I don’t often talk of bodily functions on this blog, but hey…it’s a subject that sooner or later will confront every sportsman. I’m talking about the process of taking a shit in the woods. Sorry! I could have sanitized my language a bit (pun intended)…but somehow describing the process as “taking a dump,” defecating, “nature break” or going potty just doesn’t ring as being very sportsman-like.
No, let’s call it for what it is. When a sportsman gets the urge to expel bodily substances it’s generically referred to as “taking a shit.” And yes, in case you’re wondering, this all encompassing phrase also includes activities such as urinating. When a buddy tells me he needs to go take a shit…that’s where the details of the process need to end. Unlike in grade school where we signaled the teacher with one or two fingers, I don’t need any additional specifics on what my hunting or fishing buddy needs to do to regain some physical comfort.
Think back to how taking a shit in the outdoors has either been challenging or downright humorous. I contend that most sportsmen have many funny stories they can relate from this process…if they care to share them.
I once had a neighbor who learned a painful lesson. It seems one of the most important elements of taking a shit in the woods is picking your location with great care. Imagine the discomfort and total embarrassment of squatting in a patch of poison ivy. That’s one mistake you can be sure they won’t repeat.
It also pays to be mindful of what you are wearing. I remember hearing the story about one female snowmobiler who…shall we say…didn’t pay close enough attention to what she was doing. At least not until she pulled up her one-piece insulated suit and flipped the hood over her head. Yup, you guessed it…the hood ended up being a basin for her excrement. Maybe next time she learned to take the suit completely off rather than gather it around her ankles.
In case you didn’t realize it, the process of taking a shit in the woods has been glorified by author Kathleen Meyer in her book entitled How To Shit In The Woods. If you haven’t read this classic how-to book you owe it to yourself to take a look. Who knows, you might even learn some new techniques for something you probably took for granted.
Let’s face it…preparing for the inevitable is always a good idea. How many times have you packed some TP in your fanny pack for your day trip? Yea, you knew what was likely coming. And the folks at Charmin do too. That’s why they developed their mini rolls of toilet paper called Charmin To Go. Hey, there’s a market for this sort of thing apparently…who likes to use a wadded up length of TP you tore from your bathroom dispenser?
Indeed, taking a shit in the outdoors is serious business. And sportsmen seem to have as many quirks about doing it as there are funny stories to be told. I know of several fishermen who cannot pee standing in a boat. Apparently it has something to do with their feet not being planted on firm ground. I know…I’m talking quirky here.
I have another friend who doesn’t sit in the deer stand unless he has a mason jar with him. For him, he’s too paranoid about leaving scent from his excrement and urine in the woods. For me, my main concern comes from eating any of the canned pickles or tomato sauce his wife prepares.
I remember once hunting out in Montana on the plains when the urge suddenly struck. There were no trees within miles…just occasional sagebrush. I took a quick glance around…didn’t see anyone…so I felt it was safe to perform my duties. As I was pulling up my pants I had this sinking feeling that folks were laughing at me. Sure enough, on a butte about a mile away was another hunting camp I had not noticed. As I glanced through my binoculars I could see there was a group of guys huddled around a spotting scope laughing at the mere sight of my bare butt.
These guys had interrupted an otherwise refreshing experience. Now that I was feeling much lighter on my feet, I was ready to hit the trail again with some renewed vigor. Suddenly I had a flashback to my grade school days when we would signal to the teacher our need to go to the bathroom. But this time, I held up only one finger directed to those hunters on the butte…even though I actually went number 2.
© 2005 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.