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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Grandpa's Fire Fork

Have you seen one of these yet? Grandpa's Fire Fork

I had the opportunity to handle one personally at JRE Industries last week and liked it so much I had to bring one home.

This is one of those things that is so simple and ingenious that I simply couldn't NOT have one. It's a single piece of spring wire twisted in such a way that it will mount on the end of a stick and hold two marshmallows, a whole fish, a hotdog, or whatever other thing you decide would be better held over a heat source.

I have some friends who seem to travel with a S'Mores kit in the car at all times so I've given my fire fork to them. I suspect I'll hear soon just how much they like it.

Now I've got to get another for myself...

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 27, 2007

Blog Management Time

I'm working on some things behind the scenes that are taking all of my time these last couple of days.

Not to worry, I'll be back up and running full-steam (I hope) by the beginning of next week.

It looks like the coming weekend is going to be a great opportunity for some of you to get out of the house. Get out there and enjoy.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

FBC Fabric Cozies

Now here's a great idea.

I've made a cozy for trail cooking before but I used a couple of pieces of closed cell foam pad and some duct tape--not exactly a posh solution. It works but retains some moisture and smells, can't really be washed without being broken down and reassembled, and doesn't really compact much at all.

These are a much more elegant solution and also solve some of the problems I've encountered with my homemade version namely the ability to wash and compact the cozy.

The idea is to put your ziplock bag of dried goodies into the cozy, add your hot water, close up the cozy, and let the hot water do its thing. The cozy allows your food to rehydrate and still be warm when you eat it. I've had freeze dried meals go cold in extreme temperatures while the hot water was cooking them and it's just no fun eating cold pasta primavera when it's -10 and you're in the middle of a long hike.

It looks like these cozies are all hand made one at a time too. You can't beat a product that fits a need, is hand made by an artisan, and is relatively inexpensive. I'll be placing an order for one of these later today and I'll report back once I've had a chance to give it a few uses.

Thanks for reading,


PS. I'd advise you to check out Sarah's blog if you get a chance. Freezer Bag Cooking

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SAR Knives Ridge Runner

I got a new blade from Triple Aught Design the day of the fishing trip. This one's from Spencer Reiter of SAR Knives and it's called the Ridge Runner.

The knife is a bit of a departure from what I normally buy and use but the design, the size, the steel, and that heavily sculpted handle all spoke to me as soon as I saw the picture.

Blade Type = Hollow Ground Drop Point
Blade Length = 4"
Blade Thickness = 0.14"
Blade Material = S30V
Blade Finish = Fine Matte
OAL = 8"
Scales = Contoured Black G10 with blue liners
Tapered Full Tang
Black Kydex Sheath

In the month that I've had the knife it has been transferred from one bag to another, one pocket to another, or one location to another. Unfortunately, I've never actually used it to cut anything. That is going to change.

I put a convex edge on it using the mousepad and sandpaper method and screwed on a Tek-Lock last night so now it can easily go on and off a belt.

I planned on putting up some in-hand shots of the knife but, unfortunately, my camera battery died and is now recharging for the next batch of pictures. I can tell you that the handle is a full four-finger grip putting my index finger in the choil and the sculpted handles seem plenty grippy even when wet and soapy. The blade has got some jimping where your thumb will naturally fall on the spine and where your index finger will fall at the choil.

All of the edges are nicely rounded making the knife very comfortable in the hand. The blue liners under the G10 slabs add a very subtle touch of color.

Overall, I'm very impressed with the fit and finish on this knife. I will now begin the long process of testing the knife and will report back here once I've got some real world experience with the Ridge Runner.

Spencer Reiter, the knifemaker, is a full time soldier and part time knifemaker and demands at his "day job" have forced him to put his knifemaking on hold for about five months. Not to worry though. He's got some knives currently available and, I suspect once he gets going again, he'll be able to put a knife in your hand relatively quickly.

Give him a look.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 23, 2007

Water Bottle & Hydration Bladder Maintenance

I'm reading lots on the various forums lately about maintaining Camelbak-type bladders and Nalgene bottles so I thought I'd go over the steps I take to insure that my water remains goo-free, odorless, and tasteless.

First, storing non-water beverages in a bladder or bottle is a no-no. The creepy crawlies seem to like the sugars in things like Gatorade and Kool-aid and tend to funk up water storage faster than water can. That's not to say you shouldn't put those beverages in the container but simply that you shouldn't leave them in there.

