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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Biting Insect Protection

Well, what I suspected last summer to be a problem is now confirmed. I have developed an allergy to bug spray. It's not just DEET either.

I used some new spray containing Picaridin as the active ingredient and it caused a strange rash complete with blood blisters on my shins where I applied it. Last summer it was DEET and Permethrin that caused my initial problems and it's beginning to look like I need to look for other alternatives.

Last summer I had some success using Vitamin B1 doses but have read recently that there is no "proof" that this works (other than what I experienced last year.) I take 100mg of Vitamin B1 three times a day for two weeks prior to a trip and it seemed to work at either keeping the mosquitoes away or at minimizing the effects of their bites.

This summer I've been much less reliable and it shows in the number of bites all over my arms, legs, and neck from time spent outside.

Broadleaf plantain has worked wonders in the past to relieve the itching and swelling and it continues to work today.

Perhaps trying to prevent the bites for me is hopeless. Treating them is another matter.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Spoon carving elements by Bertie Sømme

I'm in the mood again to carve some spoons. I've been watching Peter Gawleta in his Basic Bushcraft and Survival DVD Volume 3 and just found these videos (7 parts) on YouTube today:

Spoon carving elements by Bertie Sømme

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

Part 7:

Bertie's style is quite different from Peter's (and mine) but there is an awful lot of good information in these videos from what I've seen so far. There are, of course, many other spoon carving videos on YouTube and tutorials all over the Internet. My spoons have remained somewhat rustic and I like to make them with my hatchet and crooked knife but I do understand the artistic side of spoon carving too. I'm just not very good at it yet.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, June 27, 2008

New Location New Resources

I find it odd that I moved less than a mile seven months ago and the resources here are so much different than they were at the other house.

At the other house we had coyotes and deer, chipmunks and squirrels, an owl, maple trees, and cottonwood.

Here we've got the coyotes, even more deer, squirrels, oak trees, and now snakes, rabbits and red fox.

Now these are all naturally occurring resources and not landscaping and wildlife management choices that have been made by the village. That means that the small ecosystem here has developed differently than the one less than a mile from here.

I'm going to have to find another area nearby to see if the same holds true there.

If you can trade chipmunks and cottonwood for rabbits, snakes, and red fox simply by moving your camp a half mile it may be worth the small effort. (I am not a fan of the chipmunk.) :)

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Firesteel Idea at Ben's Backwoods

I saw one of these posted on a discussion forum yesterday and started doing a bit of searching to find some more information. Instead of information what I found was a site to purchase them for just under $5 so I decided to pick one up.

What it looks like is a Light My Fire Scout firesteel blank cut down and mounted in a wooden bead. What really appeals to me is the compact size and the clean lines (no knots.) I think you just loop it over itself through your lanyard hole or split ring and you're good to go.

I've been playing with a similar idea using the Army firesteel blank but haven't come to any satisfactory solution yet. Maybe this mini firesteel from Ben's Backwoods will give me the ideas I'm looking for.

Once it arrives I'll get some more pictures and specs for you.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Feel Your Pain

I know many of you out there are wondering what the heck is going on (or, more likely, NOT going on) here that there's been such a lack of updates this summer. I am sorry for that.

Right now the kids and I are dealing with an Impetigo outbreak (think bacterial infection of the skin) that's got all of us a bit out of sorts. We're on the road to recovery though and should be back to "normal" in another day or so.

I'm also working on building my own full custom American Bushman brand machete which is taking up time and isn't really that interesting yet. I've got all the pieces in place and now just need to take the next step. I believe we're just waiting on steel and then the ball will get rolling on that project. The first run will be very limited and if I can't keep prices down will be the last run also.

On top of everything else, my Internet service has been extremely spotty for the past several weeks leaving me with half-written posts that go unsaved and me lacking the time and motivation to re-write them.

You're absolutely entitled to be supremely annoyed with me. Heck, I am annoyed with my lack of posts lately. It just didn't seem like there was anything worth writing.

Thanks for your patience during this "drought" and special thanks to you, Chris, for the kick in the butt. :)

See you soon,


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Toothpaste for Mosquito Bites

Who knew Mom was right about this one?

I've been very spotty this summer on taking my Vitamin B1 prior to going outdoors and have been using it only after being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

My mom has always used toothpaste on her bites to remedy the itch and lately I've taken to giving this a try out of desperation. I've got a few choice bites in sensitive locations (get your minds out of the gutter) like on the tops of my feet that are constantly being rubbed by the straps on my Tevas.

I don't have any "normal" toothpaste around here but apparently it works with any flavor and variety. Just a small dab smeared over the bite site seems to be adequate.

Just a word of warning, the site will be a bit sticky until the toothpaste dries so don't go crawling into bed immediately after putting toothpaste on. :)

I need to do some research to find out how and why this works. My biggest concern is that what I'm experiencing is a placebo effect because I now believe that this works.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, June 16, 2008

Out More Than In

It's been a hectic summer vacation so far and we've found ourselves out much, much more than we've been in.

We've had severe weather in the form of massive thunderstorms and tornadoes.

The bugs are just out of control.

We've been to the pool, to the park, out in the tipi, working on plant identification in the front and back yard, and we've even got some field trips planned to get the kids thinking about nature, the outdoors, and the whole world around them.

They're both reading every day. Laura has chosen to spend more time reading "Woodland Tales" by Ernest Thompson Seton and that feeds our discussion while we're outdoors.

She recently read an entry on White Man's Foot which she quickly identified as the broadleaf plantain we use on insect bites and stings.

When the days are as nice as they've been (despite the sometimes severe weather) I'm finding it hard to sit inside and write. By the time evening rolls around I'm so exhausted that I barely have the energy to brush my teeth before falling into bed.

I've still got some trips planned for this summer both near and far.

This early morning writing may be the best choice (maybe the only choice) if the summer continues at this pace.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cody Lundin's YouTube Videos

Cody's got a series of videos (28 at this time) on YouTube that you may find interesting.

They can be found here.

I have always enjoyed Cody's style and if I have the opportunity I will take one of his classes at his Aboriginal Living Skills School someday.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, June 09, 2008


I know it's not very bushcraft-y or survival-ish but I spent my weekend buying and assembling rocking chairs and matching maple tables for my front porch.

Between that and dodging the tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that have blown through town in the past couple of days I've been plenty busy.

Sitting on the front porch with a pitcher of sweet tea while 30+ mile per hour winds rip through makes for some interesting rocking.

We haven't lost a single tree so far but the river's flooding up north of us which means that water is coming soon. The ground is completely soaked with more rain in the forecast. Add the high winds to the soft soil plus the above ground power lines and you've got a recipe for lots of dark houses.

We'll see how it goes. If I had a banjo I could be out front pickin' and grinnin' while the winds howl and the rain pounds down like Nero with his fiddle...

Thanks for reading,


Friday, June 06, 2008


I've been doing as much barefooting as possible since mid-May and my feet are getting nice and tough but not without a price.

I burned the soles of my feet walking on hot asphalt a few weeks ago and have just recently shredded the bottoms of my toes somewhere.

The first few weeks are always the worst and over the winter I somehow forget just how bad it can be to tear up your feet before they toughen. As they say, your feet are your most important tool in the wilderness (and elsewhere) because without your feet you're not going to go anywhere.

Soon I should be ready to handle most anything I will walk on but I'm not quite there yet.

One downside to barefooting is the strange feelings during knifework and chopping. I do NOT like the sensation I get (pins and needles all over) when chopping wood without foot protection. I don't think I'll probably do much more of that.

Thanks for reading,