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, December 31, 2008

What a Change

As expected, the weather is dramatically different from Florida.

When we got home it was in the mid-20s and this morning is 11° with wind driving the temperature down to -5F.

I spent the entire day yesterday taking care of things that were waiting for me and today will be more of the same--what a way to end the year.

All in all, 2008 has been a good year. Thank you for coming along with me. I can't wait to see what 2009 has in store...

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 29, 2008

Travel Day

We're headed home today.

The kids have mixed feelings about leaving Florida but seeing their friends and sleeping in their beds.

We're busily preparing everything from packing bags to doing final checks to assure that Christmas presents have been located and accounted for to allocating everything evenly to avoid the heavy bag fees the airline charges.

Tomorrow we'll be reporting from wet Illinois once again. I hear the river is ready to flood any second with more rain in the forecast.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Photo Safari

Great Blue HeronMy in-laws took me on a golf cart photo safari yesterday afternoon to see some of the wildlife that lives on the various golf courses. It was definitely an eye-opener but I am also learning my, and my camera's, limitations when it comes to long-distance shooting.

We saw brown anoles, a gopher tortoise, a great blue heron, white ibis, snowy egrets, wood storks, adolescent double crested cormorants, one crazy dog, Spanish moss, and more. I shot multiple images of each and found out this morning that only a couple of shots came out well enough to publish.

Gopher TortoiseI could have used a tripod to steady my shots and a telephoto lens would be handy to zoom in a bit more on some of the wildlife so I don't spook it. The wood storks were especially skittish and finally flushed when I got close enough to snap a few pictures.

My father in law, Bob, would drive on ahead in his cart and I'd hear him say, "Yep, that's definitely bloggable" about a particular photo opportunity and, for the most part, I think he had it figured out.

Wood StorkBelieve it or not, the golf course is an amazing habitat and could be a fun place to run around after hours when there's less chance of getting in the way of the golfers. You can study tracks in the sand traps for DAYS and the wildlife available is somewhat used to humans because of the constant flow of traffic. This course also has water hazards that connect directly to the Intercoastal Waterway so you can get fresh water otters, crabs, crayfish, and more that just swing by for a visit.

Adolescent CormorantI think we're headed out to the West Course today for some more pictures. I've heard the wildlife out there can include big cats, snakes, and more. The alligator that used to call the 17th hole home on the North Course has been removed so the chances I'll have another 'gator encounter while down here are much reduced. Bummer...or not. Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, December 27, 2008


Alright bloggers,

Let's start a pass-around.

Pick a piece of gear that I've tested and reviewed (or one that I haven't) and let's get a list of folks together that'd be willing to spend some time with the item, work with it, and shoot some pictures and do a write-up for the blogs and/or discussion forums.

Who's interested?


Friday, December 26, 2008

Too Tropical?

I don't know how you folks living down South do it.

The heat is one thing; the constant humidity is another. I'm just about at my limit with the constant damp feeling in everything from a clean pair of socks to my books to my skin.

It's 80° and gorgeous day in and day out it seems but the clammy feeling to everything I touch is getting to me.

I expect this during the summer but the days around Christmas should be cold, snowy, and NOT HUMID!

It's great for the plants and animals (and insects) that don't have to endure winter's dry air and cold temperatures but it's really rough on me physically and mentally.

I imagine the salt air here right next to the ocean is tough on electronics as well. We'll see how many weeks, months, or years it shaves off the useful life of my laptop, camera, iPod, etc.

Ah well, I'm off to enjoy more of the local sun and surf...I hope I don't get sunburned. LOL!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Santa came to Florida yesterday and the kids bent his ear about what they were wishing for come Midnight. Then there was a little discussion about what kind and how many cookies to put out and, finally, Mrs. Claus handed them both a candy cane.

And a little news from the American Bushman household:

Come March we're expecting a new addition to our family. Laura's going to get the little sister she's always wanted and Jake's going to be a big brother.

We're all excited about it and busily preparing for our new arrival.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Florida Wildlife

We did see some wildlife yesterday while walking around the Environmental Learning Center including this red-bellied woodpecker.

We kept hearing a bird calling out and I thought it was nearby but we just couldn't locate it. Then I turned around and it was at the top of the tree right behind us. I managed to get off several pictures but only a handful came out and this one was best for identification as it gives you a good look at his head, face, and body for coloration.

