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May 16, 2014

You may be lost, but you'll never go hungry with these tips

As you may know by the stories I have written, I like to spend a lot of time in the woods. I almost got lost once, but I soon learned to use a map and compass, vowing that would never happen again. 

I’ve told the story many times about Jim Bridger, the famous mountain man who explored Yellowstone way back in the early 1800s. When a newspaper reporter asked him if he ever got lost in the wilderness, he replied, “No, but I got confused for about three weeks one time.”

Well, I too have been confused, but I have never gone hungry. When I go hiking or backpacking, I always carry enough food to last me several days longer than I plan on being gone. After all, a full stomach makes a rainy day far more enjoyable.

Over the years, I’ve also learned about the many edible plants that grow wild in the woods. I sat on a wooded Adirondack hillside one afternoon, waiting for a buck to come up out of the swamp. Three does came along and fed not far below me. I wondered what they they found so enjoyable to eat.

After they were gone, I walked down to check it out. They were eating tiny new-growth ferns. Those little, curly things would be next year’s plants. I picked one, rubbed off the brown covering and tried it. It was a little dry, but it had a nutty taste.

While hunting bear in Canada the following spring, we had fiddleheads for dinner one evening. The cook had gone out in a damp, wooded area and picked a bunch of those same curly-headed ferns. She boiled them and served them with salt, pepper, butter and a little vinegar, but they still had that same nutty flavor.

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