Do you use walking sticks when hiking or hunting?
I must admit that in the past I have looked with a bit of skepticism towards people that used walking sticks. In my mind I always envisioned a little old lady with walking stick using them like a cane more than anything. I saw walking sticks as a crutch for someone who was too weak to walk without them.
However, as time has gone along I’ve heard more and more about the benefits of walking sticks. I started to do a bit of research and found that many people were very strong on the benefits of walking sticks. Especially in situations of rough hiking, hunting, or packing out meat. I heard that walking sticks help with balance and are especially helpful when coming down the mountain with strain on the knees.
I still had my doubts.
Finally, I decided to try them out. I “conveniently” dropped a pretty strong hint to my wife a couple weeks before Father’s Day (I texted her exactly the sticks I wanted and where she could buy them!), and surprise, surprise, my children proudly presented them to me for Father’s Day!
Last week I had my first opportunity to use them. I had a hike where the first mile was on an established trail and then I headed out through the woods on my own.
The verdict: I didn’t like them……at first.
As I started using the sticks it felt awkward. The sticks really didn’t seem to do much and it was just two more things I had to be aware of. They seemed to get in the way more than anything.
But I decided to stick it out the entire hike.
I’m glad I did. As I went along, I become more comfortable with them and learned how to use them in a way that helped instead of hindered. As I went up in elevation I learned how to use the sticks for balance. Stepping over fallen timber or climbing steep slopes the walking sticks gave me one more point of contact with the mountain. While I have always been “ok” without sticks, I noticed I wasn’t as “on edge” in many situations.
The biggest benefit with the sticks though came as I went down the mountain. I noticed a huge improvement on the strain on my knees going down and found that I was able to go faster descending with the sticks because of the added balance.
In summary, I would definitely recommend walking sticks. While I won’t use them all the time, (I enjoy the slow stalk through the woods with my rifle in my hand), I know I will take my walking sticks with me in the future. I see great benefit when packing out meat to give me added balance with the greater weight on my back. I wouldn’t say that walking sticks make me faster, but used correctly they don’t slow me down and they make me safer.
I learned an important lesson: walking sticks aren’t just for little old ladies. They are for people who want to hike safer and stronger as well!