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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Party Time!

While having nothing to do with the outdoors and/or bushcraft, today is the kids' birthday party over at the swim club.

This whole week has been hectic to say the least.

After today I move into full time camping preparation mode. The humor of that is that I will probably only take 10 items with me and already know what they are. :)

Camping at the State Park might not be rustic or primitive enough though as the campsites they once had when I was a kid seem to have been replaced by high-comfort cabins. I'll see when I get down there though.

For now, I've got to put together goodie bags and finish preparing for the party. Then...PARTY TIME!

Thanks for reading,


Oh, don't forget to check the sale page for more knives and gear.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thinning Out / Gearing Up

Going through the boxes and bins (and packs and kits) to find the gear I really, really want to keep has been painful and beneficial at the same time. I'm getting rid of excess kit, bringing in money to do this machete project my way, and clearing out space in the basement.

I've had to drop off knives and other gear that I've had and used extensively however and that part's quite difficult. I saw the Aurora go already. That knife has been all over and done so many things with me. I remember the conversation with Mike Stewart when I ordered it so many months before the production run. I had been involved in the testing process with various prototypes and knew this was going to blow the Northstar right out of the water when it came out. For me it did.

As I sit surrounded by my gear I begin to think about taking a trip here or there to get out and use some of this stuff again. I'm going to try and do three days next week with a minimal load. It should help convince me that getting rid of the excess is the right thing to do.

I'm curious to see what ends up in my pack when the dust has finally settled.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ah...Now I See...

I spent most of the day with the kids down at the new Cabela's today.

We walked, and walked, and walked some more.

We saw them feed the fish in the massive fish tanks. Catfish just cruise around the bottom and suck up those little minnows like some sort of aquatic vacuum cleaner.

We shot at the shooting gallery (light-activated targets) and Laura and I both got perfect scores. Jake hit a bunch but his scorer just didn't work.

The kids got some new clothes out of the trip and I picked up four kinds of fudge for Christine (and the kids...and me.)

We managed to avoid picking up any new gear but I did get to spend some time playing with bunking cots that each support up to 400 pounds and the concept around the house is sound. I could get a set or two of these to have for when too many guests stay over and room is scarce (hard to imagine in the new house for those who've been here I know...) I don't think they'd work too well for camping as the legs on the bottom unit would sink in all but the hardest soil once you had a couple of adults bunked for the night.

We ate in the cafe. They serve mostly game meat and options included wild boar brats, ostrich roast, and duck hot wings. The kids opted for more "traditional" fare like nachos with chili and cheese and frozen slushies. They apparently will do carry out and catering too. Pricing for the game meat is by the pound and available frozen and ready to eat.

The kids gave me EXACTLY two minutes in the gun room where I saw my future L.C. Smith side by side was still in the case and the price was still through the roof. I also so a lever-action Winchester 1892 (I think) for a measly $23,000. That's right, I could buy a car for that much and it's probably not safe to shoot.

We ran down there so I could drop off another VERY heavy bin of stuff for Dan and Spen to get posted. (I think if they'd known how extensive this sale was going to be when they volunteered to take care of it they might have kept their offer to themselves.) :D

Dan and Spen, if you read this I really do appreciate all the work you've done so far and will continue to do. I can't promise that we're at the bottom of the bins yet but we're at least half way. LOL!

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 28, 2008

More for the Gear Sale

I'm still going through the boxes and bins in the massive clean-out gear sale being hosted by JRE Industries and will have another pile of gear going down tomorrow or Wednesday.

The guys are still wading through the last batch of knives and gear and I've just dropped them a note warning them that there's at least that much coming down again.

I'll have some backpacks and pouches, stuff sacks, shelter, cooksets and mess kits, and even some Surefire flashlights to deliver. Yes, there'll be knives too...maybe even a Bark River golok from the original run.

I saw they put up some knives over the weekend and today it's more of the gear.

Let me know if there's anything else specifically you guys want to see.



Lost my Sharpening Mojo

It's been too long since I've really beaten a knife to submission I guess. It was bound to happen and now it has...

I've lost the ability to take a knife from dull to hair-popping sharp.

It's a dark day for me.

I have a knife that I simply cannot get sharp. I worked backward from a strop loaded with green compound all the way to 220-grit paper on a Hoodoo Hone and back and it still just isn't sharp.

The knife feels sharp but it neither slices paper nor shaves hair nor curls up fuzz sticks.

