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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fun Shooting Site

Found this site while surfing the Internet today:

The Box o' Truth

He does some interesting testing of handgun, shotgun, and pistol ammunition.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This is my gun

My shotgun of choice for the upland bird trip is my Remington 870 Synthetic with a 28" barrel. The gun has a modified choke and shoots 2 3/4" to 3" 12-gauge shells with capacity for four in the magazine and one in the chamber. Hunting limits the capacity to two in the magazine and one in the chamber so I had to install a magazine plug prior to the hunt.

I've fired a little more than 500 rounds through it in the past three weeks and have had exactly one misfire which was caused by a bad round. I hope to put plenty more rounds through it in the near future while I continue to develop the muscle memory that will make next year's hunt even more successful than this one.

I don't have precise numbers on what we brought home but I can tell you that I've got a freezer absolutely full of birds.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, November 27, 2006

Mother Day Pack

While staying in the lodge I managed to read an insane number of shotgunning publications. One of them, the name of which escapes me, had a review of the Mother Day Pack.

The review was very positive and convinced me to surf over to the website for an in-depth look at the Day Pack and their other products. I like what I saw.

I've got a call in to the company to ask a few questions, check pricing and availability, and to see about getting one in my hands (or is that on my back) for some testing.

Stay tuned...


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Home Safe

Back at the keyboard after three days of travel, shooting, hunting, and more.

Lots to tell...

Lots of pictures...

Need to go to sleep...

Will tell more tomorrow.



Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you. Thanks for stopping by.

Not many outdoor adventures today but tomorrow marks the first day of a two-day hunting trip for pheasant.

I can't wait.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Food and the outdoors

Does food taste better when it's cooked outdoors? I think so.

Is it the smoke? The fresh air? The scent of evergreens? That part's hard to say.

I was talking with Dan last night about Lodge cast iron cookware and we began to discuss the plan for next year's Practice What You Preach (PWYP,) an annual gathering in North Carolina where you're encouraged to practice your skills, enjoy being surrounded by like-minded people, and cook and eat outdoors over three days and two nights.

We talked about the idea of digging a trench a couple of feet deep and three or four feet long where we can set dutch ovens. Picture an extended keyhole fire.

The thought of food cooking away in dutch ovens while we sit nearby practicing primitive firestarting or making natural cordage just really appeals to me. I'm ready to run out behind the house and dig a pit just for practice. Mmm...cobblers, stews, gratins, slow-roasted meats...yeah, my mouth is watering too.

This setup is, in my opinion, ideal as the fire at one end can be used for warmth, to boil water, and to create the coals needed to cook in the dutch ovens.

Definitely going to need some practice cooking in the ground...yum.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blown Away

I was summoned down to JRE Industries the other night and, upon my arrival, small talk commenced. The mood felt a bit odd but I chalked it up to some strange fatigue-induced paranoia.

After some discussion about the previous weekend's hunting trip and the coming weekend's hunting trip I was led into the office where we talked a bit about lighting, digital images, and JRE's current inventory levels.

Then they dropped a bomb on me.

Spen reached behind a table, pulled out a black box, and handed it to me. The box said, "Stolen from Joliet Arsenal." I laughed nervously as they told me it was a 25mm ammo can. It was heavy.

I walked into the adjacent room, opened it up, and looked inside. There was a letter from the War Department explaining the history of the ammo box. There was also a familiar white box.

That box contained a blaze orange BRK&T Aurora with the most amazing custom leather sheath to come out of the Streamwood shop. It is all hand stitched, the edges are hand rubbed, there are little carved accents near the mouth of the sheath and on the firesteel loop, and they used some darker leather than they'd usually use because they remembered my reaction to the color back when it first arrived.

I am so blown away that it has taken me the better part of a day and a half to come up with something to say about it. I'm still struggling to do this gift justice.

Dan and Spen, my heartfelt gratitude for this gift goes out to you both. I cannot wait to get into the woods with the new sheath and knife.



Monday, November 20, 2006

Roasted Sweet Corn

The Soy Nut Butter Company make a product called I.M. Healthy Roasted Sweet Corn in both lightly salted and chili lime flavors. This product is about as close to commercially available parched corn as you are going to get.

