Are people scared of bushcrafters/woodsmen?

Discussion in 'General Bushcraft Discussion' started by Bitterroot Native, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    Hello BCUSA! I have noticed over the years a large difference in the way people treat me/react to my presence depending on what gear I'm using.

    When I'm in the woods and have a tent, modern backpack, sleeping bag, ect. folks are friendly and talkative and sometimes even excited to see another human.

    If I'm barefoot carrying a basket full of stoneage tools and sleeping in a wikiup people genuinely seem afraid and on guard when they meet me. The difference is palpable and perplexing to say the least.

    Now that I almost never use modern gear in the field I seem to notice this even more. I don't often see people but when I do I certainly don't want to come across as a "scary" individual.

    I'm a really nice and charismatic guy and have been all my life so it's very strange to me that peoples first reaction when bumping into me in the woods is one of fear and being creeped out.

    Is it because I'm doing something they perceive as out of the ordinary? Do they think I'm homeless? Do they think I'm mentally ill and legit crazy?

    I don't particularly care what strangers think of me but I'm honestly at a loss as to why people would act so much more aloof just based on how a person goes about enjoying the woods.

    Has anyone else noticed this or had some strange reactions from other folks when it comes to crafting bush?
     
  2. dirt7

    dirt7 Guide

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    I think unless you are wearing trendy gear most people will associate you with a vagrant/homeless person.
     
  3. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Scholarly Woodsman

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    I use modern gear and wear shoes so I haven’t noticed it.

    People tend to be alarmed by things that they don’t expect to see. They probably don’t expect to see people relying on caveman technology when they are out for a hike in modern North America. I doubt they are actually afraid of you. Just taken off guard for a second.
     
  4. HannahT

    HannahT Firebug Hobbyist Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    My coworkers just don't know what to think of me in general :rolleyes: They ask if I'm a survivalist. It seems like most folks don't understand getting outside and building skills, just for the fun of it.
     
  5. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Scholarly Woodsman

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    I think this a bit dramatic. It doesn’t have much to do with being “trendy” in my opinion.

    I do agree that being dirty and wearing no shoes could make them wonder if you are homeless/vagrant, though.
     
  6. leghog

    leghog Guide

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    No. And even if they were, why care?
     
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  7. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker #42 Lifetime Supporter

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    Normally I am right there with you on this. Twice in the past couple of years I have had strangers make a scene because they felt uncomfortable or scared.

    I tend to live and let live when I am outdoors. I wish more people would do the same.
     
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  8. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    It's human nature. They are seeing something out of the "norm". If most people see modern backpackers then a guy with primitive gear will draw their attention.

    Same deal if everyone is at some kind of business convention in a hotel lobby. There could be 300 people in business suits and attire and the one guy who shows up wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Dockers will get some funny looks even if he is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
     
  9. leghog

    leghog Guide

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    I'd just let them make a scene. Their problem. Not mine.
     
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  10. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    My thought would be that it's out of the other's picture of "Normalcy". Many folk shy away from something different or out of the ordinary (though may be curious).

    I'd like to see a pic of your wikiup. :4:
     
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  11. dads2vette

    dads2vette Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Because, as another person I would rather make someone feel good and secure than afraid? It's the way I was brought up. As a friend always tells me "Just be nice".

    People are 'concerned' about different. Currently if your not in the 45% club, you're different. Engage in conversation and you may find them intrigued instead of wary.

    dave
     
  12. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker #42 Lifetime Supporter

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    Fair play indeed. In my particular area, making a scene meant nobody enjoyed their time what with someone blasting music on a radio. .

    Like Jim Morrison once said..... 'People are strange, when you're a stranger' :D
     
  13. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    Also this. I know I'd be leery/cautious if I stumbled across some scruffy looking dude sitting by a debris shelter around a fire in the middle of nowhere. I'd be foolish not to.
     
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  14. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker #42 Lifetime Supporter

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    I am scruffiest when it is cold outside. Cold enough so a fire would not normally be uncommon to see.

