Christmas in the mountains of north Alabama was a special time for me and my buddies, Punky Kelly and Chipmunk Green. School was out, there was plenty of time to put out rabbit box traps, and there was the Christmas pageant at our little rural church, which meant food and presents.

 Setting rabbit box traps was a high priority for us as we thought of ourselves as being mountain men. The excitement was that we never knew what our trap line would produce, one year it was mostly opossums the next a rabbit or two.

This particular Christmas season we each had built one new rabbit box trap. Our trap line started on the creek behind my house where we set one box on an animal trail next to the creek. Then we crossed the pasture to a fencerow near Punkys house where a second box was carefully set. The third box was set a short distance away, next to a brush pile behind Chipmunk’s dad’s barn.

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He is as rare and endangered as any critter in North America, perhaps more so. No, I’m not talking about a Black-footed ferret or the Florida panther. I am speaking of the “woodsman”.

I grew up in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when outdoor magazines were a colorful mix of adventure stories with really useful “how-to” information thrown in to help the reader learn a collection of outdoor skills that was called “woodsmanship”.

Writers such as Charlie Elliott, Fred Bear, John Jobson, Ted Trueblood, Russell Annabel, and Townsend Whelen took us to the most remote corners of North America. These men could use a canoe like an Indian, navigate by the stars, and cook scrumptious meals in a reflector oven. They could sharpen an ax, track game across a bed of rock, butcher a deer, and make a comfortable shelter using only a tarp.

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