American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Monday, July 31, 2006

Home again.

What a trip.

Not much in the way of outdoor time but LOTS of good stuff.

See you here in a few hours (tomorrow) with some of the stories.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Out of here

I'm leaving early tomorrow morning for a few days in Denver, Colorado. I'll try to check in from the road but don't know if I'll get any updates posted.

See you again on Tuesday.


Building a better mousetrap

Following on yesterday's post, I have not only built a 5-gallon mousetrap but I've deployed it to the crawlspace and, overnight, caught my first two mice in it.

A multi-catch trap set up away from the kids will be far more effective in the long run than the Victor snap traps that have to be set up and torn down every night and morning. There are also no snapping parts on the 5-gallon trap so my fingers won't be throbbing after setting the trap.

You can get complete directions in Buckshot's Ultimate Trapping Tips video but I'm going to attempt to describe the process to you here.

I built mine from scratch using materials found at the local Home Depot. You can obviously use materials you've got laying around the house and it'll cost even less than the $15 I've got tied up in mine.

Materials List:
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • 1/4" threaded rod 3' long
  • Copper tubing 1/2"
  • 1/4" nuts and washers (2 each)
  • 3/4" dowel rod
  • Sharpie or other marking instrument

Tools List:
  • Hacksaw
  • Tubing cutter
  • Drill
  • 9/32" drill bit
  • Reamer

Using the wire handle as a guide, mark two holes near the top of the bucket on opposite sides. On the Home Depot bucket I made these marks under the top lip and the first ridge.

Drill out those marks using the 9/32" drill bit and the hand drill.

Push your threaded rod through the holes and put one washer/nut on an end. Mark your threaded rod at the opposite side where you'd like it to terminate. Remove the threaded rod assembly from the bucket.

Using your hacksaw and some care, cut your threaded rod. This may go easier with the rod clamped in a vise but be advised that the threads can easily be damaged so be careful.

Using the threaded rod as a guide you'll want to make your copper tubing (Buckshot uses a bit of broom handle, dowel rod, or even wooden thread spools) just a bit shorter than the threaded rod and the inside diameter of the bucket. Remember it has to spin freely in order to work. Use your tubing cutter (if you've got one) or your hacksaw (if you don't) and cut the tubing to length.

Use your reamer to smooth out the burr on the cut end of the tubing. If you leave the burr your tubing may hang up on the threaded rod instead of spinning freely.

Run the threaded rod through the first hole, put the tubing over the rod, and then push the rod through the second hole. Add the second nut and washer and snug them up to the outside of the bucket.

Smear some peanut butter around the middle of the copper tubing and fill the bucket about 1/3 with water. Buckshot suggests adding some anti-freeze to the bucket if it's going to be unattended for some time as it cuts down on the decomposition smell. I won't be trying that as I intend to feed the owls in my back yard the mice I catch.

Now I set my bucket in the middle of the crawlspace where I've seen mouse sign. There's nothing to help the mice get to the peanut butter so I made them a little ramp. Using the 3/4" dowel rod, sand or carve off the bottom end so it sits (mostly) flat on the floor. You don't want the rod to spin while the mice are trying to get up or they'll never drown in the bucket. Next, notch the top end so it rests securely over the lip of the bucket. I added about a 2" overhang to mine.

Set your trap and you're done.

If you're going to use the anti-freeze option please find a safe way to dispose of the little bodies. They'll be poisonous to any animals that may eat them. I will feed my catch to the owls only because I'm certain they haven't been poisoned within my walls.

Thanks Buckshot for the directions and the motivation to make the trap.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Buckshot's got a new video

Buckshot has released a new video "Ultimate Survival Trapping Tips" full of information for use when desperate measures may make the life or death difference.

From the five-gallon mousetrap and the picnic table trap to the raccoon's affection for bobcat setups Buckshot covers a ton of valuable information gleaned from 30 years of running a trapline.

The nearly 2-hour DVD covers trapping and snaring from the perspective of the homesteader and the woodsman/hunter lost and starving. The premise behind the video, and something Buckshot mentions often, is that the material contained can be illegal outside of a survival situation and should be for informational purposes only. However, armed with the knowledge contained in the video (and a few snares and conibears,) I suspect I could eat well while waiting for rescue.

I watched the DVD with my kids (5 and 3) and we all laughed out loud when the "8 pound crescent hammer" set off the picnic table trap. If I had a 55-gallon drum we'd have put one together last night just to set it off again. Instead we put together one of Buckshot's 5-gallon mousetraps.

