An often overlooked but useful bit of gear, the walking stick is an excellent addition to the woodsman’s tools. My walking stick accompanies me on most of my day hikes and has spent many nights with me under the stars.
A walking stick is most useful for providing support while climbing up or down hills. But they are also useful for: keeping balance while crossing obstacles, moving brush and briars from trails, shielding your face from spider webs, leaning on for resting, providing a crutch if injured, and possibly a weapon against an aggravated animal or person. Not to mention, they look pretty cool.
Walking sticks are easy to find and are often field-expedient. There is rarely a shortage of them in the wilderness. They can be used for a specific time period and discarded back to the woods. However, if you are so inclined, you can keep your eyes open for a special stick that is worthy of collecting and modifying for your use and enjoyment. I found mine during a day of deer-hunting. I walked back to the house, exchanged my rifle for a hatchet and collected my twisted tree. After letting it dry thoroughly for a season or two, I shaved the bottom and handle portions, sanded to a smooth surface and applied a few coats of protectant. As years pass, I will continue to add to my walking stick by adding a wrist strap, a few talismans, and perhaps a 550-cord handle. It has become not only a functional piece of gear but a beautiful conversation piece that I am quite proud of.
If you have collected and modified a walking stick, I’d love to hear about it, or better yet, see a picture of it.