for me. But I’m going to say it’s for you. If you’ll give me the next 4 minutes of your life to read this post, I’ll do my best to explain what is going on here and why you should care.
A Little Back-Story for Context: A Pale Doritos Eating, Video Game Loving, Chubby Kid
Stories like these usually start with a tale of a distant father and a hero’s struggle to overcome some outside obstacle. Mine does not. My dad is awesome, and we didn’t live in a bathtub in the backwoods of Louisiana. I came from an average family, we lived in an average house, and I did average stuff.
My friends and I once put on capes and jumped off my dad’s storage shed. I tried to dig a hole through the earth to china on more than one occasion. One birthday, I asked for a hatchet, and then spent the summer chopping up a tree with my bare, 14 year old, hands.
When video games hit their stride in the 90’s and I hit those lazy teenage years, things went in a bad direction for me. Many an afternoon was spent staring at a TV screen, while pounding entire bags of Doritos. The result? I turned into a pale, chubby, lonely kid. I used video games to fill that boyhood desire for adventure, and left a lot of life on the table by doing so.
That didn’t last forever. Towards the end of high school, I looked around at my life, didn’t like it, and decided to change. I put down the video games, lost 70 lbs, and got my life together. But that’s a story for later.
There Was No One to Teach: My Dad, Grandpas, and Uncles Didn’t Hunt.
I always wanted to hunt. Something in the soul of men craves adventure and wants to explore. The pursuit of game is second nature to men, no matter how hard we try to ignore it. Most of the men in my life were not hunters, so I had a hard time convincing them to take me. On 2 separate occasions I talked my grandfather and uncle into going with me. The first was a squirrel hunt that didn’t amount to anything other than walking around the woods. The second was a deer hunt.
They basically set me in a tree stand, and told me to shoot a deer if I saw it. It all went down safely and responsibly, but you get the drift – it was not what I had hoped. When they came to pick me up 4 hours later, I was a little spooked and ready to leave. Needless to say, I wasn’t itching to do that again.
See, my family tried to help me learn, but they didn’t know what they were doing either. My dad got a rifle for me, and taught me how to safely use it. My Grandpa took me out, but just didn’t know how to introduce me to the woods. My Uncle tried to set me up for success in a good spot, but accidentally put a bad taste in my mouth for the whole thing.
Trying to learn hunting from the outside is hard. When you don’t grow up hunting, it’s hard to find someone who will teach you. When you don’t live with someone who hunts, all the little things you need to know often go unsaid. None of my close relatives were hunters, and the guys I did know who hunted were not very eager to share their spots.
I wanted adventure, I wanted to chase. Do you know what I mean? Somewhere deep inside my soul, I felt the urge to pursue an animal, kill it, and eat it. It was coming out of me just like my desire to kiss a girl or conquer evil. I think my desire to hunt was a natural function of becoming a man. My great-great-great…great grandfather had to hunt to provide. Somehow my subconscious knew that was true for me too. I wasn’t content to pay another man to raise, slaughter, package and sell my meat to me while I listened to elevator music, eating a snickers bar in the checkout line. It needed to be personal.
Having Means: Sometimes a Man Has to Beg
Even though my first exposures to hunting were lacking the thrill I expected, the desire never left me. Once I was old enough to have money and time on my hands, I found myself compelled back to that earthy desire in the back of my mind. I was going to hunt a deer, and eat it.
Asking around to every quasi-hunter I knew yielded sad results. Some guys looked at me like I was used car salesman eyeing their wallets. Others spoke of hunting as some mystic skill that only an elect group was blessed to obtain. Some still offered anecdotal advice that I would soon discover meant they didn’t hunt often. Most of them would talk to me, few of them would show me.
I would get the usual, “Yeah, let me know some time and we can go out and I’ll show you how to ____.” These trips would rarely materialize. Eventually, I found a friend who agreed to take me out, walk the woods with me and show me some sign. That one morning taught me more than all the magazines and articles I read that summer. It left me with a lot of info, and a lot of questions. There was a lot left I would have to figure out on my own, but now the wheels were moving. I accepted that if I was going to take this seriously, I would have to become a student of hunting.
Killing is Hard Work: Eventually, You Just Have to Teach Yourself.
My first few attempts were fledgling at best. I was always a “gun guy”. I knew firearm safety as early as I knew bicycle safety. No coke can was safe from my Red Ryder, and no crow would ever land on my grandpa’s blueberries twice. As soon as I was legal, I purchased a rifle. Then again, a pistol the day I could do so. Shooting targets, skeet, pellets, and bullets has been a part of my life since I can remember. It’s just one of the advantages of growing up in the South, I guess.
