KIFARU’S PATRICK SMITH’S MODERN “LONG HUNTER” TRADITION
A “Long Hunter” was an eighteenth century explorer and hunter who made expeditions into the American frontier wilderness for as much as six months at a time.”
KINDRED SPIRITS OF SORTS
SOF publisher, Robert K. Brown and Patrick Smith, Kifaru International owner, are kindred spirits. Sort of, that is, except that the rather silent Patrick plays the lone hunter out in the woods, and the rather boisterous RKB would not enjoy himself without an army of former Special Forces, hunters and other just as rowdy sofers whose stories get better and wilder, whether it be hunting or chasing wars. And of course, for the SOF wild bunch, the number one piece of gear is a camera.
But the two are true mountain men and look forward to meeting up in the Colorado mountains and the SOF office in the concrete jungle. Patrick creates hunting gear, and RKB loves testing it out.
A BIT OF MADNESS TO A CITY DWELLER
I asked Patrick, who never ceases to amaze me with his solo treks into the wild (he hunts elk by himself, walking back five or six miles into the dark timber, pops an elk, and then packs it out in four more trips!), what motivates his what I consider a bit of madness. He trudges over mountainous terrain and slogs through brutal weather. Good sport that he is, he gave me a bit of his philosophy that he has developed over the years.
LIVING OFF THE LAND
“Competence through experience, and through having the best gear and knowing how to use it. THAT is the essence of my success in wandering alone all over, “living off the land.” The wandering is the primal urge; the mindfulness to create the gear to make that happen very, very well (based on tons of experience) is the “details.”
“So, I spend a whole bunch of time in isolated places. Carrying a backpack of one sort or another. From the North Slope of the Brooks Range, Alaska, to Northern Labrador, Canada, to the desert southwest to… but you get the idea. I call these jaunts “Rambles.” I’ll walk a mountain range sometimes, or go point to point across some big basin. And I try not to use trails–just don’t like ‘em, frankly.
“I’ve been what you might call a live-off-the-land wanderer since I was 13 years old. I Founded Mountainsmith, the backpack company, and owned it for about 15 years. I’m in the field about 150 nights a year, virtually all with a means of collecting my supper from the land. I was a reader from a very early age, and was enthralled by the self-sufficient explorations of men like Daniel Boone—the so-called Long Hunters. Men who lived in the wilderness and provided for themselves with their rifles. On foot. There weren’t any 4-wheelers in those days. I’m still perfecting those arts. And I can assure you that hunting on your own two feet is still the most successful way to do it.
“I also taught wilderness survival for about 10 years. But we hunters aren’t among the effete classes–what Jeff Cooper terms the rabbit people. On the contrary, we know the roots of life, the gene-deep realities that death accompanies, defines, life; that the natural world, the real world, countenances killing to live; that the chase is essential to living fully, connectedly, to all that we are, and to where we came from. So, never quit because of age. Do whatever it takes to stay afield.”
There you have it. Check out kifaru.net and Patrick’s essays on hunting, packing, and the philosophy of a modern day mountain man.