Cooking over a fire with my Bushcraft grill

The more time you spend cooking over an open fire the better you’ll become and be able to fine tune your cooking skills. I’ve learned over the years that cooking over hot coals is not only a better way to cook or heat up liquids, but it also saves on equipment wear and tear and saves you from having to eat a burnt meal. This also makes cleanup much easier.

I start out by getting a good rip-roaring fire going and once I have larger logs on, which give me larger lasting coals, I let the fire die down a bit. I congregate a bunch of coals so that they will allow my grill to lay over top and allow for even cooking. I keep the fire going much smaller off to the side so that once all of my cooking is done I’m able to get a larger fire going again much more easily. This also allows me to get more coals for cooking if needed.

Cooking on the grill over the coals is so much nicer. Once the meat or vegetables are fully cooked I just lift the grill off the coals with my Hidden Woodsman meat fork and lay it on some level rocks to cool. I do any cutting right on the grill and eat right off of the grill as well. No extra dishes to clean. Once everything is gone I just hold the grill over the flames to burn off anything left. Then I lay it off to the side again to cool. Once cooled, I put the grill in the pouch it came with and throw it in my backpack. You can’t ask for an easier cleanup than that. So far I have nothing bad to say about this grill and absolutely love cooking on it.

Cooking a perfect meal in the wild, over a fire you made yourself, is so satisfying and energizing. If I’m camping in or backing through an area that allows fires I always prefer to cook this way instead of using any modern portable cook stoves. I guess it just helps me to feel more connected to the land and my primal self. What’s your favorite way to cook when you’re in the wild? What cooking tips do you have that you’d like to share? I hope this helps energize others to get out into the wild and cook a meal over a nice hot bed of coals.

 

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MY “SIMPLE KIT”

Sometimes it’s nice to just move about in the wilderness with less weight on your back and minimal supplies. Partly it’s to be challenged and on the other hand it’s the simplicity of it. I thought I’d share with you today what I carry in my “simple kit”.

Carried On Me

  • Fixed Blade Knife (attached to my side)
  • Pocket Knife or multi tool in my pocket
  • Small Fire Kit
  • Small First Aid Kit
  • Compass

 

Bedroll

  • Wool Blanket (Rothco or Pathfinder Blanket)
  • DD Hammock Superlight Tarp
  • Klymit Inflatable Sleeping Pad
  • Boreal21 Saw in a waxed canvas sheath
  • 550 Paracord Bedroll Strap to carry everything in the bedroll
  • Food Pouch

 

Water Bottle Pouch

  • Stainless Steel Bottle and cup with reflectix cozy
  • Eating Utensil
  • Sawyer Mini Water Filter
  • Fire Kit
  • Cordage
  • Bug Repealant
  • Pace Beads
  • Snacks

 

I carry my bedroll to the right of my body, strap over my left shoulder, and the water bottle carrier to my left with the strap over my right shoulder. The straps create an X on my back and chest. I find this to be a nice simple kit for me. There are some things I could cut out and there’s always things that can be added but sometimes it’s nice to get outdoors with just a basic kit. If for some reason I want to carry my small axe, I could carry it in the axe pocket of my Fjallraven Vidda Pro pants but with a good knife and a saw I really don’t need the axe much in the wilderness where I live. What “Simple Kit” do you carry? What would you add or take out and why?

Simple Kit

Quick Tip #18

Take whatever knife you regularly carry in the wilderness and check the spine on it. If it is rounded over or doesn’t have a good 90 degree edge on it, modify it. Of course this is only if you are willing to make adjustments to your knife. Well wearing proper eye and hand protection you can either use a file, belt sander or grinder to put I nice 90 degree angle on the spine of your knife. With the adjustment to your knife done, you’ll now be able to use a ferocerium rod more efficiently and you can now use the spine of your knife to make fuss by running the spine of your modified knife down certain types of wood. The fuss will just make it that much easier to start a fire. Hope this was informational and someone finds this helpful. Thanks for reading! What modifications have you made to your knife and why?

The Science and Art of Tracking by Tom Brown Jr.

I’m reading through Tom Brown Jr.’s book “The Science and Art of Tracking” again. If you are not familiar with this book or with Tom I highly recommend this book as well as many of his other books. This book is about so much more than just tracking. This book is great for anybody that spends time in the wilderness. It will even help you become more aware of your surroundings in everyday life. It is more about being aware of your surroundings and the impact or signs left behind by humans, animals or even the elements. It’s a change in mindset. You become more aware of the story of what happened prior to you entering the current place you find yourself standing in. You learn that there is so much more to the story of that animal track you found. Was that fox running frantically to get away from something? Was it wounded? Was it hunting? Was it strolling through the woods without a care? Was it female or male? You get the point. There’s more that can be gleaned from a track than most people will ever see if they even notice the track at all.

