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, January 30, 2008

Watch the Weather

Last night could have been deadly if you'd chosen to sleep out without first checking the weather.

We got battered overnight with a storm that was made up mostly of wind and cold air mixed with a light dusting of snow.

The damage, however, was the dramatic drop from the mid-40s all the way down to 2-below (actual) this morning. With the wind it felt like 20-below. That's more than a sixty degree temperature change just overnight.

I'm glad I chose to sleep inside in a warm comfy bed instead of pitching the GoLite Hex 3 for a test.


Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Scott Hams

Photo Courtesy of Scott HamsRemember this post? I'm finally out of bacon.

It's time to get back in touch with the good folks at Scott Hams of Greenville, Kentucky.

Last time it was bacon and ham hocks, this time it's ham, sausage, bacon, and apple butter. Mmm...

They've got jowl bacon and I'm going to pick up a whole mess of it.

As always, the meats are prepared without Nitrates, Nitrites, or MSG. They do it the same way I'd do it if I had my smokehouse up and running. That says a lot.

We're eating lots of hot breakfast around my house now and, as the cook, it is my responsibility to pick the protein to accompany the pancakes, french toast, waffles, oatmeal, etc. You can bet we'll be having more ham and bacon to fuel the kids through the day.

Oh, did I mention that the cured meats do not require refrigeration? They recommend that you refrigerate/freeze the meat but it's not a requirement and that makes these meats popular with the reenactment crowd and it's quite a change of pace to go from freeze-dried meals to a couple of meaty pieces of bacon when hiking or camping.

So, if you're looking for the good stuff, and I do mean goooooood, then give the folks at Scott Hams a look. Your tastebuds will thank you.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, January 25, 2008

Map and Compass Navigation

I've been working with the kids on their map and compass skills and realized that I too could use some brushing up on an essential skill that is often overlooked until it's a little too late.

Fortunately I've got some topo maps of the area so we can go over the basics and the kids can actually take the map and compass and see precisely what we're talking about.

I give them both notebooks to write down bearings so they have one less thing to worry about if they're ever called upon to navigate.

The basic steps:

Plan your route
Orient the map
Line up your "from" and "to" points with the edge of the compass
Put red in the shed (get the red "N" arrow" pointing North)
Get your bearing

Now you can sight along your bearing (the direction of travel arrow on most compasses) keeping red in the shed and find a landmark on that line. Walk to it. Repeat.

I often fold my maps and put them into gallon Ziplock bags to protect them from water and so I can use a wax pencil to plan a route without mucking up the map.

If land navigation is a topic of interest please let me know and I'll go into more details and try to give you some tips and tricks for finding your way in the wilderness.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

JRE Industries Strop Bat

So I mention JRE Industries yesterday and who shoots me an email? Why Dan and Spen, of course.

It seems that they've improved the four-sided strop bat.

The new bat comes pre-loaded with black, green, and pink compound. The pink is supposed to be even finer than the green and polishes the edges more than it sharpens. The plain leather also now sports a JRE Industries logo which really adds to the first-class product aesthetically.

I immediately placed an order for one after reading the email. You can find them here.

I'd also like to point out that the pricing on these has not changed despite the noticeable improvements.

Bravo guys!

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

American Bushman Sheathworks

Since I'm in a comic vein I thought I'd show you what happens when I need a sheath in a hurry.

I've grown so reliant on leather from JRE Industries and Concealex from Survival Sheath Systems that I whip up a monstrosity like the one pictured when given an opportunity to make my own.

That's right, the Bush Tool needed something to cover the edge and I decided to go ahead and rig it up so I can strap it to the side of my pack. What you're seeing is the cardboard sleeve the machete came in wrapped in several layers of gaffer's tape. I chose green because it'll be easier to camo paint if I decide to "decorate" it. I've also got a "belt loop" made of some thin cordage and a "pouch" on the front for a Doan Magnesium Firestarting Tool.

It's sure not pretty but it gets the job done until I can get down to see Dan and Spen for a more elegant solution.

I just looked at the picture and it appears that I've made a right-handed sheath. Nuts!