Since first finding this product on the grocery store shelves about 8 months ago I've gone through two cases plus several individual cans of the stuff. Yeah, it's tasty.

Imagine corn chip flavor without all the corn chip oil. The indians, mountain men, and explorers of the 1800s could live on this stuff for weeks at a time. Take a handful of parched corn and follow it with a drink of water. The corn soaks up the water and expands in your stomach giving you a feeling of fullness. It's also full of vitamins and, supplemented with caught game and foraged plants, can be an effective diet for quite some time.

I actually carry a muslin bag of this roasted sweet corn, another bag of jerky, and a third bag of muscovado sugar inside the Swedish Army Trangia and feel well prepared should my day hike turn into an unplanned overnight (or longer.)

So, period correct for reenactors, nutrient rich, shelf stable for long periods, tasty, easy to carry, and inexpensive--that's about all I need to say about this product. I would advise you to give it a try but it isn't easy to find. You can check the website linked above and give them a call. Go ahead and order up a case. They'll mix and match the flavors if you'd like to try both kinds.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Today was spent at the range shooting two rounds of skeet. This is similar to sporting clays (multiple stations, 24 targets.)

Two things I learned today. 50 rounds through a shotgun can beat you up a bit. I am NOT a great shot. This second lesson was certainly true for the muzzleloader but I had hoped it would prove false with the shotgun--no such luck.

The Swanndri Ranger Extreme worked like a champ out there. It was in the 40s with a very slight breeze and the windproof membrane worked as advertised. I've been in colder weather for longer durations with the Ranger Extreme so I knew this would be a piece of cake but it's still good to know that my previous experiences have been accurate.

All in all a fun day. I look forward to having a few more of them.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Spruce Tea

One of the tastiest treats I can think of in the woods is spruce tea. It's dead simple to make, tastes of the outdoors, and is high in Vitamin C.

Here's my simple recipe:

Find one of these. This particular species is the Sitka Spruce--State Tree of Alaska.
Collect some of these. A small handful will be more than enough.
Add some of this... one of these. I use the US Military Canteen Cup.
Bring to a boil using a campfire or other means.

Let this concoction steep for a few minutes until the water turns a caramel color, pull out the spruce needles, and either strain the remaining liquid into a cup or drink straight away.

Easy peasy.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, November 17, 2006

Opening Day

Today would have been the first day of my first deer hunt had things gone according to plan.

Instead I'm running errands, trying to arrange a playdate for the kids, taking inventory of my massive collection of cooksets and mess kits, and generally sulking around.

I am, interestingly, getting live updates from the field this morning. Spen must have his Blackberry with him because I've gotten a couple of emails already. I hope my replies don't chase away a buck or doe that gets in close.

Join me in wishing them (Dan and Spen) the best of luck on a successful hunt.



Thursday, November 16, 2006


I just received my IMP in the mail from Escanaba after sending it in for a bit of a tweak. Originally the knife came with three solid pins in the handle and I asked to have the rear pin removed and lanyard tubing installed instead.

The boys in the shop knocked this one out of the park. The lanyard tubing is nicely flush with the scales, the edges are chamfered making insertion of lanyard material easy, and the overall effect of the knife is now much improved.

I've also discovered that, with some initial effort, the knife will fit into the JRE Mini Canadian sheath--a design I've always liked. The knife is noticeably thicker than the Mini Canadian but the same length. The IMP has, at present, replaced the Mini Canadian on my belt.

We'll see if it can stay there...

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hunting Trip Cancelled

No trip for me this year.

Too many other obligations, not enough time at the range, and a bit of a mix-up with location have all stacked up against me and I'm throwing in the towel.

I even considered an out of state hunt in early December to make the season a success but, it turns out, I have something the night before and something the day of that hunting season.

At what point does a rational person throw up his/her hands and start planning for next year? It would certainly be some point far sooner than I.

Next year though...look out. Oh, there's still the upland bird trip coming up the weekend after Thanksgiving too...

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I know that making sheaths isn't exactly rocket science but I am thoroughly convinced that making sheaths well is much more difficult that it may at first seem.

