Do you use a staff or walking stick in the woods?

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by TheDoctorWho, Sep 5, 2013.

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What do you carry(in your hands) bushcrafting?

Poll closed Sep 15, 2013.
  1. Walking stick or staff

    133 vote(s)
    73.9%
  2. Machete or axe

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Firearm

    8 vote(s)
    4.4%
  4. Something else

    5 vote(s)
    2.8%
  5. I like to keep my hands free!

    34 vote(s)
    18.9%
  1. Ralph

    Ralph Scout

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    While I do prefer a wooden found/collected stick and that is what I carry 90% of the time; the one advantage I see to the trekking poles is that they will collapse down to a size that fits in the trunk of my car. This by the way is the only advantage I see. I prefer the wood because it is long enough to give multiple hand holds on up and down hill trails. A expandable pole has the handle (hand hold) at one height and only one height!

    The 10% I have used one of a pair of trekking poles we bought for my wife for walking in town ---- funny thing is she now uses one of the many wood tree limbs I have turned into a hiking staff and she uses a walking stick (cane) I made her for daily walking since she started to have hip pain. We have taken the trekking poles when we think we may "hike" a flat walking trail in a town an hour away --- see the one advantage of a trekking pole I listed above!!!!
     
  2. SEB1981

    SEB1981 Scout

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    I guess I could see that. I have a small SUV so I just toss the full stick in the back. Come to think of it the fore mentioned buddy in Oregon drives a focus. I guess collapse able would make more sense for him.
     
  3. Out West

    Out West Tracker

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    I like the idea of hand crafting a custom walking stick out of found wood. Have not done so. Yet.

    I use a Stony Point mono pod. Works well, is light, offers adjustable heights, and the top can host different accessories for different activities. For example, I have a "V" rest for shooting and a round ball head with a embedded compass for hiking. Take off either of these and I can attach my camera for a steady rest. I also like the fact that it can be collapsed down completely and stowed away handily. In collapsed mode I can lash it to my backpack, out of the way, when not needed.

    I find it especially helpful when on uphill slogs and when crossing streams.

    Out
    West
     
  4. MiddleWolf

    MiddleWolf Guide

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    Obviously I prefer to use them myself.
     

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  5. TLewallen

    TLewallen Guide Bushclass I

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  6. David904RN

    David904RN Tracker

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    Personally I like the trekking poles. They've made a huge difference for me with my knees. It's also much easier to ford a river using 4 points of contact. Much more stable. I guess I could fend off a dog with them if need be. A staff would serve you better in that respect. Truth be told that hasn't been an issue to me. I tend to carry a pistol and bear spray for defensive measures. The former is for two-legged varmints and the latter for the 4-legged ones.

    I think that the trekking poles probably spread the load more evenly than a staff would. Try them both and see what works for you. You can always change. HYOH.
     
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  7. CanyonWalker

    CanyonWalker Tracker

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    I use the poles because they save my knees when going downhill. If you have noticed any chronic knee pain at all, especially when walking downhill or walking down stairs, I would recommend the poles. Trust me, the pain doesn't go away as you age, either, dangit. Just the opposite - it gets worse. Now... as the other feller said, go buy the cheep ones first from Wally World and try them out. If you like them then spend the bucks and get the $$ ones. I sprayed camo paint on mine so they don't look so hi tech space age preppy. The poles have made the difference for me. I would have had to hang up my pack if I hadn't started using them, especially on steep rocky trails like in Grand Canyon or other desert areas. I love a good wooden staff but the poles fit my particular need better.

    Also when I don't need them I can collapse them down and strap them to the pack. Also they are very useful for stream crossing, makes it much safer. And handy for use to rig a shelter tarp.

    Another good idea are the USGI surplus ski poles. They are lightweight and indestructible. But they aren't adjustable. If you are 6'-2" or over they will fit you just fine for use as hiking poles. I had a set but somebody stole them. i am going to order another set.

