With immediate access to an YMCA farm in southwestern Ohio, Rick gained a valuable outdoor knowledge from the Boy Scouts, attaining the Eagle Rank at age 18. Many additional skills were acquired through hunting with his dad who has been an avid outdoorsman and one of Rick's scouting leaders. He attended Miami University of Ohio for four years, majoring in botany with additional courses that emphasized the outdoors: zoology, geography, and anthropology. Hoping to complete school at Colorado State, he moved there in 1976. Before that could occur, the company he worked for folded and he entered the service.
While in the military, Rick devoured books on the Plains Indian and mountain man cultures, soaking up their lifestyles. Finding Bill Atkinson featured in Western Horseman and National Geographic magazines and Tom Brown in Readers' Digest, Rick became determined to meet them both and learn from whom many considered to be the very best in the nation at Native skills. He voraciously poured over anything about survival, including books by Brad Angier, Larry Dean Olson, Richard Graves, and even the air force's survival manual given to him by his brother-in-law, a B-24 pilot from WWII. Brown's book, "The Tracker", became dog-eared from use: memorizing, underlining and highlighting, and use in the field.
Along with a friend from the service he fondly called "Desert Rat", he endured an initial survival trip in the High Uintah Mountains while stationed in Utah. They ate wild edible plants mostly, for game eluded them far too often. He also put many of his new skills and knowledge to the test many more times in the Wasatch Range and the High Uintahs, learning to throw his huge Western Bowie knife and a throwing stick. He ate squirrels and hares caught in snares, trout caught with his bare hands, huge morel mushrooms, dandelions, thistle, lamb's quarters, all spiced with leeks or watercress.
Once free of his indebtedness to the service, Rick returned to Ohio. He found it harder then to work a 9-5 routine, and so became a full-time on-site mountain man for the Woodland Trails Boy Scout Reservation near Camden. He taught Wilderness Survival and Indian Lore merit badges, and enticed others to learn some of the old ways, including tracking, stalking, brain-tanning, and unique ways of nature observation.
After a couple odd jobs, Rick entered the A.F. reserves and soon found out how a federal homesite law was activated in Alaska. Once able to get out of the service again, he left Utah and ventured north to try his hand at REAL wilderness. He built his conventional lumber, 8x12 cabin on log sills mounted on stumps near Slana, about 60 miles southwest of Tok. Glennallen, the nearest town with a grocery, hardware, bank, lumber yard, etc., was about 85 miles away. At that time, Slana had only a post office, a bar, and one general store with a couple gas pumps. It rapidly expanded to another couple general stores and a hardware-lumber yard.
Sometimes accompanied by a willing homesteading couple, he learned several of the following lessons very well:
Shotguns are a preferred bear-deterrent. Preferred over nothing. Preferred over shouting, "Whoa, bear!". Over a 30 cal. carbine. Or even just a knife.
Momma Moose deserves a W-I-D-E berth when she is joined by a little one! When she lays back her ears, yours truly was already going the other way!
Hairs on the back of the neck can still prickle at minus 40 degrees when Mr. Wolf decides to be near...VERY near!
Ice has many faces...some ARE fickle! Going through ice has to be experienced to learn the lesson. It just takes some of us more than once to learn it!
Getting lost is NOT a problem. Finding your way back, might be. I never was lost, you understand, just a mite confused for a lot longer than I ever cared to be!
Lesson learned: Low clouds DO tend to obscure the major landmarks, so pay attention where you are going and where creek and highway noises are!
Grayling and salmon taste good fried, baked, or poached. (Let that one sink in for minute.) So does muskrat, moose, caribou, salmon roe (rivals ANY commercial caviar), and just about anything else I've tasted in the outdoors. But then, when you are hungry, almost anything tastes good!
Life in Alaska, scouting, and the widely-varied knowledge from Tom Brown, Jr., and Bill Atkinson prepared this body for most of what the outdoors can throw at it.
Martial arts training helped prepare this body for what mankind can throw at it.
A .44 magnum, .338 magnum, or a 12-gauge, along with a razor-sharp Bowie, will usually make up for what was forgotten, overlooked, or neglected.
are an inevitability of life. Some of us bear the transition well, while others bear what life throws at us with what one can only describe as "weathering the storm!" Which describes you? HOW we weather the storm tells others much about us and our attitudes about life, love, and myriad other pursuits. Spirituality is usually the one thing most of us are missing in our lives. If only we would take stock of our inner selves and admit we have a void of some sort, and most can or will admit it, it would be much easier to fill! Some discover it in the teen years, but some never do, let alone fill it. What or how you fill that void will also tell others of what you are made. Choose wisely!
Please consider the following discussion:
"In our technologically oriented society, the world of the spirit does not really exist for most, because they require scientific proof for their beliefs, and the spiritual scientific proof exists beyond the verifiable physical (proof). They accept nothing that cannot be explained in modern tactile terms. Yet they accept the theory of the atom, even though atoms have never been seen, because they can be proven by inference, reproducible results, and data.
...The key to the spiritual realm is faith, and it is this faith factor that is common to all religions and philosophies.
...Others in this modern society, feeling the void of material existence, want deperately to believe in the magical world of spirit. They search out endless religions, gurus, and philosophies. They play with crystals, meditation, songs, chants, ceremonies. They reach toward the customs and traditons of cultures other than their own, mixing and matching, hoping to create out of it some personal religion or philosophy. But in the modern era, where results are immediate, people are rarely willing to dedicate the concentrated amounts of time and energy to just one path. They get bored quickly with anything that requires time and dedication. They want to be instant gurus, shamans, and healers, without paying the price. They want it right away and quickly. "I want it now" is the disease of modern society. When their "quick fixes" do not pan out, they are abandoned or lost, and the people once again return to their desperate searching.
...The teachings of Grandfather did not hinder my biblical upbringing, but enhanced it and proved its validity. ...I feel that it is still the greatest work ever written, truly the Word of God."
-excerpts from "The Vision"
by Tom Brown, Jr.