- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I’m not certain that the world is ready for a touchy-feely wilderness survival book that includes holding memorial services for dead deer, but here it is, “Wilderness Survival,” by Mark Elbroch and Mike Pewtherer ($15.94 paperback, McGraw-Hill, information: www.raggedmountainpress.com).

Being a hunter, fisherman, crabber, even an occasional snow camper with only a threadbare sleeping bag, I’m more than a bit perplexed why a man who absolutely needed to eat, killed a deer and then lamented the entire affair.

Upon seeing a deer that would provide much-needed nourishment, Elbroch wrote, “I moved quietly past the fawn to a boulder roughly 10 feet away and sat down [nervous] about what I had intended and now felt rather obligated to do.” Elbroch, who learned about the outdoors in his native England, killed the deer while a red squirrel, he wrote, “screamed, chickadees became alarmed, and a ruffed grouse shrieked.”

Lord, give me strength. Squirrels screaming, grouse shrieking? Come now. But Elbroch wasn’t finished. As the deer died, he wrote, “I held him close, hoping to comfort his death … I actually cried, while the nearby animals seemed to surround me and voice alarm and protest.”

Yes, he actually wrote this.

But agonized hand-wringing aside, the book that, under its cover title touts “living off the land with the clothes on your back and the knife on your belt,” provides some terrific chapters and thoroughly useful advice to get you through tough times in the wilderness.

If you can get past the whining, the chest-beating “mea culpas” and feeling terrible for doing what must be done to stay alive in the wilderness, you’ll learn how to make traps, build a shelter, make camp, catch fish with homemade bone hooks, stalk animals, build proper fires and find water, then purify it for human consumption. Everything is covered, even how to camouflage yourself, make hunting tools and prepare and conserve food, and it’s done in neatly arranged sections while a story that reads like a novel weaves its way separately through the book.

Will the book sell? Not to the guys I hang out with, but I’m sure some people will find it appealing because we live in an age that is, oh, so sensitive and mindful of feelings.

Mycobacteriosis expert speaks — The Southern Maryland Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will meet Monday, 7 p.m., at the new American Legion Hall east of Hughesville on Route 381 near the Route 231 junction, and the members want you to come and visit with them. Guest speaker Mark Matsche, a biologist with the Maryland DNR’s Oxford Cooperative Laboratory, is an expert on the current mycobacteriosis outbreak in rockfish. He will provide an illustrated lecture.

Big fish on light line — Coral Gables, Fla., resident Marty Arostegui will soon hold a fishing record that should last a while. Arostegui recently fly-fished near Key West and hooked a 385-pound lemon shark, the largest fish ever caught on legal flyfishing gear approved by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). Arostegui used a 12-weight fly rod and after a lengthy battle was able to get the shark into a huge, custom-made livewell. The shark then was transported to a marina in Key West, weighed on a custom canvas sling, then released. It swam away in apparent good condition.

And what about 15-year-old Michael Lopez, who was fishing in California’s Santa Ana River Lakes and set two IGFA world records and two state records with the same fish, a 28-pound 1-ounce rainbow trout caught with a green/white jig tied to 4-pound line. The monstrous rainbow set a 4-pound line class world record for Lopez, in addition to giving him the junior world record for the species. The same applied when he filed for line class and age division records with the state.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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