While you're out camping in this last part of summer, there are a few old Ozark, er, “practices” to keep in mind, courtesy of the late Mr. Vance Randolph.

While you're out camping in this last part of summer, there are a few old Ozark, er, “practices” to keep in mind, courtesy of the late Mr. Vance Randolph. 

These are all real in the fact that they were once believed by at least some folks, or they wouldn't have been recorded by Randolph for posterity. Just keep in mind I'm not actually advising most of these things. They're just for fun. 


• To keep the ticks off you, wear a piece of dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium) in your left shoe. Dog fennel has no power over chiggers, however. 

• Cedar is poison to seed ticks. Tie some branches about your legs, or just place cedar branches around your camp to keep the little bloodsuckers away. 

• If you really want to keep the ticks and chiggers away, try to camp where there is a lot of pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides) growing around. 

• The worst time for snakes is when the huckleberries are ripe, because snakes are blind then and more aggressive. Yeah, they may be also shedding their skin, but keep an eye on the huckleberries to know exactly when to be more careful.  

• If bit by a snake, burn the snake immediately to counteract the poison. 

• If you're swimming in the creek or river with water moccasins about, you don't have anything to worry about so long as you are submerged. Poisonous water snakes won't bite you if you're underwater. 

• Don't camp near a walnut tree. They attract lightning. 

• Don't ever burn the wood of a tree struck by lightning. You're just asking for trouble. 

• When you hear a dead tree limb drop in the woods, when no wind is perceptible, rain is coming and you better pull up camp. 

• When your campfire spits and sputters it is another sign that rain is on the way. It also means that two family members will quarrel within 24 hours, so if you're camping with your brother or cousin maybe you should strike camp anyway and just call it a trip. 

• Don't ever use sassafras wood for your campfire or it could bring about the death of your mother. If she is already gone to Heaven it is OK. Peach tree wood is very bad luck to burn as well. 

• When you're lighting your campfire, never look directly into the flames. If you do, you'll have trouble with the fire for the rest of the evening. It could also bring other bad luck as well. 

• If you decide to do a little fishing, never step over a fishing pole lying on the bank. If you do, even by accident, you will catch no more fish that day. 

• Maybe you prefer small game hunting. Squirrel stew over a campfire sounds pretty appetizing. Squirrel season is open all summer and into fall in Missouri.  Just remember that there is a special understanding between squirrels and mosquitoes. When you're stalking a squirrel, mosquitoes are apt to swarm you and make you wave your hands about, thus warning off the squirrel. So be sure to spray on extra mosquito repellent. Or you could just rub a thick layer of lard over your face and hands.


Wes Franklin writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.