Quick Tip #21

So, you made it to where you want to camp for the night, and you’re all setup, then you realize it’s going to be dark soon and you start scrambling around to gather natural tinder and wood to get a fire going. Does this sound like your normal routine? It used to be mine years ago until I started carrying a tinder pouch on my belt. Now as I hike along, I gather natural tinder, birch bark, small twigs and anything else I might be able to use to make a “birds nest” and get a fire going. I also grab a few pieces of wood (sticks) that are slightly thicker than my thumb and break them short enough to fit in the pouch. I use these for making feather sticks.

Carrying a tinder pouch and filling it as you hike makes for a less stressful time later trying to get a fire going and it means you’ll most likely have better quality material to work with. Some advantages to carrying a tinder pouch are that everything you put in the pouch gets mixed together and ground together as you hike and if anything is damp it will help dry it out by the time you get to camp. Also, if it starts raining along the way or by the time you get to camp or before you get a fire going, you’ll have a bag full of quality dry tinder to work with instead of trying to scrounge around in the rain.

I highly recommend training yourself to grab natural tinder as you hike, whether you put it in your pocket, pack or designated tinder pouch, you’ll thank me later when you have a much easier and relaxed time starting a nice warm cozy fire. Do you already carry a designated tinder pouch? If so, what natural things do you grab to fill your pouch? Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment with your answers to the previous questions.

Ax and Saw Leather Carry Bag

For awhile now I’ve wanted an ax and saw carry bag. I really like the one Meandering Maker makes as well as Bear Essentials, but I didn’t want to spend the money, even though I know both bags are well worth the money. I thought to myself, why not make one out of leather? I’ve never seen anyone else make one solely out of leather and I had just acquired some nice 4-5 oz Kodiak stone oiled leather that I really liked the look of. So, I quickly began thinking about how I wanted to make it and what I wanted it to look like.

I made sure to design the size of my bag so that I could fit my Boreal21 saw or a 24” take down buck saw once I get one made. When cutting the leather for the ax sleeve I laid my ax on the main pouch and then ran the piece of leather over the ax that would form the ax sleeve and cut it so that when the ax was removed it still formed a pocket.

ax3.jpg

I saddle stitched the whole bag and retention strap with waxed thread. I used Chicago screws to attach the anchor points for the shoulder strap as well as on the shoulder strap pieces so that it would make for easy maintenance or changing out any parts that fail over time.

ax5.jpg

ax6.jpg

ax1.jpg

ax7.jpg

I used 8-9 oz veg. tanned leather for the carry strap and made sure to have enough adjustment for use during warm months as well as colder months over thick jackets.

I really like how my new ax and saw bag turned out. It should last me years of use and I should hopefully be able to pass it on to my kids someday. The only thing that I wish I had added was a small pouch to hold a sharpening puck. I decided what I’m going to do is make a small pouch that will hold the sharpening puck and a fire kit that will mount on the bottom of the shoulder strap but is easily removable so that it can be placed on my belt. What do you think about the bag? What would you change or add? Any leather projects your working on? Have you ever thought about using an ax and saw carry bag? I’ll keep everyone posted on how well the bag holds up as I use it over this year. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your wilderness wandering.     ax2.jpg

ax4.jpg

Homemade Pulk Sled

I’ve wanted to make a pulk sled for winter camping for a while now, so I decided making a pulk sled was next on my list of D.I.Y. projects. I was excited to find that my local Runnings store was running a sale on Jet Sled Jr’s so I grabbed two of them. I figured I’d make two sleds so that either, one of my sons could use one or my brother. I crafted brackets out of some steel stock I grabbed from the hardware store. After shaping the brackets and painting them, I mounted them on the front of the sled with stainless steel bolts and fasteners.

sled10.jpg

I added a fin, made from aluminum angle stock, on the rear bottom of the sled. I used galvanized fasteners to attach the fin. This helps with tracking in the snow especially when in hilly areas.

sled4.jpg

sled5.jpg

I used plastic electrical conduit for the poles that connect to the sled and a leather belt for pulling. I used two pieces of conduit because I wanted six foot poles. If I were to make the poles five feet instead of six feet I would have only needed one conduit. On one end of each pole I epoxied a tie rod end and the other end epoxied an eye bolt. Prior to adding epoxy, I heated up the conduit so that I could push the nut for the eye bolt and the nut for the tie rod end in, to make a more secure attachment. The tie rod end connects to the bracket on the sled using a locking pin.

sled8.jpg

sled7.jpg

The eye bolt on the other end of the poles connects to clevis pins which I mounted on either side of a leather belt I made. I put a washer on both sides of the belt before installing the clevis pin and then added a heavy bushing which fit perfectly inside the eye bolt and over the clevis pin. Lastly, I added a hitch pin to keep the eye bolt in place but to also make it easily removable once at camp.

sled13.jpg

sled11.jpg

sled12.jpg

sled3.jpg

All in all, I think this project went well and the pulk sleds turned out great. I can’t wait to get out and test my new pulk sled. This should make snowshoeing a bit easier without the extra weight from the pack on my back pushing down on the snowshoes. Do you winter camp or snowshoe? Have you ever used or thought about using a pulk sled for winter camping? Let me know in the comments section if you liked this D.I.Y. project and if you’d like to see more.

Sled 1.jpg

sled9.jpg

Practice

With five active and energetic kids its hard to find time to continue to practice bushcraft/wilderness skills that need constant practice. It forces me to be a multitasker and to think outside the box.

