Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

August 10, 2013

Keep your head (warm)

I am very particular about caps or hats, whichever term you choose.

For one thing, it seems nowadays that a lot of baseball-style hunting caps sit on top of the head rather than reach down far enough in the back to be beneath the occipital bone of the skull.

I found that word (occipital) on the Information Superhighway. I was just going to call it the back of the noggin.

Anyway, the occipital bone acts as a sort of an anchor for a cap, keeping it on the head during a high wind or even during a quick twist of the cranium, such as happens when a grouse flushes to the left or the right.

During cold weather, I like a substantial hat. I have numerous hunting buddies who can hunt during cold weather wearing a standard twill ballcap.

Can’t do it. That would run me back to the truck or the cabin or even home because my head gets cold very easily and that, to me, is not a bearable situation.

Former newsroom colleague/reporter/ friend Alison Bunting used to frequently comment about, and, I believe, covet my various winter hats.

I am a Stormy Kromer fan and have three of those caps, my current favorite being the one in Partridge Plaid. Any camo good enough for a partridge is good enough for me. I think, too, that it provides a bit of a debonair and upscale touch to the hunter, though I don’t have an L. C. Smith side-by-side to crook in my arm to complete that picture.

I had a Columbia wool boonie camo cap that I liked a lot because every time it was squished it would take on a new form and still look good.

When a cap is like an amoeba, it looks good no matter the configuration. It was warm, too. And it had a bill.

I use the past tense because I haven’t been able to find that headgear for about three years. It’s probably not lost, just in a holding pattern somewhere that I haven’t looked.

This happens with many of my hunting items, such as calls and knives.

Eventually, I find them, and it is always in the last place I look. Get it?

In the 1960s, I bought a red, warm hunting cap at G.C. Murphy in downtown Cumberland.

Blaze orange was not invented then, let alone required. It was a bomber-style. You know, individual flaps front-back-left-right. Each of them would snap tight in the up position or unsnap and drop when more protection from the elements was needed.

I wore that cap for years while hunting big game in the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest.

A year ago I bought via the Internet a Gore-Tex, Thinsulate, camouflaged cap with ear flaps. This cap failed the first test in that it didn’t reach beneath the occipital bone unless the ear flaps were deployed. But, when the ear flaps were deployed it made terrible noises when the head was turned and the ears moved against the inside of the flaps.

I know. The animals won’t hear that noise, but it is simply too distracting to the wearer.

In some situations, it’s tough to beat a stocking cap. People in the Cumberland area have always used the term toboggan. The beanie cap and watch cap are of the same style.

I like these caps when I am in a ground blind, but not when I am out in the open. In the open woods, I prefer a cap with a bill because I see better without that glare of light coming straight down onto my eyes.

For years, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, I wore the Jones-style hunting cap. Those are good caps, providing a short bill in the front and, if needed, a small back flap that can be lowered. I don’t see hunters wearing those much any more.

In the late 1980s I was in Kmart at the Country Club Mall and saw a bin of camouflage baseball-style caps. They were insulated with a layer of  foam, which is a very good insulator, though I don’t think it is used much now.

The pattern on the caps was what I always saw referred to as brown camo. The sign at Kmart said they cost $3 apiece, and they weren’t even the Blue Light Special. I bought three; one for me, one for my father and one for his best hunting buddy.

I wore mine into a frazzle and eventually inherited Dad’s, which I still wear. It is among my all-time favorite top-five pieces of headgear. A photograph of it accompanies this column.

The one form of hunting for which I keep detailed records is spring gobbler. I record date, place, shotshell, distance of shot and physical characteristics of the gobbler among other things.

Ten years or so ago, I began chronicling the lucky hat I was wearing on the day of success.

That’s more for fun than utility. In recent years I have been hunting from the PHT (Pappy’s Hunting Tent) when I bagged gobblers. Inside that blind you could probably wear a flashing, neon cap and still kill turkeys.

My hunting for turkey and deer now is 99 percent from a stationary position. However, if you like to slip through the woods as you hunt, I’m sure you have already noticed that your headgear often scrapes against branches.

If you are wearing a wool or fleece cap, that will be a silent experience.

My all-time favorite cap was a Stetson, a very, very worn Stetson, along U.S. Route 12 between Walla Walla and Waitsburg, Wash., in the 1970s.

I didn’t have to wear it a long time to get some creases and holes. They were already there.

Like I said at the time, anybody can find a hat, but how many people can find a hat that fits perfectly?

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014