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, July 31, 2009

The Repair Kit

I like to carry some needles and safety pins with me at all times just in case I need to make a quick gear or clothing repair but I've always lacked a decent solution to the problem of toting those things around. I have just stuck a few needles and safety pins into a piece of cloth and rolled it up and tossed it into a pocket on my bag.

This morning, I'm prepping the diaper bag for a trip to the Milwaukee Zoo tonight and it occurs to me that there MUST be a better solution. I hate reaching into the bag only to find a safety pin has come undone and now my finger is bleeding from sticking myself.

Enter the Going Gear capsule I received with my last shipment. There it sat on the countertop right next to the bag after a quick afternoon photo shoot as if put there by fate. It's the right length, has enough inside diameter to accommodate a couple of safety pins and three or four needles. The split ring on the top can be used to attach a small hank of paracord which will provide me with plenty of thread.

"Hmmm...," I think to myself, "maybe this would work for my little sewing kit. Let's give it a try."

And that, my friends, is how I got to this post today. I now have a solution to a long time problem that was always at the back of my mind (unless I'd just stuck myself again) and it presented itself in a very timely fashion.

So, we're going to give it a run.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Koster W&SS Necker Follow-Up

Here are some pictures of the Dan Koster W&SS Neck Knife I received last week. I've been using it in place of my pocket knife ever since and it has done a fantastic job.

The knife as received:

You can see that it will shave and carve fuzzies with the best of 'em.

I wrapped the handle with orange paracord, the sheath with black paracord, and then covered the sheath cordage with a ranger band.

With a Victorinox Spartan for size comparsion:


This knife really disappears into a pocket and it cuts like a dream. I've used it for all sorts of daily tasks from trimming my nails to opening letters and packages to cutting down charcoal bags to use as firestarter down the road. I've shaved fuzz sticks from a seasoned piece of birch and plenty of fatwood while sitting in the driveway or on the front porch with the kids. I've even used it for food prep. The 1/8" thick stock is a real treat.

The knife has been nicely rounded to prevent hot spots even in the skeletonized version and I found it a real pleasure to use while working wood where I'm using a bit firmer grip than I need in the kitchen or during most cutting chores. The cordage provides an improved grip and, of course, gives it a stylish flair.

For more information on the knife and it's origins look HERE.

For the way I carry and use a knife, this really fits into my lifestyle. I've got one with the green canvas micarta handle that I'm setting up with a neck-based kit and Dan's working on one for my son to prevent him from stealing this one down the road.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 27, 2009

Firesteel Striker Testing

Over the weekend I spent some time testing various firesteel strikers to find the best of the best for use with either the Light My Fire (LMF) firesteels or the Going Gear (GG) firesteels and I found the results to be fairly interesting and yet exactly what I would've expected.

The strikers I tested were:

1. Corona Carbide Sharpener
2. Bi-Metal Hacksaw Blade
3. Bi-Metal Sawzall Blade
4. LMF Striker
5. Victorinox Pioneer awl
6. Victorinox Farmer Saw back

What I found was that the harder strikers would tear up the GG rods pretty fast and remove curls of material more often than they'd spark. When they did spark, however, the sparks would hit the pile of curls and I'd have a nice burst of heat and flame to ignite my tinder.

The softer strikers would still skate over hard spots on the LMF firesteels but the flex in the hacksaw and sawzall blades would flick the sparks onto the tinder pile.

The saw back on the Victorinox Farmer has been my favorite striker but the increased pressure I put on the harder rods can snap the blade shut on my hand and the saw teeth are sharp enough to penetrate the skin (and can leave a nasty bite mark) so I've moved on to the awl.

The awl on the Alox Swiss Army Knife (SAK) is the best overall striker for both the LMF rods and the GG rods. I've put a new edge on my awl and it's nice and sharp and will throw massive sparks from both hard and soft rods and, best of all, it's already in my pocket and always with me so there's no need for an extra piece of gear.

I'm sure someone will come up with a purpose-engineered solution which will surpass the awl at some point and I'd be more than happy to take a look at that solution when it presents itself but, for now, I'll use the awl and whichever firesteel I happen to have with me.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 24, 2009


I got started quite a bit later this year than years past but I'm barefooting as much as possible now.

The kids and I have been taking a walk around the block and on the trails in the evening and the bottoms of my feet are constantly filthy and sore. Ah, the early stages of toughening are the most fun...

I do this every year and get my soles nice and tough by the time the first snow falls and then jump into wool socks and boots for the next three to four months and I lose all that I've gained. Plus there's the nightly foot care routine all summer that involves a knife, tweezers, and soap and warm water to take out the things that don't belong and to wash off the crud from a day out.

