I still remember my first GPS, it was round, about the size of a Kennedy half dollar and had a needle that swung around in water that never froze. My Dad got it for me so I would never get lost again, you see, I had recently caused him to have a case of heart failure when I left a group of boy scouts who had been bullying me around on the mountain, egged on by my older brother. I had gotten tired of getting beaten up and took off on my own, certain that whatever fate awaited it couldn’t be worse than being 10 years old with a group of teen-agers. I had a great time on my own and eventually needed to head off the mountain to get back to camp. I had wandered around in enough circles to not know which side to bail off of to walk straight to the warmth of our hunting cabin which was our base camp for this weekend excursion. I knew that either way would get me home but one way I would have an extra mile or so walking on the road, while the other would drop me right down the valley and in the front door. Before I could make up my mind the “search party” arrived in the form of one of the boy scout’s dad and he made such a fuss about rescuing me from the certain death I had been facing, that any of my pleadings to the contrary were written off as ramblings of someone who had been on the edge of a gruesome end.
This stainless steel GPS was to be pulled out upon becoming lost and used to point the way home. I never did really figure it out since nobody in my family was good enough in using it to tell me you had to use it BEFORE you were lost… What good does knowing which way north is if you don’t know which direction you headed away from the truck that morning in the pre-dawn dark? It did however give a young boy something to play with when there were no deer wandering by, pretty much the same function of the modern GPS’s based on my observations. Something to play with when you should be hunting…
I vividly remember my first hike with what I have come to call techno-weenies. I will call him Ted since that is his name. We were headed with a few of my llamas to a beautiful above tree line pass in the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness. Ted was a HUGE believer in gizmos, the more expensive the better. I just wanted to see some incredible country. Ted took his fancy new- fangled cell phone, cutting edge at the time, so we would never be out of touch with the world during our trip, which I found strange since I was going there to get out of touch with the world. He was constantly turning it on, then turning it off and gauging signal strengths and sending signals to people suffering back in the world who were, in all likelihood, wishing they were above tree line and out of contact with everyone else. He kept insisting that I should call home to my wife for some odd reason it was very important to him that I talk to her. I kept deferring until a moment of weakness on the 3rd day, in the evening when I allowed him to dial my house. The screeching that came out of that thing scared away every animal within miles as I was informed that our septic tank pump had failed and I was to show up the next day pronto and pump it out and fix it. So the next two days were spent in a septic tank seeing a small distant circle of sky above me instead of being up there close enough to touch that sky. Now why would I want a gizmo with the power to ruin a perfectly good trip like that?
On the way down from that pass to my stinking hell of a sewer pit duty I met a young couple on the way to Vail. I’m not sure if the fella even had clothes on but I remember that the girl had on very short shorts and a wife beater tank top. They had wimpy little day packs and no tent or sleeping bags and approximately 22 miles to go over some pretty rough country, and it was already mid-day. I commented on this and pulled out my map to show them what they were headed into with what appeared to be zero gear. The guy puffed out his chest and informed us that he had no map because he had a GPS. Ted swooned and I just grinned and said I hoped it folds out fairly huge and thick cause it gets awfully cold up there. If that girl had camped with me I would have shorn a llama and knitted a sleeping bag for her… I got the impression that Ted would have let the guy sleep in his bag with him if he had agreed to give him a lesson in using that GPS.
I once knew this guy named John Welsh, he was a terrible outdoorsman and I learned very little from knowing him, except never make a football bet with a guy named Welsh. He was one of those guys who constantly thought he could buy success from Cabela’s. John got one of these fancy GPS’s that fall for hunting season and he was constantly lost. Of course he had been constantly lost with a map and compass also… He got another and they were constantly at odds. So he added a 3rd and went with the majority opinion, except when they all 3 pointed in different directions. When that happened he just wandered around until he happened upon a road, as he seldom left his truck beyond sight this worked for him. I found it rather hilarious as he had about $500 into being lost all the time, which he had previously done for a simple $10 map. Watching him pull out each in succession and essentially take a vote so he could head in the majorities opinion of the direction of his truck always made me roar with laughter at its absurdity. He, of course, did not see any humor in this at all.