When I get home from a multi-day trip the first thing I do is empty out the hydration bladder by unscrewing the top and squeezing the mouthpiece. This flushes the water out of the bladder and the drinking tube all at the same time. Then I mix up a 16.9oz. water bottle with a capful of bleach and pour it into the bladder. Give the bladder a good shake and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Next, drain the bladder using the drinking tube which pulls the bleach water through the mouthpiece and should kill any nasties that started growing in the tube.

Fill the bladder with clean water and rinse it through the tube.

If you're refilling the bladder, do that now. If not, fold up the bladder and stuff it into the freezer. It's too darned cold in there for any nasties to grow and it'll leave the bladder ready to go the next time you need it.

Now, if you're trying to get rid of a bad taste, you can mix up some baking soda and water, add it to the bladder, give it a shake and a rest (30 minutes should work,) and then add some lemon juice. The resulting chemical reaction should remove any bad tastes and the mixture can simply be rinsed and either refilled with plain water or stored as suggested above.

One more option, drop two Efferdent tablets into the bladder after filling it about half way with water. Give it a good shake and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. Rinse and refill or store. This is the method I have chosen today as it's as simple and easy a solution as I've seen. It worked great and I now have two 50oz. Camelbak bladders, one 100oz. bladder, one HDPE Nalgene, and one lexan Nalgene bottle looking and smelling like new--better than new actually.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 22, 2007

ENO Photo Contest

Finally! I sent in a picture of my daughter Laura several months ago (October of '06 to be exact) to the Eagle's Nest Outfitters, Inc. photo contest and she's finally made the gallery.

She's playing peek-a-boo from her pink and purple ENO Single Nest which she picked out herself and has used extensively. She used it enough that they had to replace it after an encounter with a raccoon in a rainstorm.

Check Page 5, picture 40. Let the folks at ENO know that you like the picture.

It's pretty exciting to not only see a picture I took elsewhere on the Internet but even more so when the subject is one (or both) of my kids.

Incidentally, I hung the hammock today and it's been a perfect day to swing. Not too hot, not too cool, a slight breeze to keep the bugs away, and the occasional crackle of leaves as the chipmunks frolic from tree to tree.

What a day!!!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 20, 2007

Fallkniven F1 Update

It has now been a little over a week since I got my Fallkniven F1. I've had it outside a bit and put it to work processing ears of corn for a big party I had last weekend.

Apparently I forgot to wipe it down after I was finished and it now bears a thin layer of goo. Nothing I can't clean up after the fact but I am impressed that there is no corrosion on the blade after five days of being stored in the leather sheath.

The knife arrived plenty sharp and is still more than sharp enough for day to day work in the woods. It could use a good stropping but is otherwise fine.

One of these days, when life slows down just a bit again, I need to get to Dan and Spen at JRE Industries for a new leather sheath. The flap over the top is driving me nuts.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Pocket Load

Holy color correction Batman!!!

I need a photo editor...or else I need to white balance my camera. Wow!

This post began as a result of one of the many threads on one of the many discussion forums where the "What's in your pockets" discussion cropped up. I began to empty mine on to the counter and, lo and behold, here is what I found.

What you're seeing left to right:
  • Duct Tape on a straw
  • Brass K&M Match Case filled with REI Storm matches
  • 12 feet of 550 paracord
  • Bic lighter
  • Victorinox Rucksack with a two-piece keyring containing a Boy Scout Hotspark metal match, glow ring, hacksaw blade striker, and REI whistle
  • Inova X1 flashlight

Add to this the cell phone and Victorinox SwissTool I carry on my belt and I've got quite a leg up on most folks should I manage to lose myself in the woods.

What are you currently carrying in your pockets?

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Laura!

Today my hiking buddy turns 6.

Happy Birthday kiddo!


Carrying your Tape

I recently read a clever idea on the Internet for carrying a length of duct tape or, in my case, Gorilla Tape.

In the past I've wrapped the tape around a golf pencil as it gives me a better grip, provides me with both a writing implement and a supply of tape, and was coming along anyway. The problem with this method arises if you use the pencil extensively--you can only sharpen up to the front edge of the tape.

Then I started wrapping it around my water bottle. This works great, provides even more tape, and the bottle doesn't get consumed like the pencil will. However, it makes it difficult to put the bottle in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning as the heat and hot water will likely melt the adhesive on the glue and make a mess of everything.