We also found this brown anole looking pretty bad. Note the blind right eye, the missing tail, and the healing injuries right behind the head and right in front of the tail stub. He/she was clinging to a wall at the wet lab and, for a time, I thought dead. Laura saw the leg twitch though so apparently he/she stayed still long enough for me to snap a picture.

We also saw minnows swimming under the mangroves and signs of rabbits. There was a big vulture hanging out near the osprey nests and a gopher tortoise was living in a hole just outside of the welcome center but we didn't see her.

On Saturday morning I'll take the kids back over there for "Tracks and Trails" which is a guided tour of the property and, I hope, a fun learning experience.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Environmental Learning Center

Today the kids and I spent much of the day at the Environmental Learning Center in Vero Beach, Florida.

The center had a wet lab that was struck by lightning earlier this year and burned to the ground and a dry lab where we spent some time today playing and learning about various aspects of the local flora and fauna.

I've got several pictures that I'll try to get uploaded tonight but, for now, I'm off to find something for dinner and I've got to get the kids cleaned up from an afternoon at the pool.

See you soon,


Monday, December 22, 2008

Thirty Below

How do you capture what 30 below 0 feels like?

Sitting at the airport yesterday I was compelled to shoot several pictures trying to convey what it was like to be exposed to temperatures driven down to -30 by the wind.

The runways and the wide open space were covered in blowing snow and ice. There was a haze over the tarmac and planes moved in and out of it appearing and disappearing like giant lumbering ghosts.

After shooting more than 50 pictures in the course of an hour I still don't think I've effectively captured what it feels like when it's so cold.

And then, two and a half hours later, we were sitting in Orlando where the temperature was 78°...

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Travel Day

In just a couple of hours I'll be driving down the highway in sunny Florida.

Today we've got a high forecast of 4° F with a wind chill of -25° here and mid to high 70s in Florida.

We've been pretty busy since the snow day on Friday so nobody's even packed yet. I'm doing most of that right now.

See you soon from a sunnier latitude.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day

School's CLOSED Baby!

We got dumped on overnight and it's still snowing.

The kids' Holiday Parties have been cancelled, presents for the teachers and bus drivers will have to wait to be delivered until after the New Year, and the snacks I made just went to work with my wife.

The roads are so bad this morning that my wife could have used Pete Gawleta's newest video on YouTube:

(Tell me that doesn't look like a total blast!)

After seeing his newest videos on YouTube last night, footage I've not seen in any of the seven Bushcraft and Survival DVDs, I emailed to ask if he was already working on Volume 8 and he assured me that he is.

This is great news for me as these are the DVDs I bring with me whenever I travel and new volumes are always exciting. We must have watched Volume 7 five times in a row once it came out and the previous six volumes have been no different.

So, once I get outside to test the consistency of the snow, we might just have enough material now to do a quinze or snow trench (if it's not that light fluffy snow we've gotten so far.)

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wilderness Outfailurz Volume 6

Clem and Willard have a new video up on YouTube:

They're incorporating some new technology including the "spear cam" this time and the video includes gems like, "don't go clomping through the woods like Frankenstein."

I'd be willing to bet Ray Mears is sitting at home watching these videos to learn some new skills or to polish up skills he already knows.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tropical Hiking

I'm working on a minimal kit for hiking in the Tropics (specifically Florida.)

I think I'm going to be taking the following items:

1. 12" Tramontina machete that has been reground and sharpened
2. Victorinox Farmer
3. Guyot Designs 38 oz. stainless bottle
4. Light My Fire Army Model Firesteel
5. A couple (2) contractor grade garbage bags

I might also take my Fallkniven F1 as I just can't seem to get outside without it but it doesn't seem like it'd be necessary.

The area where I hike is known to have panthers, alligators, venomous snakes, and many more benign animals like armadillo, rabbits/hares, cows, and lots and lots of birds.

The last time I hiked the trails there was still massive hurricane damage and trail markers were missing so maybe some of those problems have been fixed. If not, I'll bring my compass along to keep myself from being lost.

The area is rich in natural resources so I know I can find water and some edible plants along the way. The water will need to be boiled or chemically treated but both options are simple enough. 38 oz. may be enough though depending on the temperature and humidity.

What am I missing? I've got a few more days to plan so overlooked items can be added easily enough at this point.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Venison Chili

I made this a little differently than I make my normal chili because I used tomatoes and beans this time.

A little shredded Monterey Jack and some sliced scallions really made the bowl.