I've done enough sharpening of knives, axes, machetes, and other tools to know that I can get a hair-whittling edge on most anything with enough effort but this knife has me stumped.

Maybe I haven't spent enough time with the coarser grits to really establish the convex. Maybe the Rockwell on this blade is extremely high and my SiC paper just won't cut it (no pun intended.) Maybe I've really gotten too rusty to do a good convex.

I'm about ready to pull out the old belt sander and work the edge that way.

Off to "work" I go...

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 25, 2008


What can the clouds tell us about impending weather?

I was sitting outside last evening watching the grill and began to wonder what the clouds could tell me about the next day's weather.

In the winter, a clear night portends cooler temperatures as the clouds can reflect the Earth's heat back down but clear skies allow the heat to escape into space.

There must be some science that has developed from simply watching cloud formations to determine what Mother Nature has in store for us in the near term and I intend to do some research in the next couple of days to dig up whatever I can about this.

Knowing a short-term weather forecast can be very helpful for a camper/hiker who is out but I also understand that the weather is just something to endure when you're far enough away from "civilization" to escape it.

Look for more on this subject in the coming days as I (hopefully) begin to better understand how the clouds in the evening can tell me how the following day is going to look.

Thanks for reading,


Oh, one more thing, I took three large boxes of knives, shelter, cooksets, and bottles down to JRE Industries for the big gear sale and that stuff should be going up in the next day or so. There's still more to come as I convince myself that I no longer need the things remaining. Simplifying is more painful than it sounds. :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Home Again

Well we're back. What an interesting and busy two days...

Yesterday we spent the day at Potato Creek State Park swimming, visiting the Nature Center, and attending a talk on salamanders.

We also learned something about an insect that I'd never seen nor heard of. We got to see a cicada killer (a type of wasp) up close and in large numbers. This is an insect that stings its prey, the cicada, to paralyze it and then drags the still living body to an underground den where it feeds the soft, living tissue to larvae.

Imagine the thrill of seeing wasps 2-3" in length with thick bodies and discovering that the naturalists working that area of the park have never seen anything like them either.

When we got back to the lake house we headed straight for the lake and Jake did some real swimming (with a floatie vest) and I looked for hammer stones and nice flat sharpening stones but came up empty.

It was a busy time, we're all wiped out, but we're home and today we're going to get back into the swing of things.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Off to the Lake

I'm off this morning for two days of R&R at my parents' lake house.

The kids have been anxious to go all summer but Laura's swimming, a Monday through Friday affair, really put a damper on those plans--until now.

We're traveling light so packing is that much easier. The trip only takes two hours so we can go between meals and not even have to stop along the way.

I don't know that two days is really enough time for me to unwind but it's a start.

See you on Wednesday night.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 21, 2008

Sale Page is Live

It's a start but certainly not all-encompassing.

I'm still too busy to really hammer this right off the bat but this'll give you an idea of what's out there:


It'll probably go up in categories (at first anyway) as that's how things are organized in my basement. Pictures will follow shortly after. There's going to be a great volume of stuff going up so it's going to take a little time to get pictures along with the listings.

I just noticed the clever use of pictures both left and right of the header. Somebody's been into my photo gallery. LOL!


*Poof* Weekend just gone baby gone...

How'd that happen?!

It was Friday, I was going to have a gear sale, and now it's Monday.

I'm not much further along on getting the gear to the guys at JRE either.

There'll be knives, shelter, cooksets, water bottles (unused only,) and other goodies coming soon. I'll make sure you know the link as soon as it's ready to go live.

I'm pushing myself to get this done before the week is over. No guarantees but I'm going to try.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Growing Pains

New projects often require funding and my new projects are going to force me to sell of some of my knives and gear.

I'd like to offer them to you, dear readers, first but wonder if this is the correct forum for that sort of thing. I don't want this to become the gear exchange blog but do feel that you might appreciate having a bit of advantage over the rest of the knife/gear/outdoors maniacs on the Internet. :)

What say you?



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Laura!

Seven years old today! Wow!

Seems hard to believe that my first woods-buddy is already seven...

Lots of good stuff to do today. :)


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Survival Sheath Systems/Fehrman Rig

This came in yesterday afternoon. It is the long-awaited Survival Sheath from Robert Humelbaugh of Survival Sheath Systems for my Fehrman Last Chance and it is spectacularly done and easily one of the slickest total packages I've owned or seen yet.