Here’s an example; just the other night, we have a wood/coal furnace, I needed to get a fire going in the furnace but instead of getting the fire going and just sitting there waiting for it to get up to temperature I figured why not practice bow drill friction fire. It seemed like a better way to spend my time than staring at my phone like I often do well waiting on the furnace. I knew all of the wood was dry, so it wasn’t really a question of whether or not I’d get an ember but more about continued practice and for muscle memory.

It was fun to spend my time doing something more useful and we all know practice makes perfect. I knew I couldn’t be in the wilderness but there was no reason I couldn’t practice wilderness skills. I forget sometimes, as I’m sure others do as well, that we don’t necessarily need to be in the woods to practice our skills. Although that is a nicer environment to practice in, it’s not necessary.

Below are some pictures of the bow drill set I made. It worked great and was smoking within seconds of running the bow and drill. I know we’re all very busy, but I urge you to find time to practice bushcraft/survival skills so that you don’t loose them. Sometimes we must think outside the box when it comes to finding time to learn and practice. What skills are you currently learning or trying to fine tune? Have you ever tried any type of friction fire? Thanks for reading and please leave a comment about what outdoor skills you’re currently learning or fine tuning.fire1.jpg

fire2.jpg

fire3.jpg

Don’t Be Afraid To Try something New

It amazes me how many people are not willing, are afraid, to learn or try something new. Whether it be learning a new skill, learning how to make something or just plain learning. I guess for me it just comes naturally. I’m self-motivated to learn new skills. If I want to know how to do something, I’m going to learn how to do it if it means reading books, scouring the internet and or watching tons of YouTube videos. I can’t imagine letting the fear of not knowing how to do something or the fear of failure stop me from learning a new skill that I desire to know.

In most cases failure in something is not going to hurt you or anyone else. We all have failures during our learning process. Through those failures we can learn and become better. Never let the fear of failure stop you. I contest that you never truly learn a new skill without some failures along the way.

Whether it be a new business venture, life skills, outdoor (survival, bushcraft) skills, learning how to make handmade items, wood work, music, art or anything else, don’t let the fear of failure or the fear of not knowing how to do it, stop you. Try something new today. Learn and don’t be held back by fear. Enjoy the whole process and journey as you learn new skills and gain knowledge.

What is something you’d like to learn how to do or a skill you’d like to learn? What is holding you back? My goal for 2019 is to become more proficient at leather making and crafting tools out of 1095 and O1 tool steel. Leave a comment with one thing you want to learn more about or a new skill you want to learn over the coarse of 2019.

1.jpg

2.jpg

 

Fire Kit

 

Pictured are some basic fire kits I made for my older three boys, Father and brother for Christmas. I wanted to make the kit compact but encompass more than most kits do. I put everything in a metal tin (similar to an altoids tin) and included a fero rod, 6 ft of jute twine, a piece of chert and a steel striker I designed, made and heat treated.

I used 1095 steel to make the striker. I drilled an indent in each striker so that they can be used as a baring block for the bow drill, primitive friction fire starting technique. I made all the edges 90 degrees so that the edges can be used to scrape wood for fine shavings or be used to scrape a fero rod.

The tin can be used to make char cloth. They have room to add char cloth as well as add some quik tinder or other modern tinder for fire starting. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to sit down and teach them all how to start a flint and steel fire. I did teach my older son, who was excited when his first try was a success. I’m sure they’ll be addicted to starting a fire in the wilderness this way, just as I am. Flint and steel is by far my favorite way to get a fire going. What’s your favorite fire-starting method? Have you ever used flint and steel or any primitive friction methods? I added some pictures of me heat treating the steel strikers in my simple forge.

kit.jpg

kit2.jpg

kit4.jpg

kit5.jpg

kit6.jpg

Sometimes Cheap Is Better

During hunting season here in New York, it can be a challenge to keep your fingers warm. Especially since you don’t want thick gloves or mittens on that will infringe on being able to pull the trigger. I own many pairs of gloves, mittens and glove/mitten combos but nothing worked very well for me. As of late I was wearing a lightweight pair of gloves (pair I ware for bow season) with cheap wool liner gloves over top with the fingers cut off. This setup worked fairly well until the temps dipped down into the teens and single digits (Fahrenheit) this season. My fingers and hands were not happy. My brother and I happened to stop at Herb Philipson’s (local sporting goods store) and saw a huge display of fleece lined rag wool glove/mittens. I tried a pair on and thought to myself this might be what we need to keep our hands warm. The best part………they were only $9.99! You can’t beat that for a glove that ended up keeping our hands happy the rest of the season!

With the fleece lining it makes the gloves a little thicker and warmer but with no fingers it allowed for easy trigger pulling and with the availability of the mitten cover being pulled over the fingers made for an ideal glove in my opinion. For really cold mornings we threw hot hands (chemical hand warmers) in the mitten part and when the mitten was pulled over, the warmer would be sitting on top of our fingers keeping them warm without interfering with being able to pull the trigger.

On the last day of hunting season, we stayed out through hours of freezing rain and sleet. Even though our wool gloves were soaked, they kept our hands warm. I can attest to wool keeping you warm even when wet/soaked. Needles to say we were happy campers with our recent purchase. I found that I could pull the trigger even with the mitten part over my fingers. Another nice feature is that the wrist part of the gloves is extra-long, so they easily roll over or under the sleeve of a jacket and stay put because of the extra length. No gaps for wind and cold to get into.

All in all, we are very happy with our inexpensive purchase that replaced many more expensive pairs of gloves that just didn’t cut it in cold weather. I can’t believe I’ve never come across a pair of these gloves until now. What gloves or mittens have you found that work great for cold weather well hunting? What cold weather clothing is a must for you? Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.

g1.jpg

g2.jpg

g3.jpg

g4.jpg

g5.jpg