Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Boy's 1st Deer

Sorry I have been absent lately boys and girls. I have been very busy with my oldest boy deer hunting. He got this button in the last 15 min of the season!!

We saw lots of deer. Our first morning we had a 5x5 160 class IA deer about 40 yards away but could not get a clear shot. I was very proud of my boy when he made the decision not to sling a 50cal hunk of lead at a target that was moving and was in heavy cover. Earlier today we tried a little 2 man drive and post. He said I ran about a dozen deer out, including 1 very nice buck and 1 average 8 pt. Once again he did not have a good shot so he did not shoot.

The deer in the pic was shot after a 1 hr stalk, with about 50 yards of belly crawl. It was not the deer he was looking for but I told him it was a trophy. All in all a good 1st season 1 shot 1 dead deer. The deer was shot at about 65 yards wit a in-line muzzle loader. The young button dropped like a sack of taters.

Folks, even if you do not hunt or don't even own firearms, please have your children take a Hunters Safety Course. I don't try to force my views on anybody, but if your children have any contact with firearms, or have friends with access to firearms, a safety course could save a life. Enough of my banter. I hope to post some more of my stuff before late muzzle loader. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Baking On the Trail

One of my favorite things to do on the trail is to try different ways to cook while on the trail. This is my second attempt at baking on the trail and my second success. The mix I used this time was a muffin mix. Just add water and stir.

This is the pan I made out of a foil roaster pan. The strips of folded foil in the bottom of the pot keep the batter from burning.

I made pan so the sides won't touch the sides of the pot. Once again so it won't burn. Then build a fire, put your batter in your pan, and put the pan in your pot.
Now you have to move some coals to the lid of the pot. This helps it cook faster, and more even.
After about 30-40 minutes you can have desert. It was good!!!
Give it a try at home, if you can, before you try it in the woods. Happy baking my little Betty Crockers!!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Frame Shelter

Well I finally got out in the woods for a weekend. What a blast. We took Troop 242 out to the hills for a little R&R. We really had no big plans or objectives for the boys, which makes for a really great experience for them. The get to run wild, explore, play games, and be on their own for a while with no parents or teachers breathing down their necks. Any way, while they were harassing the environment, I decided it was time to make sure I still have a few skills. So, I made this shelter. I did not use an axe, saw, or knife to build it. Like I said skill check.

I found a nice location, cleared the ground and started to build.
As you can see it's not real complicated. Set you ridge pole, and place your support sticks.
Here in IA we are losing all of our Elm trees, so the bark comes off really easy. Use what you have.
The last thing I did was put leaves on the bark. The more the better.
And, here is the inside. I slept pretty good. It only got down to 25 degrees or so. Not to bad. The whole project took about 2 hours. I'm a little rusty.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Wire Saw

The other day I was on Bushcraft USA and a thread started about wire saws. Almost none of the people posting liked them. I was surprised. I have had the same one for many years and used it on quite a few occasions. Now don't get me wrong it is not an everyday use saw. It's for emergencies. With that said, if you are going to carry a small wire saw you should practice with it. If you put the rings on your fingers and wrap the wire 180 degrees around a log and pull back and forth, you will break a wire saw!!! I have never done that to my saw. Maybe that is why I have the same one for many years.
There are two ways to rig a wire saw. The first is the bow method. Real easy to make, but not the best option. The bigger the stick, hopefully, the more tension on the blade. This makes it easier to cut.

The best option is to make a Buck saw frame. The one in the pic took me about 10 minutes to make. The best part is that I used my new knife, I like!!!

As you can see ,it aint fancy!!! It will cut halfway decent though. The windlass at the top is what gives this design it's strength. Not as easy to make as the bow saw, but it works better. As always if you have question, ask and I will try to answer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Emergency Candle

Well, at least in Iowa it is starting to feel like winter. That is OK with me. I like winter. But, it has some challenges that we as outdoors people need to be ready for. You know the old "Be Prepared", or "The 6 Ps" Proper, Preparation, Prevents, Piss, Poor, Performance. One of the things I keep with me when I am out and about is a homemade emergency candle.

