Daniel Boone needed a magic stick

G. Sam Piatt - PDT Outdoors Columnist

Just like Daniel Boone and the Native A mericans who lived in the forests and meadows he traveled, I started our campfire with sparks from flint. We had built up wood into a “teepee” and placed shavings and twigs in the center. Over it all I had poured a little “magic water.”

“Stand back, boys,” I said.

Then I threw the sparks that produced a flame, used it to ignite a pine twig, and tossed it into the center of the wood buildup.


Within a minute we were enjoying a crackling fire that drove back the approaching darkness.

And over it we cooked our late supper – not of venison, or rabbit, or squirrel, as Daniel and the people living around him would most likely have prepared.

We had wieners. Our bread was already baked. The elongated buns were split down the middle deep enough to receive the wiener and leave room to spoon some of Bonnie’s meat sauce over it, then sprinkle it with chopped onions and top it off with yellow mustard zigzagged along the length of it.

We followed that up with sweet marshmallows held over the fire on the end of our wiener sticks until they were toasted to a golden brown.

The flint sparks were produced by turning a little metal wheel against the flint stone with my thumb. The same motion pushed down on a lever that released propane to produce an immediate flame. You can carry this little magic stick, about the size of my index finger, safely in your pocket to bring out and produce a flame hundreds of times.

The magic water was Coleman lantern fuel.

There were six of us who pitched our camp on a gravel bar on Kinniconick Creek years ago. They included my two sons, Kelly and Kendall, my bother-in-law, Dewey Lee Mercer, and my two nephews, Randall and Jeffery Mercer, who came down from northern Ohio to get in on some adventures in the outdoors.

As we enjoyed our campfire that night, I thought about what Daniel and those other folks would have given for a Zippo or a Bic.


We living here in the 16th year of the 21st century take many of the inventions and innovations that have come our way far too much for granted. Amazing, isn’t it, how fast man’s knowledge is increasing? And how so many of planet earth’s six billion people are jetting back and forth from continent to continent, always in search of something new or exciting to see or do?

Twenty-five hundred years ago, another Daniel, this one the Hebrew prophet, looking down the long corridor of time, was one day having visions that seemed to indicate what would be happening when life on earth as we know it would reach its climax.

He was past 80 when he had this last vision, given to him either by Christ or an angel. He was getting close to details of his prophecy of the last days when the voice told him: “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel Chapter 12, verse 4)


Another camper that night was Chopper, our mixed—breed cocker spaniel beloved by all. Chopper was a dog of action, but also a deep thinker. He was the only dog I’ve ever known of who would sit under a summer sky and look steadily up at the moon and stars, seemingly in deep contemplation. I could never help but wonder what was going on in his mind.

It was close to bedtime when we noticed he was missing. That was nothing unusual, for he many times would trail a rabbit or possum.

We were camped next to a small farm owned by a man who people had told us was a little off in the head and quite unpredictable. Would he shoot someone on his property? We didn’t know. Probably the worst we heard about him was just a rumor. We hadn’t tried to approach him to let him know we would be camping over there on the creek bank.

We heard Chopper’s faint bark coming from the direction of his home. We heard other dogs barking, too.

We took the lantern down and went down the creek and up into a field, probably on the man’s property. We were going in the direction of the barking dogs and calling loudly for Chopper.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be here, Uncle Sam,” said Jeff. “He might think we’re out to steal something. He might decide to shoot first and ask questions later.”

It was then that I made the statement that Jeff and Randall, when they come down for a visit, always mention and which always brings a loud round of laughter:

“Well surely to goodness he wouldn’t shoot a man carrying a Coleman lantern.”

Chopper suddenly appeared inside the circle of light thrown by the lantern, and we all were soon back in our tent and lulled to sleep by the gurgling of water over the riffles and the call of the whippoorwills.”


G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or gsamwriter@twc.com.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or gsamwriter@twc.com.