I have taught the ways of the wilderness for well over thirty years and have authored a novel which dives deep into the shadows that follow you as you traverse wilderness trails. It is my hope to reach as many people as possible to tell everyone that the wilderness is not a place to be wary of. It is the only place where a person can dig deep into their soul and find that which is hidden to them by modern day society.
~ R.G. Wright - Hawks Shadow

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

TIMBERRRRRR! How to drop a tree.

Tree felling is not an easy task. It should be planned with precision to preclude collateral damage and to ensure you go home with the body parts you started with.  

I have spent many years in the woods cutting trees for firewood and wood-lot management. I have made many mistakes which have cost me many hours of wasted time and created dangerous conditions which could have potentially ruined the rest of my life. 

This method demonstrates a technique which I have adopted and has proved to work 100% of the time. As long as I don't get impatient. 

I only cull dead or dying trees. This is always done during the winter months as the work can be accomplished with the least amount of damage
to the surrounding bush. 

Please get professional training before attempting this kind of work. The training I took cured me of some very dangerous bad habits. 

Happy bush work. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

A simple shelter for a night in the winter woods.

A winter night spent in the woods can be a very unsettling if one is unprepared. The cold hands of winter seep into your body and your civilized mind begins to fight against the intrusion. 

I have seen many shelters erected for the purpose of winter camping and most have their disadvantages.

The Quinzee is a snow-hut which takes huge amounts of energy to build and sleeping in it is akin to sleeping in an ice box. 

Brush shelters take a lot of time to construct and scar the land for years after you have moved on.    

The shelter depicted in this video is so simple it can be erected in the dead of night in about ten minutes. A fire will take about twenty minutes to set up and light. Within thirty minutes you will be relaxing within your warm shelter watching the fire's light flickering off the trees. 

It is very important to control your energy when traversing the winter woods. If you perspire, you will create a dangerous condition which could lead to hypothermia. 

This shelter takes very little energy to create and you will not sweat erecting it. Once a fire is going, the shelter's temperature will climb to many degrees above freezing. 

With a good supply of firewood and a good sleeping pad and bag, you will be able to fall asleep to the sounds of crackling wood and the call of the owls. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sustainable firewood gathering.

Every year, I cut and split roughly two bush cords of wood which is used to heat my home. I always do this task during the winter months.  

A bush cord is measured as: 4 feet high, 4 feet deep and 8 feet long. Which is 128 cubic feet in volume. 

I haul the wood back to my dry-shed which houses 4 bush cords, this ensures that I have well seasoned wood to burn when the thermometer plunges.  

Winter is the best time of the year to collect firewood for many reasons. To name a few - damage to the land is minimized, (high importance in my opinion) the logs are easier to split and it is easier to drag the firewood out of the bush.   

I love working in the forest. It's a meditation of sorts. The stillness of the woods and the cold fresh air combine to create a perfect environment in which you can lose the cloak that society places on your back.  

I filmed this as a tutorial. My technique is safe but not perfect. I have had several close encounters with the dangerous end of the axe. I always work alone and therefore I would be in big trouble should I become injured. I do the best I can to stay focused on the job at hand.  

I only use wood from trees which have been toppled or broken by high winds and bug infestations. This has supplied me with wood for 30 years and has kept the forest healthy. 

With all that said, I hope you enjoy a few minutes of wood gathering in Algonquin Highlands. 

I have used the axe shown in this photo for at least 15 years. Three handles later, it is the best I have ever used. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Passing along some information I have learned about snowshoes.

There is nothing quite like wandering through the woods when the snow lies deep upon the forest floor. 

There is a stillness which seeps into your soul and transports you to a place where you feel as if you are floating rather than walking. It is hard to explain and must be experienced to fully understand what I am trying to convey. 

When the clouds repaint the wilderness with their white paintbrush, I do not have the power to resist putting my snowshoes on and wandering through the winter wonderland which stretches out before my eyes.  

In this short video, I tell you my thoughts on the wonderful invention called the snowshoe. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Moon Light Tracking.

The forest under the gaze of the full moon is a beautiful sight. The snow glows with a blueish light and trees cast their shadows far out into the open spaces within the woods. 

I have never been able to resist the siren call of the full moon. It pulls at me as if I am tethered to it by invisible strings. 

It was minus 18 degrees Celsius the other night when I laced up my moccasins and entered the mystical world the moon had painted. There would be no need for artificial light on this hike. 

I only walked a short distance before I came across the trail of an Algonquin Wolf. The photographs in this video were taken hand-held and as such are some-what fuzzy.  

Consider yourself very lucky if you catch a glimpse of one of these intelligent mammals. I have had that very privilege several times in my life. They are very much like ghosts but they do leave tracks. 

I love to follow in the tracks of the wolf, for he has a lot to teach those that want to learn the ways of the woods. 


Thursday, February 6, 2020

A black bear called - Paws.

Late fall had settled into the Algonquin Highlands and with it came the first hint of winter. Temperatures had dropped to near zero and there was a crispness in the air which heralds the onset of snow. 

The fire in my fireplace was down to embers and the house was beginning to cool. I walked out onto my back deck and stopped short. A large black bear was enjoying a feed of sunflower seeds which I had just placed in the feeder for the flying squirrels. 

I turned around and walked back into the house to retrieve my camera and headlight. Stepping back out onto the deck, I was hoping the big black shape would still be munching on seeds. 

Turning on the headlight, I focused on the bear and walked to the edge of the deck. I was now within focus distance and trained the camera on him.

He continued to feed unperturbed by my presence and I was able to capture the beautiful animal on digital media.  

I know that some would say I am foolish, others may say that I am lucky to be alive. I will respond by saying this. 

I was never in danger - the bear never saw me as a threat because I did not allow fear to cloud my actions. Fear is translated by the wild ones as aggression. That in turn causes many issues when chance encounters bring humans into close contact with them.  

I have spent a lifetime wandering the forests and I have never had to defend myself against wildlife. Mind you, a moose charged me once, that was my fault. 

I am not foolish, I am respectful of the power and grace exhibited by the forest animals. I never place myself in a situation which will trigger a flight or fight reaction. 

I do not carry a weapon of any kind for there is no need to do so. I can also say with certainty, you are not on the menu. (Ontario, Canada.) Humans are avoided by the wild ones because they look at us with what could be deemed as disdain. The mere scent of a human will send them into the shadows. 

I call this big bear - Paws. His huge paws leave beautiful prints in the mud and I love to track his progress when he shows up on the land which I call home. 

Camp and hike properly and you will have no issues. Realize you are the visitor and keep fear well away from your heart. Then, and only then, will you learn the lessons painted on the forest floor. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Martin the Marten comes to visit.

The forest is a place where life is precarious and lived one minute at a time. 

I love to follow in the spoor of predators. The lessons such a journey teaches me are deep and profound.  

I am fascinated with the level of awareness these mammals exhibit. Endowed with senses that eclipse those of humans, these denizens of the wild places move through the forests and fields with deadly precision.

Once I followed a Fisher to a maple tree which had been broken open by a wicked wind storm. Blood was visible on the snow which led me to believe the large weasel had killed something. 

I was wrong.

Inside the open trunk of the downed tree, I witnessed the birth of a Porcupine. The Fisher had attempted to get at the soon-to-be mother, but her quills and her position within the tree precluded the attack. The blood was hers - but it was due to the birth of her little one. 

The Fisher led me to that event which is now etched into my memory. 

Every now and then, a chain of events occur which brings me into close proximity with these intelligent hunters. 

When that happens, I know how fleeting the moment will be. I wallow in the moment for as long as I can because I know; special encounters such as these are few and far between. 


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