Hunting on the other hand, is a whole other ball of wax. Can you imagine walking into thick timber with a .22 and attempting to find a squirrel or rabbit for the first time – in your twenties? Even if you’re a crack shot on aluminum cans at 50 yards, you will be humbled when you’re trying to shoot a furry ninja 30 feet up a tree off hand.
Those first few trips were a jolt of reality for me. This was going to require work. I started reading everything I could get my hands on. If I met someone who called themselves a hunter, I unleashed a whirlwind of questions. I wanted to know everything. I’m sure I was annoying.
Do Deer like to move into the wind when walking?
What sounds do they make, and when? And why?
How can you tell which trails are deer and which are rabbits?
Which types of terrain do they like to hang out in?
What do they eat? Where do they bed? Why do they scrape? Why do they pee on their legs? Why do their antlers fall off? Why, how , what, …..
With growing confidence, I would take to the woods with too much gear and too little knowledge. Things would get better each time, and I would find success soon enough. I remember dragging that first deer out of the woods and trying to load it into my Jeep…I wish I had that on video.
Sharing Instead of Hoarding: Because Men Need Men.
About the time I was becoming a hunter, Lauren and I had our first son and everything amplified. Not only was I a man, now I was a father. I had a son who would want to hunt someday. Would I be able to teach him? My desire to learn and master the woods only increased. Add to that 2 more sons and 4 years of avid hunting, and I developed more than a desire – it has become a Personal Manifesto.
It is a shame that the quest for antlers has caused many hunters to treat each other as competition, rather than comrades. One hunter sometimes despises his neighbor for killing “his deer”. Rather than bringing new hunters into the woods, we try to keep them out to protect “our spots”, and the deer we name individually, from everyone else.
All my reading and studying wasn’t nearly as helpful as the morning I spent with an experienced hunter. You probably have the same story don’t you? I doubt you read a book, headed into the woods, and put 3 P&Y bucks on the wall. Men need men. In life, in relationships, in family, and in hunting.
Now We Have Google: The Internet Makes it Possible to Share Resources Like Never Before.
The internet changes everything. Even since the time I started hunting, the internet has revolutionized what a guy can learn. What used to take weeks of research and study can now be found on my smartphone while I sit in a waiting room. We want to take advantage of this opportunity to share resources with our friends.
Our primary goal with RusticMan.com is to be an advocate for the “hunting lifestyle”. The men in my generation seem to be more interested in video games and pretend adventures, than actually getting outside and exploring life for themselves. The respectable manly skills that we admire about our grandfathers & great-grandfathers are dying with them. Grown men live more like young boys, often putting off addressing life until they are in their mid-thirties.
A “hunting lifestyle” will include a personal connection with our food through gardening, home-butchering, preserving, and preparing game. The hunter is likely a capable man who can provide for his family both at the dinner table, and as the head of the household. He is strong, willing to address difficult issues and protect his family. He can build a chicken coop, fix his car, smoke a pork shoulder, romance his wife, challenge his friends to greatness, and inspire his children with unconditional love.
Men need Men. If men do not stand up, put their own self-interests aside, and invest in the lives of others, we will lose the traditions we love. The irony is that by giving away our knowledge, we create new hunters. Today’s student is tomorrow’s ally.
Maybe older guys dropped the ball. Perhaps young men are too lazy. Whatever the case, I believe we’re surrounded by guys who want to live differently, but don’t know where to start. So, I created RuticMan.com as a resource for us all.
You can expect to find articles like these…
Projects: DIY weekend projects like workbenches, arrow saws, arrow targets, drawing boards, bunk beds, chicken coops, etc.
Hunting: stories, strategies, tips, recommendations, and instruction to help take your hunting game to the next level.
Gear: when we find gear that helps get the job done and provides quality, I will tell you about it. I will also share any gear that fails, so as to keep you from making a mistake.
Food: recipes, cooking, processing, preserving, and storing food is a big part of the hunting lifestyle, and a year-round hobby we will address regularly. From smoking ribs, to grilling venison backstraps, to harvesting chickens, to freezing squash and pickling cucumbers, there will be lots to talk about.
Family: being a father, husband, leader, provider, and protector is a great opportunity to love our families well. We will address some of these topics as they relate to our lifestyle as they come up. You are not alone in this.
Does that sound like something you want to be a part of? Good, us too. Type your email address below and we’ll add you our email list to stay up-to-date on what’s happening here at RusticMan.com