Several years ago I was fishing one of my favorite brook trout streams and began to smell smoke drifting down the stream. As I got closer, the smoke grew thicker and soon I came upon a streamside camp fire that had not been completely extinguished by the idiot who hade made the fire.
There was evidence that an angler had made a streamside fire on a sandbar, cooked his catch for lunch, and probably thought he’d drowned the fire till it was dead out. He was wrong, and the breeze blowing down stream had fanned the embers back to life. Smoke was billowing and hot embers were being blown downstream as well. Fortunately I happened along before it could set the entire forest ablaze.
I quickly ran a few steps to the creek and filled my Stetson hat with water to douse the fire. After several repeat trips from creek to fire, I finally got the embers out for good. Thank goodness I had my old John B. Stetson to assist me. Of all the equipment I carry afield in my hunting, fishing and other outdoor explorations, certainly one of the most important items is my trusty Stetson. I have used my trusty hat to both fan a fire to life in a driving rain and to drown one to prevent a forest fire. It has protected me from blazing sun, blowing snow, and scratches in manzanita tickets. It keeps ticks from dropping down my collar and can be used as a makeshift waterdish for my dog.
My Stetson is probably one of the best investments I ever made.
If you want to watch a cool video clip, check out the Stetson website at www.stetsonhat.com and click on “How a hat is made”. It is only a few minutes long, but pretty interesting. Like everything else in this world, there are varying qualities of hats from cheap to wonderful. Also not surprisingly, you’re very likely to get what you pay for. There are free hats galore out there, usually with the logo of a company who paid for the hat. Free hats are all right I guess, but it’s tough to water your horse with a free mesh baseball cap. The water just runs right through. It has been about 15 years since I bought my Stetson, a 4x Rancher style in a color called Silverbelly, which is sort of an off grey color. It isn’t real fancy and doesn’t stand out in a crowd, but it does everything I want it to do. I wear it while hunting, fishing, exploring old ghost towns in the desert, and even playing poker. I don’t wear it to church, weddings or funerals. Mine is a working hat, not a dress hat.
I don’t recall exactly now, but I’m pretty sure I paid close to $400 for my Silverbelly Stetson.
It was a lot of money at the time, but if you pro-rate it over 15 years that works out to about $25 a year. If wearing my Stetson has prevented only one case of sunstroke, it’s already paid for itself many times over. Treating a case of Lymes Disease from an infected tick bite isn’t cheap either. In the lining of every Stetson, there is an iconic color picture of a cowpoke pouring water from his canteen into his upturned hat, so he could water his horse. I’ve never watered a horse that way, but I have watered my dog when we were way out in the desert. Then I put the damp hat back on and it helped keep me cool too. It sure came in handy.
If you want to wear a free plastic hat when you’re afield, Hay, go for it! For my money however, nothing beats my old Stetson.
Until Next Week,