Beware the Ungulate

It’s amazing what some people don’t know when it comes to street smarts. Consider what happens when you put those same folks out in nature and they lack what I like to call “tree smarts.”

I’m going to tell you a few things and many of you may roll your eyes, sip your brandy and smugly say “but of course”, but these tips aren’t for you. These are for my happy customers who do very silly things that have very drastic consequences.

Let's start with the moose. Don't pet them.

Indeed, they are very slow looking. I agree their antlers are less than majestic; in fact they look rather like oven mitts. I completely understand that it is hard to fully comprehend the power of an animal that appears it may fall over at any moment, or whose four legs seem to travel in eight different directions at once, yet he still manages to move forward.

But, I will say this: if you approach the moose it will tear you apart like a cheap taco. This pretty much goes for any ungulate.

Don’t know what an ungulate is?

A mammal with hoofs. The horse, rhinoceros, hog, giraffe, or camel. Don’t walk behind any of them. Don’t pet them, either.

Actually, lets apply this rule to any animal that isn’t on a leash. Some of you may again laugh that I even bring it up, but you will only laugh until you see someone try and pet the pretty bear.

Moving right along.

If you intend on eating anything in the forest, do your research. Many of the drugs you get from the pharmacy (or in some cases the street) come from the very places you hike, snowshoe or paddle in.

You wouldn’t walk into a pharmacy aimlessly eating pills that simply looked pretty would you? Once again this is a piece of advice I would normally not bring up, but just last winter I saw someone chowing down on a cedar bow.

When the weather is cold, wet or just plain dismal and you ask someone how he or she is feeling and they say “fine,” they are not.

Fine is one of those words that tend to mean the exact opposite, like “whatever,” or “slimming."

It’s really a non-committal way to get someone off your back to save from embarrassment. I’ve seen this technique used to save ego and I’ve even seen it as a result of culture. Whenever I ask a client how they are and they say “fine,” I examine them more closely. It’s a sure warning sign something is wrong. Fine usually means something along these lines.
F%$*’d up
Please, just tell me the truth. I’m your guide.

Moving on again.

Stop eating snow when you’re out on the trail. This mostly applies to kids, but not exclusively. Snow does indeed contain moisture, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Did you ever melt snow as a child and realize you didn’t get very much water out process? Same thing when you when you eat it.

You use water as a fuel to help your body stay warm in a cold environment. Putting all that cold snow in your body cools you down, making your body work harder and thus using more water. I liken this to asking your friend if he can make change for a twenty and getting a ten instead. Keep hydrated with your own water supply or find a way other than your mouth to melt it. Parents, if your kids won’t listen. just show them a blown up picture of a snow flea. They live inside the snow and are horrid little looking creatures up close.

Enjoy your time outside, use your head, and avoid eating lumpy brown things. They are seldom truffles.

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