For the past few weeks our boys' days have been filled with school, homework, part-time jobs and football practice so when we finally found an empty day on our calendar we decided to head across the river to our hunting land. Our private community has 200 acres of mostly undisturbed swampland that is divided into tracts that members sign up for each hunting season. We already have deer stands and a trail camera set up on ours.
My son, whom I refer to as Teenaged Man/Child, brought along his best friend. Once we reached the hunting land, my husband, Honey Buns, and I rode country-style in the back of the truck while our younger son, Baby Boy, followed behind us on the 4-wheeler.
As we eased along the sandy dirt trail that led us deep into the swamp, it reminded me of one of our favorite TV shows, “Naked and Afraid.” Ever seen that one?
One man and one woman are paired up and dropped off in some remote location with nothing but a cool little microphone necklace and the smiles on their faces.
Anyway, as we hopped (OK, it was more like a slow, controlled fall) out of the back of the truck, my wild imagination took over and I started wondering if Honey Buns and I could ever make it on a show like that. Maybe, but I'd want to keep my clothes. And instead of being barefoot I'd want to keep my cute, sparkly flip-flops. They're not exactly appropriate wilderness gear but I refuse to wear boring shoes. My shoes would be my survival tool-of-choice.Each is allowed to bring along one survival tool which is usually a pot used to hold stagnant water that they'll boil over a fire made using the fire starter that the other person almost always brings. The object of the show is to make it 21 days without giving up. They have to rely on their own survival skills to find food, shelter and water and if they make it to day 21 they win a nice chunk of change.
HB (Honey Buns) pulled out his handy-dandy National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees, Eastern Region and started teaching the boys how to identify the types of trees in our swamp. That would probably be his survival tool-of-choice. That or a ham radio. Either way, when you pair it with my shoes, we'd starve.
We saw tracks from deer and some type of cat. Couldn't tell exactly what kind but I'm pretty sure it doesn't meow -- it screeches. I'd be too afraid of being devoured by the wild bobcat/panther/jaguar to hunt for any substantial source of living protein, so we'd have to go full vegan for our 21 days.
There were all sorts of mushrooms, fungi and vegetation that we could eat if we got hungry enough.
The trees were thick with Spanish moss, which my beloved late Grandaddy used to call “Mother Nature's Lace.”
One might be tempted to weave these thick, curly cascades into clothing if the need arose but one would greatly regret doing so because these suckers are breeding grounds for red bugs, a.k.a. chiggers, and those bad boys will secretly chew on you and leave you miserable for days. I wish I had been made privy to that nugget of wisdom when I was about 6 and gave in to temptation and made a glorious wig out of Spanish moss.
We found lots of fall web worms still hatching in their nurseries, and little colonies of pretty decent sized ants were busy carrying food deep into their hills. I guess we could eat them in a bind but … ewwww.
The acorn trees were filled with tiny green nuts that weren't ripe yet but the squirrels were already helping themselves. And close to the entrance there was a huge, dead tree that bore evidence of fat, juicy insects being dug out and devoured by woodpeckers. HB loves woodpeckers too much to steal their food source and he'd rather saw off his right foot than hurt one so we'd strike out on that one, too.
As far as shelter was concerned, I scouted out a patch of moss on the ground so thick it looked like clumps of snow. And if one of those wild, bobcat/panther/jaguars happened to creep by there was a tree with built-in fern bunk beds nearby.
The boys got tired of our pitiful survival games and whipped out their own survival tools-of-choice and did a little target practice. Maybe Honey Buns and I should split up and partner with one of them instead? I think our chances for making it the full 21 days would greatly improve.
I think we stayed in the swamp less than five hours that afternoon, slightly less than the required 21 days. In all truth, if we were on “Naked and Afraid” we'd tap out in twenty minutes. But if there's ever a show called “Barefoot and Freaked Out?” We are so there.