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

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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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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.

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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.

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Testing Winter Gear

Over Thanksgiving the nighttime temps were supposed to be in the single digits here in NY, so even though I was visiting family I still wanted to test some of my winter gear. I didn’t get my 0-degree rated over quilt from Hammock Gear until spring, so I was never really able to give it a good test. I figured this would be the perfect time. All Temps listed in this article are in Fahrenheit.

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Everyone else thought I was nuts wanting to sleep outside in those temps but all I could think about was testing some of my gear and honestly, I love how quiet and peaceful it is outside during the colder months.

So, I setup my DD Hammocks Superlight tarp. I placed my UST heavy duty reusable emergency blanket on the ground as my ground cloth.  I placed a foam pad down and then placed my Klymit insulated static V on top of that. I knew with that combination I shouldn’t feel any cold from the ground down to at least -10 or so.  I laid my 0 degree over quilt out and ran the sleeping pad shock cords around the sleeping pads so that the over quilt would stay put on top of the pads. It’s a nice handy feature for ground camping with an over quilt. I laid may Pathfinder wool blanket over everything just to keep everything safe and dry during the day. I wanted the wool blanket just in case the over quilt didn’t keep me warm.

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The first night went well. It only got down to 11 degrees overnight. I stayed warm all night. The only issue I had was that in the middle of the night the wind changed from blowing on the sides and back of the tarp to blowing right through the door opening. Since I had the wool blanket, I just threw it over top of everything to keep the wind from blowing in any holes between the sleeping pads and over quilt. The wool blanket did the trick. After waking up and remedying the wind issue I slept soundly the rest of the night. Since the temps never reached very low, I really didn’t view this night as much of a test.

The next night got down to 4 degrees overnight and I stayed toasty warm all night long. I even slept in until around 9:30 am so I’d say that was a success. Based on how warm I stayed I’m confident that this setup can get me down to at least -10 to -20. I think I can most likely get away with just the Klymit sleeping pad down to 0 degrees. I think the two pads together was overkill but who doesn’t like extra padding when ground camping?!

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I’m looking forward to doing some more testing and fine tuning of my winter gear. Eventually I’m hoping to get up into the Adirondacks for some winter camping this coming winter. One thing I didn’t like about my setup was the tarp configuration. It looks neat and all but it’s a pain getting in and out off, not roomy at all and since it’s so tight inside, condensation that builds up overnight is constantly getting on clothing and bedding because its impossible to move around without touching the tarp. I’m just not a fan of this tarp configuration. I’d go with something a little roomier so that I’m able to move around with ease without worry of touching the tarp “walls”. This is in no way a reflection on the tarp. I like this tarp a lot.

What does your winter kit look like? What pieces of winter gear are a must have for you? What winter gear are you testing for the first time this winter? What are the lowest temps you’ve camped in so far? Thanks for reading and please let me know what your thoughts are on winter camping or if you have any great winter camping stories to share. Be safe out there and enjoy each changing season.

Tarp Shelter

The tarp I used for this shelter was a Warbonnet Superfly Tarp with the tent pole mod. I originally bought the tarp to use with my hammock because it has “doors” which help block wind and rain out. Plus, with the tent pole mod it gives me extra head room. I’ve used it plenty of times with my hammock, and love it for that use, but this was the first time on the ground. I decided to use it on the ground instead of one of my other tarps because of the doors to block the wind out and because it would be roomier for two people with the tent pole mod. This tarp worked out great as a ground shelter. We dealt with high winds that constantly changed direction and the tarp held up great and kept the wind out with the help of the “doors”.

This tarp in conjunction with UST’s heavy-duty emergency blanket as a ground cloth are a great combination for a winning ground shelter or tarp shelter. If you are on the fence about getting one of these tarps it is well worth the money in my humble opinion. I love this tarp for hammocking and now for ground dwelling as well. I will most definitely be using this for a ground shelter again in the future. What’s your favorite tarp or tarp shelter and why? Thanks for reading and remember to get out and enjoy some wilderness time.

 

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The Hidden Woodsman Deepwoods Ruck

My dad and I have both purchased The Hidden Woodsman Deepwoods Ruck. Mine is mounted on a frame from http://www.tacticaltailor.com with their shoulder straps and hip belt. My dads is mounted on the military issue alice pack frame with straps and hip belt. It is definitely worth getting the straps and belt from Tactical Tailor. The pack rides so comfortably with all of the extra padding and padding coverage. My dad will definitely be upgrading soon. You can see bellow how much nicer the Tactical Tailor shoulder straps ride and cover than the military issue ones do.

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We both absolutely love these packs. There’s plenty of room for everything we prefer to carry. I like the sleeve on the front for carrying a small axe or hatchet and the molle webbing on top and bottom for adding sleeping pads or bedrolls as well as attaching most anything we’d want to. The side pockets have ample room for needed gear, first aid kits, cook kits, water bottles or whatever else you’d like to put in them. The separations inside the main compartment are perfect for my uses and not over done like a lot of packs these days. The quality of materials is also a plus. I like that I don’t have to worry about abrasions or being rough with this pack. I can hang it on a tree, set it on the ground or hike through dense wilderness or brush with no worries about it tearing holes in the pack.

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I can’t recommend this pack enough or any of the other quality gear I’ve purchased from http://www.thehiddenwoodsmen.com My dad and I are both looking forward to years of service from these packs. We both also own Dayrucks and like those as well. I use my Dayruck for warmer camping and wanted this pack for colder weather camping since I knew I’d want to carry more gear/clothing. Its also a huge plus to know that these packs were made not to far from where we live. I love supporting people that I’ve met, live in the same country as I do and that make high quality products. Hopefully you’ll be seeing these packs featured in photos of more trips over the coming years. If you own one of these packs, what are your thoughts about it? What do you like or not like about it? Thanks for reading and I hope you all get a chance to get out and enjoy some wilderness wandering.