Why a candle? Well you can start a fire, use it for light, and with the flame this candle puts out you can cook. The one above is made out of an Altoids tin, a piece of cotton belt, and old votive candles. A really easy project. Just be careful melting the wax. Use a double boiler, which is a large pot with water a smaller pot with the wax that will sit in the larger pot. This way the wax will not get over 212 degrees.This is how it looks lit.

That should get a fire going!!! If you do use one of these for a stove, be warned, they kick out a lot of soot. Now go eat some mints and make a candle!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A New Pocket Knife

Well, I pulled the trigger. I finally bought a new pocket knife. I have been carrying the same knife for about 10 years. Still a good knife but I decided to upgrade. This is my old one.

Like I said a good knife. It has a good blade, a nice awl, flat screwdriver, and a can opener. What more do you need? A saw would be nice. So here is my new knife.
We shall see how it works. If it is a piece of crap I will let you know. So far I have used it to make feather sticks to start my wood burner. It worked good. The handle is a little wider than my other pocket knife, which I like. The price was right, about 20 bucks shipped. I will run it through the gauntlet, just like all of my other gear.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Many Uses of Snare Wire

If you have followed my posts you know I carry snare wire in my kit. As with most of my gear, snare wire has a lot of potential. First off, as the name implies, you can use it for....... snares.
The snare on the top is a single strand squirrel snare. The one below is a 2 strand twisted rabbit snare. I have used these types of snares many times, and even caught a few critters.
Another piece of gear in my kit is a steel cup. It has folding handles like a canteen cup. Sometimes, instead of putting the cup on the coals to cook you want to hang it. If you don't have wire that could be a tall order. This is a easy rig, and works well.
How about that candle stub in you kit. With just a little wire you can make a harness for it. Only one thing to watch with this setup, dripping wax.A small price to pay for a little light on a cold, dark, scary night.

The uses of wire in an outdoor situation are almost endless. How about you get out and try a few!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Parachute Tepee

As promised I'm going to try to give enough info on how to construct a parachute tepee. The first part is the scanned pages out of AFM 64-15. Now keep in mind I only used 4 poles for my shelter.

This should give you some good dimensions to start with. The next pic is of the smoke hole. If you are going to have a fire you are going to need a smoke hole. I sewed flaps on my tepee so when I am not in it I can close it up. you can use poles or cord to open and close the flaps.

Once you have the size of your smoke hole, you can start to close up the seam. I sort of alternate between putting in stakes and closing the seam. It takes a pretty sharp peg to get through the chute. The key is rolling the two pieces of chute very tight, then stabbing the peg in and wrapping it so you don't lose the tension.
My tepee is not perfect. Yours won't be either. That's ok. As long as the chute is tight it will shed water quite well. It is not a totally water proof material. So eventually you might want to put a liner in it. I just bought some cheap tarps to do just that. I will post the pics later. If you have any questions please ask. If you want to see a certain skill or project, let me know. Now quit staring at the screen and go build a shelter!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Beloved Mora

Many of you who read these kind of blogs probably have read a score of articles on the Mora knife. Well get ready for another one !!!! I was first introduced to these knives at age 18. (I'm surprised I didn't already know about them, since I knew everything). I was in bushcraft class taught by Mors Kochanski. I didn't know who he was or what he knew, but looking back on it I wish I had taken some pictures and better notes. That's for another time. He had this knife hanging around his neck. It had a cheap plastic sheath, and a ugly red handle. Old Mors walked up to a tree about the size of a coffee can,and beat that ugly knife all the way in to the handle. He then stood on the knife. After he talked a little more, he beat that Mora around the tree, cutting it down. Needless to say I was impressed. That is how it started for me, an addiction. Through the years I have owned many Moras, and gave most of them away. I have kept a few. The one I will always use and keep is the beauty all the way to the right in the pic. It was given to me in 92 by the lead instructor of the Swedish Survival School. It has gutted,skinned, and butchered a lot af animals. It has been used to start hundreds of fires. It has been vital in shelter building,cutting chute, cleaning fish, and digging out splinters. It is my favorite knife. The other two in the picture are ones I have put handles on. A really fun project. I won't get into the steel type, or scandi grind. That is up to you to find out. Lets just say for around 10 bucks you can't beat it. The place I buy mine now is Bens Backwoods. By the way I don't get squat for giving him a plug, and that is ok.