Here's a solution I can really give a go that doesn't take up much room, doesn't rely on a piece of gear that may need a deep cleaning, and doesn't involve any consumable other than the tape itself.

  • Duct Tape
  • Drinking Straw
  • Paracord
  • Scissors or knife
  • Lighter

  1. Wrap the tape around the drinking straw creating a roll until you've got what you deem to be a satisfactory length.
  2. Cut the tape on an angle and fold under a small triangle at the tip to give you an easy way to lift off the tape.
  3. Cut the straw to length at the edges of the tape.
  4. Cut a length of paracord 6-10" long and thread it through the cut straw.
  5. Tie a knot in the loose ends of the paracord.
...and you're done.

The finished article should look something like this:

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 16, 2007

Whirlwind Weekend

Whew! I'm glad that weekend's over.

I had activities Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and am now just wiped out...

Not much time for any bushcraft or woods walking but that'll change as I have a free weekend coming right up.

I've got some knives to test. I think I might get my tarp and hammock out into the woods for an overnight in the coming week.

I can't believe it's already Monday...

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 13, 2007

Nuisance Animals--Chipmunks

I've got a houseguest. He's bigger than a mouse, smaller than a squirrel, cute as a button, and my kids have named him/her "Toast" as in, "Daddy's here and now you're toast."

My wife has recently left the garage door open for long stretches of the day and, sometime during one of those stretches, a chipmunk made its way into the garage and has caused me some headaches and left me with some chewed spots, tiny chipmunk poops, and lots and lots of shredded fibers. That means a nest is being built.

That doesn't really work for me.

Today I downsized the 5-gallon bucket trap into a 2 gallon bucket trap and baited it with a dried strawberry hoping that it'll strike gold. Unfortunately old "Toast" just stuck his nose into a mouse trap and has now holed up inside the exterior wall of the garage.

Now we just sit tight and see if a 2 gallon bucket is anywhere near as effective as the 5-gallon bucket has been.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dan's getting older

41 today. Wow!

You're getting sooooo old.

I hope you're not feeling quite so decrepit.


Happy Birthday big guy!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fallkniven F1

It's here! It's here!

My Fallkniven F1 with the fold-over leather sheath is here. I've played around with the knife around the house and now just need to get into the woods with it. I am liking the thermorun handle but the sheath, while sturdily built and nicely stitched and finished, just isn't my cup of tea.

I've got Dan and Spen at JRE Industries working on a new design and am also thinking about having Robert Humelbaugh of Survival Sheath Systems make up one of his fantastic kydex/concealex sheaths for it. Yes, sometimes a knife can go in kydex so long as it is well designed and well executed.

The F1 is the new laminated 420J2/VG-10 model with the convexed blade. Apparently there have been several iterations of the design since it first hit the street some 8+ years ago. It's sharp. I haven't cut myself (yet) with it but I can tell you that it came darned sharp right out of the box. I stropped it anyway.

The rest of the gear in the picture includes a Fallkniven DC4 sharpener, a Light My Fire Army firesteel, and a K&M Industries matchcase designed to hold the longer REI matches. This gear, along with a bit of cordage, should be more than adequate for most of my forays into the woods on day hikes.

I look forward to getting the F1 dirty...we'll see if I can get a patina on that VG-10...

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe

I had an opportunity over the weekend to use my Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe (SFA) while thinning out a tree with several small trunks (3-4" diameter.) Pushing on the trunk with one hand and bringing down the axe like a hatchet with the other made short work of the trunks. Limbing was also extremely easy work.

Despite working on the project for 15-20 minutes I can't say I ever really felt taxed.

The blade didn't need any work but I stropped it on a piece of leather afterward anyway. This has become a standard practice with all my edged tools so long as I've got the strop nearby.

Once I was finished I put the cover on the axe head, strapped it back to my pack, and then promptly forgot about it.

I got my SFA and several other Gransfors Bruks axes from Scott at Skywoods Canoe several years ago. The picture above comes directly from his site.

I can't say that the testing this weekend on the SFA was extensive nor was it extreme or abusive. It was, however, real use of the axe as intended. I've always been impressed with this axe and continue to be impressed by it.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 09, 2007

An inflatable kayak

Who would have guessed that something like an inflatable kayak could be so much fun?

What we were paddling was the Quest 2-person inflatable kayak from Dick's Sporting Goods. It's rated up to 335 pounds and will easily hold one adult and two or three small children. There are only two inflatable seats in the kayak but, once removed, the kids can more easily flop from one end to the other.

