Tactical. What does that mean? The word often has a military connotation to it, and I will admit that I have been highly influenced by the military. I have never actually served myself, but I know lots of people who have and some of their styles and attitudes have kind of rubbed off onto me. Among other things, I admire the efficiency and practicality of the military. However, the word tactical really goes far beyond the military. Tactical is the adjective form of the word tactic. A tactic can best be described as the implementation of a strategy. For example, let's say I went up to the mountains and my strategy for food was to live off the land by catching animals and finding edible plants. My tactics would be how I actually did that. Do I hunt or trap animals? Where do I look for edible plants and how do I tell them apart from non-edible plants? These are tactics and being tactical. As you can tell, the word tactical can be used to describe many things in life. You could say that a synonym for tactical would be practical.
It may be easy to think that being tactical means using all military style gear. I will admit that I actually do own a lot of military surplus gear. It often works, but it does have it's disadvantages (which will be the subject of a future article). Truly being tactical means using the best gear of what is available to you in order to achieve your objective, which often times is not military gear. Based on this definition, many of you may already be more tactical than you realized. However, choosing gear is only part of being tactical. As mentioned earlier, tactics are the implementation of strategy, and gear selection is only part of that. How you use your gear and other resources is the biggest part of being tactical.
When I am outdoors, I am many different things: nature lover, hiker, hunter, trapper, amateur botanist, camper, photographer, survivalist. The list keeps on going. I draw inspiration and skills from each of these areas and combine them for a broad and well-rounded outdoor experience. I don't box myself into just one thing. I don't just hike. I don't just hunt. I don't just take pictures. I do everything, or at least several things. The one word that best describes me is an outdoorsman. I enjoy just about anything outdoors. Thus, I am The Tactical Outdoorsman.
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When speaking of outdoor activities, we have a tendency to lump together certain types of people. There are hunters, fishermen, mountain climbers, bird watchers, etc. Each one is compartmentalized into doing one thing, but rarely do we think to try to combine all of them into one grand outdoor experience. And this is what I challenge everyone reading this to do.
Look at all the different types of outdoor activities and try to draw from as many as you can. If there are some you specifically don't want to do, that's fine. You don't have to do all of them. But broaden your horizons. Don't limit yourself or hold yourself back. I buy a lot of gear from military surplus shops, but I also buy gear from REI and Bass Pro Shop. Talk to different people. Use all the resources and tactics available to you in order to experience nature in its fullest. Nature is full of variety and the way we experience it should be full of variety as well. This is enjoying nature. This is being tactical.