Ask Dave

    Photo: Photo by Chris Buck

ASK DAVE

Send Dave your questions at ADVENTUREGOD@OUTSIDEMAG.COM, or visit him at MYSPACE.COM/ADVENTURE GOD

Is there a sport that safely combines my twin passions for guns and kayaks?
Mash-ups of seemingly incompatible activities are at the heart of my greatest leisure innovations—like Three-Martini Tae Bo and Base Camp Lawn Darts—so I applaud your vision. But be careful: Most kayakers who carry firearms don't actually blast away while sitting in their tippy boats. This includes duck hunters, who sometimes use sit-on-top kayaks to scoot around on marshes and lakes, and the whitewater boaters who float Class IV rapids on Idaho's Snake River to access fall chukar hunting grounds. That doesn't mean firing from the cockpit isn't viable. Haden Hussey, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, has shot a quacker or two from his Walden Cuda fishing kayak, increasing his take of birds since trading up from a clunky johnboat. And, yes, a gun's recoil is a potential problem. "I once took a shot while lying down, and the kayak almost tipped on its side," Hussey says. If this ever happens, the maneuver will need a name. How about the Ted Nugent Roll?

What's the trick to escaping quicksand?
Ask Jane or Cheetah to hand you a vine? Actually, the first thing to remember is this: Don't panic. Pools of quicksand—which are found throughout the world in areas where rising underground water, usually from a spring, is forced upward into sand—are typically quite shallow, so drowning isn't a big threat. The truth is that few people have ever died in quicksand, and most deaths befall mired people who succumb to exposure. In fact, researchers in the Netherlands have concluded that there's almost no chance of getting sucked completely below the surface, because your body is more buoyant than the supersaturated slurry. So even if you fall into a deep pool, just relax, spread your arms, and float. Whenever I wander into the stuff, which happens quite often, I just think happy thoughts and enjoy the soak until my porters yank me free. It's actually quite pleasant, and, man, does it do wonders exfoliating my skin.

How can I tell if I'll look good with my head shaved?
Cosmetic phrenology is still in its infancy, but there are a few resources that can help you figure out whether, in your case, bald will truly be beautiful. Start by going to HeadShave.BaldlyGo.com, where you can upload a picture and an artist will "balderize" your melon. Dennis Penner, a Canadian who runs a head-shaving Web site called HeadShaver.org, thinks you can skip that step and just start cutting and polishing. "Almost universally it looks good," he assures me. (Guess he didn't get the memo about Britney.) Still, Penner recommends going slow—taking your hair down an inch at a time so you can stop if you do have an unsightly skull. Ultimately, though, you won't know until you mow. I sported a Kojak myself in '03 and quite enjoyed the look. And just to correct an old rumor: I shaved my thick, wavy locks to fight a nasty infestation of lice I picked up at a lodge in Costa Rica—not, as a certain petty ex-girlfriend contends, because of a severe allergic reaction to Rogaine.

DAVE'S WAY
This Month: Making Smoke Signals!
Recently, several readers with a beef against cell phones have asked me about communicating the old-old-fashioned way, and it just so happens that this skill runs in the family. My late uncle Dean, a frequent stunt double for Gene Autry, swore he used a Lucky Strike, tumbleweeds, and his Stetson to make the famous puffs in Indian Territory. Alas, it's a myth that smoke signals were used like Morse code. Steve Watts, the director of aboriginal studies at the Schiele Museum of Natural History, in Gastonia, North Carolina, says the signals were usually one, two, or three columns of thick smoke relaying simple messages like "We are here," "Danger," or "Hey, Dances with Wolves is on TBS again." If you want to give it a whirl, Watts's recipe is to build a hot, dry fire from hardwood, then feed it some green wood. It's not easy: Wind can kink things up, you can smother the flames, or, as I learned in court last Tuesday, you can get 75 hours of community service for burning city property.

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