I'm a long time user of the Victor snap traps for mice but the crawlspace under my house is like the wild west with little or no human intervention and that's where my mice are coming from/going. The new trap went into the crawlspace last night and I'll be headed down to check on it sometime later this morning.

The audio and video quality of the DVD are comparable to Buckshot's other videos. You won't mistake them for some high-dollar network TV production but that, in my opinion, is part of the charm of the videos. The value of the information contained in the video so far outweighs any shortfalls in production quality that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this or any of the other Buckshot videos.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Beginner gear

Let's see if we can't put together an inexpensive outfit suitable for a new outdoorsman/bushcrafter that provides the maximum bang for the buck. I'll be using what's readily available here as my basis so your final results may vary due to location.

  1. Ontario 18" machete
  2. Frosts of Sweden 760-O
  3. Victorinox SwissTool
  4. US Military 1qt. canteen (2)
  5. US Military poncho
  6. 550 paracord 100'
  7. US Military Musette Bag
  8. Swedish Army 5-piece Trangia cookset
  9. Doan Magnesium Firestarter

You're probably talking about around $100 for everything and you've got edged tools, shelter, water, food, and something for carrying everything. Top that off with some jerky or freeze-dried food and you're ready for a day in the woods.

These are not necessarily my first-choice items (i.e. Doan versus Firesteel) but they're some of the least expensive and most effective pieces of gear I've had the ability to try.

This might be a kit you could build for a Scout (boy or girl,) a young teenager looking to gear up, a "loaner" kit that can be used by a friend, etc. You could even use this kit as a sort of personal challenge. Get to know the components, maximize their potential, and then you can teach someone else how to use it.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 24, 2006

A Day in the Woods

I spent some time in the woods yesterday with Dan, Jeremy, and Emma scouting stand locations. This was our second trip and we headed into some thick scrub looking at some of the most remote points on the map.

Somehow I invariably walk through a spider web each trip and this one was no exception. Actually, it is often more than one web I manage to find with my face.

Last summer the spiders were thick everywhere we went. This year doesn't seem quite as bad. That opinion may be influenced by the fact that I've gotten out less this summer than last.

Yesterday I had just finished pointing out a large complex web to the kids when I took a drink, turned around, and walked right through the web I had just been showing. For the next 10 minutes I walked around the woods pulling web off my hat, sunglasses, shirt, canteen, etc. Yes, it WAS as funny as it sounds.

The best way to avoid walking through webs? Carry a walking stick and keep it in front of you as you pass through low-hanging branches and between saplings. Those seem to be places the spiders really like.

Despite the spiders I still managed to have a good time. We found several blind markers and followed some heavily travelled deer paths. All in all a fun and productive day.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Billy Can (Pt. 2)

Got my 10cm. Billy yesterday.

It's quite a bit smaller than I had anticipated. Certainly not large enough to stuff with many survival essentials.

It has three main parts, a main compartment, an insert/bowl, and a lid. The whole thing nests together and the bail on the main compartment can be used to carry the whole kit. It appears to be very well made with nary a sharp edge to be found. The stainless steel is nice and thick but not overly so.

It sure is shiny. I need to get it hanging over a campfire soon...

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Essential Gear (Pt. 2)

Coffee. I forgot to add coffee to my "short list" of essentials.

If I'm going to spend the night outdoors I'm going to wake up wanting a nice hot cup (or two) of cowboy coffee. With that under my belt I can tackle most of the hurdles in front of me.

Historically there have been a number of alternatives to coffee such as chickory but I'll make sure to take a large enough supply of beans or ground coffee to last the duration of my trip.

Here's how I make my cowboy coffee when travelling with either the Swedish Army Trangia or a German Army Mess Kit.

Bring water to a boil in the largest of the containers, add ground coffee (completely unscientific measurements,) remove container from heat and allow to steep for four or five minutes near the heat, wet a handkerchief and wring it out, pour coffee, grounds and all, through the handkerchief and into the smaller container, and add Muscovado if you like your coffee sweeter. Dip your cup into the smaller container or drink straight from the smaller container but be advised it will be quite hot if it's metallic.

Cowboy coffee isn't quite as good as that from my expensive semi-automatic espresso maker but it sure does the trick when I wake up covered in dew and surrounded by the sights and sounds of the woods.

Think I'll go brew some up now...

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 21, 2006

On an unrelated note

How about that Floyd Landis? From odds-on favorite to win le Tour to down and out to contender again in just 48 hours?


What is "Essential Gear?"

