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.

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.

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Automobile Winter Emergency Kit

With colder weather and snow rolling in, it’s time to get your vehicle setup with an emergency kit in case of a breakdown or accident. Accidents and breakdowns never happen at a convenient time. Worse yet is to be stuck during a bad winter storm when there’s accidents happening all over and it’s hard for emergency vehicles to get around and they’re overwhelmed. During those times you’ll have no choice but to take care of yourself or loved ones until help arrives. So, now’s the time to prepare an emergency kit and get it in your vehicle.

Here’s some ideas of things you may want to put in your emergency kit.

  • Wool Blanket or Winter Sleeping Bag
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Emergency Candle (2 or 3)
  • Lighter
  • Folding Knife with Glass breaker
  • Protein Bars or any type of snack bar
  • Fill up a bottle of water and put it in the car every time you go somewhere. You can’t leave a bottle of water in the car all winter because it will constantly freeze and thaw eventually breaking the bottle. (At least where I live anyways)
  • 2-3 Flares
  • Jumper Cables
  • Book and or Card Game
  • Warm Clothing and Boots (For those that by virtue of their job, don’t get to dress warm)

 

Get in the habit of plugging your phone into the charger as soon as you get into your vehicle. Try to keep your phone charged up when traveling. The last thing anyone wants is a dead phone when you need to make an emergency call.

If you do find yourself in an accident (where no one is seriously hurt) or broken down, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you are prepared in case of a long wait for emergency crews. Remember, for your own safety, to stay put inside your vehicle well waiting for help. What extra things do you carry in your automobile winter emergency kit? Thanks for reading and be safe out there this winter.

Quick Tip #20

If you’re tired of getting smoke in your face and wasting your breath get yourself a V3-pocket bellows. They are awesome! It will help direct your air exactly where you want it to go and you can get a longer sustained blow. Instead of having only a little of your breath of air actually reach the dying fire you can now have all of it reach the base of the fire with no smoke in the face or burnt eye brows.

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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?

Winter Car Kit

With colder weather gripping many of us this is a good time to take a look at putting together a few things to keep in your vehicle, if you haven’t already, in case of a vehicle break down or you get stuck on impassable roads. This is especially important for areas that get bitter temps and lots of snow. These items could be lifesaving or at the very least make you more comfortable well you wait for help to arrive. What each person chooses to carry in their vehicle will depend on the location they live and travel in as well as their needs. This is just a base list to work from and please cater it to your own needs and environment. This list will assume that you already have some sort of road hazard kit.

 

Basic Vehicle Kit

Sleeping Bag or wool blanket: Because I already own a -15 degree sleeping bag, instead of taking up storage space somewhere in the house, I store it in my truck in case of a breakdown. This way if it’s really cold out and I know I’m going to be stuck for a while, or even overnight, I can just slide into my sleeping bag and stay much more comfortable and warmer than if I only had a blanket or lite sleeping bag. In warmer areas a blanket or lite sleeping bag will work fine but for the area where I live I need a heavier sleeping bag.

Flash Light with fresh batteries: Preferably you would want a headlamp so your hands would be free to do other things. Having some sort of light is too valuable not to keep a working light in your vehicle. Make sure whatever light you use, works and has fresh batteries. You may want to even pack some spare batteries as well.

Food and Water: A simple bag of jerky, trail mix, dried fruit or anything you can come up with will work. If you get stuck somewhere overnight or longer you will be thankful you have some food and a couple bottles of water available.
A Book or deck of cards: These will add in keeping you from becoming bored or mentally breaking down. Being able to have something to do well waiting for help, will help keep your spirits up and you’ll be less likely to become overwhelmed by your situation.

 

Extra Items

*These are things that you don’t necessarily need, but they will make an overnight or longer breakdown “easier” to survive.

Weather radio: You’ll be aware of the weather and what’s going on as well as not necessarily feeling alone.Emergency blanket: This will help reflect heat. This is on top of having a sleeping bag or blanket.
Hand and Feet warmers
Knife with possible added fire kit
Some sort of cordage
Emergency candle
Extra medication

 

This is just a simple list to give you some ideas of what to keep in your vehicle during the colder winter months. Again please adjust it to your own needs and environment. Just by having a basic kit (sleeping bag, light, food and water) it will drastically improve your spirits and comfort. One thing I recommend doing, and you might already do this, is to plug your cell phone into its charger every time you get into your car to head somewhere during the winter. This way, if for some reason you break down, whether you are way out in the middle of nowhere, or on a busy street somewhere, you won’t be pulling your cell phone out to call for help and find that it’s dead or low on battery power. I hope this helps in some way, or it at least gives you some ideas of what to place in your car kit during these cold winter months. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable winter. Please feel free to share what you keep in your car kit and why. Thanks for reading!