Well, it doesn't look like there will be any sheath makers put out of business now that I'm in the sheath making business...

Thanks for reading,


Monday, January 21, 2008

Some Good Survival Humor

Thought you might get a kick out of these tips from

*You Might Be A Survivalist If… *

  • You can’t put your groceries in the trunk of the car because its already jammed full with emergency kits, first aid supplies, and fully-stocked BOBs.

  • You have emergency rations for your pets, and view your pets as potential emergency rations.

  • You know the news three days before it hits the mass media.

  • You have back-up plans for your back-up plans.

  • You’re convinced you’ve been exposed to so many chem-trails, you consider it a form of birth control.

  • You’ve ever repressed the urge to bleat “BAAAAAAAAAA” as your neighbor earnestly asks, “What war? Where?”

  • You’ve ever bought antibiotics for human use through a vet, or grains for human consumption through a feed store.

  • You’ve got more than one grain mill.

  • You’ve ever wondered how you might filter the used water from your washing machine to make it fit for human consumption.

  • You have a kerosene lamp in every room.

  • Your living room coffee table is actually a board with pretty cloth over it to disguise your food storage underneath.

  • Your box springs are Rubber Maid containers filled with rice and beans.

  • You save dryer lint to make fire starters.

  • Your most commonly-used fuel additive is ‘Stabil’, instead of ‘Gumout’.

  • You automatically choose the heavy duty flatbed cart upon entering Sam’s or Costco.

  • If you know the shelf life of tuna fish, but don’t know how long you’ve had an open jar of mayo in the frig.

  • Your basement walls are insulated with crates of toilet paper, from floor to ceiling, all the way around.

  • While other people are saving money for new furniture, or vacations, you are desperately saving to get solar panels put on your house.

  • You were excited beyond all reason when they came out with cheddar cheese in a can.

  • You’ve ever served MREs at a dinner party.

  • You can engage in a spirited debate on chemical vs. sawdust toilets for hours on end.

  • You’ve ever considered digging an escape tunnel from your basement to the nearest stand of trees.

  • You know how to use a vacuum cleaner in reverse to filter air in your designated bio-chem attack safe room.

  • You’ve ever considered buying an above-ground pool for water storage purposes.

  • You know what things like ‘TSHTF’, ‘BOB’ and ‘TEOTWAWKI’ mean.

  • You have different grades of BOB’s. And restock them twice a year.

  • You know the names, family histories, locations, and degree of readiness of over a thousand fellow doomers on the net.... but you’ve never met your neighbors.

  • The best radio in the house is a wind-up.

  • You have better items in storage than you use everyday.

  • When the SHTF, you would eat better than you eat now.

  • Your significant other gave you a sleeping bag rated -15 degrees for Christmas.... and you were moved beyond words.

  • You’ve sewn a secret mini-BOBs into the bottom of your children’s school backpacks.

  • Local food pantries have come to depend on donations from your larder when you rotate stock in the spring and fall.

  • You’re still using up your Y2K supplies.

  • You have enough army surplus equipment to open a store.

  • The local army surplus store owner knows you by your first name.

  • You fill up when your gas tank is 3/4 full.

  • You call Rubber Maid for wholesale prices.

  • You have several cases of baby wipes and your kids are all grown.

  • Bert from ‘Tremors’ is your favorite movie character.

  • You carry a pocket survival kit, a sturdy folding knife, a SureFire flashlight and a small concealed handgun on you to church every Sunday.

  • You start panicking when you are down to 50 rolls of toilet paper.

  • You keep a small notebook to write down any edible plants you happen to see along the road.

  • You shop yard sales, store sales, and markdown racks for barter goods for ATSHTF.

  • You own a hand-operated clothes washer and a non-electric carpet sweeper.

  • You have at least two of every size of Dutch oven (the ones with the legs on the bottom), and 20 bags of charcoal, although you have a gas grill.

  • You have rain barrels at each corner of your house, although you have a city water hookup, and a Big Berkey to purify the water.

  • You have sapphire lights, survival whistle, and a Swiss Army knife on every family member’s keychain.

