Lets talk about how to keep yourself, the animals and their homes safe when you’re out fishing, hiking, or anything else outdoors. When you’re out in the woods you should be trying to leave no trace of you being there. This means packing out all your food and garbage. When I’m out fishing, for instance, I see people cutting their tippet off their fly line and just tossing it in the water. Fish can get tangled in loose line, fish can ingest this line and get seriously ill, the line can wrap around logs causing other fisherman to trip and fall into the water, it takes away from the beauty of the stream, and plenty of other reasons. It’s so simple to just put it in one of your pockets and carry on with your day. When I go fishing I don’t even use floatant, it says non-toxic right on the bottle, it leaves an oily film on the water which may be non-toxic but is far from normal conditions of the water. Not only does this oily film often sabotage your day of fishing by spooking fish, but more importantly, you’re bringing something completely foreign into the natural stream. If you’re really having trouble keeping a dry fly afloat and false casting just won’t do the trick, tie that same pattern but with some cul de canard(CDC). CDC is the feather from a ducks rear end. Ducks float because of the natural oil in the feathers, no floatant needed. These feathers keep your fly high in the water all day. Another thing that’s important when fly fishing is to wash your waders, especially if you’re like me and have felt bottomed waders. The problem with waders is they can carry all sorts of insect species from one fishing spot to your next fishing spot. Some of the species may be compatible with the stream, but some may be invasive species which can reak havoc on the ecosystem. A simple solution to this is to just wash off your waders when you return from a fishing trip. This can be done with a regular garden hose, or you could even wash them off in the shower. Something else to take into consideration when outdoors is the safety for you and any person or pet with you. I’ve been told by many people that dogs can attract dangerous animals like bears and even some big cats. But I’ve also heard from at least as many people that their dog has actually warded off these incredible predators. And if you follow Brian Greens backpacking blog (briansbackpackingblog.com) you’ll notice from a number of his posts he takes his dog with him every time. There’s tons of information on hiking with your dog all over the Internet so if you’re looking to take your furry friend along definitely check out things like how much extra food they’ll need, water, and if they’re a big enough dog to carry their own backpack. Keeping you and your dog healthy also means having a well trained dog, you don’t want to end up chasing them through the wilderness and getting hurt. In addition to training and eating you’ll need some sort of first aid. I know I saw one specifically for dogs in an outdoors store but I can’t quite remember where, it was either REI or Bass Pro Shops.
Something I’m a big fan of is bush whacking. This is where you don’t take the path that everyone else has formed but instead go straight through the trees, brush, rocks, and whatever else. At my local mountain there’s a trail to the top that takes about 2-3 hours from the main gate. This path is very long and isn’t steep at all. I prefer the way I go up, it’s extremely steep, requires some free climbing, and definitely gets the adrenaline pumping. From the bottom to the top of the mountain the vertical climb is only about 1000 feet so it’s nothing major but is still an absolute blast to climb up. Something I try to do even though I’m bush whacking is to leave nature the way I found it as much as possible. This means going over obstacles instead of moving them, bending branches out of your way instead of cutting them, and looking for natural foot and hand holds instead of digging into the ground. Another thing to really consider is not only how to keep other animals safe but to also help protect them. Some simple ways of doing this are things like picking up garbage on the trail, not dumping out food, and getting other outdoor enthusiasts to do the same. There’s millions of things you can do to preserve the great outdoors and no one article will begin to cover a fraction of them, but with just these few things you can keep nature beautiful and safe for the wildlife and us.