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Just an overgrown, curious kid

I am incredibly pleased I will now be writing a weekly column for my hometown newspaper. 

This will be the first of what I hope are many columns that will focus our attention on “the great outdoors.”  Staff at the paper thought it would be best my first column be one introducing myself and the topics I will be writing about. 

I have lived my entire life in Winchester, favoring the mindset that Wendell Berry espouses in his wonderful book, “What Are People For?”

I have enjoyed a life in which many of my most favorite memories are ones doing something outside. My son recently told me he doesn’t think there is anyone who enjoys being outside more than me.  I am not sure if he is right, but he is not too far off. 

I came into this grand world (screaming I am sure) at the old Clark County Hospital that was torn down only recently. It does my heart some good to know it will soon be the green space known as Project 1107. 

I grew up on Caudill Drive (between Applebee’s and Bojangles) and spent many a day running havoc outside with my cousins up and down the area. This included a small oasis of trees on Norton’s farm. That oasis was removed, and the new Wendy’s sits on it former location. 

When I was a still a young kid I caught the biggest stringer of shellcracker you have ever seen in a pond that used to be on the spot that now contains the soccer field in front of Baker and Strode Station schools. 

I hope you don’t think I am lamenting that those areas are now gone.  I just want to give you an indication of how long I have been invested in the great outdoors.  It has been a while. 

As I consider these words, it seems much of my outdoor experiences provide a paradox to understanding who I am, as well as the subject matter I will be covering for you here. 

As an example, I am an incredibly big fan of wildlife habitat improvement. Doing what I can to invest time and energy and sometimes back breaking work to assist animals I will never see to birth new babies, find food sources and much more. 

Part of the reason is because I am an avid hunter. Science supports the fact hunters, along with good conservation efforts and biologists, are the keys to healthy and sustained wildlife.

I am not a tree hugger, but I am a tree nerd for certain. Someday in this column I will most likely share with you how trees communicate with one another. Not conversationally like we do, but without a doubt they work together for their common good.

I love trees so much I secretly want to cut down every single Bradford pear tree in this community.  If you don’t understand why, then please come back for more. You will understand, and maybe even agree, with a little help.   

I have never served in the military nor have I been a law-enforcement officer, although many people think I have. But I have trained personnel from all branches of the military service, ranging from seasoned special forces soldiers to new recruits whonare about to take their oath and join the Kentucky National Guard.

I have trained special operations units for three federal law-enforcement agencies and a host of others on the state and local level in backcountry skills such as wilderness survival and mantracking. 

It is interesting to note I have a degree in business management statistics from UK, not in literature or English. Despite that education, I am also an author. I have written two books and am currently writing my third. My first book has sold nearly 13,000 copies worldwide. “Praise God for good editors,” is all I can say. 

To date, I have taught nature awareness, backcountry skills or character education courses for students from 14 universities of the southeastern US, more than 50 county school systems and 38 public libraries in our great Commonwealth. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you this because I want you to be impressed. I am telling you this simply because I have packed away a lot of lessons along the way that I have learned doing all of this.

It is within this column I am going to unpack a lot of them and share them with you. There is much to share and there is much that we can learn together. 

I hope you come back next week when I share the story of the greatest lesson I have ever learned about nature.  It was taught to me by a little girl names Lily. 

Until then, I hope to see you on, or off the trail!

Craig Caudill is the director of Nature Reliance School and author of “Extreme Wilderness Survival” and “Ultimate Wilderness Gear.” Contact Craig at info@naturereliance.org or through any of the various social media platforms available.