We often read about the need to carry "essential gear" with us at all times in case we find ourselves in a survival situation. This "essential gear" needs to be kept fairly basic in order to make the load light enough to carry regularly. What makes our personal list of "essential gear" shorter? Skill.

One person's list of essentials might include Mountain House freeze dried food, a tent, flashlight, matches and lighter, emergency radio, sleeping bag, ground pad, etc. while another's (mine for example) a simple metal container, a firesteel, and a knife.

Sure, some of those other things would greatly increase my comfort while in the woods but, in my opinion, are not essential for my survival.

The idea of using the volume of a billy can as the limit to what gear I bring raises some interesting ideas. If I've got my knife and firesteel on my belt and the billy is my metal container then anything I put inside the billy increases my comfort while also adding to my experience in the woods.

Do I fill it with food? Signalling equipment? Firestarting gear? My Hilleberg tarp? Cordage?

The options are only limited by the inside diameter of the billy.

Your ideas are welcome. Let me know what YOU would put into the billy can to make your life a little easier.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Billy Can

I ordered up a 10cm Zebra Billy Can last night from Sun Dog Outfitters on eBay.

Metal containers can be very handy in the wilderness as they can be used to protect sensitive gear, dig in sandy and rocky soil, boil water, and many other uses. They may weigh a bit more than comparable plastic containers but, in my opinion, the added strength far outweighs the lightness.

Not having a metric ruler handy I had to guess on the size of the Billy and chose the smallest they offered. The seller on eBay had sizes of 22oz, 42oz, 64oz, and the big 96oz. All come with a sturdy bail for hanging over the fire (or for carrying if you're not going to stuff it into your pack.) It also has an insert that could be used as a serving dish or it could turn the billy into a double boiler.

My plan is to turn this billy can into a sort of survival essentials container. If I can get the basics of fire, shelter, water, and signalling stuffed into the billy I'll be able to go extremely light into the woods. It is possible that the shelter component will be left out and the billy can added to a bedroll but I won't know one way or the other until I've received the billy and played around with the idea a bit.

Anybody else want to give it a go?

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Found a funny site yesterday

Outdoor Idiots

They've even got a video showing how to pitch a basha/tarp here.

I like that they don't take themselves too seriously.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tell your friends

Well folks, we've gotten lots and lots of hits from all over the world and the number of new readers increases almost daily. I'll assume that's because we've cut down on the Rustrum book reports and increased the number of tips and gear reviews.

I'd like to ask each of you, dear readers, to tell one friend about the blog if you've found something worth sharing here.

Also, feel free to speak up (using the Comment Box) to let me know what you'd like to read more (or less) of and I'll see what I can do.

I'm working on a VERY exciting project right now and hope to be able to share with you some of the details in approximately a month. By then I should have working prototypes to photograph and share. I can't wait to spill the beans on this one...

Thanks again for reading,


Monday, July 17, 2006


Proper hydration and nutrition are essential to both enjoyment of the moment and recovery to hike another day. Yesterday was a perfect example of that.

The temperature was in the mid 90s most of the day and the breeze was slight to nonexistent. The heat radiated out of the earth sapping our energy. We lost moisture to perspiration, convection, and respiration. That moisture had to be replaced if we were to make it through the day.

I drank 3L of water in just three to four hours and was severely dehydrated once I got home. Successfully hydrating during and after an outing will make a huge difference come the following morning to how you feel.

I didn't drink enough.

Today I'm sluggish, my legs and joints hurt, and I'm still thirsty. I'll fix that by drinking plenty today and being very choosy about what I eat.

If this had been another day of hiking it could have been disastrous for me. The effort would have seemed much greater and would have actually BEEN much harder for my body.

Riders in the Tour de France endure heat and extreme efforts every day for 21 days and are, perhaps, the ultimate example of proper hydration and nutrition. Watch the television coverage and you'll hear the commentators talk about "the bonk" or a rider "bonking" and you'll understand that the rider's difficulty stems from improper or inadequate hydration and/or nutrition over one or more days.

Keep yourself hydrated and topped off with calories and you'll be much better equipped for multi-day hikes.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Heat Wave

It's been HOT for two days and the weather shows little sign of breaking.

The family spent yesterday at the water park trying to keep cool and today I got out into the woods where I'll be hunting come November.

I think I'm sporting a little sunburn now but won't know for sure until sometime tomorrow. I am definitely sporting some tan lines.

Today we saw one deer, a herd of cattle, a few massive spiders, and several blinds from which to hunt.