 
Why is that limb on the tree broken? Why are there no limbs on one side of this tree? How was this hill formed? Is this path man maid (cut in) or worn in? How did that trash end up there? There are clues to the answers if you look close enough and learn to observe all that goes on around you. Watch the people around you as they go about life. Be aware of how a man might affect the environment differently than how a woman does. Children will have a different affect as well. Now notice how someone stronger affects things differently than someone weaker. It all tells a story. By noticing these things in everyday life you’ll begin to notice things in the wilderness you never noticed before. You’ll notice where that fox bedded down last night, that deer that was chased through the woods by a pack of coyotes, the squirrel that was sitting on the tree branch through the rain and how that tin can ended up on the side of the trail.

 
There is so much more to see in the wilderness than to just “suffer” the trail to get to some gorgeous view. Take the time to really enjoy the time you spend in the wild whether it is to hunt, backpack, hike, camp or for whatever other reason you may find yourself in the wilderness. There is so much more to see and there’s a story there waiting to be reed. Do you or have you ever taken the time to really read your environment? Have you taken the time to learn how to track? If you’ve read this book, what are your thoughts about it?

Inexpensive Quality Knives

You don’t have to spend a ton of money for a decent bushcraft or survival knife. Now I do agree in most cases that you get what you pay for but there are some exceptions to the rule. I own some expensive knives but this year I have mostly just carried my Mora companion, with attached fire kit, and an Esee Avispa folder. Both of which are fairly inexpensive, not overly heavy but are very well made knives. I also usually take a small hatchet for cutting up firewood so I’m not using my knife to baton wood (I just prefer to save my knives from this abuse if I can).

Mora makes great quality products that can take abuse but at an expense that you wont mind if you loose or damage it. I have added a fire kit to the outside of mine. The fire kit consists of a ferocerium rod, 1 piece of quik tinder (burns for 2 minutes) and is attacked with a 1 1/2″ ranger band. The Mora knife I carry is made of high carbon steel. This is a great quality for bushcraft or survival but also means the knife blade needs more care and cleaning. It is highly worth it in my mind.

The Esee Avispa is a great addition to the Mora. I carry a pocket knife on me daily because I find I use it and need it a lot. So it’s only natural for me to be carrying a folder. The blade on the Avispa is made of Aus-8 stainless steel. I like to have a stainless steel folding knife as a companion to any high carbon steel fixed blade I would be carrying because it saves me from pulling out my fixed blade knife every time I need to cut something and the stainless blade needs less care and upkeep than the high carbon steel blade needs. Also I like the fact that if I loose one knife I’ll still have one available to me instead of loosing my only knife and having nothing else to use.

These two knives together weigh less than one more expensive bushcraft or survival knife by themselves. For about $50-$70 you could have a great set up for your wilderness adventures. Before anyone complains, what about this knife or that knife, I know there are many great and expensive bushcraft and survival knives out there as well as better folders but these just happen to be what I’m carrying a lot these days and I think this is a great setup for those that can’t afford much or don’t want to spend a lot on one or two knives. These are fairly inexpensive knives but are better quality than their price portrays.

I hope this was helpful to some and an encouragement that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on gear to go out and enjoy the wilderness. Feel free to let me know what your favorite knife or knives are to carry on your wilderness adventures. As always get out there and enjoy the wilderness and maybe even relax and unwind a bit.

Survival and Bushcraft Knives

As a seller of outdoor survival gear I setup at a lot of outdoor shows and gun shows as a vendor. It never fails; most people will buy cheaply made gear over quality made gear, even if their life may depend on it, when it comes to cost. I see this at every show I‘m at. I sell good quality survival and bushcraft knives and then I have to carry cheap china made knockoffs that I wouldn’t trust my life with, but at least ¾ of my knife sales come from the cheap knives. I understand people want to save money somewhere but a knife is a very important tool for survival and you don’t want one that is going to fail you when you need it most. I carry multiple pocket knives and a couple of them are cheap pocket knives but I always have one good quality knife with me at all times if possible.

Before you just go to the store or knife show and find yourself staring at knives trying to pick one out to buy without even knowing what you want in the knife or what your intentions are for it, figure out ahead of time what your purpose is for this knife and what characteristics you want this knife to have. It’s never a good idea to buy survival or bushcraft tools spontaneously. You will most likely regret it and you’ll probably end up with a tool or item that doesn’t quite fit your needs. Below are a few examples of some things you should answer before purchasing a survival or bushcraft knife.

Answer These before Going to Buy a Knife

• What is your intended use for the knife?
• How much use will it get?
• Is it a backup knife or your main survival or bushcraft knife?
• Do you want a high carbon steel or stainless steel blade?
• How long do you want the blade and handle to be?
• How thick would you like the steel to be?
• What material would you prefer the handle be made out of?
• Do you want a good hefty knife?
• What kind of grind do you prefer the knife have?
• Do you want serrations on the knife?

