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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Koster Knives Bushcraft

Here's my second knife from Dan Koster at Koster Knives in the last handful of days. This one is the Bushcraft Knife and was designed and brought to life on Dan's forum at

This one is O1 with natural canvas micarta scales and black liners. It weighs 6.1 oz. (172 grams). The blade is .158" thick right in front of the scales with a 4 3/8" handle and measuring right at 4" from the front of the handle scales to the tip. The handles swell in the middle to .754" at the thickest part. The knife is scandi ground with a forge finish on the flats.

The sheath is JRE Industries' new Mahogany leather in their bushcraft design. I asked for one without the firesteel loop just for something different and I've set this one up for neck carry. I've also added a whistle, Light My Fire Army firesteel, and viking whetstone to the neck cord. I added a 3.5" section of cobra stitch at the back/top of the cord to spread the weight of the knife, sheath, and tools a little more over my neck. Another option would be to use some tubular webbing with eyelets--I'll be trying this in the next couple of days with another knife/sheath.

I haven't had much opportunity to use this one yet but it looks like a real winner. The kids are off from school today and Monday so maybe we'll get a chance to get out into the woods for a bit today, over the weekend, or on Monday (hoping for all of the above...)

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Koster Knives Nessmuk

This one came in yesterday from Dan Koster of Koster Knives. It's 1/8" thick 1095 with green canvas micarta scales.

It's 9.5" OAL, the blade is 5 3/8" from the tip to the front of the scales, I mic'd it at .123" right in front of the scales, and the handles are .619" at the widest point. The knife weighs 7.4 oz. (209 grams.)

The blade is scandi ground and, at the time of purchase, was available in scandi, scandi/vex, and full convex. They are also available in 3V, S30V, and other steels in thicknesses from 3/32" up to 1/4".

I used it last night to prep for dinner and it did an admirable job. The only other Nessmuk blade I've owned was made by Bark River Knife & Tool and I didn't own it long enough to use it so getting used to the blade/handle configuration takes a few minutes.

I'll have to get this one down to JRE Industries for a sheath. Until then, however, this one will see plenty of kitchen duty.

This is my second Koster knife since Saturday and he's got a few more orders from me already. He'd be catching up with Matt of ML Knives if I didn't have another several knives on order with him as well.

I really am glad to have found two makers who offer such a wide array of blade styles, sizes, and finishes who can complement each other so well. It's just that I'm going to go bankrupt getting my hands on as many Koster and ML blades as I can...

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Camera's Bad Off

I was working with the kids on the igloo again yesterday and managed to drop the camera into the snow.

It stopped working immediately.

I popped the batteries and memory card and am letting it dry thoroughly before trying it again.

It's too bad because I've got some good stuff to show you. Give me a day to get the thing to come back to life and I'll show you my newest knife and the amazing sheath from the boys at JRE Industries.

I've talked about their newest leather color and now I've got some of it (two sheaths worth actually.)

I've got it wrapped around my new Koster Bushcraft and my Greg Haugh Fallkniven A1.

Hah, it hadn't occurred to me that I went down to drop off Girl Scout cookies and left with two knives and two new sheaths...that was a darned good trip. :)

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Inexpensive Kit

Back in July of 2006 I wrote this post about building an inexpensive kit for the beginning/bargain bushcrafter.

Interestingly some 18 months later this is still the kit I'd recommend for someone looking to get started. I suppose that's because it's just plain hard to beat good gear and this is good gear available for little money.

I might change out the Mora 760 for the 510 but think the difference is minimal.

If one built this particular kit I think it's more a matter of improving/customizing the gear going forward than of replacing it.

I think I'm going to take some time and source all the items on this list and we'll see just how much it would cost and then folks going forward that want to get involved in bushcraft/woodcraft can more easily find this gear.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Igloo

This entire post was composed last night and then, due to problems with Blogger, I lost it. So I'll do my best to retell the story here...

Getting up Sunday morning I knew the snow would be ideal for cutting blocks to make a snow shelter and the kids were anxious to get outside to play so we bundled up and made a day of it. After assessing the condition of the snow and checking the forecast (don't want too many 32+ degree days when you're building a snow shelter) the kids set to sledding into the back yard and I pulled out the shovel to begin cutting blocks out of the front yard.

The first blocks were nice and big. The snow held together wonderfully and it was quick work to cut down into the snow 6 to 12 inches to create the first course of blocks. After just one row of blocks you could lay down and be protected from the wind. We wanted something a little different and a little bigger though.

After about an hour, however, the temperature began to rise and the quality of the snow went to heck. Blocks would crumble, the surface layer of snow was mush, and we started having problems keeping things together. I thought we were finished for the day but the kids wanted to sit inside and have their lunch so I played around with a "brick" form that was designed for kids to use to build snow forts and/or sand castles and tried packing it with some of the snow to form blocks.

The blocks would form well but they didn't have any real strength. Letting them set up for a bit would improve their consistency and the process of building row upon row of the wall wasn't really high-stress enough to smash them (unless a kid tried leaning on the wall and/or setting heavy objects up against the wall.)

So we're getting winter storm warnings today from The Weather Channel and we're hopeful that we get some good snow to come in on top of what we've already got. It can be useful for filling in holes and packing in between the bricks to add strength and to wind proof the shelter.

Where I am having some difficulty is in the transition from wall to roof. The original blocks would have been big enough to create the traditional igloo dome but these smaller bricks just don't leave me with enough confidence to try pulling them in toward the center where they'd be over my head. Any igloo builders reading this? I'm open to suggestions.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feeling a Little Crabby

I went for a walk with the family today on the beach and we were out in time to see this little guy making a break for it.

In case you can't tell by the size of the grains of sand, that's an extremely close macro shot with the new camera. Not bad huh?

This guy was smaller than a dime and barely bigger than a button on a men's dress shirt.

Tonight should be a good night to go crabbing as the moon is nearly full and will provide us with enough ambient light to see them on the move. Add my headlamp and we should be good.

Now, picture taking might be more of a challenge at high speed in the dark.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hello from Florida

Well, we decided to take a trip to get away from the cold and snow and here I sit in sunny Florida right on the ocean with temperatures hovering around the 80-degree mark already.

I keep looking at the weather at home and it sounds pretty nasty. I guess avoiding the icy roads and the snow in the driveway for a couple of days won't hurt.

Then there'll be the shoveling to do after we get back once the snow has had a chance to set up and freeze.

I'll try to get some pictures of some of the local wildlife while we're here. I think we're going crabbing tonight on the beach but the last trip, while exciting, didn't result in anything to bring home. Those little sand crabs are fast.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

PaleoPlanet: Primitive Skills Discussion

I followed a link yesterday to PaleoPlanet and have been spending quite a bit of time reading the posts there.

I see some familiar names over there so I figure this must be of some interest.

I'm especially appreciative of the tutorials sub forum and the hand tools subforum.

If you're into primitive skills this is certainly going to be worth your time.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, February 09, 2008

ML Woods 'N' Bush Update

I've been using the heck out of this knife ever since I first got it and I think it's finally time for a sharpening. That's quite a long time to hold an edge for "simple" Carbon Steel.

I'll convex the edge now and it should be another long while before I need to touch it up again.

I'm not sure what it was that finally did in the edge but steeling last night didn't work out the rolls as well as I'd like and I don't want to strop before steeling as I might break off the little rolls and turn them into little dings.

Overall it's been an excellent companion. The wood has suffered a bit in the very dry air but nothing unexpected. The blade is plenty tough and is thin enough to slice bacon, tomatoes, onions, and anything else I'd like sliced.

It holds up great working wood and the tip is fine enough for small skinning chores. Not to worry, nary a squirrel has fallen under my blade thus far. :)

The spine is nicely squared and will throw massive sparks with the firesteel. I think I might ask Matt to round the spine nearest the handle for maybe two inches on future models to improve comfort while keeping the square spine further up to strike the firesteel and also for scraping fatwood for tinder.

I managed to cut myself with it a week or so ago so now it's "officially" mine. Thank goodness that's over and it wasn't any worse than it was. A small nick in between my thumb and index finger on my right hand right in the webbing. A little blood, a little ouch, and we were forever bonded.

Matt, you did a great job on this one.

For those of you looking to pick up a knife like this click here and scroll about half way down the page.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, February 08, 2008

I got a comment yesterday from Jimmy D on this post with a link to and I thought I'd give it a look.

The site offers free downloadable lessons (20 in all) plus exams which cover the material. They're available in both PowerPoint and PDF format.

I randomly selected a lesson (Module 11 in PDF) and read through it. I think it's fantastically done and would encourage you to give it a look.

I can't imagine many land navigation "experts" who couldn't take something away from these lessons.

Thanks for the link Jimmy D.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Snow Fort:More Lessons

The most important lesson in shelter building: Site Selection!

We built our shelter right at the street and, about 9pm last night, the village sent out the plows and one of them demolished the entire front of our shelter. He had to actually come up into the driveway to make as much damage as he did.

When building a potentially life-saving shelter you should remember that flowing water, avalanche, mudslide, falling branches, and animal trails will all ravage you shelter if you fail to adequately avoid them.

Clearly a shelter built into a snow bank against the street is going to have a very limited lifetime. I'm glad that nobody decided to test out the shelter last night.

The kind of snow we've had over the past couple of days has bent trees and dropped branches. It rained, snowed, rained, froze, and snowed some more. The bent trees would not have been a consideration during the initial site selection but would now be a factor should the snow cause the trunk to snap.

As long as this weather holds for another few days I think I'll get the kids out to help me build a quinze. This time we'll build it in the yard so we can avoid the plows.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Snow Fort:The Lessons Learned

We're inundated with snow. 10-12" last week and another 10-14" today.

I've been shoveling like a maniac as the snow blower just can't handle the wet, heavy stuff we're getting.

Today I had the brilliant idea to build a snow fort for Jake and Laura--something I used to do with regularity as a kid.

While digging down into the bank I realized just how important a snow shelter could be and decided to use the time as a learning opportunity for the kids.

We talked about the importance of patting the snow to compact it slightly and then to rub the snow to smooth it out to prevent low/high spots which would drip and freeze overnight. We also discussed how to combine the various types of snow to best effect. Some of the old snow has frozen and it doesn't pack well but, when mixed with some of the fresh snow, provides us with a great "filler" on the interior and exterior of the fort.

When measuring the fort we decided to make walls that were tall enough for Jake to stand up and long enough for me to lay down. It was also wide enough to accommodate the three of us in snowball-throwing position. It's important to make your snow fort a multi-use shelter.

We built three walls and brought the top of the walls back toward the inside like a jug to provide us with some shelter from additional snow. We dug into the deepest part of the bank to make a "bed" but the snow was just too loose inside the bank and it wasn't worth the risk to climb in and give it a test nap. Buried alive isn't the best way to teach...

We talked about the best ways to keep warm inside our shelter and I showed the kids how important it was to stay out of the wind when you're wet and cold. Body heat was plenty this afternoon to keep us all comfortable.

If the snowplows don't come along tonight and smash our fort to bits it should be frozen solid by tomorrow morning much like an igloo. Then we'll have a semi-permanent shelter at least until the temperatures warm up for a few days.

Who knew that all those years building snow forts as a kid would actually have some practical application as an adult that enjoys spending time outdoors in winter?

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, February 03, 2008


After taking a hike yesterday through the woods behind the house and post-holing it the whole way I decided to take my snowshoes out for a run today.

The weather was perfect for snowshoeing--dry and in the mid-20s.

I've found that wearing my Filson Alaska Guide shirt and my Swanndri Ranger Extreme over a t-shirt is still too much and spent most of yesterday and today on the trail with my sleeves rolled up, my shirt unbuttoned down a few buttons and my Swannie unzipped completely just to keep from melting down on the trail.

It's been far too long since I got any significant exercise and the effort of hiking/snowshoeing from one end of the trail to the other (maybe two miles each way) is quite draining.

Yesterday it took me an hour to go one way and it had gotten late enough that I had to hike on the street to get home--not exactly the "wilderness adventure" I was hoping for. The police were sitting at the trailhead as if they were waiting for me when I popped out of the woods yesterday (the parks and preserves close at dusk and it was dusk or later when I came off the trail.)

Today I made much better time. The snowshoes made a significant difference allowing me to move more over the snow than through it.

Going a certain way on the trail takes you fairly close to the expressway so getting lost isn't much of a concern. The traffic noise does take a bit away from the feeling of being "out there."

The north end of the trail brings you to one of the village's many parks and one of the few places in the village outside of private property where building a fire is allowed. There's a nice outdoor fireplace inside a shelter but it's padlocked and getting access is something I'll have to investigate. The shelter is also infested with voles and their tiny tracks are everywhere and very easy to see as nobody has been in the shelter since the snow other than yours truly.

What a great way to get outdoors and get some exercise all at the same time. Plus, I've broken no rules this weekend. :)

Thanks for reading,


Friday, February 01, 2008


My order from Scott Hams arrived today.

This is one full slab of bacon.

I also got cracklin's, jowl bacon, ham, smoked sausage, and fruit butters.

Everything smells and looks so good I don't know where to start. The kids are home from school today because of the snow and Jake must have sniffed the box for 20 minutes--did I mention before that he's a huge fan of bacon? :)

It's time to break some of this down into FoodSaver bags and toss it in the freezer, bag some and toss it in the 'fridge, and cook some up.

Looks like it might be time for some buttermilk cornbread...

Thanks for reading,