I'm sure I'll remember more details tomorrow but for now I'm just too exhausted to write more.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 14, 2006


Move over Oscar Mayer and Ekrich, there's a new king of the smokehouse and it's Scott Hams.

I received a shipment from Scott Hams last night that included slab bacon, ham hocks, dried beans, dried apples, and summer sausage. Opening the box released the most wonderful smoky smell into my kitchen and I quickly cut off a small slab of the bacon to give Dan for his birthday. The rest (9-11 pounds of bacon) went into the refrigerator even though the meat is shelf stable and could be stored on the counter.

See, Scott Hams cures their bacon the old way. They use a salt cure and follow that with hickory smoking. There are no Nitrates, Nitrites, or MSG. And the flavor...

I had to try some today. I sliced off about an inch-thick piece and cut it into smaller bits. This I added to a cast iron skillet and brought the temperature up. At first the fat turned from opaque to transparent and now the bacon is sizzling and popping and the meat is beginning to brown and crisp up. The smell now is just amazing--even more than the original smoky smell that came out of the box.

I whipped up a couple of simple flatbreads with some flour, salt, and just enough water to make the flour stick together and those have been added to the rendered bacon fat. Whoah.

It's official, Scott Hams is the Official Smokehouse of the American Bushman. I'm putting an enormous stamp of approval on their product and they've been wonderful to deal with on the phone and via email. You can just tell that they like their stuff as much as I do.

Check them out on the web or give them a call at 1-800-318-1353 and ask them for a catalog. It looks like they do a whole heck of a lot more than just what I ordered. I'll be getting a whole Scott Ham for Thanksgiving this year.

Thanks for reading,


Bastille Day

To my French readers, Happy Bastille Day!

I have been working on a process to accelerate the aged appearance of leather and steel lately. For the reenactor, it makes his/her gear look more authentic. For the greenhorn, it makes him look more experienced as his gear shows more signs of wear.

The process I'm using for leather is extremely dirty and takes a bit of elbow grease. The end result, however, speaks for itself.

I'm working on some leather right now for a Renaissance Fair this coming weekend and the temperature today is already nearing 80 degrees and the humidity is extremely high. This means I'm not just going to get really dirty but also really sweaty. Fun times.

As I get more proficient with the process I'll put together a little tutorial. So far I've done a possibles bag and two sheaths with varying degrees of success. Today I'm working on a belt, a sheath, and a frog. If these last three items come out to my satisfaction, I'll be satisfied that I've got the process where I want it.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Whittling and wood carving

There is often time to sit and reflect during a trip into the woods and that time can be filled in a variety of ways. One is to sit with friends and chat. Another is to clear your site, set up shelter, get water, build a fire, etc. Yet another option is to kick back with a piece of wood and an idea, and whittle.

To some, whittling means reducing a branch to a pointy stick and lots of shavings. Others might make a ball in a cage, a y-branch rooster, a whistle, or any number of other fun projects. All you need is some creativity, a sharp knife, and some wood.

I have been noticing in movies more and more that the main characters whittle during their down time. I recently watched "Broken Trail" on AMC and Robert Duvall's character was constantly carving one thing or another when he wasn't off saving the girls or rounding up cattle. I recently saw another movie where the hero (Russel Crowe?) was carving some sort of animal while he was travelling by water.

The premise is simple, find the thing in the wood and carve away all the stuff that isn't that thing. Sounds easy right?

I've carved a few y-branch roosters, a wood spirit, a spoon, an owl, and several walking sticks but none of the projects has been as easy as it first looked. Heck, several of these projects are still awaiting completion.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Charring Wood and Fungus

Yesterday I tried using the same method for making charcloth for both punk wood and dried fungus. Once the smoking had stopped coming from both containers I pulled them and set them lid down to prevent any more air from getting in.

Once cool to the touch I gave them both a spark to see if they'd work or not.

The charwood worked great and would easily get hot enough to start a fire while the charfungus did little or nothing. I could get it to catch a spark but the spark would immediately burn out.

It may simply require an adapted preparation to get the fungus to burn. I have some thoughts on what could be changed to improve the chance of success.

Thanks for reading,


Happy Birthday Dan!

Wow, Dan's 40 today. Hope your birthday is a fun one.

Happy Birthday!


Tuesday, July 11, 2006


While we're on the subject of trail foods...

Coffee is a staple I cannot do without. Yes, I'm an addict. It takes me two (sometimes three) cups in the morning just to get functional. Dissertations by a 5 year old before that third cup can be a bit frustrating and almost definitely confusing.

