Conservation Practices are important be they building a no trace fire or learning how to shit in the woods
So, you and your party are just pulling away from the dock. 3 boats in all, stuffed to the brim, from the most wonderfully filling Wilderness North breakfast. Both loving and basking in the memory that was your personal coffee delivery (TO YOUR CABIN) at 6:30 am, a mere hour and a half earlier. With anticipation in your heart and excitement of giant fish in your fingertips, you twist your wrist revving the Yamaha 25 awake from her overnight slumber. As her purr turns into a growl, and you come on step, you feel it… rumble, stop (was that my stomach talking to me?) gurgle, gurgle pfffft. (oh no!!! Not NOW!!!) Hand touches belt… You think about turning around and heading back to camp, but you can’t!!! You’re a caravan with an amazing adventure planned far away from the lodge. The plans have been made! Everyone is counting on you. (you have the shore lunch) You make the executive decision to continue and push through the discomfort, knowing all well there will be a time today when you’re going to have to… da da da…
SHIT IN THE WOODS
What you’re about to read is reality, not pleasant, but a reality of life outdoors!
Don’t worry, you’ve got this! You’ve been well trained on how to properly alleviate yourself in a respectable and responsible way in this pristine environment.
So what are the concerns with using nature’s bathroom outside of the comfort of your lodge? There are a couple of issues with this act that should be considered by anglers and hunters while in the woods.
Keep in mind, as in everything in life, whether it’s the windshield washer fluid you use to take the crud off your car windows or the poured-out coffee you dumped on the street while stuck in traffic on your way to work, whatever it may be, that liquid will return to the water table… eventually. We live in a closed water cycle.
Aesthetics. No-one likes to see someone else’s history in a wild/pristine environment, so there are some easy ways to make sure your secret is kept that way. In Canada’s boreal forest, there is a layer of detritus material that covers much of the forest floor called “duff”. It’s a thick layer of organic material that is often held together by a network of roots, thick and thin, golden root and sticks and twigs. More often than not, you can screef or scrape the layer away with a swipe right of your boot. That removal of the duff will expose either the bedrock or a layer of sand/clay pebbles below. Take a second and remove that organic material and go to the bank (make your deposit). NOTE: plan ahead when you scrap your place. Look around for a felled log, or better yet, two logs felled side by side and scrape away the duff directly under the single or double set. By doing so, you’ve created yourself the most uncomfortable toilet seat nature can provide. (but It’s better than squat presses against a tree.) When you’re done at the bank, simply take the duff you’ve removed and replace it over the pile of “cash”.
Toilet paper. TP is a luxury! We all love it! However, TP does take a long time to biodegrade and is often, for years to come, the last sign of your presence. This is where it pays off to plan ahead. Bring your used TP back out with you after you’re done. Place it in a resealable bag to be disposed of properly later, or use it as a fire starter if you’re doing an overnight… it’s not a pleasant thought, however it has been known to be a great assistant in getting fires going in wet conditions (needless to say, just make sure it’s well burned before you start cooking).
Where? GREAT question. The easiest and often most rewarding place to make a deposit is to find high ground as far away from a water source as possible. This serves two purposes. First, it allows natural filtration to occur as water dissipates your presence through the surrounding substrate. Secondly, by choosing high ground, you just may stumble upon the greatest view you’ve ever experienced whilst … well, you know.
What about Number 1? As with the aforementioned topic, it serves well to find high ground away from water to urinate. Filtration to the water table is key. If you are of the female persuasion, take a tip from the “nature’s toilet seat” tip above to make it easier for you.
How to shit in the woods is not a pleasant topic we realize, however believe us, it’s not nearly as unpleasant as rounding a corner, finding the perfect high-ground view or screefing an ideal location under two logs to properly do your business only to find evidence of previous visitors. Pay it forward and Please Poop Properly!