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Black Bears, Blackberries and the Time of Your Life
 by: Chuck Fitzgerald

I am an outdoor super-enthusiast and a technophile. I once thought this was a rare combination but just recently Iíve discovered there are lots of us around. Iím a little disappointed in this new discovery because I really wanted to be different but looking at the bright side, being a tech junkie has helped me to truly appreciate everything the outdoors has to offer. Let me try to explain.

While hunting elk in Arizona a few years ago, I found myself alone in a high forest nearly ten miles from the pavement and about two miles from camp. I had decided to spend late afternoon and evening sitting beneath a forty foot pine tree and wait for an elk to walk by. This plan seemed innocent enough but as the dayís light began to disappear shooting an elk might not be such a good idea since I was by myself and I was an hour from camp. This is ironic to say, because shooting an elk was the purpose of my being in the woods to begin with. As it was dusk and getting darker every moment, I was questioning my decision to stay where I was. Perhaps I should start back?

As I was about to stand and begin my trek back to camp, I caught movement off to my right. I froze half way towards standing. I saw a black bear running through the trees about 30 yards away. It stopped to eat a mere 25 yards from me but it didnít seem to notice me. It was the first bear I had seen in the wild and it was close. The ones in Yellowstone National Park that come up to the cars on the road for a snack donít count in my book. Seeing this bear in its own element was the best thing that happened to me on my 10 day adventure. Iíll never forget it or the fact that I donít have any pictures of my first bear or that I got lost going back to camp. I was not prepared properly.

That day when I returned to camp, I decided that if I am going to put myself in situations to see true wild life in true wild places, I not going to let my gear, or lack there of, jeopardize my adventure. Therefore, immediately following this trip I purchased a digital camera designed for the outdoor enthusiast. One that is fast to get on target, easy to use and takes fabulous photos. I upgraded my two-way radio to a 5 mile capability so I could stay in touch with the campsite. I upgraded my portable GPS unit too. I needed one with better trip planning tools.

I now keep a journal everyday in my RIM Blackberry PDA when I return to camp, and spend time plotting waypoints in my GPS for the next dayís adventure. Technology has given me the tools and the confidence to get the absolute most out of my outdoor life. If you havenít invested in some of these great technologies, you may be missing out on the time of your life. Use this information and youíll Get It Right The First Time. Get Outdoors!

About The Author

Chuck Fitzgerald is the owner of Arizona based BackCountry Toys, an online specialty store with the ďBest Gear Out ThereĒ and dedicated to helping outdoor enthusiasts to ďGet It Right The First TimeĒ with timely educational information. Please visit to find great gear and to receive the Fact & Tips e-newsletter, "FreshAir.Ē (800) 316-9055.

This article was posted on August 11, 2005


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