5 Things You Should Never Do in the Woods
Russ Chastain 07.31.17
We all want the same things from the woods: Peace, serenity, and time away from the mess of humanity. So don’t do this stuff.
1) Feed the Animals
Feeding wild animals is a terrible idea. I’m not talking about food plots for hunting, or a feeder to attract some wild hogs. Those are remote means of feeding that still allow animals to retain a healthy fear of man. But when you feed wildlife in any sort of way that familiarizes them with humans and results in a loss of that fear, you’re creating a recipe for disaster.
Whether it’s squirrels, raccoons, or even a big ol’ bear, it’s best for humans and the animals if there is a healthy respect (and yes, some fear) in the equation. This helps prevent attacks on people, pets, and property. (And if you’ve ever camped someplace where raccoons have lost their fear of humans, you know how destructive they can be.)
This should go without saying: NEVER leave trash in the woods! If it’s biodegradable, you can bury it. If not, it’s best to pack it out so you can dispose of it properly. But don’t leave it lying around to spoil the woods.
If you burn your garbage, don’t leave an ugly fire pit with remnants of cans and bottles.
Think about it: We who love nature and the wild are there to enjoy God’s creation which has NOT been uglified by humanity. So have some consideration for nature itself as well as those who will follow, and clean up after yourself.
2) Go “Mudding” and/or Tear it Up
The wilds and woods are great places to spend time, and can be very relaxing — but not so much when I get my kidneys shaken out as I drive the old woods Jeep down a rough trail that’s been ripped and torn by motorcycles, ATVs, or even horses. And I’m no tree-hugger, but it makes me sick to see a bunch of high-stepping 4×4 trucks plowing through lakes or ponds, ripping up the aquatic plants and killing the fish etc which call it home.
Be considerate, and leave a decent road/environment for the next folks who come through.
4) Take More Than You Need
While hunting on public land years ago, I happened upon an old campsite. Whoever had stayed there had spent considerable time and effort cutting quite a few small sapling trees and building fireside “chairs” that were partially buried in the ground to anchor them. It was clear they hadn’t camped there long, but they’d left a fair swath of destruction behind, along with some lashed-together tree trunks that would now simply rot away.
They had wasted quite a few trees for some temporary comfort (not that the seats were comfy). What a waste.
The same would be true if you were living off the land; don’t kill a large animal or fish and just eat a little of it, or pick a bushel of berries and eat just a handful.
5) Leave Others’ Litter Behind
If you have the means to carry others’ litter out with you, do it. It’s a thankless task, but you will be making a big difference in the way everyone who follows you will experience the woods. Just because we had a day or moment spoiled by litter doesn’t mean everyone else has to.
Ask yourself: Will your actions negatively affect others who will come later? If the answer is “yes,” you’re doing it wrong.
This is pretty basic stuff, and at the core it’s just good old-fashioned consideration. Whether we like it or not, we have to share this planet with a bunch of other folks… so let’s try spreading some good around. Trust me, it’ll come back to you in a good way down the road (like the next time you take a litter-free walk in the woods).