The kids think it's normal (you know, as "normal" as anything can be around here,) my wife thinks it's gross, and I don't think about it at all.

It must be quite comical seeing the barefoot guy going for a walk with the two kids and their Camelbak Mini-Mule packs with hydration tubes in their mouths...the neighbors don't seem too concerned by it though.

Maybe my strange version of "normal" is becoming normal for everybody else around here.

Must be time to mix it up a bit more. :)

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Koster W&SS Necker

I had the good fortune to snag an "extra" blade from Dan Koster's recent run of neck knives for the Wilderness & Survival Skills sub-forum at Bladeforums.

I had an opportunity to use the skeleton blade yesterday and it's very comfortable in the hand, extremely sharp, and the ergonomics were very good. It's kind of like a paring knife or a fixed blade Swiss Army Knife (SAK) in size, shape, and use. In other words, a utility piece with fantastic cutting ability.

I saw this as an excellent launching point for a neck-based survival kit or the ultralight last-ditch setup you always have with you.

1/8" thick 3V Steel
6.5" OAL
2 7/8" Blade Length
1.85 oz. (53 g) Knife Weight
2.55 oz. (72 g) Knife in Sheath

Today I'm going to build up a kit around this knife that can be worn on the neck and I'm going to use my numerous MBHanzo survival rigs as a basis for which items should be included.

Up first, finding a Ranger Band (innertube) that will fit over the sheath...

I'll have some pictures and another write-up when I'm finished.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Confessions of an Exploder

That's right, I'm an exploder.

What that means is that I react explosively to stressful situations. This is a VERY bad thing in a survival situation where an impulsive move can waste valuable energy and potentially cause an injury or worse. I have two things going for me, however, that prevent this from ever becoming a serious problem.

1. I have a VERY long fuse.
2. After 35 years of dealing with it, I've gotten very good at recovering quickly from the explosions.

It's not just an issue with my temper either. It's about that initial panic or fear that an unknown situation can present--the "fight or flight" response. My heart rate skyrockets, adrenaline dumps rapidly into my bloodstream, and my brain rockets to full speed. It's the following few seconds that can make or break a stressful situation.

Take a deep breath. Your situation is likely not going to worsen in one or two seconds and that breath may be enough to bring you back to your senses.

Get yourself out of harm's way.

Reassess the situation and figure out what your assets and liabilities are.

Get back to the job at hand.

Now the explosive reactions are not purely detrimental. I have found them useful to provide me with that extra burst of speed or extra strength when I need it.

Losing control of your emotions is ALWAYS dangerous and explosive reactors can go from idle to full-throttle instantly so it's important to admit to yourself that you have a problem (I'm not trying to say that any of you have this problem) and to deal with it head on. That's what I've done and it's amazing how much better I can handle stressful situations by understanding that the initial reaction is extreme and that I CAN control it quickly and simply.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Firesteel Comparisons

Is there a difference in the various firesteels available out there? Yes.

We know the formulation of the Light My Fire (LMF) rods and the Going Gear (GG) rods are different because they strike differently, they burn differently, and they just feel slightly different.

I spent the day Sunday playing with the kids and the firesteels and found one of my old LMF firesteels to be maybe a bit too hard as I was left searching for a more effective striker. The spine on my Fallkniven F1 has been used so often and for so long that it no longer throws big sparks and I'll need to re-square it at some point. Hacksaw blades were too "flexy" to get the job done and a piece of Sawzall blade with a squared spine finally got the job done but even it had some problems with repeated strikes. It would just skate over the surface of the rod.

The GG rods I've used have had some softer spots that wouldn't spark but would drop big curls into my tinder pile that must've been mostly Magnesium but I hadn't encountered the hard spots in the LMF rods before. Whether hard or soft, the rod consistency changes the striker requirements and I'm glad I found this out here at the house and not out at a week long campout.

The awl on my Victorinox Pioneer/Farmer works fine for striking but I have a carbide sharpener that I've used from time to time on the firesteels but it works better with the LMF rods than the GG rods.

I've ordered a handful of the larger rods from Marshall at GoingGear and will continue to work with them to find the best striker for his formulation to see if the softer rods are a better long-term solution. I'm such a big fan of the LMF firesteels that I have a definite bias as to how they work but finding a rod that's too hard to strike presents a very real problem.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 20, 2009

Five Things: The Lists


  1. Nail (tent peg)

  2. Tent

  3. Flashlight

  4. Firesteel

  5. Can


  1. Lighter

  2. Tent

  3. Warm Clothing

  4. Signal Mirror

  5. Ground Pad

Okay, so a few things have become much clearer after talking to the kids about their lists. First, Laura values a good night's sleep and comfort over everything else. Jake, on the other hand, has his mind more on the sorts of gear daddy carries when we go out and he knows how those items are used even if he can't physically use them at this stage.

