I believe that true adventure exists outside your comfort zone, but I don’t believe you have to be uncomfortable to have an adventure. The key to any successful hunt is enjoying yourself and that is hard to do when you’re physically miserable.
Unfortunately, “physically miserable” describes my Cumberland Island hunt perfectly. And mostly because I didn’t take care of my feet.
It was a two mile walk to my stand every day and anything worth seeing on the island required at least another two. It was humid; it rained the first two days; and I only brought one pair of boots. They were fairly new and I loved them. I wore them everywhere: on the plane, in the car, on the ferry, in the woods, and around camp.
My feet were a blistered mess by the end of Day 1 and there was no relief to be had – not even in taking them off, which meant sand spurs, ticks, sharp sticks, and broken seashells. The balls of my feet were rubbed raw and forming blisters beneath the callouses and there was little to stop it from happening save for a pack of foam blister pads Brannon happened to have in his day pack. He found them for me the evening of Day 2, but by that point we were patching tires with bubble gum. It just didn’t work.
What ended up being truly funny is that I researched and spent good money on lightweight merino hiking socks and made Steve drive all over the outskirts of Macon in search of a CVS to buy a bottle of medicated foot powder prior to the hunt. Neither made a difference and never would have in those conditions with new boots. Our feet were always wet with rain or sweat and we walked far too much. I spent many a long hour – feet ablaze – staring at the empty woods and praying to the Almighty for relief.
Fortunately, my prayers were answered in the form of Steve’s wife Lorrie, who had a bottle of Vick’s Vapor Rub and a box of Bandaids waiting for me when we arrived back in North Georgia on Thursday. “Just rub a little on the blisters and cover them up with a bandaid,” she said. You’ll be surprised how much better they feel in the morning.”
I’ll admit I was skeptical at first. Vick’s has its uses. My Grandma liked the scent of it and always smelled like a York Peppermint Patty when I was a kid. My wife even rubbed it on my kids’ chests to help them sleep when they were babies. Curing blisters didn’t seem like the correct application. Imagine my surprise the next morning when I hopped out of bed virtually pain free and ready to hit the woods. That magical goo had performed a miracle, sucking the moisture out and relieving the skin around it.
I’ll never go to camp without that particular remedy again and I’ll pay closer attention to my footwear in the future. Everything that was good about this trip would’ve been amplified had I done so – and there was a lot of good. I still had a fantastic time on Cumberland Island. The scenery was unforgettable and I couldn’t have asked for better companions (save for Thom Jorgensen who couldn’t make the trip). I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard around a campfire in my life. I only wish I could tell you why, but some things are better off left between friends.
Sometimes you have to do something foolish and experience a little discomfort to learn something. What have you learned “the hard way”? Please comment below or post on our Facebook page.
Nick Viau lives in Rockford, Michigan and is an active participant of the Simply Traditional Field Staff team. He owns and maintains the traditional archery blog Life and Longbows and is currently the president of the Michigan Longbow Association.