I hoped to take a picture but the boy (he's 5) DESTROYED the chili and is still telling me how tasty it was. He had two bowls of "Jimmy Chili" and he knew exactly what we were eating. I like that kid.

I used 1 pound of ground venison (80/20 meat to suet ratio) with a can of tomatoes, a can of beans, and a packet of Chili Man Chili Seasoning. It only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and I did it all in a cast iron skillet.

It was really fantastic and I'm so happy that we've started to consume the meat I harvested just a few weeks ago.

Tomorrow we're going to have to break into our surplus of pheasant.


Thanks for reading,


JRE EMS Sharpening System

When I stopped in at JRE Industries last week to finish grinding my venison Dan handed me his newest invention, the EMS Sharpening System.

The systems consists of a sharpening platform and a sealed package of abrasives from coarse Emery Cloth to a piece of stropping leather with many, many steps in between. The sharpening platform measures 7.75" X 3" and can be hand held or mounted into a vise. It is covered with a dense neoprene foam which provides enough give to support your convex edges.

I count a total of 15 sheets of abrasive plus the leather which you can load with your favorite stropping compound or use bare. The sheets consist of the following:

Coarse, Medium, and Fine Emery Cloth
320, 400, 600, 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit wet/dry abrasive (2 sheets of each)

The whole system seems very intuitive and simple. You rotate the clamp handles on the platform 180° to loosen, insert the end of your abrasive/leather, return the handle to the original position, and repeat for the other side. Now you're ready to sharpen. There's no more gluing down abrasive sheets or having six sharpening boards (one for each grit) PLUS the strop board. (Yes, this is how I have done it in the past.)

I'm going to take the EMS System for a test run later today once I can find a sufficiently dull knife--not an easy task around here.

There's more information about this system on the JRE Industries page and I'm sure Dan and/or Spen would be happy to answer any other questions you may have so drop them an email or give them a call and make sure you let them know that you read about the EMS Sharpening System here.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 15, 2008


It's been very windy here now for two days.

We had 54° yesterday and today it feels like -14° with the wind chill. That's quite a swing in a few hours.

The roads are icy.

I put up a tarp shelter yesterday and hung my deer head from the ridgeline. It's started rapidly decomposing and needed to be removed from the garage before my wife put my head out there in a bucket. LOL!

It's hanging very high to discourage coyotes and other meat eaters from trying to pull it down and snack on the smelly goodness.

I hope it'll be frozen soon so I can toss it in the cooler and store it until I can get it to the taxidermist.

The wind is so strong that it keeps pulling my guylines out of the ground. The clove hitches I've used on the pegs held fast a freed metal peg swinging wildly in the wind is NOT a fun thing to play with. I've finally (I hope) got the problem licked though by putting logs over the pegs and adding additional central guylines to distribute the load a little more.

Oh, and my Filson Merino Wool cap is aces for this kind of weather. It may actually keep my head a little too warm in all but the stiffest breeze. Good stuff!

Anyway, it's been tough to get back into "bushcraft mode" after so much time spent hunting and processing my venison and pheasant. The freezer's full but I need to get back out there and into the more relaxed mindset--hard to do when you're just trying not to freeze.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, December 13, 2008


I have finally finished with the deer meat.

I ended up with 33 pounds of ground meat (not far from my initial estimate several days ago) and about 40 pounds of roasts, steaks, and stir fry meat.

I'm tired. :)

I had to run down to JRE last night to get Dan's help after I killed my meat grinding attachment for the Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. Their customer service was NOT helpful and left me feeling like I'd done something wrong (their warranty policy is void in case of user error or accident) but it all ended up alright.

It turns out the boys got a new grinder that churns out 5 pounds of ground meat faster than mine would do 1/4 pound and even my fingers wouldn't have slowed this monster down. Grinding tired is probably a very bad idea when using something as powerful as this. A mistake could have permanent consequences.

It all turned out fine though. No digits were removed and the bags of meat have now been portioned into 1 pound bags, vacuum sealed, and frozen.

Up next: Finding a bow. There's still two months of archery season.

Now I'm off to play outside with the kids. I need a break from the inside of the garage...

Thanks for reading,


Friday, December 12, 2008

Breaking News: Guyot Stainless Bottles

Guyot Designs stainless bottles ARE SHIPPING!

I just received two in the mail that I'd ordered quite some time ago.

