Charlie White's great love of the outdoors


Charlie White
Charlie White aka NLGhostWolf on Youtube. – Submitted photo

By JASMINE JESSO

Special to the Appalachian

STEPHENVILLE — Most of Charlie White’s earliest memories are of being outdoors, hunting, fishing, berry picking, camping and similar activities. By the age of three, he had become well conditioned to the hunting and fishing traditions of his family, which is where his passion for both began. His father taught him all about the outdoors and he accompanied him during moose hunts and rabbit snaring.

“Everywhere he went, I was with him," said Charlie. “From the time I turned five I was getting my own salmon license. By the time I turned seven not only was I getting my own salmon license, but I was tying my own salmon flies."

The tradition did not just start with Charlie’s father. He learned a few tricks from his grandfather also, such as how to tie a Blue Charm salmon fly.

“My grandfather was a trapper.Dad and I would go out with him," recalled Charlie. “I remember being with them on the trap line at the age of five, catching weasels, mink and fox.”

Around the age of 10, Charlie could go out, snare and clean a rabbit all by himself.

“Because Dad had injuries and sometimes he could work, and sometimes he could not, money was hard to come by so Mom would send me out for food.”

There were 19 children in Charlie’s father’s family. For them to survive they had no choice but to hunt, fish, farm and gather their food.

“We never went fishing for fun. It was fun and I loved to do it, but the purpose of fishing was for food.”

Being Indigenous, Charlie had learned quite a few survival skills from his father such as making a fire, building a shelter, blazing a trail in case he ever got lost going through the back country, and he also taught him to make an alder whistle.

“Dad used to make all sorts of baskets. He made them out of wood. He made them out of birch bark, even the leaves on Cattails.”

He also taught Charlie about medicines such as tree sap, Chaga and Juniper berries, just to name a few.

When he was 21 Charlie joined the military. There were not a lot of work opportunities in the region at the time and it was extremely hard to get a job at the old mill.

“I never did want to leave home. I always wanted to stay here. Back then at the time we did not have a big industry here to support. If you did not know the right people with the right connections, you weren’t going to get a job at the mill.”

Charlie knew he wanted a family at a youthful age and he is incredibly happy with his decision to join the military, even though he was away from home for just over 27 years.

These days Charlie has a YouTube Channel where he uploads video clips of himself, sometimes with others, of his adventures while hunting, fishing, and gathering. He started this endeavour 11 years ago because his father, at 65 years old, had experienced congestive heart failure, and as much as he loved and lived for the outdoors, he could no longer go out and enjoy it for himself.

“Every day he spent outdoors, whether it was hunting, fishing berry picking, you name it –if it were something he could do outdoors, he was out there doing it."

While in the military Charlie's father would call him every day and ask him where he had been and what he had seen, so he started making videos of it. Back then he used 8mm film to record his videos. After filming he would transfer the videos onto a computer by converting the 8mm file to a digital format, then burn them off onto a DVD and send them off to his father.

“From the time I had an adventure to the time Dad got to see it, it was probably anywhere between 3 to 5 weeks later.”

One young fellow at Charlie's work found out what he was doing and asked him why he was doing it like that instead of using YouTube. The colleague told Charlie that he could take a video that day, upload it later and his father could watch it that very same evening. That prompted Charlie to create his NLGhostWolf channel on YouTube.

Eleven years later, Charlie's videos have earned him a few thousand followers. He is committed to helping educate others through his outdoors adventures.

Last month his channel gained over 200 new subscribers. Charlie would like to document a years' worth of harvests in different seasons as a future project for his viewers.

“The way we used to live, from the wild edibles to the animals that we harvest, to how that all ties into us being one small little piece that ties into one big puzzle," explained Charlie.

He is the Chief of Indian Head Native band, and hopes the band could help bring back cultural activities to the people and bring awareness to them. He would love to see some courses offered, whether it is for moccasin making, beading workshops, snowshoe making, making dresses and regalia, just something crafty and cultural for people to learn new skills. Charlie said that it’s nice to share the Indigenous culture and inspire people to seek out their own adventure, no matter which outdoor activity they might be drawn to.

As an Indigenous person Charlie feels that while hunting, fishing, or taking anything from the land, it is especially important to show gratitude and appreciation for that life you took to sustain your own.

“Everything that you do has to be done with good intent because it’s all about the energy we put out," said Charlie. “If you want good meat, you have to put good energy into it. When you’re collecting wild medicines, if you do it for a greedy purpose then it’s going to have a negative effect versus a positive effect.”

Sometimes when he's out on his adventures, the adventure manages to find Charlie instead. There have been approximately 100 cougar sightings just around the Bay St. George area and vicinity, but there have been multiple sightings across the island since the 1960’s. While Charlie has been out on his outdoor adventures he has personally witnessed two cougar sightings. The first time was with his dad on hunt. He saw something jump on top of a rock.

“As soon as it turned sideways, the evening sun caught it and it was a beautiful tan color with a big, long rope like tail. It was a cougar!”

The encounter was so brief that Charlie did not have an opportunity to grab his camera.

The second time he spotted a cougar when when he was driving with Wayne Alexander. Charlie said that it had not been for Wayne he would have never come forward on the cougar sighting. They were heading towards M&F Motors from Cold Brook.

“I looked right to see if I could see a moose. I looked left then I looked in the front and there it was in the middle of the road. Wayne’s eyes were as big as saucers and it was gone just like that."

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