Day 4 ... I wasn’t ready to quit yet. Of course I hadn’t been cold or wet either. The night had been mild and because of the elevation there were no mosquitoes. The worst thing was the constant hunger. Living on greens and mushrooms just sucked. The squirrel was not just gone it was forgotten. I needed some kind of steady food supply.
I decided to take a walk after the drink of water I had for breakfast. I took my spear and my fishing line for my exploration. If during the walk I stumbled on a food source, I wanted at least a chance to exploit it. Once I hit the stream at my water hole I filled the small water bottle. It was the one I planned to take hiking, not the one I used for camp water. I also wanted to check the snares while I was there. It was as good a place to start as any. I felt guilty that I wasn’t working on the tent frame, but I felt that food was just as important.
I estimated that I walked half an hour or so in some very thick undergrowth. I noticed some holes in the thick grass. They were obviously small game trails. The folded over grass told me that they were too small for dear or bear. I felt like they could be maybe raccoon or something about that size. I put a snare weighted down by a heavy rock in the trail. With a little luck the animal couldn’t shake it before he got it hung on something else.
After an hour or so, I came to a spot where the water got deeper. It was still shallow and fast running but deeper. I observed it for a while from the bank. Even though I didn’t see any signs of fish. I decided to try a hook baited with a bit of tinfoil. Needless to say it was a waste of my time.
I hiked back to the camp by pure dead reckoning. I stumbled onto the clearing. since I just headed where I felt like it was located. I worked on the tent frame during the afternoon and into the evening. My ass was dragging the whole time, but I got almost all the frame measured and cut. The plan was to go to the water hole check my snares and fill up the camp water bladder.
I carried the water bottle inside a denim holder, so I could throw it over my shoulder. It made hiking without a pack possible. When I arrived at the tiny clearing by the water I saw movement in the brush. One of the snares held a rabbit. The rabbit was trying to escape. I went over and quickly ended his life. He was a smaller species of rabbit, but I was thankful for it. I gutted the poor little animal before I returned to camp. I used his intestines to bait a larger snare. I was curious to see what would eat it.
I cooked the rabbit while I rested by the fire. I had enough poles to build the frame on day five, I decided. Even though I had determined to build a frame outside the tent. The plan was then take the tent down and slip it over the wooden frame. I changed my mind that day. The new plan was to take the poles inside and assemble them there. I felt like it would be easier to handle than trying to put the tent on like a skin.
At the moment the tent was hanging from ropes. I was just a mess, so I decided that it wouldn’t be any worse of a mess after my renovation.
Day 5 ... I ate a large mushroom for breakfast. I had found it during my hike the day before. It wasn’t to eggs over easy with bacon and grits, but it was better than water alone.
The ache cause by an empty belly subsided. I carried my spear to the water hole and found a large muskrat like animal half hanging from a snare. I prodded him with the spear tip and found him to be dead. Something about the trap killed him. Of course there was the possibility that he was already on deaths door from some deadly disease. It didn’t much matter I was going to gut him and eat him anyway. He was a tiny thing, but he was food, so after I gutted him, I gladly carried him home.
I didn’t stand on any ceremony. I cooked and ate him immediately. I also didn’t add any vegetables to the meal. Just the muskrat like meat. It was good but I would not pick it off a restaurant menu. There was too much sinew and not enough fat. Even so, it beat the hell out of boiled mushrooms. I went back to work on my tent frame during lunch. It was mid afternoon when I left on my next walk. I chose to walk east for about half an hour, The walk was as thick with trees and vines as before, but there were plenty of small bushes, I set a few snares just to see what moved up and down those game trails.
When I decided I needed to turn back, it was just in time. It wasn’t getting dark, but the sun had fallen below the mountains tops. It was twilight for a long period of time. If I was going to make the full year, then I needed to learn how best to use this time to live.
For the winter I needed the cabin to avoid freezing. I also needed to figure out how to heat the cabin using the tools I had at hand. Then of course I had to have food to eat and be warm enough to survive out of door in the winter. Those three things were necessary for me to survive. At the moment I was busy building, but I also needed to be busy learning how to survive in the future.
I carried a bag filled with something that looked like a wild cabbage. Maybe it was a tight head of cabbage. No matter what it was the damn thing didn’t excite me at all. Now even a hamburger steak would excite me for sure. I even dreamed about Big Macs. Hell I dreamed about muskrat burgers as well.
It had been a long day five, and I was grateful to crawl into the blanket roll. The weather was still warm, but I didn’t have all that long to complete the tent house. Three months seemed like a long time but I had already seen how fast it could pass. Five days and I hadn’t been able to secure enough food to have made even one meal at a home.