Cabin Fever

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Joined: 06/03/2010

Cabin Fever
            In the far north during winter the days grow noticeably shorter and by December 21st we reach the winter solstice and shortest day of the year. There is an old malady that was said to afflict the fur trappers and prospectors of the far north called “Cabin Fever” and it was the result of having to spend the long, cold winter in a small cabin where the occupant(s) succumbed to the craziness of being alone for a long period in a cramped space.  I don’t know if it is a real illness or just an old myth but I grew up in the north country of Upper Michigan and never experienced it.
            One might ask what do we do up here when daylight is so short and nights are so long. There are the obvious nose rubbing and time for baby making jokes that often are used to make light of this bleak time but the fact is we usually do much the same things as we do any other time of the year only we do the daytime stuff a lot more efficiently so as to fit it all in during the short daylight hours and we use the long evening hours for doing whatever is needed to make life more enjoyable.
            There are things like hunting, fishing, ice fishing as soon as there is ice and skiing (downhill and cross country) and snowshoeing along with snowmobiling when snow comes which are all  very popular and can make the days a lot more enjoyable. When the nights roll around it is a great time for the outdoor person to go through all one’s stuff and do needed repairs or cleaning. Firearms are always in need of some cleaning and winter is the ideal time to really do a thorough job and even a full teardown if necessary.
            I have found that shotguns and rifles often need extra attention once the hunting seasons are over and this includes things like pulling actions from stocks and thorough cleaning and lubing of actions and bores so rust isn’t allowed to get a hold on any bare metal. One of my worst experiences was with my prize over/under shotgun that was put aside and left for several days without a good cleaning and only a quick wipe down and when I finally got around to cleaning it I found rust on the under lugs and polished parts of the breech and under the forearm. Even a good polish with a brand name metal polish failed to remove all the tiny rust spots but at least I saved any major damage from occurring but I will never make that mistake again.
            Those long evenings are also a good time to take up hobbies like holster making or making knife sheaths. I am an amateur leather worker and I know my projects won’t ever equal a professional’s work but the work is fun to do. I have made several holsters and knife sheaths and even a wallet or two. Reloading, if that isn’t already part of one’s routine, is a great winter pastime. I try to load most of my handgun loads for target shooting during the winter when it is usually too cold to sit out and shoot. I don’t cast anymore but bullet casting is a great winter time project as long as you watch the fumes and have a well ventilated area to do it; my heated shop was great for that.
           I do a lot of my fishing equipment maintenance during the long evening hours of winter. Cleaning reels, fixing rods and relining spools etc. are enjoyable when there is no pressure to get that done before the next day as usually happens in summer during the height of fishing season. This is the time to check lures for damage, sharpen hooks and resupply missing tackle like plastic worms and porktails. Most of my fly tying was done on long winter night sessions. I suppose I am a tinkerer at heart because I like to take things apart and put them back together. Cleaning and relubing reels is a great relaxer.
           Clothes need to be gone through so the tattered and worn items can be replaced and if you’re like me, boots always need to be checked, waterproofed or replaced. I have a real thing for new boots and have purchased many pair over the years! It seems like the pair I have are never good enough and I need a new pair. Rubber pacs and waders need to be checked for wear and rips or tears and lost suspenders too! I never can keep suspenders around without misplacing them during the off season.
            I also like to make lists and winter is a good time to list shooting supplies and tackle that need to be purchased before next season. Lists are helpful when you get older since we oldsters often have “old timers” memory which allows us to forget those things we meant to do but didn’t. Without a list it’s like going to the store and not remembering the most important item you went there to get but you’ve managed to get all the items you didn’t really need!
            Winter seems to go a lot faster when I keep busy at night with all these chores and fun jobs so when the seasons roll around I am ready to hit the field or water. Of course there is still a lot of time for nose rubbing in the Great Far North!

Joined: 01/22/2013

   Living in the cold snowy province of QUEBEC as a kid was great. we hunted ,fished, and snowshoed everywhere. we lived  on a farming island . no electricity. wood stove. water pump outside.  out house too.      Now i can hunt or fish every day. always something open.   geese,wolf and cougar at the moment.   fresh water lake a few minutes away and  10 minutes to the ocean.   More snow falls than usual  but its gone in a day or two.     Now  the rain,thats a different story.    but i cast and reload  for my black powder arms and handguns.  Very important work that must be done,so i tell the misses.What a wonderful place to be retired.  Winter is also a time to plan spring black bear and grizzly hunt and even fall moose hunt  up in north eastern british columbia/north west territories.    CABIN FEVER?? no time for that   too much to do!!!!!  WASATCH CHARLIE