    And also as the other feller said, I too have almost biffed it several times because i got my feet tangled up in the poles. It is easier than you might think: you're tired, not thinking, or just truck'n along and reveling in the scenery, and >boom< you do a face-plant in the dirt. With a 50-pound pack on your back, taking a fall is not a laughing matter. Good luck brother!
     
  8. Nickathome

    Nickathome Banned Member Banned

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    I normally grab a stick from the trail and use it until the end of the hike or camping trip, then toss it. If its an unusual shape or fits the hand just right I will take it home, add a llittle paracord for a grip, maybe carve some of the bark off of it and just keep it around until I get tired of it, or we need kindling....I've got two in the garage that have been there for some time. One of them came from a tree I cut down in the back yard. The branch was perfectly straight save for aslight curve on one end. Just fit the hand so well I cut it to length and kept it.
     
  9. Bouncer871

    Bouncer871 Scout

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    walking stick

    I used to just find a stick on the trail, But a few years ago it became an essential item if I wanted to stay out a while. I got a great deal on craigslist. A husband and wife had moved to ultralight poles so they were selling 2 pairs of cascade designs tracks sticks for the price of a single new one.
     
  10. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    i bought some fresh, rubber cane tips for some of my natural poles yesterday. i do a lot of walking here at the fish camp, and that means some asphalt. rubber is a necessity to keep the tips from grinding down. besides, i like the the extra footprint the tips give. less digging into wet ground. really helpful on slippery surfaces, too.
     
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  11. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    I always use a walking stick when hiking, and two treking poles when backpacking.

    I enjoy making walking sticks. I probably have 20 of them at home in varying stages of completion, from green to carved, painted or dyed. They are just too useful to be without. I use a walking stick most often for balance on uneven terrain, to get an extra push uphill and as an extra brake downhill, for protection from 0, 2, and 4 legged creatures, for poking in a fire, as an extra tarp support, for measuring the depth of streams and muddy sections of trail, To knock down widowmakers around the campsite, as a fishing pole, as a noisemaker when in bear country, and so on. I couldn't imagine being without one in the woods.

    My treking poles aren't as useful, but they are good for balance, for moving snakes off the trail, as poles for a shelter with a tarp, as a fishing pole, and they are great to hit against rocks as I hike to alert bears that I'm there. That metal on rock sound doesn't occur naturally and will let the bears know you're coming.
     
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  12. traxter

    traxter Tracker

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    I picked one up (just a downed stick that would do) on the hike my wife and I went on the weeked before this last weekend and it saved my but from a 4 ft fall into a creek. I think I will always pick something up while traversing a hillside from now on. Also it's nice to have something to relocate trail snakes while trying to walk past them.
     
  13. Pantucci

    Pantucci Scout

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    Just did a 14-mile hike to Mount Marshall in the Adirondacks, which is real muddy, rocky, slippery, and can be dangerous, particularly if you're in sorry shape like me. I found a thick birch pole at the trailhead, and it added a whole lot of stability, particularly when going down steep descents in the mud. Nice to have that extra point of contact. I left it at the trailhead (after prying it from my hand...) for someone else down the line. I wouldn't go on a hike without one.
     
  14. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Scholarly Woodsman Supporter

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    I have tried out trekking poles several times, and recently got my own set. They are pretty handy to have. They are extremely helpful on hilly terrain. They can help a lot on steep grades (either up or down). Thy can be used as snake removal, spider web removal, and critter scaring implements. They can be used for shelter setup. Thy are easily adjustable. But I have found them to be most helpful for stream crossing. They really help you keep your balance. Speaking from experience as someone who has slipped and fallen in a stream countless times, I really appreciate having them around.
     
  15. Jareth_Atian

    Jareth_Atian Tracker

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    For a while, my back was in pretty bad shape and I needed a cane to walk. My favorite cane was a 1" thick hickory cane from www.canemasters.com (designed for mobility and self-defense).