Rob custom molds the liners in his Survival Sheaths and you can see the level of detail he is able to achieve. The snap in and out of this rig is amazing and retention is good enough that you could mount this sheath handle-down without the snap strap over the handle and feel plenty secure that the knife wasn't going anywhere.

The sheath sports an expandable pouch on the front that will hold a mini survival kit or a firesteel and multi-tool if you wanted. The split belt loops were designed to ride on opposite sides of a belt loop to prevent the sheath from migrating forward or back during movement. There's also enough cordage included on the sheath to preserve your boot laces for the direst of situations.

The Fehrman knife is certainly not the kind of knife I'd ever think I'd like but it is confidence-inspiringly robust and the guys at Fehrman Knives have really dialed in the geometry to have a 1/4" thick piece of 3V that cuts like a much thinner blade while retaining the massive toughness and strength of this premium steel.

This is a knife I love using. This is a knife that loves to be pushed hard and often. Subtle? Ultralight? Nope. It is, however, incredibly comfortable in long-term use and with this new rig it'll be a real pleasure to carry it with me everywhere.

I think this might be the ultimate pairing of knifemaker and sheathmaker for those of you who like to go the synthetic route. I would strongly encourage you to take a look at either of these companies if you're in the market for steel and/or synthetic sheaths.

Up next, convincing the boys at JRE Industries to tackle a leather rig for the Fehrman Extreme Judgment.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The busy part of this summer is almost behind us now. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Laura's swimming is nearly over and then there is NOTHING on the calendar for a month before school starts.

I think we're going to try and find somewhere to camp for a few days. Jake also wants to go stay with Grandma and Grandpa at the lake so he can show them how well he's learned to swim.

We'll make a couple of visits to the Reptile House up the road before summer is over too.

The bugs are starting to thin out just a bit which should make nighttime outdoors a bit more bearable.

If I play my cards right I may be able to make it up to George's for a couple days of his Basic Survival class at the end of July.

Who would have thought that summers off would be so time-consuming? :)

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birthday Gear

Jake turned 5 on June 16th and I promised him a couple of special pieces of gear this year (his choice) and he chose a blue Victorinox Farmer (like daddy's silver model) and matching Sigg bottle. The Farmer took some looking but I managed to snag one on eBay and the bottle we just stumbled upon at Whole Foods one day while looking for some groceries.

A funny thing happened while I was trying to get a quick picture of Jake's gear though. He decided that he'd waited long enough for his stuff and decided to come for it. It was just laying there on the counter after all...

As soon as he grabbed them he held them up to show me that he had what I was trying to photograph and I managed to snap a picture before he ran off. I think he looks like he's enjoying the new gear though.

Now, I'm a bit concerned about giving a 5-year-old a Swiss Army Knife but he seems to be unable to open the main blade (so far) and we've discussed how everything on a Farmer except the cap lifter/screwdriver is sharp and should be avoided. I've thought about knocking the edge off the main blade just to insure he doesn't suffer his first bad cut the same way I did as a kid but I just can't decide.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Got a Knife

Yep, I got another knife in the mail (two actually) and, while I need to get pictures and specs on them still, just wanted to let you know that these blades have blown me away with the level of fit and finish and the overall design.

Before I say too much about the maker though I need to get back on his order book for another knife or two. :)

I made the mistake in the past of talking about a maker before I managed to get my hands on a piece (remember Craig Barr's tomahawk heads?) and then found it quite difficult to "feed the need" for a while.

We're pretty crazed for the rest of the day so chances to get these things photographed and weighed will be slim at best. Expect to see more from here tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Let's Make a Hand Drill Fire (Part 1)

Perhaps the simplest of firestarting methods outside of random lightning strikes on dry tinder is the hand drill fire. This is literally rubbing two sticks together and, with practice, can become a fairly reliable method of getting a smouldering ember which you can transfer into a tinder bundle to bring your fire to life.

Now I've had limited success with the hand drill fire making in the past and my hearth board and spindle have long since been lost. I'm going to have to rebuild for this project.

I like a hearth board somewhere around 20" long and between 1/2" and 3/4" thick. Too thin and you'll drill right through before you have your ember; too thick and it'll take too long to get an ember.

I've always used cedar because that's just what I've had available. What I really like about cedar (other than that wonderful smell) is that it can readily be split to a thickness/width that suits your particular needs with just a knife and baton.

Finding a piece of cedar in my yard, however, is going to be nigh impossible. Perhaps a trip to the Home Depot for a suitable hearth board--or is that cheating?