  • The people in line at Costco’s ask you if you run a store or restaraunt.

  • You require a shovel to rotate all your preps properly.

  • You no longer go the the doctor’s because you can either fix it yourself, make it at home, or know and understand the physicians desk reference better than he does, and can get the goods at the vets or pet store for MUCH less moolah anyway.

  • You know that a ‘GPS’ has nothing to do with the economy.

  • You track your preps on a computer spreadsheet for easy reordering, but have hardcopies in a 3-ring binder ‘just in case’.

  • You’ve thought about where the hordes can be stopped before entering town.

  • You start evaluating people according to ‘skill sets’.

  • You view the nearest conservation area as a potential grocery store if TSHTF.

  • You know *all* the ways out the building where you work.

  • You have enough pasta stockpiled in your basement to carbo-load all the runners in the New York marathon.

  • You know that you have 36 gallons of extra drinking water in the hot water tank and your 2 toilet tanks.

  • You know which bugs are edible.

  • You have a handpump on your well.

  • You have #10 cans of ‘stuff’ that the labels fell off of, but you won’t throw it out or open it because it ‘may be needed later’, even though you haven’t a clue as to the contents.

  • You know where the best defensive positions and lines of fire are on your property.

  • You’ve made a range card for your neighborhood.

  • Your toenail clipper is a K-BAR.

  • The Ranger Handbook is your favorite ‘self help’ book.

  • You’ve numbered the deer romping in the yard by their order of consumption.

  • You must move 50 cases of food for the plumber to get to that leaky pipe, but you have your own hand truck in the basement to do it.

  • You own more pairs of hiking boots than casual and dress shoes combined.

  • You have more 55gal blue water drums than family members.

  • Your UPS system has more than 6 Deep cycle batteries.

  • You have a backup generator for your backup generator, which is a backup for your solar system.

  • You go to McDonalds and ask for one order of fries with 25 packs of ketchup and mustard.

  • You have ever given SPAM as a serious gift.

  • You’ve had your eye out for a good deal for a stainless steel handgun to conceal in the bottom of the magazine rack next to the toliet.

  • You are single male over 40, but you still have an emergency childbirth kit, just in case you have to deal with that possibility.

  • You have two water heaters installed in your basement, but one is a dummy that’s been converted to hideaway safe.

  • You’ve made bugout cargo packs for your dogs.

  • You have a walking stick with all sorts of gadgets hidden inside.

  • Your koi pond is stocked with catfish.

  • As a stand-in scoutmaster, you taught your son’s troop to set mantraps and punji pits, and haven’t been asked to stand in since.

  • You’re on your fifth vaccum sealer, but you keep at least one of the worn out ones because you can still seal up plastic bags with it.

  • You haven’t bought dried fruit in years, but you buy fresh bananas, apples, peaches and pears by the case and have three dehydrators.

  • Your UPS man hates you because of all the cases of ammo he’s had to lug from his truck to your front door.

  • You have duplicates of all your electronics gear, solar panels and generator parts in your EMP-shielded fallout shelter.

  • You have set aside space for your live chickens in the fallout shelter.

  • When the power goes out in your neighborhood, all the neighbor’s kids come over to your place to watch TV on generator power.

  • You must open the door to your pantry *very* carefully for fear of a canned goods avalanche.

  • You have a ‘Volcano’, you know you can cook anything, and you cast evil glances at your neighbor’s annoying, yappy poodle, muttering “your day will come, hotdog” under your breath.

  • You’ve learned to knap flint, make twine from plant fibers for snares and use an atlatl, because you fear that all of your preps and hard work will be confiscated by FEMA troops or destroyed by earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear blasts, ravening hordes of feral sheeple or reptiloids from ‘Planet X’ ATSHTF. *

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, January 19, 2008

ML Knives Woods 'n' Bush Knife

It's here!!! The ML Knives Woods 'n' Bush Knife has been in for the past two days and I've been using it for darned near everything and just didn't think to take a pre-use picture. So, it's already got some patina started and a few scratches.