    I'm more mobile these days, but I still like having a sturdy walking stick when hiking...I have a couple home-made canes around, but I ended up returning to Canemasters and getting one of their hickory shepherd's crook staffs. I cut it down a bit for length, added a paracord wrap, and burned in foot and inch markings.

    I think it's going to be my favorite hiking staff for a while.
     
  16. sipdog

    sipdog Tracker

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    Here in central Florida we need hiking sticks for webs, parting branches, and convincing snakes to share the trail. I ran across a fiberglass telescopic 12' crane pole, went to Ace Hardware and installed rubber chair leg buttons on the ends, on the top end I wound 25' of paracord with a hand loop. Makes a great third leg and provides food on the trail.
     
  17. Swampyankee101

    Swampyankee101 Scout

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    I sure do. My neighbor and friend, makes them to sell. Last Christmas he left one at the front door, my initials burnt into the top. So nice with bum knees and uneven terrain.
     
  18. Dave From NC

    Dave From NC Tracker

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    For many years I was a militant "KEEP MY HANDS FREE" guy. I hiked with folks who did the one staff thing, but I never could get used to it.

    I have a cousin now in his late 60s that until a few years ago still hiked with the scouts in the area and even in his 50s and 60s could hike the kids into the ground (even the high school Eagle Scouts) and he is a devout "one hiking staff" guy.

    I have put on lots of weight lately and have been spending less and less time in the woods. When I did go hiking, I felt like I was hampering the guys I went with because of my pace. About 4 years ago, I decided to try a set of hiking poles. Prior to this, I had always assumed that they were just for old people with bad knees, AND I would never be able to use them because I liked having my hands empty.

    While I did find there was a SHORT learning curve, I adapted to them pretty fast. Now, I don't go without them! They singlehandedly DOUBLED my range and probably sped my base pace a bit. Also the confidence they give on uneven downhills and stream crossings make them worth their weight for that alone.
    007.jpg
     
  19. Biggs300

    Biggs300 Tracker

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    For several years now, I've used a single Black Diamond trekking pole for a walking stick. I've tried using both poles but prefer a single pole as it just works best for me, especially when hunting. I like the fact that I can quickly adjust the height of the pole based on the hiking/hunting situation. The best part, when one wears out (probably not going to happen), I have another as backup. I'm probably set for life.
     
  20. Expo 6

    Expo 6 Scout

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    I don't like carry sticks/staffs around. Just not my thing.
     
  21. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    I carry a pair of trek poles. I find that they really extend my range--I can go farther with less exhaustion. They make uphill a LOT easier, and downhill more stable. They also hold up my rainfly when I get there.
     
  22. kennedjt

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    I use to laugh at those "yuppies" that had trekking poles and then about 15 years ago I was section hiking the AT and decided to borrow some from a friend to see what all of the fuss was about. I haven't went on a long hike since without at least one (and usually two on very long hikes). Trekking poles will save your knees on uneven terrain under a heavy load. They also add about 25% more distance to my daily capability.
     
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  23. ra2bach

    ra2bach Supporter Supporter

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    I tried the "snowless" ski pole thing a couple times but don't like having both hands engaged so a staff is my choice. I like it longer than the "trekker poles" and find one about chin height to be the best for me.

    a staff is not just for climbing/descending hills, fording streams, or finding snakes on the trail. I get into a rhythm walking with a staff on flat ground where I plant the tip ahead of me, walk past it and swing the staff ahead again, planting it on either the second, third, or fourth step, depending on my pace.

    it keeps me moving along briskly and the weight of the staff is on the ground most of the time so that's not an issue...
     
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  24. moderncaveman

    moderncaveman Tracker

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    I have to have my walking stick with me. It's become a regular part of my gear. Slowly been getting into carving designs into them. Here are three of my favorite.
     

