(This is the story of our Newest Primitive Survival Instructor Josh Hamlin, he has an immense amount of real life survival experience and will be teaching at our wilderness survival classes to pass on his knowledge to SIGMA 3 Survival students)
If you haven’t read part one or two then click below!
After this, I found a cure for the loneliness in the woods. I came across a hiker. I was excited, because he was a Native American, and so am I. I walked up and greeted him, and he gave me a hesitant and perplexed “uh, hi”. Looking back, I can see why he was so startled. I had a big beard, because I hadn’t shaved in months, and to make matters worse, I was wearing a loin cloth. His name was Rick, and he was a member of a Native American church. Many Native American churches have brought old rituals into their practice of Christianity, and Rick performed sweat lodge ceremonies for Native American Christians. I showed him my camp. We bonded and became great friends, which was good, because he came to visit me, and he brought others. Now, I had friends who valued my quest to find the old ways and who could embrace the spiritual aspect as well.
A group of soldiers came across me, too. They played paintball to practice warfare. They gave me a challenge to take a 5 minute head start. They were to track me and shoot me. I ran over the roughest terrain I could find and hid in a small cave certain that they wouldn’t find me. I was wrong. Within a few minutes I found myself being pelted with paintballs. I don’t’ remember these guys names. I just called them the “paintballers”.
One of the worst struggles in the wilderness is insects. When you’re in the wilderness, don’t be afraid of the dark or of Bigfoot…be afraid of mosquitoes. I tried every plant I knew to keep them off, and they worked…for a few minutes. Then I would sweat, and here they would come again. I got so desperate that I actually covered myself in a blanket during the heat of summer just to block the bugs. I breathed through a small hole left for my mouth. When I woke up, my lips were swollen like a clown’s. Those things are relentless. The only thing I ever did that was significantly effective was sleeping right on the river. There was a wind on the river, and I think that kept their numbers down. If you are planning on a time in the wilderness, just plan on enduring mobs of mosquitoes, because it’s a fact of life out there.
I had another encounter with the brutality of predation, and again, it had a profound impact on me. At one time, there had been a homestead out there. The structure was long gone and nature had reclaimed the land but evidence was still there….daffodils and yucca grew in a square around my camp sight and a square hole of concrete went into the ground. The hole was about 2 feet wide 3 feet long and 4 feet deep. it was an eye sore and i wanted it gone so i decided to fill it up…i had thrown lots of sticks into the hole which rested in there like a ramp and i used the whole as a trash can for my fish bones. One evening in the fall around dusk i heard a loud cracking sound and i ran out of my shelter to see that an old coon had tried to climb down into that hole after the fishbones and the sticks had broken and he was trapped. MEAT! I grabbed my rabbit stick and went after him. I like coons, and i didn’t want to kill him, but he was so fat and I knew I would regret it if i didn’t so i killed him. He was a fierce warrior and tried hard to jump out and get me but he was just too fat. He didn’t try to jump out of the hole away from me. He tried to get out of the hole on my side. He didn’t run he fought. I didn’t want to hurt him so when i hit him I did it lightly and said sorry after each blow. but because I wasn’t using enough force I only prolonged his suffering. I had to hit him probably 60 times before he finally surrendered his spirit. His body shook with convulsions as he died, and I again felt like a murderer. I pulled him out of the whole and his eyes were open and it felt like he was staring at me hatefully, so i cut off his head and took it away from camp and buried it. I felt the predator well up inside me, and I howled like a wolf and cried my eyes out as I cleaned the animal. After my trauma subsided I began to be really interest in the insides of the animal. Did you know that a raccoons penis is a hook shaped bone? Well i didn’t before then, but I saved it and made a necklace out of it. I also saved his skin, and the amount of fat on his skin was astounding. There was tons of fat on the inside of his skin. I saved the fat and made a lamp from it. The meat i roasted on the fire and ate all in one sitting. it was extremely tough but delicious.
Winter was a dull time. The leaves had fallen, and most of the birds had left. The animals that were still awake were less active. It wasn’t fun. It was cold. I had very little clothing because I had gotten robbed. I didn’t do much of anything but lay in bed in my shelter and feed sticks to the fire. It never got so cold that the pond froze so my fish trap was still working, but it was slower in the winter and caught fewer fish. The insects were all dead and i didn’t have much to eat. I knew where some Solomon’s Seal was when it was alive, so I still gathered the roots of it long after it was gone. I still had a small but constant supply of fish so between the fish and the Solomon’s Seal roots, I never starved but i did starve for variety. I didn’t really need that much energy though because I only left my shelter to go get fish, roots and firewood. We had a one big snow while I was out there, and I got snowed into my shelter for about a week (I had no shoes), but it melted off and the winter slowly faded into spring again. The cycle began again. Spring beauties reminded me that my year was over. I packed my stuff and the next time Rick came to visit i left the mountain with him.
I left my mountain and went back into the hustle and bustle totally to meet the hectic pace of it all. The sounds of the city, the chaos, the buzzes and humming sounds everywhere. The traffic and the crime, the dirty looks from strangers, rape and murder on the news, miserable people drudging on in miserable jobs. There was also happiness and smiles from strangers and contentment from some people, but they were few and far between. I had fit in here before, or at least I had pretended to, but now it was different. Now it was unbearable. After two weeks off the mountain I turned around and went home, back to my mountain. I would still be there now if it weren’t for my mission: to teach as many people that will listen about the wonders of nature and ultimately the wonder of the CREATOR. I ultimately never came home fully from that journey because I ended up staying in the bush over two years. And I still frequently live in the woods for long periods of time in between odd jobs I do occasionally for walking around money. My life is to teach the methods of our ancestors and walk in the path of the old ones that came before us! And it will be my goal to make all the students that cross my path completely self reliant in any wilderness in the world!