    If I run into you @Primordial wearing your signature mask.... I would be a bit scared at all times of year! :D
     
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  15. SkipJunkie

    SkipJunkie Scout

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    It's been human nature since the dawn of time to fear what they don't understand .
     
  16. Revinmama

    Revinmama Scout Bushclass I

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    My adult kids call me a prepper, which is absolutely not me. I do practice a certain amount of preparedness, but I'm not a survivalist. Like you, I'm just out having fun and building skills.

    Marlene
     
  17. MAD Punty

    MAD Punty Supporter Supporter

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    Most folks have never held an axe, or used a knife over 5 inches unless it was in the kitchen. Most folks think backpacks are for books and laptops and should be colorful. Most folks look at 20th Century canvas and leather gear as old garbage that nobody would use unless they are homeless people that found it in the trash somewhere. Most folks will be freaked out if they see someone with a kettle over a twig stove in the woods, because they only know Gatorade and Sports drinks.

    You know...for most of my life, most folks were scared of tattoos, too, or guys with long hair.

    Most folks are scared of most everything that does not conform to their particular world.
     
  18. Metaldog

    Metaldog Just chasing my tail... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I think it is more or less a stereotype thing.

    When folks see someone "keeping up with the Jones's", so to speak. Someone with the latest greatest gear & gadgets. The high priced name branded items, and the modern gear, they are perceived as acceptable.

    Yet. When a "free thinking" individual comes along, dancing to the beat of his own drum. Being a traditionalist, or a purist in the outdoors, the bushcrafter or woodsman is perceived as a "whack job", nut, or a doomsday type.

    I say, who gives a rats a$$! Be yourself and do what makes YOU happy. Who cares what anyone else thinks. You are the key to your own happiness. Not the folks who give you strange looks, or steer clear of you.

    Now, with that said, I think that if you carry yourself with pride and are friendly, some folks will be fine with you. If you act as though you'd rather not be bothered, then folks may treat you like an outcast.

    I generally carry a modern pack, and have a certain amount of modern gear. Yet, I almost always carry a tomahawk strapped to my pack, a good sized knife on my belt, and sometimes a water skin slung over my shoulder. Sure, I get strange looks from time to time, but I actually am slightly amused by the reactions of others. I often will try to find a way to educate folks.

    Whether on an outing overnight, or out for days, I always make my campfire in the traditional method by friction or with flint & steel. And yes, I have had folks laugh at me for it. That's when I offer to them to give it a go for themselves. Once the seed is planted, their curiosity is perked. Then, I take the opportunity to teach them and show them how it is done. By doing so, I earn their respect, and the walls of prejudice begin to crumble.

    @Bitterroot Native, forget about what others think, and do what makes you happy. If you have an opportunity to share knowledge, then do so. You are out there doing what you do for YOU. Don't worry about what anyone thinks. Just be yourself and enjoy life! :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  19. Enzo

    Enzo Supporter Supporter

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    I haven’t experienced that. I usually set up my camp/bushcrafting area a mile or two off-trail, so I don’t run into anyone unless I’m hiking in or out.
     
  20. backlasher

    backlasher Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Especially if he had a knife, machete and axe close to him.
     
  21. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    (Voices of Mr. and Mrs. Howell)

    "Thurston! Thurston! What are those!?"

    "Well, I'm sure I don't know Lovey, dear. Perhaps we should inquire."
    "Um, pardon me , ah, Sir(?). What, pray tell are you doing?

    (me) "Primative camping, Sir."

    "Lovey, lets move quickly down this path. I do believe they've gone 'native.'"

    "Oh, my. Thurston, whatever should we do!"

    "Lovey, Dear. Just becareful to not 'look them in the eye.' They may even be.....Rednecks!"
     
  22. Haggis

    Haggis Bushmaster

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    Folk who know me, expect me to have some ability in getting along back of beyond, folk who don’t know are usually surprised when they learn I enjoy the out of doors...