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  25. Loogaroo

    Loogaroo Guide Bushclass I

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  26. Riverpirate

    Riverpirate Supporter Supporter

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    I use a staff, most,y because that's the way I was raised. My grandfather was a farmer. He always had a long stick with a crook on the end. It wasn't just to walk with. It was to push cows and goats around, or slap one on the head should the need arise.. I still have his last one.
     
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  27. friluftsliv

    friluftsliv Tracker

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    I've been slowly working on a walking staff made from a dogwood trunk & root ball that I harvested a few years back (on my birthday, and on my woodlot). Right now it looks very Gandalf-ish but I expect that I'll spend a little time this Winter, cut and grind on the roots a bit, sand it down.... fill in the cracks in the wood with some wood glue... sand it some more... finish it and then go on a nice hike with it. Until then, I've been using one of these.
     
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  28. kensfj40

    kensfj40 Tracker

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    Rule 1 - Make your own. Store bought walking sticks are all too short in my opinion.

    Rule 2 - Think about BALANCE more than WEIGHT. If the balance point is where you grab the stick it will carry light.

    As others have said they are great for K9 management. Recently a man in Portland was walking his dog and was attacked by 2 dogs off leash, he was a permit holder and ended up shooting the attacking dogs. I feel like the walking stick gives you a non-nuclear option.

    Some people like walking sticks for self-defense. If you and I have a confrontation on the trail you will probably beat me up, however, if I have my walking stick you will probably beat me up and get a nice stick out of the deal. I am hoping we can work it out over a hot cup of Jo'.

    That said, a walking stick and a good hat start my kit...

    IMG_4688.JPG IMG_4500.JPG
     
  29. Makarov

    Makarov Scout

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    I have always since boy scouts used a hiking staff, My current one is diamond willow and I find about arm pit high is perfect. I can put my hands around the top and rest my chin on it when contemplating a view or just resting. After I got bifocals my depth perception for stepping down went out the window. The staff gives me a balance point and makes me much more stable.
     
  30. Riverpirate

    Riverpirate Supporter Supporter

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  31. Swarvegorilla

    Swarvegorilla Scout

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    I'd carry a spear if it was socially acceptable....
     
  32. Soilman

    Soilman Scout

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    After 28 years of soil survey work, and carrying a soil auger in my hand all day long, I feel naked without something in my hand. So, when I hike, I want something to hold. For a while, I just cut a hardwood stick and peeled the bark off to use as a staff. More recently, I took one of the wild cherry tree blanks I'd dried out for a long bow, and whittled it down to a nice hiking staff. Sanded it, bored out both ends, glued some nuts in the bottom end to receive a removable stud, and capped the top end so that it can be used as a small storage for the stud when I'm on pavement and using a rubber end piece. The only time I don't use a hiking staff is when I'm toting a gun.
     
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  33. renter6

    renter6 Scout

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    This is about my speed. Brew kit follows close behind the hat and stick in order of priority.
     
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  34. Terasec

    Terasec Scout

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    i generally pick up a stick to use as a staff when out,
    will use that staff through out my trip, customizing it a bit through out
    then at the end either it becomes firewood or i leave it at the trailhead
     
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  35. BCBowtech

    BCBowtech Tracker

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    Ive been using trekking poles for a couple years now... basically since having my knee surgery.. I love em and wont hike without them!
     
  36. MHW

    MHW Tracker

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    I'll pick up a stick if I need one (or sometimes, just if i see a likely one).

    Last time out, I took my son's hiking poles (which, of course all the cool kids have). . .
    First day--how did I ever live without them
    2nd day--well, my legs are less tired, but my arms are more tired
    3rd day A. M. -- hmmm . . . that shoulder I wrecked the rotator cuff in years ago kinda hurts
    3rd day P. M. -- folded down and another danged thing to carry . . .
     