Now that you have seen a great knife for a great price, go get one!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Insulation Bed

Well folks here in Iowa, it got cold in a hurry!! So I thought this would be a good time to go over an insulation bed. The reason we want this? Warmth. If you can separate your self from the ground and create dead air space your good to go. To start with the bed we are making is semi permanent. That is why we are using the logs. All they really do is keep your bed from spreading out, and keep you from rolling off.

The next step is to put down a layer of small springy branches. In this case I used willow. You can use pine boughs as well. The key is to look at the natural bend in the branch and use it to keep you off the ground. I always stick the large end into the dirt if I can. This will give you more loft and the branches won't move.

The last step in this bed is to add another layer. I chose foxtail. You can use other grasses, cattails, dry moss, or anything else that will help to soften and insulate your bed.

Now that you have seen it get out and do it !!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lunch at Camp 1

Another great day in the woods (as if there is any other kind).Myself, my boys, and one of their friends spent most of the day in the woods today. We made some new benches, started a fire, and cooked lunch. We decided to use the rig you can see in the pic to cook lunch. It's a real easy setup. All you need is a stick about 6 ft, a small log and a stake. The trick to cooking on a open fire is trying to keep an even temp. With this rig, you anchor one end of the stick to the ground with the stake, hang the pot from the other end and place the log under the stick. By moving the log back and forth, you control the distance of the pot from the fire, therefore controlling your temp. I know most people who read about the outdoors and bushcraft have seen this way of cooking. But, now you need to get out on a day like today with your family or friends and do it. Get out and have some fun!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

550 Cord : A gift from above

In most peoples kits is some kind of cordage. It's almost a given. Most of the people I know carry military spec 550 cord. Another name I've heard thrown around for this type of cordage is para cord. The problem is there are a lot of different cords used in rigging chutes, but there is only 1 550. As you might have figured out 550 cord gets its name from its tensile strength, 550 lbs.. This fact is a major reason for its popularity. It is strong. Strong enough to lash shelter poles, use for string on a bow and drill, make large game snares, and I have even seen a person rappel with a doubled piece. (This last example is a real bad idea by the way. ) An even better reason to love 550 is its versatility. You can separate all of the parts and really have some fun. The outer sheath has an apx. tensile strength of 220 lbs.. This sheath can be used for any of your lashing, tying, or repair jobs. If you need to wrap a handle of a knife, it lays very flat and is less bulky a full piece. Inside the sheath are the 7 strands of the inner core. Their tensile strength is 35 lbs.. They have a bunch of uses. From sewing to making a gill net and even lashing, let you needs be your guide. The inner core pieces can be untwisted into 3 strands, which work very well for flossing, and other chores that only need a light duty thread. One more great thing about 550, it is easy to get. You can buy it online, or at a surplus place. If you don't have some, you should.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Woods Kit

A good place to start, I think, would be to talk about what I take into the woods for an afternoon hike or forage.
  1. Shelter kit- a poncho and 550 cord
  2. First aid kit- band aids, 4x4 gauze, roller gauze
  3. Water bottle
  4. Metal cup- cook with or boil water
  5. Petzl e+lite- the best headlight I've owned
  6. Snare wire
  7. Multi tool
  8. Mora #2 sheath knife
  9. Fire starting kit-a fire steel, piece of candle, and man made tinder
  10. Diamond steel and ceramic rod
  11. Gerber saw
  12. Wetterlings hatchet
  13. Bug dope (seasonal)
  14. Sunscreen
I carry all of this goodness in a Mountainsmith day pack. With this kit I can set up a waterproof shelter, boil and store water, start a fire, and possibly catch food. This may seem like a lot of stuff to carry on a short hike, but I like to have it with me in case I get the itch to practice some sheltercraft, firecraft, or any other rusty skill.