    On the clothing issue,,, I don’t/won’t wear camo, ever,,, and I haven’t worn military clothing since I was in the military and forced to wear it,,, hated it even then.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  23. JAY

    JAY Guide

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    I have found that if your pack and gear is military green or camo for the most part, people tend to avoid you thinking you are para military and thus a potential danger. I don't care for camo, but like the green or earth tones. also have a knife within reach, I have given up what people think, I go to the bush to enjoy myself. If I wanted to be social, I would go to town.
     
  24. leghog

    leghog Guide

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    Some people are afraid of their own shadow. Some are afraid of everything else. Their problem. Not mine. I learned long ago not to be other adults' coping mechanism.
     
  25. Kona9

    Kona9 Supporter Supporter

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    BE2EA4CF-090B-4ECC-9B87-C04330F76A33.jpeg I agree with most things said here. If you are not stomping through the woods with the latest trail runners and performance wear from Dicks and you are carrying a pack full of gear you will get some looks. If your gear and clothes are more earth tone or camo, you will get some looks. If you are using tools such as an axe or knife larger than a SAK, you will get looks. Maybe on some trails you will get less attention doing these things. Anything out of the ordinary will get attention. I always hope that I don’t bump into anyone on the trail as I don’t want to deal with any of this, especially if I am planning on finding an area to sit and craft or cook.

    Some people are so afraid of knives and associate them with only being weapons. I was carrying my small MP Classic on my belt this past weekend and using it often in front of our guests. I heard comments from the people we were entertaining that I was using a “big knife”. Oh boy, I should have pulled out one of my really large knives. That would have gotten some real attention. The knife I was using is the one on the bottom. The blade is 3” or so. Not big and I don’t think even scary looking.
     
  26. CreativeRealms

    CreativeRealms Tracker

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    I walk around in more military style gear and no one really seems to care. Some even say hi. If I went with primitive gear though I have no clue how people would react.
     
  27. Wasp

    Wasp DOWN IN DIXIE Supporter

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    If this is true then people should be afraid when they come across a couple of hippies too? Or people from the city that are way out of their element? I'm confused as whose supposed to be the odd duck in the woods.
     
  28. CSM1970

    CSM1970 Supporter Supporter

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    When I work at Washington, I am required to dress in period correct clothing (1836 Texas). Most little kids accept this like I was a Disney character but we occasionally get people who seem to be embarrassed for us. I’ve never had anyone show fear or disapproval, though. Even when I am carrying a 14” Bowie knife and a .50 cal. Caplock. Maybe they believe we all wear electronic dog collars under the funny clothes.
     
  29. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker #42 Lifetime Supporter

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    Odd ducks are likely in the eye of the beholder. I once saw a dude hiking in all hot pink attire. I guess hot pink was his high visibility color of choice.

    Conversely, I once saw and had a great chat with a section hiker on the AT who was wearing military camouflage clothing but was wearing socks with sandals for hiking the AT. This hiker explained that he was simply using what made him the most comfortable without a care to what others thought.

    I may be so bold as to say that there are no obvious standards for appearance in the woods.
     
  30. Kona9

    Kona9 Supporter Supporter

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    Another thing to add is that most people do not understand why people would want to use primitive tools. Why try friction fire with natural tinder when you can use a lighter and some newspaper. They don’t see the value or entertainment in challenging oneself to try something different. They don’t see much of what we do as even necessary skills at all in the modern world. If a smartphone app could start a fire in the woods I think it would be a best seller. People want easy and are afraid of the unknown.
     
  31. BalsamFur

    BalsamFur Not a duck Supporter

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    There's a good thread here addressing why it matters:
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/issues-with-other-people-on-the-trail.208980/
    I have inadvertently frightenened a lot of people in my life. As a gentleman, I try not to do that. As a practical man, I know that sometimes those events can turn against you even if you've done nothing wrong.
     