It's been a long time coming but well worth the wait.



Chilly Observations

Wow it's COLD! (10° F with wind driving the temperature down to -5°.)

As I was breaking up the ice at the end of the driveway a few thoughts were running through my head.

1. In eight minutes I started feeling the frostbite I had on my ears and hands. It burns, it tingles, and then the extremities go numb and stiff.

2. I'm not a big fan of down as an insulator. That's no secret. But my parents just brought me a down vest as an early Christmas present and it has done a remarkable job of keeping my core warm despite the temperatures. Maybe I've got to rethink it as an option.

3. I wonder if I could use one of those automotive window reflectors under my sleeping bag to winter hammock camp. It'd be light, durable (enough anyway,) and inexpensive. Plus the material is designed to be both windproof and to reflect heat back to you. This is something I need to investigate more.

4. It seems like forever since I last spent quality time outdoors bushcrafting. I need to try and get out this weekend despite the temperatures and sit in front of a fire.

Oh, one more thing:

Check out Mungo's blog post here. He's done a write-up on Dersu Uzala with the movie in 16 parts. This is a fantastic movie by Akira Kurosawa and has quite a lot of bushcraft executed by Dersu. It takes some time to go through the whole movie but I think it'll be time well spent. I watched it again last night.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Woodlife Network

Well, it appears I've been called out over at Pablo's site. LOL!

So, today I am joining The Woodlife Network and I'd suggest you give it a look too.

Ning is a social networking site with a great deal of capability from galleries to discussion forums to group calendars and more.

Come on over, pull up a stump, and let's have a look around The Woodlife Network together.

See you there.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Grind It!

I've just finished grinding my first 3.5 pounds of venison.

I ground it straight up. I'll add the fat to it once I've got a large enough batch to process.

For now it's separated into packages awaiting vacuum sealing.

I think I may actually be getting the hang of this...

Thanks for reading,


Edited To Add:

I'm done for the day and have about 27.5 pounds of ground venison now. I've got to wait to get suet from the butcher tomorrow because he didn't have any for me today. At an 80/20 ratio I'll need 5.5 pounds of fat which should bring me to a total of 34 pounds of ground meat.

I've got some trimming left to do but the largest portion of it is now finished.


Butchering Setup

Here are a couple pictures of my butchering setup to give you a better idea where I was working and how I had things set. On the left is my butchering "table" built from two saw-horses, a wire shelf, a closed cell foam pad, two cutting boards, and a half sheet pan. There are also three coolers under the table (one on each side and one in the middle.)

On the right is a strop that JRE Industries is putting out now. This thing was being used frequently during the days of butchering. I would steel the knife, strop the knife, and sharpen the knife (reverse order as the edge would get slightly dull.) I've got mine clipped to the wire rack with a carabiner but you could just hang the loop over a nail or any other small diameter item. Keeping the strop slightly loose allows me to use a feather light touch with it to prevent rolling my sharp edge and the black compound really got the edges screaming.

I have since used it with great effect with a couple of Tramontina machetes.

This setup was not ideal but it was a good learning experience. I now know that I've got to raise the height of the tables by several inches. I also need to get some anti-fatigue floor mats. It'd also be nice to have some music out there since I'm spending so much time butchering.

Believe it or not, I'm still not quite done. The discomfort I've experienced from working on a table that's too short while standing on the concrete floor for hours at a time has been too much. After a couple of days off I'm back at it though.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cleaning my Beans72 Pillow

It's been a while since I received my latest Beans72 pillow and I thought it'd gotten funky enough after daily use to air out the buckwheat hulls and wash the cotton case.

This is an extremely simple operation and requires minimal gear.

The case is zippered and the hulls are free to move around inside. That means it's as simple as opening the zipper and dumping the hulls into a container.

WARNING!: There ARE more buckwheat hulls than you're expecting.

My travel size pillow contained enough hulls to completely fill a 2-gallon bucket.

I turned the case inside out and gave it a shake or two to make sure I'd gotten everything out and then turned it right side out and zipped it shut before tossing the case into the wash with my wool socks and other synthetics (cold, delicate cycle) for a wash and rinse.

After 25 minutes of extra low heat from the dryer I was ready to refill my good-smelling pillow once again. ( I really need to get a pillowcase from Beans72 for this pillow.)