When we were actually trying to paddle around the lake I found the kayak a bit too wide to use the paddles efficiently but I never felt under-geared for the trip.

The kayak has several separate air chambers so even one bad chamber doesn't necessarily leave you in the water. As a matter of fact, there were chambers in the bottom (clear so you can see into the water,) one in each gunwale, one at the front, one at the back, and each seat had three chambers. That's 11 pockets of air to keep you afloat.

We turned the kayak over and spent some time under it too. There is easily enough air space to use the kayak inverted as shelter against the wind should it turn cold. You can either use the ropes along the front and back to hang on or, as we found, you can just slide your hands up into the open area at the front or back of the kayak to remain completely protected.

A word of caution: Don't carry sharp items on an inflatable kayak.

The kayak is made of some very thick material but I still don't think it would hold up to a poorly placed key or rescue knife. The box did contain a patch kit though so a repair could be done if required.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Back from the Lake

Whew! What a weekend.

I got to try some gear including an inflatable kayak and my Gransfors Bruks SFA. The Kephart got a workout and the Victorinox Farmer disappointed a bit.

I was so busy doing so little that I managed to leave the digital camera in the bag the entire weekend.

The kids and I are do tired and need a day to recuperate before getting anything more done.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Off Again

We're out the door in another hour for a few days at my parents' lake house.

We've got swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, and more swimming on the agenda.

It sounds like my brother and his family are going to come up too. It'll be great for the kids to see their cousins again.

I'll be back online (unless someone down there has an un-encrypted wireless network) sometime this weekend. We're not making any return plans just yet as we don't have anywhere to be until Tuesday and don't have anything to do all weekend.

I'm taking a couple of knives and a Gransfors Bruks axe for some testing and just to play around.

See you soon,


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th everybody.

The family and I have been out at the festivals and events for the past two days and we're just completely exhausted.

We've all gotten more than our fair share of the "Medicine in the Sky."


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pot Hangers on BCUK

I found this link on BushcraftUK with a pot hanger competition. There are some really clever ideas posted. My favorite is pictured at left (picture courtesy of BCUK.)

Take a look at the pictures. There may be one there that really appeals to you and maybe another two or three that give you some new ideas.


Monday, July 02, 2007

ML Knives--The File Knife

It's HERE!!!

I don't know if Matt had given it a proper name but this knife shall now and forever be known simply as "the file knife."

This knife looks to be a phenomenal user and fits my hand like a glove. It's just begging to be used but, as this one's earmarked as a gift, isn't really up to me to patina. That task will fall to the intended recipient.

Choking up on the blade is easy with this one. I can certainly see this one being used for skinning out game and then processing the meat in the kitchen or beside the campfire.

The rawhide wrap on the handle is stitched with the threads where they'll offer the least problems to the user. Having done a rawhide wrap once or twice in the past I can assure you that stitch placement is something you'll learn if you don't already know. My first attempt saw the stitches up on the top of the handle and it provided me with enough discomfort to resort to another knife. Lesson learned.

So, now I've got two ML knives (for now) with another on order. Yeah, I've got it pretty bad. Not only do the knives really appeal to my sense of aesthetics but they also cut and are comfortable to use. Did I mention the value?

Check out Matt and his knives here.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 01, 2007

My spoon

I finally finished my first spoon today with encouragement from Laura.

I had a sugar maple sapling maybe 3" in diameter that came down back in the back yard earlier this week. Today I took my folding saw, a Silky Pocket Boy 170, and sectioned the trunk into three pieces. The first two were approximately 8" long and the third probably 18". This gave me two spoon blanks and a baton.

I used the Bark River Aurora to do the batonning and I split the blank into a rough spoon/paddle shape. Then I set to carving the handle into round and shaping the "bowl" into a bowl shape. Using a split round to form my spoon is an idea I got from Tom Porter at the Briar Patch campout a few weeks ago. It works far better for me than trying to rough out a spoon shape using some other method.

Once I had the spoon shaped out I took a couple of hot coals and began the long process of burning out the bowl. For this I used a straw and a pair of barbecue tongs to move hot coals onto the spoon and cold coals back into the hot coals.

I'm not sure just how long it took to burn out the bowl but I am satisfied with the final result. I have a spoon that holds water, handles well, and was made completely by me. Sure, it looks like it's my first spoon but that isn't a problem for me.

Thanks for reading,