Category: Mike Garner Outdoors
I truly believe that some of the most memorable outdoor experiences include mud and trucks. Regardless the size of your tires or the make and model of your favorite off-road vehicle I’m confident that you have a good old-fashioned gettin’ stuck story.
This is a tale about a Saskatchewan range road (RGE RD), two Fords, and three friends who failed miserably to push a rental vehicle out of a rut – albeit a really deep and sloppy rut. On a recent trip to the Quill Lakes Region of Central Saskatchewan I tested the resolve of a Ford Expedition and the patience of my snow goose hunting cohorts – 2-time World Champion goose caller Field Hudnall and camera operator Jory Baugher.
It was mid-May and we were on location actively pursuing snow geese with my good friend Prairie Rose Outfitters owner Craig Rath. The weather was good and the hunting was even better. The snow line had only recently retreated from the Dakotas, melting rapidly north, leaving this area of the Prairie Pothole Region dotted with fresh pools of water and remnant sheet ice. It was a great habitat for traveling waterfowl.
The reverse migration was in full swing as ducks and geese instinctively made the push north back to the breeding grounds. By all accounts this was an unusual year, historically the snow is gone weeks earlier with the large flocks of migrators following close behind. We took full advantage of the recent change in weather; as did the farmers who had been patiently waiting for the snow to melt and fields to partially dry so the spring planting process could begin.
While scouting one fine evening I chose a road less travelled. Turning north off Canada’s Yellowhead Highway onto a range road that will remain nameless, (Craig will undoubtedly appreciate my discretion) I failed to notice the absence of fresh tracks. But, in my defense the road surface looked and felt solid underneath my tires. In fact, we traveled a good half-mile down that road before things got interesting, and by interesting I mean sloppy. We experienced the typical side-to-side fishtail action, the always-popular spinning tires with audible boost in RPMs, and finally, the unavoidable stall. Then there was a short moment of silence as we all began to calculate our distance from the nearest town; and two seconds later an assortment of colorful words filled the air.
I think it’s important to note that you reach a point in every pre-stuck scenario where one of two things occurs: 1) You immediately recognize your predicament and stop or 2) you hesitate ever so slightly, maintaining diminished confidence in your current heading, and then giv’er hell – I chose the latter. Unfortunately things didn’t turn out as I had hoped. Long story short, having farmers in the field proved beneficial. Our savior was a 7.5-liter 6-cylinder diesel 8240 Ford Tractor.
So, this blog goes out to all those anonymous rural strangers who are quickly befriended by the recently stuck. To those farmers and ranchers who willing put their tractors, chains, and tow straps to good use while refusing to accept anything other than a firm handshake as a token of appreciation, I thank you!0 Comments
Have you noticed the tiny U.S. flags affixed to the laces of Chippewa Boots? I have thought about those little Stars & Bars more in the last three months then I have in the last three years. For those of you not “in the know” the flags denote Chippewa Boots that are handcrafted in the USA.
Pretty cool, but I’m ashamed to admit that from time to time I have removed (and replaced) some of the red, white, and blue on my boots. I’d wear them for a while, fulfilling a personal sense of patriotism, but eventually yank them for one lame excuse or another.
Typically I would pull the flags and laces from my favorite Loggers and Arctic boots to clean and recondition the leather after a series of particularly filthy hunts. Out of the box the flag’s glossy finish and prominent shine are hard to miss. But after a season spent in the field transitioning between wet, muddy, and bone-dry conditions they tend to lose a little luster. But thankfully never lose their meaning.
Regardless of your political leanings I would hope those tiny pieces of brass painted in our nation’s colors would make you stop and think. Essentially about our freedom and those individuals who defend it. I was reminded in January during my annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the SHOT Show (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show).
There I met Chief Petty Officer and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. We sat at a round table in the Outdoor Channel hospitality suite with industry friends and colleagues. We were merely acquaintances introduced by a mutual friend at the network. We shook hands, talked about our kids, shooting, and outdoor pursuits. The typical “Where you been?” and “Where you going?” type conversations that all like-minded outdoorsmen and women have when they meet for the first time.
No one could have foreseen the tragedy that would play out just two weeks later and I consider myself lucky for just having met him. I’ve heard a lot of words used to describe Chris in recent months. Loving husband and father. True Texan. American hero. The Legend. And by all accounts those labels are not only well deserved but true.
I’m confident the next time I’m sitting in a goose blind or on the front porch steps of a cabin somewhere off the beaten path I’ll look down and be infinitely more appreciative of my lot in life. The tiny flags are there to stay. No lame excuses. Just perfect little reminders of the price of freedom and how lucky I am to live in this country and do what I do.0 Comments