Wild Man in The Suburbs!

| 3/8/2012 9:21:49 AM

Tags: Urban scavenging, wild food, interesting people, Jane Gripper,

Jerry is no ordinary guy. Don’t be fooled by his rather gruff exterior.  Laughing eyes, and a twitch at the corner of his mouth, quickly verify that humor lies within! He carries his well upholstered body with a slight limp, clearly in pain with each step – a hangover (or consequence) of a youth spent jumping out of planes, off cliffs, dare devil motor cross, and generally pushing his thrill seeking body to the limit.  A metal detector will definitely sound if Jerry tries to pass through. His body clinks with metal body parts, and his shoulders have been dislocated so many times that now, if he dislocates his shoulder, he saves himself a trip to the hospital by using a tree (and a couple of swigs of beer), to pop it back in. Jerry’s 20-year-old son scoffs at him as only a 20-year-old son can, calling him “the bionic man without the superpowers”. While he may not have superpowers per se, he is an extraordinary person.

 Jerry BowmanJerry is the head custodian at the local elementary school, and whilst he does this job with regard for the school, the staff, the children and the environment, it is what he does when he is “not working”, that make Jerry so exceptional.   

“I like to call myself an urban scavenger” explains the ever surprising Jerry, after he has proudly told me the story of the time he made several thousand dollars on eBay after selling goods retrieved from a large hobby store dumpster.  Other items destined for landfill are reclaimed from the streets, and sold on eBay.   

A call at midnight to remove an unwanted racoon from someone’s house is not considered unusual at Jerry’s house. He is a registered animal trapper, and is also used by the DNR to trap, tag and release animals. He has animal traps in a variety of sizes, always at the ready, should they be required. At the sight of fresh road kill, Jerry rubs his hands together. He knows money can be made from animal pelts. Nothing is wasted in Jerry’s world.  

Northern Indiana was where Jerry learned all about “wild food “. Jerry becomes animated as he reminisces about going hunting with his dad “I had shot my first deer by the time I was 9 years old. We used to eat pheasant, quail, squirrel, doves and rabbit.” It appears that anything was fair game. “I have even eaten turtle. It’s really good.” Crawdads and fish were also often on the menu.   

To augment this carnivorous diet, Jerry’s dad also taught him about foraging for herbs, fruits, vegetables and fungi, in the wild.  As the wild asparagus season approaches in May and June, Jerry knows exactly where to find this rare wild delicacy. “ Once you find a ‘honey pot’, you keep it to yourself” reports Jerry when I enquire as to the whereabouts of the wild asparagus.  

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