  32. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    The people you describe are probably used to seeing homeless people in the cities dressed in scruffy clothes, carrying junky backpacks full of crap, and are always being panhandled and even threatened by them. So when they see somebody who looks like that out in the back country, they probably think you are a homeless person and they want to get away from you. A person who looks like they just peeled all the barcodes off the new gear that they just bought at REI doesn't look threatening to them. Around here we have several other categories of people who can be identified by their clothes:
    - Hunters wearing camo
    - Cowboys wearing jeans, long sleeve shirts, and dusty black felt cowboy hats. They can be a bit sweaty and scroungy if they've been out working, but when they get cleaned up and are ready for the dance, they look very sharp.
    - Hippies. These aren't real hippies, they are kids trying to look like hippies while living on handouts from their Daddy.
    - Bikers. Usually fat old people wearing expensive badass leather outfits, riding expensive bikes. But there are a few real bikers, usually hanging around the little bars and not bothering anybody, especially not the cowboys.
     
  33. BalsamFur

    BalsamFur Not a duck Supporter

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    I'd say it's a matter of perspective, and you are only half of the equation. As others have said, we can easily be put off when coming across something we weren't expecting. When I'm hunting deer, I don't expect to see backpackers. When fishing for crappies, I don't expect scuba divers. Nothing against either, but being outdoors sometimes gives me a false sense of solitude. It's like "How can I be communing with nature if someone else is communing with nature differently?"
     
  34. Wasp

    Wasp DOWN IN DIXIE Supporter

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    I don't know anyone here that I have any doubt wouldn't be nice, polite, and accommodating given every chance.

    With that said, in the end I'm in the who cares what people think camp. I could be just as offput as they are after all. If I've done what I can to be nice then I simply dont care.
     
  35. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    Ware ya referin' to me fishin' thread, laddie?

    :4:
     
  36. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker #42 Lifetime Supporter

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    No. Your outfit was perfect. Made perfect sense. Unless I am color blind..... were you actually wearing pink? :confused:
     
  37. DuctTape

    DuctTape Scout

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    I speculate the reason for less fear regarding these folks is a typical backpacker/camper is more likely to perceive the hippie or urbanite as not just out of their element, but also an unprepared risk to themselves.

    As far as thinking the person might be homeless/vagrant this is less likely if dressed as a hippie/urbanite. The fear of the homeless is not completely without validity as a much larger percentage suffer from serious mental illness and/or substance abuse as compared to the general population.

    Location also matters. A scruffy person with modern looking backpacking gear on the AT would not garner a secind look. But the same person at the mall in an urban center would. And likely folks would think he/she is homeless/vagrant.
     
  38. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    ?Pink? Uhm, no. Let's see...

    Caught a stick.jpg

    Hat: O D green
    Shirt: Boanza blue
    Shorts: overall tan (dirty)
    Drawers (not pictured): red (clean)
    Cigar: long leaf, Connecticut shade
    Nose: lightly sunburned (pink.... :eek: )

    Ya got me! :4:
     
  39. RobOz

    RobOz Guide

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    Only when I have my Ted Kaczynski look going on.
     
  40. Swineflu

    Swineflu Supporter Supporter

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    I think it definitely looks weird and it's understandable if people are more cautious around you because they may not have a trained eye to determine the difference in good bushcraft skills, hobo camp and crazy so they are understandably cautious. I think it can be weird in populated areas too, people have less encounters with these types because people going more primitive are usually going off the beaten path as well. I think attitude and approachableness matters greatly, we need to be good emissaries and citizens setting a good example and bringing folks into the craft or at least being friendly to it so they respect it and support it and don't try to shut it down with misguided but well intentioned conservation efforts etc.
     
  41. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    Some I think could be in awe of your superior woodsman's skills with basic gear and are just being shy and humble. Just a smile and friendly greeting goes a long way. You both are on neutral ground. Most of the time people I meet in the woods off popular trails I end up in a friendly conversation with them.
     
  42. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    Uhhn, that shirt makes me liik fat. Yeah, that's it. I'm actually 220.. uhm 200... uhm 180 pounds. Yeah, that's the ticket... :rolleyes:
     
  43. BalsamFur

    BalsamFur Not a duck Supporter

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    Psst, Jim! You forgot to photoshop the fish into that pic. ;)
     
  44. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    Maybe it’s the loincloth.
     