Here are some specs straight from Matt:
handle is about 4 3/4 with a slight palm swell...
tang 1/8"
blade about 4 9/16" with a 4 1/8 cutting edge...
blade width at widest about 1 inch
brass fixtures of course...

I'm really happy with how this knife turned out. It's comfortable to use, light to carry, looks good, sharp, well-executed, not to thick to slice well, and not too thin to chop if it's absolutely necessary.

Some In-Hand Pics:

There's just something about a hand forged knife that really appeals to me. That forge scale may impede slicing performance ever so slightly but this knife will, I suspect, handle any chore I toss at it without a hitch. Time will tell...

Watch this space for updates...

Thanks for reading,


Friday, January 18, 2008

Newest Bush Tool

I've been busy today.

I had this idea to modify an Ontario machete and today was the day to spend some time in the shop seeing if my vision made any sense.

I started with a 12" Ontario machete straight out of the package. I received it two days ago and just opened it this morning. It hasn't been sharpened or anything. The grip on the budget machetes is atrocious and needs a bunch of attention to make it more comfortable. The scales were uneven with the tang and each other but the thickness was good.

I wrapped the handle from front all the way to the pinky "hook" with hockey tape--two layers. This effectively smooths everything out and gives it some nice grip but not too much. It'll cause some hot spots the first couple of times I use it but knowing that going in gives me the opportunity to avoid problems.

I wanted the tip to be more like the Martindale No. 2 Golok and drew the desired pattern on the blade. This will shorten the 12" blade by about 2" but I only lose 1" of cutting edge because the shape flip-flops.

Using a Dremel Tool with a cutoff wheel and lots and lots of water I followed about 1/4" outside of my line and took off the tip of the machete. When I was nearly through the steel I just clamped it up along the cut line in a vise and snapped the tip.

Using a 220-grit belt on my belt sander I cleaned up the lines and ground right down to where I wanted the tip to be. I also brought the edge back about 2" because the Ontarios come with a very large area in front of the slabs that is full thickness. I'm sure it was put there for a reason and if this was a mistake at least it wasn't a costly one.

Then I did my best to satin finish the blade with a Scotchbrite belt and WD-40. This also cleaned up the edge leaving me only stropping to finish the job.

Straight from the belt sander I headed out to a downed tree and took a couple of test chops. This thing is wicked. The sweet spot is about 2" back from the tip and it's fast, light, and crazy sharp.

Now I need a sheath. I can't leave this blade exposed as it'll surely injure someone.

It's going back into the cardboard sleeve until I can get it down the Dan and Spen at JRE Industries for a new leather sheath.

It should be darned good fun to test this one once I get a chance...

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Swedish Army Trangia Car Stove

I've talked about the car stove kit I put together for friends and family over the holidays and wanted to talk a bit about it here.

What I've got is a Swedish Army Trangia in stainless steel. The standard windscreen, fuel bottle, and military burner are included. To that I've added a Victorinox Farmer, a Light My Fire Army Firesteel (available here from JRE Industries,) a Bic lighter, and a handkerchief.

This gives the user three methods of starting a fire/lighting the burner, a knife and a saw, a strainer/pot grabber, and the pot/skillet which can be used to gather snow, as a shovel (that stainless is TOUGH,) or as a container.

Once these kits were handed out we all headed for the driveway where I grabbed a random sample stove and showed everyone how to assemble and stow it, how to use the firesteel, how to use the alcohol and burner, and then we put some water in the larger pot, lit the stove, and brought it up to a boil. Hot chocolate would have been a great finish to the lesson and I wish, looking back, that I'd thought of it then.

The stainless kit is heavier than the Aluminum counterpart but it also seems to be a bit more sturdy and able to take the abuse a novice user may dish out. Stowing the kit in the trunk of the car negates the weight concerns and everything inside should last an entire winter easily.

I tried to keep it simple so there was little to forget and I tried to keep the gear robust so it wouldn't fail if it were ever needed.

Getting stuck in your car during an ice storm or blizzard is no fun. Getting stuck for days can be a real possibility on some stretches of highway. This kit could certainly make your forced stay a bit more pleasant and possibly make the difference between life and death if you need water and warmth and all you've got is snow and ice.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wool: An Interesting Observation

It is currently 16 degrees (F) and with the wind chill it feels like 7.