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  37. AA-Battery

    AA-Battery Tracker

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    Whenever I go hiking I bring my Bo-staff to use as a hiking stick. I often go off trail and have found that having a long stick to use as balance and wedging it into a rock or root crevice while climbing is very helpful.
    It is much heavier then I would like at around two pounds and can become tiring to use after a few hours, but I can and have put my full weight against it and it stayed put. It has saved me from falling off an icy ledge once already.

    On top of that, when I find a suitable open area, I like to take time and practice my martial arts. I find it almost meditative. I've also modified it to make it more suitable to hiking. I've placed the tops of tennis balls at the end of each side wrapped in several very thick layers of hockey tape to protect the staff as well as adding grip. Hockey tape at the center for grip when spinning as well as a removable Velcro strap to put on my back when I need both hands for climbing or work. They are also provide a textured grip to hold when hiking flat terrain.

    IMG_0808.JPG IMG_0810.JPG IMG_0811.JPG
     
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  38. greyfox

    greyfox Tinder Gatherer

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    When I first started backpacking I couldn't stand the idea of having things in my hands while walking. After I got tripped up by a slower hiker on some rocks in the Shenandoah Valley and fell, I picked up a stick to help steady me. I broke that stick later in the trip, but I have had a stick with me ever since. I drilled a small hole for a lanyard in mine, more for hanging it up out of the way in camp, or for allowing me to let it dangle and use both hands. I made mine out of osage and carved my initials in it when sitting around a fire one night. It's amazing how sentimental a simple stick can become if you use it enough.
     
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  39. poohbear

    poohbear Tracker

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    try using a lanyard
     
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  40. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    Hard to shoot/carry a bow or gun with a walking stick in your hand.
     
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  41. saxonaxe

    saxonaxe Scout

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    I use a staff quite often, especially if using a tarp to over night in open country. The staff makes a good support.
    [​IMG]

    It's a length of Hazel ( Corylus avellana ) cut to my shoulder height. The steel helmet is from an old household light fitting. I just couldn't resist it when I found it fitted the top of the staff after I'd carved the face..:D

    P1040307.JPG
    P1040306.JPG
     
  42. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    Having been on the near receiving end of aggressive predators, I've chosen something a bit more substantial .
    On top of that I got just a little carried away and made a multi tool in the event I must bug out.
    So my walking staff which use to be wood like most folk I've chosen a heavy walled aluminum tube.
    I have made several attachments to work with it with the intention of gardening where ever I happen to settle again.
    I'll have to take some pictures.
     
  43. AA-Battery

    AA-Battery Tracker

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    Did you make it so that you can attach a knife on the end of it to use a spear or fish jig? That would be my first goal for a multi tool aluminum staff.
     
  44. TRYKER

    TRYKER Scout

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    i use a sheperds stick looks like a 6' tall cane, the crook comes in handy and it's set up for tracking for sar searches.
     
  45. Jean

    Jean Guide

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    How else do you keep webs out of your beard?
     
  46. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    While I do have trekking/ski poles, there are times I find them to be a hindrance. on a Colorado pack trip in the Flat Tops the trail was heavily used by horses and was deep and narrow. Even shortening the poles it was difficult to swing them through the side overgrowth and lifting and planting was tiresome and made for an unnatural walking gait. I ended up stowing them for much of the trip. Another thing to consider with adjustable poles is the locking mechanism. I have found flick locks to be much more solid than the twist lock variety. I've had the latter slip at an inopportune time.
     
  47. teotwaki

    teotwaki Scout

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  48. PeteA

    PeteA Scout

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    I use an older treks walking stick for hiking , walking, bowhunting in snow, and for stump shooting.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  49. Kmcmichael

    Kmcmichael Tracker

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    I use a telescoping walking stick. I usually hike barefoot and cannot imagine not using a stick in rough terrain.
     
  50. CHREBA

    CHREBA Scout

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    IMG_20170324_185538608.jpg Three that I've grown attached to , the root knob stick is my absolute favorite pulling double duty for City and field .
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
    happywanderer likes this.

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