There are several methods to make coffee in the woods from the simple (cowboy coffee) to the complex (GSI Espresso maker) and all points in between. Here we'll talk about the simplest method and I'll take you from green coffee bean to finished cup.

You can get your coffee pre-roasted (known as green coffee) from many of the same places you'll buy your roasted beans. The one I use most often for both roasted and unroasted beans is Intelligentsia. A pound of green beans should store for up to a year (maybe longer) and they'll travel well when stuffed into your pack.

You'll also need a skillet or some other pan for roasting the beans over the campfire. At home you can use the stove or even a purpose-built bean roaster but those are luxuries you'll likely be without on the trail. I like my small Lodge cast iron skillet. It looks like it's about 6.5" in diameter at the top edge. It's heavy relative to Titanium or Aluminum skillets of similar dimension but it'll stand up to the heat of the campfire better for longer and the weight for such a small pan is only two pounds.

In camp, you'll need to build a small fire. Don't make it too hot. You only need to boil water and roast some coffee beans. Set your skillet on the coals to warm it up. It only needs a minute or two to get plenty hot.

Take a handful of green coffee and add it to your skillet. Much like parching rice or corn you'll need to stir it often and keep an eye on it. Dark roast turns into charred bean in no time flat. The darker the bean the stronger the coffee.

Once your beans are dark enough for you, pull them from the heat and continue to stir them to allow them to cool down quickly. If you can move them from the hot skillet to a muslin or cotton bag that would be ideal as you can twirl the bag to circulate more air and you're going to be using the bag in the next step anyway.

If you haven't already, add your roasted beans to a muslin or cotton bag (any sort of soft container would work--even an extra sock.) Using the poll of your axe, the bottom of your skillet, or some other hard object, pound the roasted beans into grounds. Coarseness of the grounds, like darkness of the bean, affects the final strength of the coffee. Finer = stronger.

You could, of course, skip all the steps above and just buy your coffee at any of the stages outlined above. Green, roasted whole bean, and roasted ground bean are widely available at your local supermarket or specialty retailers like Intelligentsia, Starbucks, Peets, etc. Wouldn't be quite as fun though...

Once you've got your beans roasted and ground and your water boiling you follow the steps outlined here to complete the process and have yourself a nice cup (or two or three) of java.

Again, you could just go out and buy a percolator from REI, EMS, etc. and add your ground coffee to the filter basket and you'd have an easy, tasty cup of coffee but you'd also be lugging around an extra piece of gear that was fairly specific in usefulness that you'd be hard pressed (no coffee pun intended) to justify lugging it through the woods.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 10, 2006

Parched Rice

I made my first batch of parched rice yesterday before heading into the woods. I have read a bit online about the use of parched rice during the heyday of the longhunter and wanted to give it a try as a possible alternative to the parched corn I tend to take along.

The taste reminds me a great deal of popcorn with a slightly nutty flavor.

My recipe:

1/3 cup white or brown rice
1 tsp. oil or shortening (even bacon grease would work here)

Heat a cast iron skillet (preferably) over medium heat and add the oil. Give the oil a minute or two to get up to temperature.

Add the rice and stir often for maybe 10 minutes. The rice will turn from white to translucent and then to varying shades of brown. This is the caramelization of the sugars in the rice. It is what adds the flavor component to your parched rice. You can make it as dark or as light as you want.

Be aware, parching rice can get VERY hot.

I added salt to the mix near the end of the parching process but that's not a step I had read about. I just wanted my parched rice to have a bit of seasoning. You could also add cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Old Bay, etc. Keeping it to just salt means I can add the parched rice to other dishes without dramatically altering the flavors.

When the rice is finished, empty the skillet onto a plate and allow the rice to cool.

I put mine in a brown paper bag, loaded it into my pack, and munched on it while on the trail yesterday.

I still don't know that I've done it correctly but I have ended with a snack that is both flavorful and satisfying.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Into the woods again

Back into the woods tomorrow...

I had a long dry spell but now am finding more and more time to get out into the woods as the weather gets hotter and more humid. Bugs have become a bit of a problem and the poison ivy has grown thicker and heartier than I've seen in quite a while.

Tomorrow I hope to work on both the cordage tutorial and one on making char wood to throw in your kit along with your charcloth.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 07, 2006

A picture from yesterday

There's a new hiker in my house. He tromped through the woods, up the hills, and down the canyons as though he's been doing it his whole life. For seven hours he kept up the pace asking only for water and food periodically. I am impressed that he's every bit as tough as his older sister.