I have been outside for the past 30 minutes getting one kid on the bus and the other to school. Never once did I feel chilled and here's why:

I'm wearing lots and lots of wool.

  • An alpaca wool hat

  • A lambs wool scarf from Barbour

  • A Swanndri Ranger Extreme

  • Merino wool gloves

  • Wool Socks

Under the Ranger Extreme I'm wearing a cotton t-shirt. I'm also wearing bluejeans--another cotton no-no.

If I were going to spend the night out I'd definitely want a small fire and some sort of reflector plus a shelter but I'm duly impressed with the performance of the gear I threw on to make the bus on time this morning.

Of course the manic mornings running around probably help to raise my body temperature too...

Thanks for reading,


Monday, January 14, 2008

GoLite Hex 3

Ever since the class at Briar Patch I've had my eye on a tipi. The canvas kind are fairly expensive and quite a bit bigger than I would need for most situations and the Finnish laavus I'd seen online were rather expensive and would also cost me a pretty penny for International Shipping and probably Customs.

Then I found the GoLite Hex 3.

This is a SilNylon four-season shelter designed to sleep three people if you pitch it with a line hanging from overhead or two if you use the included shock-corded adjustable pole.

Pitching it couldn't be easier. You stake out the six adjustable loops (there are also six non-adjustable loops for additional tieout points,) unzip the door, and put the pole up. There may be some additional adjustment of the stakes needed but mine went up on the very first try.

In clear weather you can run the pole up higher to raise the bottom edge of the tipi to get some additional ventilation and in poor weather you can set it down lower.

I fired up my Swedish Army Trangia inside and ran the burner to see just how effective it would be at heating the inside of the tipi and it did an adequate job. I wouldn't say it got "hot" inside but it did seem to affect the internal temperature.

The neighborhood kids (and Laura) seem to think it's about the neatest thing they've seen in a while and have been all over it doing some stress-testing of materials and the Hex 3 has come out unscathed.

The weight on the tent and pole is only a couple of pounds and it packs down small enough to fit into my pack.

I haven't yet had an overnight in the tipi but plan on doing so relatively soon. Last week's temperatures were much warmer so this may be the week for a temperature-suitability test. We're also expecting some real snow again this week so I should be able to see how well the shelter sheds the weather.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, January 11, 2008

ML Knives Woods and Bush Knife

Well, my agenda for today got blown to heck with a single email last night.

Matt from ML Knives sent me a note and this picture. He and I have been working on a project for a little while now and he has made some dramatic progress in the past week or so.

He mentioned that his wife did the braid work on the lanyard and that he's doing the sheath work today. That means I could have it in my hands before the end of next week if things go smoothly.

I don't have any specs on the knife as yet but I know that it's hand forged Carbon Steel with what looks like maple handle scales.

I'm really, really excited about this knife and look forward to putting it through its paces. My plan is to use it for everything over the next several months both to give it a wide range of experiences and to make sure those bevels patina with every imaginable color.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Front Room Spoon Carving

Some of you have probably already seen these videos on YouTube of Robin Wood carving a spoon in his living room from roughing out the blank with an axe all the way through to the finished carving.

I have to say that I'm thoroughly impressed with this whole set of videos (five in all) and the finished product looks great.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Many, many updates

Coming soon:

I've had some great gear discoveries recently and have some things arriving in the next few days. The Holidays have left me feeling out of the routine and writing every day has just fallen off the radar. I will do better going forward.

I got my hands on a Bark River Knife & Tool Gameskeeper II.
I'm looking hard at the now discontinued GoLite Hex 3 four season shelter.
I'll be going over the Swedish Army Trangia setup that I gifted several people for Christmas.
There's the Dan Koster Bushcraft Knife.
ML Knives is working on a Woodcraft Knife and the rough forged pictures he sent have me over the moon.
Combining a wool blanket with a ridgeline on my hammock provides me with some much needed extra warmth without condensation issues.

I'll get these things posted in depth over the course of the next few days.

Thanks for reading,