I had the pleasure of visiting JRE Industries the other night while the guys were working on a couple of custom sheaths and finishing up a short production run of Mini Canadian pocket and belt sheaths (similar design, different details.) They've really dialed in the process and are turning out some amazingly well-constructed pieces that rival many of the custom-only makers I've seen. To do that 250-750+ times in a production run is mind-boggling.

The edges on the two custom pieces were like patent leather. They've got the tension on the stitcher set just right so there are no impressions on the sides of the stitches from the foot of the machine. The stitches themselves are evenly spaced, straight, and clean. The custom pieces were both done in black leather and they assembled them with black thread (a detail I've seen overlooked before.)

They've worked with me in the past to design and execute a custom project that I've been extremely pleased with and I wouldn't hesitate to ask them to work with me on the next one. As a matter of fact, if either of them are reading this, I'll be calling later today.

If you've been thinking about adding some custom leather to your favorite knife you should check them out. The quality is up there with the best sheaths I've seen and the price makes them an outstanding value.

Tell them the American Bushman sent you...

Thanks for reading,


Monday, November 13, 2006

More time at the range

Sunday was spent at the range again to try and improve on my Saturday performance. Being new to muzzleloading I've experienced some truly unique moments already. This time I managed to hit the target once, the paper once, and then I had a misfire.

Misfires occur when the primer goes off but the gunpowder doesn't. In my case it was caused by a dirty breech plug. When the misfire happens you continue to point the muzzle down range for 60 seconds. Then you load another primer and attempt to clear the barrel. I had a second misfire. Wait another 60 seconds and try one more time. The third time I pulled the trigger the primer popped and blew the trigger assembly out of the gun.

That, of course, was my last straw. I pulled the gun apart at the range, swabbed out the barrel with solvent, wiped down the trigger assembly, and then pulled the breech plug. This allowed me to push the bullet and remaining powder out of the barrel.

So, two days, five shots, and two day-killing mishaps later and I'm hooked. I've got to work out a few minor issues with loading the gun and then figure out how to consistently hit the target but I'm certainly prepared to go do this again and again.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, November 11, 2006


Today I headed to the shooting range to break in my new rifle, see if I could hit a target, and bolster my confidence for the coming hunt.

First shot was on paper. The second and third...not so good. And then...I pulled a newbie mistake. I shoved a dry patch down the barrel and rammed it with the ramrod. Yeah, it got stuck. No, I couldn't get it out. Oops.

Lube down the barrel to free the ramrod, disassemble the breech plug to get at the patch, wipe off and grease the breech plug, and reassemble the whole gun before shooting again.

Maybe I'll have more luck tomorrow.

On a positive note, I'm only going to get one shot a day next weekend and my first shot WAS in the money. There may still be meat on the table at the end of the day.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, November 10, 2006

Putting things in order

I'm getting everything in order for next week's hunting trip.

Clothes are stored in a large plastic bag, the gun is cleaned, lubed, and assembled, the primers and sleeves are all ready to go, and the things I didn't manage to get the first go round have been ordered and are in transit to me.

I am still just a little panicked about the trip being just one week from today. I am less panicked today than I was on Monday so I suspect I'll be just fine come the 17th.

Last night we sat down and discussed strategy. I now have some idea where I'll be, where the deer have been, and how we'll get in and out. Hopefully that equates to venison on my table next Sunday night.

We shall see...

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I'm absolutely crazed right now. On Monday I was discussing an upcoming hunting trip (my first) when I realized just how unprepared I was. I have been scrambling like a madman for the past 24 hours to get myself ready.

It's not going to be much slower today so instead of offering some sort of insight I'll just post these pictures from Sunday's outing.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Took the new Aurora out to The Sanctuary on Sunday and got my first real chance to use it.

Sure, I've used the prototype before but this one is mine. I got green canvas micarta slabs with red liners. The other knife is the Mini Canadian with blaze orange G10 handles. It rides on my belt regularly these days.

The Aurora is really quite a knife and handled the basic chores of campcraft easily. I used it to fell a standing dead sapling, batoned it through the trunk of the sapling to reduce it to useable pieces, drilled several holes, and did some general carving and twig-removal. I also used it for a bit of food prep.