I took a college buddy with me and my Dad on an elk hunt once and as soon as he showed up at my house with a brand new GPS I just knew it was going to be the same old story. To get to camp we had to hike along a ridge line to a saddle and then drop down a long draw for 4 miles or so. The llamas carried all that amounted to any weight but he still fell far behind. By the time my Dad and I got to the saddle Dave was nowhere to be seen or heard. Eventually I found him standing on our tracks trying to navigate with his GPS. I told him it was a long hike and he better just follow our tracks and keep up but he was adamant that he was going to “way point” his way to camp, whatever that meant. Once we arrived at camp he spent the next three days lost until he eventually got scared and was going to give up and go home. Every time he asked his device it gave him a different answer on how far from the truck we had hiked. It varied from 5 miles to 12 miles. I kept referring to my old paper map (which said 6 miles) but he just kept on getting new mileage and new “way points”. Sometimes it’s not the buttons but the idiot pushing them which is the problem…
Once I was hunting deer when I eased into a clearing right at daylight and it was just crawling with elk. The herd bull was a huge old guy with only 5 points because he only had one brow tine on each side instead of two. I would have loved to put my tag on him but I had no tag to put, so settled to just watch for an hour as they tore the hell out of that meadow before feeding up and out over the ridge, an incredible morning to be sure. About a half hour after they were gone two Texans wandered up the trail and asked if I had seen any elk. Now usually I tell true stories and false locations, but under the duress of standing in the “location” I opted to tell a little white lie. Actually it was a huge fat, black lie, but they were Texans and that made it less of a sin. Even Texans could see and smell the sign that was as obvious as where I was standing so they whipped out their GPS and tried with limited success to enter the spot as a “destination point”. Now after about 20-30 minutes of watching them fumbling and bumbling with their fancy gizmo, arguing about which button does what, I chimed in that they could just step out of their tent onto the 3’ wide cow trail and take a left and walk uphill for a mile, but no, they wanted it chiseled in the digital stone of their toy. What those boys really needed was an alarm clock instead of a GPS, elk don’t usually feed till mid-morning.
A couple years ago my brother called me up and told me I had to go on a moose hunt as his buddy backed out on him. This was great news I told him, I love to go on “paid for” moose hunts. I was informed that I got to pay full price for the privilege of going moose hunting with him. This did not shock me at all as my brother is officially the second cheapest SOB on planet earth. What DID surprise me was when at our last contact with civilization he rented a satellite phone from our outfitter. This should have been a warning sign as he is the second cheapest SOB on earth. We flew about an hour by pontoon plane to our destination lake, it was classic Canadian bush surrounding a shallow swampy lake, you could only see about 50 yards once you left the lake shore, but Jay never left the lakeshore, except to go out on the lake and drive a boat in circles looking for moose.
Now every night he would call his wife, which was fine I guess, though I never felt the need to do the same. He couldn’t believe it when I mentioned that it was my 20th anniversary that day. “You went moose hunting on your ANNIVERSARY??” Well yes, you told me I had to… He asked if I wanted to borrow the sat/phone to call my wife and I declined. He thought I was nuts, and gonna get my ass kicked… Well, maybe, but not if I bring home the “free meat”.
The more we hunted this lake the more we realized that the best moose sign was right there beside camp. I would head back into the bush a mile or so along a flagged machete trail (sure would have been nice to have a GPS!) while Jay sat on a bucket about 25 yards from the tent flap watching the bay on which camp was set up. I would wander in to camp after dark and he would usually call his wife soon thereafter. He would always start with “Well, I made it BACK”. After a half dozen or so of these calls I just couldn’t help but ask him… BACK FROM WHERE? A bucket 25 yards away?
A week or so ago UPS pulled in my driveway with a box from some llama clients who have become good friends of mine over the last few years. Inside the box was a brand new Garmin INREACH satellite communicator and GPS device. Since receiving this gift I have been totally unable to find my hay stack to feed my llamas. For over 25 years I just walked out my door and went over to the hay and fed my boys, now sometimes I run into the barn, sometimes the wire fence or the plastic fence, yesterday I fell into the irrigation ditch and about drowned. I am starting to worry that by the time I get my way points set correctly that some or all of them may have starved to death. If they all die does that mean I will have to carry this gizmo and all the accompanying gear on my own back next summer? Maybe I could buy a drone to carry it all… Nothing screams wilderness like the buzz of a drone hovering overhead…
Somewhere in Kentucky I’m pretty sure Dan’l Boone just rolled over, I’m fixin’ to go check as soon as I can enter these stupid coordinates into google maps…
Got my money back. Standard request and the refund comes
Good stuff. No worries
So who’s the first cheapest sob in the world ? Hahahaha
And thanks for the McManus comparison ill deserved as it is, he was truly gifted. Not sure if this one got purchased yet or not, think I will do dogs next.