Questions to Ask Well Looking at Knives

• Is it comfortable in your hand?
• Is the knife to long or to short?
• Will the knife slip out of your hand if the handle gets wet?
• Is it full tang?
• Where was the knife made?
• Does the knife look and feel durable?
• Does the knife have a good quality and durable sheath?
• Will the knife easily fall out of the sheath or does it lock in?
• Is the sheath to bulky that you won’t wear or use it?

These are just some sample questions that you should ask yourself before and well you are buying a knife. There are a lot of good quality custom knife makers out there, so you can custom make a knife to fit what you want. You can have a custom knife made at a very reasonable price if you look around online. There are also some quality knife companies that have decently priced survival and bushcraft knives available. Tops, Mora, Condor, Bushcraft Northwest, Blind Horse Knives, Esee, Falkniven and Gerber (only the U.S. made knives) all make great survival and bushcraft knives and some of them are very reasonably priced. Mora is a great entry knife into bushcraft and they are very inexpensive. They are made in Sweden.

Personally I try to buy knives that range from $30-$200, maybe even up to $300. I’m afraid that if I spend much more than that, I’ll be afraid to actually use the knife for its intended purpose. You can also, if you have the equipment, toy around with making your own knives. There are a lot of YouTube videos available to help you make your own knife.
My point in all this is to say that when it comes to a knife or any other survival tool that is going to take a lot of abuse and that your life may at some point depend on, it is not worth saving a little bit of money well sacrificing quality and durability. A better quality knife will last you much longer in the end. What knife do you carry for survival or bushcraft purposes? How much did you pay for your knife or are willing to pay for a quality made survival or bushcraft knife?

How to Poop in the Woods

So it’s a nice sunny day and you’ve been out on the trail hiking since 6 am. You had a nice breakfast on the trail well enjoying all the scenery and noises of the wilderness. It’s now 10 am and your bowels are telling you that you had better find a toilet somewhere because things are about to get ugly. What do you do? There’s no bathroom, no toilet, nothing to hold your toilet paper and no doors for privacy, what are you going to do? Somebody might see you, and that would be beyond embarrassing. You become paranoid and look all around as if there are people lurking in the woods behind every tree and bush just waiting to catch you pooping in the woods. It’s amazing the games our own minds play on us.

First off you don’t have to be paranoid; nobody wants any part of catching you in the act. Really! If you learn a few simple rules about pooping in the wilderness you won’t have to have any worries about being on display. This is another one of those skills that you should learn ahead of time. I’m not telling you to go poop outside your home, although if you have close bothersome neighbors I’m sure they will leave you alone after seeing you practicing this skill! What I am saying is to learn proper rules and techniques ahead of time. You should know what you have to do and how before you actually need to do it. Learn local laws for disposal of toilet paper. In some areas you are not allowed to bury toilet paper in the ground and will have to burn it or pack it out. Here are some basic rules for pooping in the woods.

Rules for Pooping In the Woods

• Find a spot that is AT LEAST 200 feet from any water source, trail or campsite. (further away would be better for privacy and water sources)
• Dig a hole that is about 6”s around and 6-8”s deep.
• If using toilet paper, buy some that is made for decomposing quickly in the wilderness. (buy at any sporting goods store)
• Find a good tree to lean against or a large downed tree that you can sit on the edge of. (this will make it much easier than just squatting over a hole since most people are used to sitting on a toilet)
• Fill in the hole when you are done and place either some sticks or stones on top. (This will warn others not to dig in this area and will help discourage animals from digging it up as well)
• Wash your hands with a trail soap or natural soap and rinse over bare sand or soil that can easily dissipate the water. (Soap is better than just using a hand sanitizer)

There are many natural options to use instead of toilet paper. You can use leaves, pine cones (sounds fun), stones, large twigs and shells. Whatever you use make sure it is not poisons or will irritate your skin.

You want to have good hygiene when in the wilderness. Good Hygiene doesn’t mean that you have to bath or shower every day, but it does mean that you are washing your hands after you poop in the woods, Every Time. A lot of campers and hikers get stomach illnesses because of fecal contamination and not because of contaminated water. By just washing your hands more often, with a natural soap or liquid trail soap, you will save yourself a lot of pain and discomfort. Do not dispose of soapy water in a water source and do not use a fresh water source to wash your hands in. Carry whatever water you are using to wash with at least 200 ft away from any water source. Wash and rinse with the water and dispose of it over soil or sandy ground, not on rocks or vegetation.

If done properly you can go away proud of your new learned skill satisfied in a “job” well done. You can walk proudly down the trail knowing that you have good hygiene, nobody spotted you in “the act” and with happy bowels. If you spend any good amount of time in the wilderness, before long you will become a pro and even come up with your very own techniques for pooping in the wilderness. Do you become anxious or embarrassed when you have to “go” in the wilderness? What special tricks do you use or have learned that might help others?