Once I find a suitable piece of wood I will trim it down to size and get it ready while I also go searching for a decent spindle. I know of a place with a couple of old mullein stalks but they may be too old and pithy to work. A bit of an expedition is in order...

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 07, 2008


Bananas are one of the foods I like to eat in any weather and any environment because of their sweetness, their high Potassium content, and the fact that they travel in their own wrapper. I used to eat them while cycling because they were easy to peel, easy to chew and swallow, helped stave off cramps, and the peel could be left by the side of the road where it would quickly return to the soil.

Interestingly, just as I start cycling again, I start really eating bananas again. Also, Green Deane from Eat The Weeds posts a video on YouTube about bananas here:

I found out quite a bit I didn't know about bananas just from watching.

Give it a look.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Back in the Saddle (Again)

Well I finally did it. I managed to get my mountain bike down off the wall and take Jake out for a ride.

Traffic over the weekend has been atrocious because of the festivals that take place here in the village and driving is just out of the question.

I had so much fun that I took him out again yesterday for a little ride that lasted more than two hours with stops at the various local parks and the pool. Apparently that wore him out because he fell asleep for a while at the pool and has slept soundly since we put him to bed last night.

Did you ever do too much too soon before? Let me tell you that the legs may remember how to pedal efficiently but the muscles are NOT ready for such a strain so soon. My legs are heavy and sore today and getting up the stairs is a bit of a chore.

The best way I know to work out the kinks is to go for another ride. This time I'll gear it down and bring the cadence up to flush all the bad stuff out of my legs.

I used to be a hard core cyclist (road and mountain) and could certainly see how a mountain bike could help me get quicker into country that others wouldn't hike but that sort of place is scarce around here. The improvements to my fitness and strength will be welcome additions to my "bag of tricks" however so I plan to continue riding as long as the kids will humor me.

With gas at an all time high the decision to ride my bike instead of drive could also free up more money for gear and knives that I don't need. :)

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th!

Happy Fourth of July!

We decided to host a party so the day will be spent preparing and tomorrow will be spent cleaning up.

I hope you have a great holiday if you're getting the day(s) off.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Respect Mother Nature

We experienced Mother Nature's fury yesterday as a violent thunderstorm rolled through the neighborhood flooding the street and sending a river (pictured) of overflow between our house and the neighbors'. Within 20 minutes the water at the street was probably 8" deep and running fast.

Despite the lightening I ran out to save several recycling bins which were being carried away down the street by the current. The contents of those bins would otherwise clog the drains and cause even more flooding so it was imperative that they be rescued before dumping those contents into the street.

I managed to shoot plenty of photos and video which I'll get uploaded here once I'm sure the camera is dried out. The ferocity of the storm was truly impressive and I had quite an adrenaline rush just being out there.

As you may know, standing in water holding an electronic device during a lightening storm is not the best idea. I did it all for you (and the guy responsible for clearing the drains here in the neighborhood.) I hope the pictures can help to show just how much water came down in such a short amount of time.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Early Morning

I got up early this morning so I could spend some time sitting on the screened porch just listening to the woods wake up.

The constant hum of traffic on the expressway provides little distraction.

It's early enough to hear the nocturnal creatures heading for home and the wakeup calls of the rest.

Some days it's the simplest of things that'll get you going. Others it takes three or four cups of coffee. :)

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Practice Those Skills When You Can

I've made mention here over and over about the lack of opportunity to get into the woods to work on new skills and practice old ones. I suppose that's because, until yesterday, I had thought about working on those skills in the woods or at least in the back yard. The question that popped into my head yesterday was, "Why not practice those skills during the day to day activities you were doing anyway?"

There's no difference in the preparation required to start a campfire or a chimney of charcoal. You still need tinder, an ignition source, and fuel. With that in mind I fired up the charcoal grill last night using only my Victorinox Farmer, found tinder, and my cut off firesteel.

What I found was that my setup didn't work very well. The cut off firesteel is too short and the other tools on the lanyard would get in the way while trying to get the tinder to light.

It did, ultimately, work out for me and I got the grill lit without the use of matches or a lighter AND it gave me some valuable insight in to how I could better set up my tools for future use.

It's not very exciting and it's certainly not survival but using the skills we have on a daily basis is still the best way to make sure we own them when we need them. Sometimes it requires a bit of creativity to find a use for those skills and I hope to discover more mundane tasks that I can "spice up" with the use of some of my gear and skills.

Thanks for reading,