I tried to use a 1-cup measuring cup to pour the hulls back into the case but that didn't work very well. I needed a way to prevent spills. I don't have any extra buckwheat hulls laying around that I could use once I dumped mine onto the floor. I tried a funnel. The opening was too small to work with the hulls.

So, I made a cone out of newspaper and stapled the top and bottom edges together. This gave me a nice, large opening at the top with a 3" diameter hole at the bottom. Then I inserted my homemade funnel into the case, used the measuring cup as a scoop, and filled the case about five cups at a time.

After a few minutes I had every last hull back in the case and gave the funnel one last shake before zipping up the case once more.


The pillow is as firm as it once was, it smells good, and I don't have buckwheat hulls all over the laundry room.

I did manage to lose a few but probably less than 20 hulls. Beans72 does sell extra hulls at $4 a pound so losing even a large handful wouldn't be the end of the world.

Doing this is, in my mind, just like taking the time to clean and service your knife or other essential piece of gear. If you've got a Beans72 pillow you should know that the cleaning process is extremely simple and will make a huge difference in making your pillow a little more socially acceptable (no more drool stains and the smell of venison noticeably absent...)

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 08, 2008

Looking Back...and Forward

Well, 2008 is almost done and 2009 is just around the corner.

It's still hard to believe how far this blog has come in the 2 1/2 years I've been writing.

I've gone from 4,600 hits my first year to more than 100,000 year to date this year. The numbers look like about 400 hits every day with around half of those returning visitors.

The question I pose to you is this:

What do you want to see in 2009?

After 758 posts I feel like I've said and done an awful lot and the threat of repetition is always on my mind.

What else is there to say?

Do you want to see more tutorials? More trip reports? Gear reviews? Pictures? Videos? Something else?

Let me know. I want you, the reader, to help me decide.

I appreciate the many, many readers from all around the world that check in to see what 's going on.

I have some ideas in my head for 2009 but I'll play those pretty close to the vest at this point. I want to hear your thoughts.

As always, thanks for reading,


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Sounds like we're going to see you today.

Happy Birthday!


Saturday, December 06, 2008


Today's the day I process the parts into steaks, roasts, and burger meat.

I'm working in the garage with a homemade table, the temperature outside is in the 20s and maybe 40 inside. I've got my iPod playing a selection of songs from Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, etc.) and I'm using my slicer from the kitchen knife set.

It's been about three hours since I started and I've got both loins processed and all the silver skin removed, the neck roast has been de-boned and rolled, and one of the rear legs is fully processed into three roasts and the calf muscle and part of the upper leg are set to be stir-fry and burger meat.

My hands hurt, my legs hurt, my clothes smell like the inside of a deer (again,) and I've got three more legs and the ribcage to go still.

I also had one of the neighborhood dogs come marching into the garage and pick up one of the front leg lowers and try to run off with it while I was working. At least it wasn't a coyote--yet.

Oh, and then there's the deer hair...

How'd it get everywhere when I've worked very hard to keep pristine surfaces on my workspace to keep contamination to the absolute minimum? I wipe down the cutting boards after every piece of meat is processed and each piece of meat is immediately bagged and tossed back into the cooler for further processing later.

I think I'm going to finish one more leg and call it a day. I can finish the rest tomorrow before I head out for a hike and there seems to be a beer here calling my name but he's going to have to wait until I'm finished with knifework for the day.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, December 05, 2008


Whew! I never realized, until last night, how labor intensive it is to shoot a deer.

There's some effort and heavy breathing involved in maneuvering the carcass in the field to gut it, then there's some tugging needed to get the guts from the body cavity onto the ground, and the effort of getting the gutted carcass out of the woods.

Then you've got to hang the carcass, rinse it out, and get inside for the backstraps.

Once dry-aging is complete, you begin the extremely physical tasks of skinning and butchering.

It took me three hours last night with a great deal of help and supervision from Dan and Spen to get my deer skinned and butchered into large pieces which I will continue to butcher here at home. I've got four legs, two big loins, two slabs of ribs, a nice neck roast, and lots and lots of future burger and sausage. I've also got a hide to scrape for tanning, four lower legs for something (maybe a dewclaw possibles pouch,) and the head.

This morning I write with sore feet from standing on the concrete while skinning, a sore back from moving around the carcass and lifting, sore arms from reaching up during skinning, and sore hands and fingers from all the pulling that goes on while removing the skin. It's the good kind of sore however--I'm now well aware that I have done something last night.