The blade easily handled the jobs I threw at it and would still pop the hairs from my forearm. (Why people do this test is a bit beyond me. I've never wanted to shave my arms while I was out in the woods, or anywhere else for that matter, and certainly never wanted to do it immediately after heavy knife work.) Anyway, the knife was still very sharp.

I wiped it off on my pant leg, put it back in the sheath, and left it there until I got home. The A2 blade has no discoloration, patina, or rust. Keep in mind this is now two days after I got home and there has been no further treatment of the blade.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, November 06, 2006

The animals came out to play

It was a busy day in the woods. The sun was out, the wind was slight, and the temperatures were warmer than they'd been in a while. The animals came out to play because they know the winter is coming soon.

The deer were thick yesterday. With the rut just around the corner, they're stocking up on calories and paying little attention to anything else. I saw so many of them yesterday that the thrill kind of wore off. They'd walk in to my campsite, wheeze and stomp, stand still, and then run off when they couldn't figure out just what it was they were seeing.
Rocky, here, climbed right up the tree I was hanging from and began to chatter at me. After a while he headed off to gather more nuts for winter. You can tell a squirrel in the woods this time of year by the crunch of leaves followed by silence. That's when they jump from tree to ground to tree. It can sure sound like a man's gait if you're not paying attention.
Last, but not least, is Woody--a downy woodpecker. He flew up to the tree at the foot of the hammock and began his "rat tat tat" looking for insects under the bark. He was a tiny bird. He also moved incredibly fast. Of the ten (or so) pictures I took this is the only one that came out.

The only company I had all day was of the animal kind. Sometimes that's exactly what I need.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Just a rock?

I hiked The Sanctuary again today after a few weeks away. Little has changed out there. I came better prepared this time for a little work and a little relaxation.

On the way back I found a rock along the side of the road. This rock.

Notice how there are ridges along the top of the rock. That is where someone knapped off three (or four) flakes sometime in history. Was it 200 years ago? Was it 50 years ago? Was it a month ago?

I have neither the expertise nor the equipment to tell...

This rock once provided tools to a skillful artisan who knew just where to strike it.

Pretty darned cool if you ask me.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bucket Seat

Laura and I spent the day today working on a project to spray camouflage paint on a couple of 5-gallon buckets to be used as seats in a couple of weeks. These buckets were painted shades of brown, tan, and green in the shape of leaves, bark, and sticks.

Overall, I'm most satisfied with the second bucket while the first was a bit overdone. It's not too late to fix it but how many coats of paint will it take before I'm finally satisfied?

The idea is to fill the bucket with things you'll need (i.e. thermos of coffee, sandwiches, emergency kit, first aid kit, etc.) and put a cushion on the lid to make sitting in the woods a bit more comfortable.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Zip Ties

Have you got some zip ties in your kit? You should.

Unless you can tie knots one-handed in the dark without looking you should have some of these easy to use, compact, lightweight wonders.

Like duct tape, zip ties can be used for a myriad of things limited only by your imagination.

You can get the releasing type if you don't plan on carrying something that can cut through them. They don't cost much extra and can be reused until they wear out.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Longing for woods time

It's been a few days since I had a chance to get out and hike through the woods and I'm sorely missing it.

It's a pretty busy time for me and phone calls, appointments, and the like take precedence over the fun stuff. Add to that one sick three year old and you begin to understand why I'd rather be in the woods somewhere hanging in a hammock, smelling the wood burning on the campfire, thinking about my next meal cooked in the Trangia, and contemplating what I'm going to carve or whittle once I get out of that hammock.

Nah, I haven't been thinking about it...

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hmm...NRA Kits

Seems the NRA kits are now shipping with an alternative to the WetFire Tinder I've raved on and on about in the past. I got to go through a box of them last night hand-picking a couple of samples for a project and noticed that a majority of the kits are now shipping with a tinder stamped "Strike Force" which is the name of the Gerber firesteel.

At this point I don't know a thing about the material but it looks similar to the WetFire from a size, shape, and color perspective. Once I get to test some I'll have a much better idea just how it stacks up.

I'll also be putting a call in to the NRA Store this morning to see if they can tell me anything about the change. They're still advertising the kit as containing WetFire Tinder so they may be blissfully unaware of the change.