Off the Porch: Getting packed

Oct. 09, 2013 @ 10:49 AM

It was the perfect location, yet no one was fishing. I could see citation sized red drum in the shallow lagoon to the left of where we were standing. Their fins were occasionally breaking water and they generated big wakes as they swam through the shallow water. Their big tails came six inches out of the water as they fed off the bottom. I asked the locals if they did much fishing, but no one seemed to be interested in fishing. I excused myself from the group, and went to the truck, planning which gear I’d use as I walked. I got to the truck, and realized I’d left all my rods and tackle at home. It was a nightmare.
I suppose everyone has the reoccurring dream of being somewhere and not having what they need. I certainly have suffered from this issue, and as a result, I think I may be a little paranoid. At one point in my life, I traveled almost every week with my business. Packing was simple, underwear, socks, shirts, pants, my brief case and my tool case. The brief case and tool case always had everything I needed, because I knew what I was going to need and I kept them stocked.
During this time, I was also shooting high power rifle. Packing for shooting trips was simple because all my gear was cleaned and restored after each match, and kept in order on my shooting stool. I even replenished my ammunition supply, so I could just pick up my gear and go. My old slide in truck camper was a rolling tackle box with all my surf gear except rods and bait. If the wind was blowing in the right direction and it was fall or spring, I could be ready to go in a half hour. Duck hunting was simple, too. Decoys and other gear was all stored on one side of the tobacco barn that serves as a storage facility at my place. There were bags of puddle duck decoys, divers, and goose decoys stored beside the blind that graces the canoe, with paddles, swamp stools, and fold out blinds. Calls, facemasks and steel shot loads were stored in the duck hunting bag at the house.
Life isn’t so easy now. I’m not focused on just one repeatable thing and packing is harder. For one thing, my memory isn’t nearly as good as it once was. Sometimes, I get confused about whether I thought about packing Larry’s dog food, or I packed Larry’s dog food. I don’t think we older people lose our memory as much as we just don’t have room for all our memories. When I was thirty, I could remember almost everything I’d done, but now I’m past 60 and I’ve done at least twice as much. Consider that at 60 plus, I can remember what I did when I was six, but at thirty, I couldn’t remember anything from when I was three. It may be that my memory is better now, because I’m remembering twice as much, and surely with that much to remember, some little issues might slip through the cracks. I admit that sometimes I think it might be more convenient to remember where I left my keys, instead of how many pounds and ounces a flounder weighed when my Uncle Tal  caught it in 1964.
This week, I’m leaving for a two week trip to Louisiana and Florida. I’ll be doing a lot of different activities and the packing is a chore I’m doing today. During this trip, I’ll be fishing, shooting, maybe hunting, attending a conference, and getting together with some other writers for a traditional “picking and grinning” session. It’s going to be a miracle if I make it through the trip without finding out something I need is still at home.
I’m not only inconvenienced by not having what I need, for some reason, I’m embarrassed. The way I see it, I’ve spent my life traveling and doing outdoor stuff. If the average guy forgets something, I just see that as inexperience. If I do it, it’s stupidity on my part because I know better. I’ve always prided myself on being prepared. I get a kick of pride when I’m fishing with a guy and he realizes he doesn’t have a sinker slider. I can just produce one and put him back fishing. I wasn’t a Boy Scout, but I read the Boy Scout Manual, copyright 1954, from cover to cover, probably several times. I’ll never forget the motto, “Be Prepared”. I have to resist taking everything I own on trips as a result of this. Sometimes in order to pack a little lighter, I just wear the same shirt a few days longer; after all, it makes room for a spare spool of fishing line.
If I had things scattered everywhere, as does the wonderful woman who shares my life, this would be a total disaster. I know this because I always carry extra ear plugs for her and I pack her shotgun and shells for hunting and shooting trips, or she’ll arrive there without them. I, on the other hand, am organized. I keep all my pistol shooting gear in one bag, I have my rifle shooting gear stored in the bag on my shooting stool. My gun cleaning stuff is all in see through plastic boxes, one each for rifle, pistol, and shotgun. Waders are all hanging in one place except in surf fishing season and during this time, they’re stored in the truck camper for instant use. I have a travel bag for Larry that contains his stuff, and of course, there’s my “everything” bag. It’s a canvas, clamshell, doctor-style bag that contains binoculars, batteries, flashlights, camera, lighter and firestarters, fishing and hunting tags and license, sunglasses, bug spray (for Cherie, they don’t bite me out of respect), sunscreen, a pair of small two-way radios, GPS, first aid kit, knife sharpening stone, business cards, and sometimes, an extra pair of socks and underwear.
Now, if I can just remember where I put it.


Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. He’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. If you’d like to have him speak to your group, he can be reached at