We set an alarm to get out early before the hunters got started. We stopped at the Georgia Welcome Center at the state line and napped for another hour or so. We had our coffee, tea and breakfast on the tailgate and then headed to see our friend Colbert Sturgeon in Valdosta.
I should take a minute to describe Colbert. He’s a former financial analyst that has “retired” to a cabin he’s built himself on about 40 acres of low-lying land where the Little River floods seasonally (the water was way up when we were there). He lives very close to the land: he has no electricity or plumbing, he tracks and traps raccoons, beavers, river otters and other game on his land to eat and to sell the pelts. He’s a professional, licensed trapper. He has taken classes from Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School on tracking and survival living and has applied and practiced what he had learned. So, to say he’s a very interesting character is an understatement.
I wanted some more “hands-on” experience for skinning animals. I had seen it done on several occasions, on earlier trips to Colbert’s place and at Rivercane Rendezvous, but I hadn’t actually done it myself. When we got to Colbert’s place we found a crowd. James, Dee Dee and Tim from near Asheville, NC were down on their way to Tampa, Derrik from Anderson, SC, we knew from previous TAG Primitive Skills events was there, and Don, from Idaho, who Colbert has known for years. As we got in, Andrew and I talked with Colbert to catch up for a while, some other folks had checked their traps and brought back a beautiful 4 ft river otter. Colbert skinned him got the hide stretched to dry. Andrew and I had to run into town to get some groceries and internet access at the local library (we had a hard drive crash earlier that was slowing down our website updates, among other things). When we got back to camp around dark, there was otter chili on the stove. Our friend Ann came over and we all sat around the fire and chatted. Colbert enjoyed the “Gift from the Trail Gods”, the beer we rescued from the Blackwater River camp we cleaned up.