Looks like the Bushman's going to have some company in the woods going forward.

Lots more to tell but time today is still quite limited.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Just got home

Whew! What a day.

Just got home from Starved Rock State Park and had an outstanding time. The kids and I hiked all over the park, shot tons of pictures, and had lots of adventures.

On the way home we got stuck in traffic, stopped for dinner, and had to deal with a flat tire before getting home. Fun.

Much to tell tomorrow. Sorry for the late update,

See you later,


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Just some things I'm working on

I've been reading up on early American history and have decided to spend a bit of time working on some of the skills and finding/making some of the gear the longhunters and trekkers used.

  1. Salt cured slab bacon
  2. Char wood
  3. Campfire cooking
  4. The food sack
  5. Oilcloth and its usefulness today

Apparently, bacon cured in the old style (circa 1800) has approximately a three-week shelf life without refrigeration and significantly longer with. It's hard to find bacon in the supermarket that will last one week under refrigeration these days so finding a product that offers so much that will hold up for extended durations is of some significance. Mmm...bacon.

Tasty travels,


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

The kids and I are putting the finishing touches on our gear-up for Thursday's outing. It may seem like overkill to spend so much time and energy on a day hike but I tend to believe it's the details that make or break a trip such as this one.

Tomorrow we'll pack trail mix and other snacks as well as water, some Gatorade powder, some Micropur tablets (water purification,) and other perishables.


Monday, July 03, 2006

In the Woods.

Heat, humidity, rain, and mosquitoes

I had a GREAT time in the woods yesterday. It's been a while since I actually tromped through the thick brush and had to follow old deer paths. I haven't walked face-first through a thick spider web for some time either.

The rain fell on and off throughout the day and I got home with only five or six pictures instead of the usual 20-30. I'll have to pull the camera out and get those pictures pulled once I'm sure the insides are fully dried.

We hiked for quite some time before finding a suitable spot for a bit of a break. Suitable is, in this instance, used quite loosely. Every spot in the woods seemed to be breezeless, muddy, wet, and full of mosquitoes. We picked the spot closest to our current position.

On the hike in I found a beautiful piece of fallen Osage probably six feet long by two to three inches in diameter. Once we were settled in and had reapplied bug dope I got to work carving up the stick, cutting the ends to length, and wrapping a handle with paracord. I'm a little concerned that the wood inside is a bit mushy but will know more once it's had a week or so to dry.

Reid went to work carving a figure-4 trap to test out the new Bark River TUSK and I collected all of his stripped bark from the ground to make some natural cordage. Before I started I lit a bit of charcloth with my firesteel and tried to get some punky wood to burn (smoulder) to give me a little more protection from the mossies but I just couldn't get it to go. The moisture in the air and all around was extremely high so I suspect that played some part.

Making natural cordage is a very simple procedure but it is one I had never before attempted using actual natural materials. I have made yards and yards of it using paracord and string around the house. The process of twisting and rolling the rope I have found to be quite therapeutic for my hands. I feel arthritic today after the effort but by tomorrow I'll have a bit more mobility in my pinky (at least for a day or two.)

I think I'll put together a tutorial on the cordage. It's so simple a skill that I could probably teach the kids on Thursday's outing. It's so useful to have cordage when outdoors that having the skill could be considered by many to be essential. As I always have some paracord with me it is less essential which is probably why I find it so enjoyable.

I also got to show Reid the trucker's hitch/timber hitch ridgeline that I now use for my tarps. It's an extremely simple setup that goes up very quickly and comes down very quickly and is very secure and strong in the interim. I've got a blue poly tarp in the back yard hanging over one of these ridgelines that has been there for more than a month through heavy wind and rain.

Looking back on yesterday I'm very happy with the gear I chose to bring. I had very little non-used gear (first aid kid thank goodness) and never felt like I was missing anything that could have made my outing a little more comfortable.

I'll do this again.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Getting Out Tomorrow

I'm busy gearing up for a hike tomorrow. I'll be taking my new Patton Osage Hunter into the woods for a workout and I'll also be testing a new custom JRE sheath with some nice new features.

Looks like the forecast calls for thunderstorms and heat. Hmm...sounds like a miserable time. I CAN'T WAIT!!!

It's been a seemingly long time since I got out so I'm really looking forward to this. I hope the rain doesn't hamper my ability to snap some pictures with the digital camera.

The Hilleberg 5XP will be in my bag so at least I'll have a dry spot once we get settled in.

See you here tomorrow,