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  45. Kennebago

    Kennebago Scout

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    The high performance gear crowd is its own culture. When cultures bump up against each other you get friction. It's the same anyplace.

    I will say that I think HYOH is false piety for a significant minority of people in the outdoor world, from hikers to shooters. Or at least that's my impression from working in it.

    Some people are outside with their gear in order to be seen outside with their gear. Some are outside because they've just had enough of other people. Takes all kinds man.
     
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  46. Moe M.

    Moe M. Supporter Supporter

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    Looking at it from the other side of the looking glass, I was an 18th. century reenactor for about 25 years, mostly interested in the period surrounding the F&I and Rev. wars, and did some period trekking, meaning that I went into the woods either solo or with a few other reenactors dressed in period clothing, humping period gear and carrying a flintlock long gun, a hawk and rifleman's belt knife. When attending period events nobody seemed to notice that I wasn't dressed normally, but out in the woods anyone seeing me would stop dead in their tracks and then go out of their way to avoid any contact with me (or Us).
    Putting myself in their position I can understand why, these are normal people doing their normal thing, in a normal world and all of a sudden they run into something or someone that's not normal, they immediately loose their sense of normalcy, they may even hear a Twilight Zone tune playing somewhere in the recesses of their subconscious.
    We live in a strange and changing world with strange and unpredictable people, in the woods today it would not be unusual to run into a Meth Head trying to cook up a batch of dope, or run into a pot growers plot of planted grass, not long ago a young couple were excitedly hiking the AT and ran into a scruffy looking guy with no shoes living in a debris hut, they gave him a wide berth, but he followed them, attacked the girl and Killed her mate who was trying to defend her with a long bladed knife of some kind, he was eventually caught and arrested, but not before attacking a few others along the trail.
    Is it any wonder that people going about in a normal world get the creeps when they run into a scruffy looking guy wearing funny clothes and carrying a woven basket full of stone tools including stone axes, no shoes, and living in a pile of leaves ? :rolleyes:

    Hmm :33:
     
  47. PMSteve

    PMSteve Old Timey Outdoorsman Supporter

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    Camping in a tarp lean-to wrapped in a wool blanket gives the impression of being homeless. Their thinking goes, that if this is all the guy can afford he MUST be homeless or on the run from the law as you seem to be barely surviving rather than camping with a tent and down sleeping bag like "normal" people do.

    If you get the chance, show them the keys to your Mercedes or Cadillac simply to blow their mind. OR, you could ask them in a quavering voice, "What year is it"?

    Steve
     
  48. 1773

    1773 Supporter Supporter

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  49. 1773

    1773 Supporter Supporter

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    One of the strangest experiences I have ever had in the woods happened several years ago in between Oil Well Branch and Difficulty Creek on the Big South Fork River in KY. I was out for a very early morning scout, it had just gotten daylight and it was so foggy you could barely see 50 feet in front of you. I am slipping along the river and can smell smoke and hear people talking which was kind of unusual for that area for that time of the year. As I continued on up the trail I come around a bend in the trail and there is a camp shrouded in fog that looked like a longhunter camp from 200 years earlier and there were a group of men dressed in period correct clothing milling about a fire. After a brief startle, I realized it was a reenactor group but there for just a second or so the heart rate got up because this was an area where the longhunters of long ago would have been. But there for a moment it was a twilight zone experience, by the way they were a super friendly group, come to find out they went somewhere and did an encampment 4 times a year as a group.[/QUOTE]
     
  50. PVF1

    PVF1 Supporter Supporter

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    I think that people just tend to be freaked out by something that they perceive as "unusual" or "out of the ordinary." Not so usual or ordinary anymore to be romping through the woods with stone tools, so it probably rings alarm bells for some. Ancient human psychology here, actually; people needed to band together to survive, and anyone who didn't fit the mold was a potential competitor or even threat. This sort of gut reaction persists today in a number of contexts.
     

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