Today I've got to get the hide stretched, scraped, and salted to prepare it for tanning and I think I'll probably get at least one of the legs butchered into roasts, stir fry chunks, and burger meat.

I made some mistakes along the way but nothing really major. I did cut one of the large leg tendons early on and nearly found the whole hanging carcass on top of me but Spen helped me fix my mistake and we moved forward. There are, however, lessons I will take away from this first attempt that I hope to do better/faster/more efficiently with my next deer.

Yes, there will be many more deer (I hope) in years to come.

Thanks again to Dan and Spen for their guidance, equipment, and for giving me a place to skin and butcher under their watchful eyes. It made the whole process a bit less stressful for me when I could ask a question and receive my answer real time.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Butchering and Skinning Day

After a few hiccups last weekend I'm finally on my way down to JRE Industries to skin and butcher my deer. Fortunately the weather has (mostly) cooperated and the carcass has stayed cold enough to prevent spoilage.

I do regret taking so long to get down there (it should have dry aged for seven days instead of 10) but tonight we'll rectify that.

Abe Elias' Diving Sparrow Knife Works Boreal will be doing the work.

I plan on bringing the camera to get some shots of the work being done (if I can manage to do it without mucking up the camera too badly that is.) I'd like to document as much of this from field to freezer as I'm able. Maybe I can get Dan or Spen to take some pictures for me.

It sounds like it's going to be cold, dirty work. I can't wait. :)

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

MBHanzo Machete Mod

Just before hunting season, I received an Ontario Machete modified by Mike Billman (MBHanzo) of Grindstone Cutlery based on a few simple design requests.

First, I wanted an Ontario 18" Military Machete for the thickness, steel, and heat treat. Second, I wanted the orange handle for ease of recovery should I set it down while I'm working. Third, I wanted to drop the length a bit and modify the tip to resemble the Martindale Golok.

I have used Mike several times in the past for kydex work and, while discussing this project, decided that a modified Ontario machete sheath was just the thing to protect me from the edge. Believe me, Mike spends quite a bit of his day sharpening knives for customers and he's got the process figured out. Protection from the edge is exactly what I wanted once I'd handled the machete.

I got to use the machete for the first time while building a temporary hunting blind/wind block and it sliced through 1" branches with ease. I used it for push cuts too. Mike rounded the spine so choking up on the blade for use as a drawknife is comfortable. He also left me with about 1" of squared spine for striking my firesteel. He then re-blued the end where he'd ground off the tip to improve the looks and provide additional corrosion protection--a very nice touch.

I'm left with a little bit of a forward guard and the "pinky dongle" at the rear. While I find myself more often than not choked up on the handle with the forward guard between my index and middle finger, it's nice to have the traditional feel of an Ontario machete without having too much extra "fluff."

I'm carrying the machete in the hydration pocket on my Camelbak Ranger and I don't notice that it's there until I need it because the sheath is so flat and the whole package is so sleek.

I'm very happy with the way this machete turned out and I think it's another step in the right direction. For the price of the machete, sheath, modifications, and sharpening this particular blade may be hard to beat for raw functionality and value. I look forward to many, many years of hard use with this blade.

I'd encourage you to give Mike a call at his shop, (260) 482-1105, if you're in the market for a kydex sheath, a new knife, or a machete like this one. He's a guy that has been around knives for a very long time and he's easy to talk to.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Change of Plans

Well, that didn't work out too well.

The perfect snow of yesterday morning turned to ice thanks to some very cold winds blowing through all day.

By the time the kids got off the bus the snow trench was on hold and the driveway, cleared in the morning, was like a sheet of glass despite my salting.

We only played outside for maybe 10 minutes before I insisted the kids come in to warm up. It was brutal and will get worse before it gets better I suspect.

These are the days when I'm more motivated to watch Peter Gawleta's Basic Bushcraft and Survival DVDs than to actually get out and do something.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 01, 2008

Perfect Snow

We haven't gotten the volume of snow predicted but we did get enough overnight to accumulate an inch or two of wet, packable snow that'll be perfect for the construction of a snow trench or quinze.

If we get enough additional snow during the day today I will get the kids out to help me pick a spot and start piling snow.

After last year's igloo became the rally point for all the kids of the neighborhood this year's shelter should go up earlier and stay up longer.

The snow trench is more likely to get built from this snow because it will require less material to construct. Maybe we'll build a snow trench in front and a quinze in the back.

Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading,