Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bushcraft - Central Texas Style

The basic thing about Central Texas is there aren’t many real “wilderness” areas. This makes it hard for the average person to practice bushcraft skills to a serious degree. Central Texas for the most part is basically urban sprawl except for the few regions that are privately owned. There are still quite a few open land areas made up of large farms and ranches (500+ acres) that are located in the area but most of these privately owned lands are not open to the public. There is even an extremely large ranch of about 10,000+ acres fairly close that Mrs. RW has gone dove and pheasant hunting on a few times with some of her lady friends.

Now it would be virtually impossible to get lost in Central Texas. The main reason for this is that you'd never be more than a few miles from someone’s house or a major highway in the area. If you did happen to wander off onto a large farm or ranch, chances are you’d be found by an irate landowner with a big gun long before a rescue team would be necessary. You might wind up needing an ambulance though.

There are quite a few places for the public to go camping and hiking, most of which are quite beautiful and natural areas. These are mostly state or national parks and usually have large numbers of people taking advantage of the services they provide. There’s not a lot of privacy in these types of settings. Many of these parks offer primitive areas for you to camp and hike but even in this case you’d still have a hard time getting lost. There are some private hunting leases available in most areas but this can be a very expensive way to practice your bushcraft skills.

The weather in Central Texas is usually quite mild and generally has a moderate amount of rainfall. There are some pretty severe thunderstorms occasionally with the possibility of lightning being one of the major threats. With the thunderstorms, there is also a definite possibility of flash floods but if you can reach higher ground this shouldn’t be a problem, just don’t make camp too close to a river or stream. The winters are mostly cold and wet with an occasional ice storm that could make travel difficult. One word of caution, it is hotter than hell in the summer and extremely humid almost year round. It’s not a desert but at times it sure seems like one. Plan to sweat a lot!

The main problems you run into in South Central Texas is the creepy crawling critters (snakes and spiders) and the plant life (poison oak and cactus). There aren't any real dangerous types of wildlife, although you might run into a feral hog that could be pretty aggressive.

There are some things you should know about the different areas of the state, as far as bushcraft is concerned, and many of the basic techniques are the same no matter where you are. Some of these items will be covered in future posts.

The good thing about Central Texas is that you usually aren’t that far from the two basic items required for survival by most Texans…beer and barbeque!

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

If you count the area between San Antonio / Del Rio / Junction as central Texas, that place might count. Not that public land abounds there like you said, its just an area that has more natural water courses and rural open property than the normal area. East of San Antonio / Victoria, there are a lot of small towns like you mention, it would be hard to remain anonymous there.

Down here in the Valley, there is a huge property called the King Ranch, slightly less than a million acres that if/when authorities lose control, might be a place to bug out. Wild Horse Desert though.

Groundhog said...

Ah RW, this is where the ingenuitive can get creative! I've found that if I let the grass in my back yard go I can make it approximately 2-3 months before my suburban lawn Nazis (cleverly called 'code compliance' officers) will ticket me. In a good rainy year like this one that can provide areas of ground cover over 6 feet tall in some places! In my fairly spacious back yard this allows for a great variety of bushcraft skill making. I have hilly terrain, flooding, a pool that's gone au natural complete with wild life, snakes with and without rattles. Shoot, I can do orienteering, survival, swamp skills, water rescue (though you're pretty much on your own if you fall in that thing), wild life identification, target practice (animal control isn't interested in picking up rattle snakes), and fire making which is often followed by some kind of grilled meat caught at the local HEB supermarket ;)

Central Texas has it all man!

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 12:09

I like the area around Leakey, Texas.
The Lost Maples Recreational area has some primitive camping areas and a varied topography.

Texas is pretty big and you usually don't have to go very far to find a different type of terrain in most cases.

Thanks anon.

riverwalker said...

To: Groundhog

I've got a two acre backyard and with the way it's been raining this summer it wouldn't be too hard to get lost in my own backyard if the grass keeps growing at this rate.

Thanks Groundhog!


joecoles said...

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Thanks again.


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