Both kids have Camelbak Mini-Mule packs with hydration bladders, a necklace with a firesteel, striker, whistle, and waterproof capsule with tinder, and a RAT Cutlery Izula so that's why you don't see knives or water on the lists. Jake, like his old man, likes to have some redundancy with the extra firesteel taking one of his five slots and I would've done the same I suspect.

Now I think I may come up with my five items just for fun.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Five Things: An Experiment

Today I'm testing Jake (6) and Laura (8) to see how much they've been paying attention to the shows, books, and discussions we've had about getting outdoors and successfully spending an unplanned night outdoors.

We sat down and I handed them both a notepad and a pencil and asked them to list the five items they'd like to have with them. They've been given as much time as they need to come up with those lists and then we're going to discuss what they chose and why.

I think we might even try to put those lists to the test here in the back yard one night to really cement the learning part of this experiment.

I can't wait to see what they come up with and what sort of outdoors kids they're going to be. Laura's first two items were a lighter and a tent and Jake's were a can and a firesteel so we'll see if they continue along those lines.

I'll post their lists once they're done.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Dan!

43 this year right? And now married.



Thursday, July 09, 2009

Fallkniven F1 3G

I finally got one of the 1000 piece limited edition 25th Anniversary Fallkniven F1s in Laminated 3G (versus the regular production Laminated VG-10) last night when Dan from JRE Industries agreed to meet up with me after swim practice. I brought my kids and he brought his and we met up for an ice cream and to swap stories and for me to pick up this beautiful piece of cutlery.

Each piece is numbered (I got #0123) on the spine and mine came with a factory leather sheath which will be replaced with the custom model I ordered a while back when it's done.

Dan mentioned that he had a limited supply of the 3G F1s so I'm going to do my darndest to get out and use this one quickly to determine if another one might be in my immediate future. I've liked everything about my 3G H1 so far but the thinner stock of the F1 and the more familiar blade shape may be the deciding factor for me.

I'll get some pictures today or tomorrow (I hope) so you can see the new knife versus my old user. I don't think there are any changes other than the new handle feels firmer but I'll let the pictures tell you the story.

Anyway, if you're thinking about picking one of these 3G F1s up you might want to give JRE Industries a look. It's like a one-stop shop for cutlery and leather. They almost make it too easy...or in my case, they DO make it too easy. :)

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Didja' Know?

If you count the chirps a cricket makes in 14 seconds and add 40 you can effectively estimate the current temperature.

For example, if you count 45 chirps you can figure that it's darned close to 85° outside.

Now, try it the next time you're out and you hear a cricket.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, July 03, 2009

Strep Strikes Me Down AGAIN!

Can you believe the luck? That's three times since mid-May of this year and it's been just as bad each time.

I started feeling poorly last night and got up this morning with chills and sweats and the same terrible pain throughout my joints, muscles, and bones. I knew what it was even before I took the first look down my throat.

A quick trip with a flashlight to the nearest mirror confirmed my suspicions--white spotted tonsils.

I called the doc and made an appointment and asked if I could just get the meds as I was getting quite proficient at diagnosing my ailment and they gave me a big fat, "No!" so I went in.

Sure enough, just moments after taking the swab it came back positive.

Here we go...

I was supposed to go camping this weekend...

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ooh, That Smell...

Yesterday I put two of my surplus wool blankets through the wash and hung them out to dry. The Italian Army blanket, when wet, reeked of mothballs but the smell lessened as the blanket dried. The German Army blanket in the front is the one I picked up while at Briar Patch for the Primitive Skills course last year and it just smelled like wet wool blanket.

We're getting some rain this morning and there's just enough moisture in the air to bring out the scents of those blankets again.

The temperature is noticeably cooler than the mid to high 90s we had late last week and there was a bit of a breeze while the kids stood outside waiting for the bus to summer school. To show them how wool can protect you even when wet I had them both walk in between the two blankets and then describe to me how it felt in there.

Jake thought it was itchy on the back and soft and fuzzy on the front (it was) and Laura noticed that it was both warmer and less windy in the dead air space.

It was the smell that really got to me though. Like I mentioned above, this blanket will forever remind me of the time I spent in the woods with George, Dom, Kevin, Mark, and the rest of the gang. It's a scent memory much like the smell of grandma's apple pie, or in my case, grandma's fried perch. YUM!

Interestingly, the reason I decided to wash up these two wool blankets is to prepare for a trip up to see George on his new piece of property and to attend one of his plant classes with my daughter. She wants to camp, I need a day or two off, and there's never an excuse needed to get out and see George and sit around a campfire with him.

Thanks for reading,