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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sun Tea

I'm attempting to make some sun tea today using a collapsible Nalgene 48 oz. bottle, the GSI H2Joe, and some loose leaf tea.

If this works out it'd be a nice change of pace from the normal swamp water we drink in the woods. :)

I'm also playing around with solar purification of water today as it's warm and sunny.

I'll let you know how it all goes.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, May 30, 2008


Sick or not it's a perfect day to get out there in sandals or bare feet and feel the wet mud squish through your toes.

We've been getting rain on and off since early this morning but it's still fairly warm.

Jake is in the habit of jumping in every mud puddle he sees whether it's before school or after and he's prepared to deal with the consequences of wet shoes, a hollering father, and muddy pants.

After being sick for so long, and feeling so terrible for the last part of it, I decided to take a page right out of Jake's book and headed for a nice gooey patch of mud this morning and tromped right through it. I think he may be on to something here.

Sure there might be some creepy crawlies down in there and there might be some cooties too. Mud around here is, however, highly unlikely to host anything but maybe a few sticks and bugs--nothing to cause even a moment's hesitation.

As I was hosing off my feet I was thinking about all those things that make me want to prevent Jake from his mud puddle world tour (dirty laundry, wet feet, etc.) I had to laugh. He's not worried about all that stuff. All he's worried about is making sure he isn't missing a single puddle going to school, coming home from school, or anywhere in-between.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Still Sick

The doctors say it's probably not pneumonia and just bronchitis. I'm on antibiotics that are making me feel even worse than I felt previously.

I have done some work with my 10cm Zebra Billy Can but my daughter snatched it this morning while I was looking for the camera and I haven't yet found it.

The fatigue is what's crushing my spirit now. I just don't have the energy to do much of anything. I don't know if that's because of the antibiotics or the lung infection but I'll be happy once it's passed.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sick As A Dog!

While my symptoms haven't signified anything more than a common cold I have to admit that I've been flattened by a cold since Mother's Day.

It keeps getting worse rather than better. What started as congestion in my ears dropped into my nose/sinus and has now turned into sneezing, coughing, and plenty of other goodness...

I've been avoiding cold medicine and researching natural or homeopathic remedies online but haven't found anything that really moves this cold out of my body.

I did honey mixed with vinegar to soothe my sore throat, I drink water steeped with mint leaves, take my vitamins, and have even tried getting some "medicine in the sky." Nothing has really knocked this cold loose but all have lessened the symptoms for at least a short time.

The biggest downside to this cold is also the one that drives everyone here crazy--I wheeze. That's right, I sound like a balloon letting out air every time I exhale. Yes, even when I'm trying to sleep...

I think this is my first cold since mid-December of last year though so I can't complain too much that this one's been hanging on for two-plus weeks.

Soon my friends...soon.

Thanks for checking in,


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Greg Haugh Custom H1

I got another custom handled Fallkniven from Greg Haugh of Lone Rider Custom Grips and had Dan and Spen of JRE Industries whip up a custom leather sheath for it.

Now many of you know that I'm a huge fan of the Fallkniven F1 (I have six in various iterations) and have a standard H1 to round out my growing Fallkniven collection but this custom H1 really blows me away. The curved blade lends itself to hunting-related tasks (i.e. skinning) but the blade is robust enough to be a suitable bushcraft/woodcraft knife. The convex edge is easy to sharpen and maintain, the laminated blade (420J2 over VG10) resists rust as well as any knife I've owned, and the new blaze orange G10 handle is both easy to see and tough as nails.

I've already managed to ding the leather sheath but believe those marks add character. The sheath is built on JRE's Bushcraft platform without a firesteel loop and left-handed. As with all of Dan and Spen's sheaths, I find it carries extremely well--not too high and not too low.

The whole package is not heavy but it is certainly heavy duty. I've added a blaze orange Light My Fire Scout Firesteel to this rig (for now) and the H1 throws massive sparks. Looking at my production F1 and my custom H1 I realize that the H1 is actually thicker than the F1 by a tiny bit. This could prove to be a superb bushcraft tool.

I'm excited by the prospect of beating this knife for a while. I'll give my poor F1s a rest...for a bit.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, May 19, 2008

Garlic Mustard

The Garlic Mustard is coming up everywhere here now and, as a non-native invasive species, will starve out other wild flowers and native plants. The plant is prolific and drives the local naturalists crazy as they try to figure out ways to eradicate it. The fact that the weed is edible seems to escape them.

It has not escaped us though.

To identify Garlic Mustard, I use the following features plus my familiarity with the plant:

1.The flower looks like a small broccoli floret--they're related.
2.The leaves are heart shaped with serrated edges.
3.Crushing the leaves smells like garlic.
4.The root looks and smells like horseradish.

We've eaten the leaves raw in salads and cooked like spinach. The roots, sliced and fried in butter, make a great replacement for fresh garlic out in the woods.

Give them a try sometime.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, May 18, 2008


Good hygiene is essential to long-term health when out in the wilderness and some people find the ritual of a morning or evening wash and shave to be very therapeutic.

Now at Briar Patch last summer the only "bathing" I did was in an icy lake. Since then I've come up with a simple routine to keep the cooties away if I'm out for more than a couple of days. It requires no extra gear that I wasn't already bringing, it can be done in any season and any weather, and it takes only a couple of minutes from start to finish.

I choose to wash up just before bed as it keeps the oils, dirt, and stink I carry to bed to a minimum.

First, put a pot of water on the camp stove and bring it up to a nice warm, almost too hot, temperature. Once it's hot you throw your bandana/rag/wash cloth into the water with a drop or two of soap and give it a good swirl. Now I like to carry one of these from Lee Valley and it does a fantastic job of scraping off the layer of crud without also taking a layer or two of skin.

I give myself a once-over with the hot, wet bandana and then use the nail brush to exfoliate and open up the pores, and then another swipe with the bandana after I've dunked it again.

After the scrubbing I will either air dry (if no one's around) or just towel off with a t-shirt.

While the water's still hot I can use my signal mirror and have a shave if I'm really motivated. Now my facial hair seems to grow about an inch every ten years so shaving isn't ever a priority but a clean washed and shaven face can really bring back the "civilized" side of me.

If it's available, I like to rub down a bit (you know the key areas) with spruce needles as they both smell good and are (I believe) anti-microbial. This'll help keep the cooties from coming back so quickly and, when combined with a bit of wood smoke, will really remove the smells of civilization without reverting to a more primitive; more stinky self.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thank You

Thanks for your thoughts and kind words.

I'm just about ready to get rolling again. I can't spend any more time obsessing about this stuff.

By the way, here's a picture I took just a bit ago. That's the IJ Aito, Gransfors Wildlife Hatchet, Suunto KB-14, 12cm Zebra Billy Can, Light My Fire Army Firesteel, and some cordage I've worked up.

I think having this gear in a pack with a tarp would give you just about everything you could ask for in an ultra-light outdoors package. Could I do it cheaper? Absolutely. Could I do it with more style? Probably not. ;)

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Sorry for the dearth of updates recently. Some things have come up in my personal life that have gotten in the way of my desire and ability to write.

I won't go into any of that but, suffice it to say, I've not been in the right frame of mind since late last week.

I'll try and get it together in the next day or so and get back on this horse.

Again, my apologies.

Thanks for your patience,


Friday, May 09, 2008

The Gear Shuffle

With the change of seasons comes the reloading of packs, bags, and boxes rotating out the cold-weather stuff for the milder weather stuff and increasing the water carrying/purifying gear to handle the greater need for water in warmer weather.

I'm finding it to be VERY distracting as I've been playing around with new gear, old gear, and gear that's already loaded up.

Trying to go lighter is always the plan but it sometimes just doesn't work out that way as some gear I just have to bring along with me.

There is also the need for supplemental gear for the kids should they decide to come along on a hike or campout. This is such a complicated endeavor that I've duplicated some of my gear to create a second pack for "family outings."

If I disappear for a day or two at a time you can bet I'm in the basement sorting and selecting gear or I'm out in the woods testing out my newest setup...

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have my "minimal" load ready to share with you.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Reading the Traditional Bowyer's Bible (Vol. 1)

Today's the day I put down Petersen (I can't stand reading along with him and not being hunting alongside him any more) and pick up The Traditional Bowyer's Bible.

I think I might do some surfing on eBay for an Osage stave too--but not until I've read a bit into what I should be looking for.

I have the first three Volumes and just noticed a fourth on this morning so, once I get through the third book, I'll have to pick up number 4.

In the meantime, I'll be reading David Petersen's A Man Made of Elk at bedtime.

Also, Dave Canterbury of Wilderness Outfitters Archery has done a series called "The Witchery of Archery" on YouTube--a good introduction to traditional archery.

Volume 2:

Volume 3:

and Volume 4:

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

GSI Soloist

I used my member dividend last Friday and picked up a GSI Soloist from REI. This is GSI's newest addition to their line of Halulite cookware.

What originally drew me to the design was the folding handle which, when in the closed position, locks the unit closed. The insulated nesting bowl, the drain holes in the clear Lexan lid, and the diameter (somewhere between the SnowPeak Trek700 and the 12cm Zebra Billy Can) that makes cleaning up a breeze were all additional details that I discovered while playing around with the set at the store.

The set was designed to hold a fuel canister and small burner like the SnowPeak Gigapower but I'm going to toy around with building a kit that utilizes the Trangia burner.

The pot feels like Aluminum and it has been hard anodized to provide protection and apparently to add a degree of non-stick-ness (a new word I suspect) to the pot. I'll whip up some oatmeal and/or rice later today to see just how well the non-stick-ness works.

The clear Lexan lid is nice but might not be ideal when cooking over an open fire. You can tell this set was designed with the freeze-dried food crowd in mind. It is absolutely ideal for pasta, rice, and boiling water over a small stove. I'm not sure how it'll hold up to cooking some sausages over an open flame however.

I had planned on using it once or twice at the lake this past weekend but just never had a chance to slow down enough to build a fire in the fire pit. Now I'll give it a test drive on the stove just to break it in.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Early Mother's Day at the Lake

The kids and I just got back an hour ago from a weekend at the lake where we celebrated an early Mothers' Day with my parents, my brother, and his kids.

The days started early and ran 'til late but were full of excitement and fun.

On Saturday I got to go shooting with a friend of mine and showed him a Great Eastern Cutlery slipjoint and let him talk me out of it without much resistance. I know where to get another as soon as I want to replace it. :)

Saturday night my brother and I took my mom out for a Mothers' Day Dinner with the rest of the crew. That restaurant never knew what hit it.

Today the kids all went into the lake briefly while I was out running an errand and came back to take turns driving a Barbie Jeep and riding on Grandpa's golf cart.

At the end of the weekend, I gave my Dad a 1967 Winchester Model 94 in .30-.30. My parents were married in '67 and he and I are big fans of Westerns and cowboy movies. He's the guy who instilled in me the love of the classics and to give him a gun like The Duke would've carried is the least I can do.

I sure hope he enjoys shooting it as much as I did.

All in all a great weekend.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, May 02, 2008

Guyot Designs -- Big Thumbs UP

I had an issue with two of my Guyot Designs Gription and sent an email off to Customer Service. I received a very prompt response assigning me a case number and assuring me that it would get the appropriate attention in a timely manner.

I had an email from Cara Guyot within the hour letting me know that replacements were on their way to me.

I received those replacements today and have to say that I'm extremely pleased with the responsiveness and service I received from Guyot Designs.

If I didn't already have squishy bowls, a stainless bottle, three Griptions, and more I'd probably go out and buy some more gear from Guyot Designs just because I'm so happy with the treatment I received.

Thank you Cara and the rest of the folks at Guyot Designs.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hanging up the Smokepole

Yesterday was the registration deadline for firearm deer permits and, while I've been tossing this idea around for a while, I finally made a hard decision yesterday to not register to hunt with a firearm this year. Through a series of complications over the past few years I haven't managed to make it into the woods during the season and having just seven days a year to get out there makes it quite difficult.

Instead I'm going to dive head-first into traditional/primitive archery and see if I can't get out at least one time during the much longer season.

As David Petersen says, I want to do it "the hard way" and hunting on the ground with a recurve or longbow while stalking my prey seems to be about as hard as it can get.

I'm officially calling on you, dear readers, for your help in this endeavor. Mike and Mike, as traditional archers I'm going to be bugging you endlessly with questions about shooting and equipment. Pablo, I'm going to be asking you for tracking help as I learn just what I don't know about tracking methods. The rest of you, if you've got some experience in the field of primitive archery (or archery in general,) stalking, tracking, or even gear selection I'll be asking you for advice.

This is a new page for me and I hope increasing the difficulty earns me some success in the woods this coming year.

Thanks for reading,