Monday, June 11, 2018

More Bushclass!

Yesterday lit a fire under me. I completed one more requirement for the Basic course of Bushclass. This one was honestly pretty easy for me. I had all the materials close at hand in various kits and nooks around the lodge. This lesson was to light 5 man made tinders using a ferro rod. Here are the photos.


Not sure why that photo is rotated... Anyway, the tinders shown are Jute twine, a Wetfire cube, soem dryer lint, a piece of Tinderquick, and the big white blob is a Petroleum Jelly Cottonball (PJC).

I managed to get them all lit with the ferro rod. Some were way harder than I thought they would be. I found that I needed to scrape shaving from the Wetfire cube to get it to light, some of the other tinders were already out when I got it going. It did, however burn the biggest and longest, all that flame on the upper right of the phot is from the cube. The jute twine and dryer lint took the spark well but burned quickly. The Tinderquick burned so fast it may already be out in the photo. The PJC did as well as it always does, a good burn with plenty of time to get what you needed lit.

For me, I'll keep packing Wetfire cubes in all my packs and kits because they really are good at fire starting. They take a flame from a lighter or a match super easy but if you are using a ferro rod you WILL need too scrape it up a bit. Also the PJCs will also stay in all my kits. They last forever, pack very small and have uses other than as a tinder.

Thanks again!


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Bushcraft USA Bushclass!

Evening folks,

The weather here Up North is great right now. Perfect time to get out and enjoy all MN has to offer this time of year.  To have a little purpose in my adventures I am finally going to settle down and COMPLETE my Bushclass Basic course from the Bushcraft USA forums. I've been a memeber there since 2012 and have attempted to start the basic class several times but found excuses to not complete it. This year I aim to knock it out, and as a way of accountability, I'm going to post my progress here in the blog.

For those who may not know, Bushcraft USA is a great forum (link in my sidebar) for anyone interested in Bushcraft, survival, homesteading, preparedness, camping..and anything else of this sort.

Some of my favorite parts of the forum are the pictures, the sharing of skills, and just hearing what it's like to be outdoors in other parts of the country. By that I mean how each geographic area is different, and how they are the same.

Bushclass is an online, at your own pace, course on, well, bushcraft! Skills and techniques to take with you to the field to help make your stay easier.  The course is the brain child of Terry Barney. Terry is a former Air Force Survival Instructor and all around font of knowledge in all things outdoors. I'd say he's probably the best skills instructor that the mainstream hasn't heard of.

Anyway, Terry put together a course of skills that anyone can take FOR FREE. There are three levels of the course: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each course has a set of requirements, some electives to choose from and, the best part, outings you have to perform in order to complete each level.  You photograph or take video of your progress and post it to the appropriate page in the forum to receive your credit for completion.

I'm working on my Basic level, I've already knocked out 2 of the requirements I will post photos of below. Here are the requirements for this level:

• Shavings and feather sticks
• 5 man-made tinders
• Twig fire
• 4 basic knots
• Basic tarp shelter
• ID 5 trees and list 2 uses for each
• Make bannock by fire
• 2 strand twist of man-made cordage
• 3 strand braid of man- made cordage
• Knife sharpening
• Make an improvised cooking implement
• Make a pot hook
• Make a simple snare
• Do 5 elective lessons

The "Final Exam" for this level is to go on 5 outings, one of which has to be an overnighter. Again, photos and/ or videos of your outings to show what you know.

I've completed 2 of the requirements for the Basic level so far.

The snare
And 4 basic knots

The figure 8 on a bight

The Sheetbend

Tautline Hitch

And finally, two half hitches

Ok, there is my kick off. If you're interested in the Bushcraft course, I just included a link to the first page in the forum.  

I hope you stay with me!

Comments are a great way to help motivate me along the way!


Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

I hope everyone had time to get out this weekend and enjoy themselves. The weather here in MN was gorgeous, but we are in the middle of a heat wave! We've had 4 days of 85-90F + here. barely 5 weeks ago we had a foot and a half of snow dumped on us!

Anyway, as I said I hope you had a great long weekend, I also hope you gave at least some thought to those men and women of our Armed Forces who gave their lives in service to our Country. Without whom we would not have this holiday.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Rule of 3 part 2

Back with part 2. I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.

In my first post I spoke of shelter, our first priority in a survival situation. Remember we are using the scenario of heading out on a day hike. Only expecting to be gone a few hours but something happens and you are out overnight.

Now, if you were lucky you started to hydrate before you left on your trip by drinking plenty of water. Good old H2O. Camlebak used the slogan “Hydrate or Die” and, as we know, this is true. So if we start the day before, event eh night before and just…drink water. You don’t have to force hydrate in most cases, just simply up your water intake a bit.  Like we talked about with your clothes being your first line of shelter, being hydrated before your trip is a good base line. You don’t want to set out and already be mildly dehydrated.

Now, your planning your outing you’ve picked out suitable clothes and been drinking water but your still going to need water ON your trip. Simple answer, bring a water bottle. My local thrift shop has stainless steel bottles for sale very cheap. Nalgene bottles are still readily available and work great. Some folks like to bring a Camelbak type product. Some of the packs are of a good enough size and have pockets that you could make a day pack out of them easily.

 Even just stopping off at a convenience store on your way to your hike you can get a bottle of water, a bag of trail mix, some beef jerky and, my favorite, a Snickers bar. Don’t forget to grab a bright colored bic lighter at the check out too J.

Bottom line, water is too important not to bring along on any hike.

I’ll be back with more!


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Survival rule of 3

This post is kind of a basic survival 101.  Knowledge is power, especially in survival situations as well as in bushcraft. Mors Kochanski has been quoted as saying something to the tune of the more you know the less you have to carry. Great advice.  Survival is just that, a situation that you may find yourself in which your very existence is on the line. Bushcraft is similar, I think. You take to the woods and use your knowledge and skills to make your self comfortable.  There is some cross over here for sure. The skills and techniques I practice in Bushcraft could very much come in to play in a survival situation.

on to the Rules of 3

1st - you can survive 3 minutes with out air. This is a no brainer to me. We breathe air and thus we need it to live. No oxygen and we die, simple as that. When you search up survival rules of 3 this one seems to come up first always so I include it here but come on....this is basic.

1. You can survive 3 hours in an extreme or harsh environment.
2. You can survive 3 days with out water.
3. You can survive 3 weeks with out food.

There they are. 3 simple rules but if you can't meet them, you die. Another survival rule of three is similar but slightly different. These three are in order of importance.

1. Shelter
2. Water
3. Fire

Slightly different but still very similar. I roll water and food in together as #2 with more importance placed on water of course.  These are 3 basics that will let you survive a situation until rescue or you find your way back if lost.

So, what does this mean from a survival stand point. well, you can help yourself before you even set out. You can have a car kit in your trunk or way back in your car. A 5 gallon bucket with a blanket, some bottle of water and a bit of food could make all the difference in a winter emergency. Your car itself can act as shelter.

Lets look at those last 3 on an even more basic scenario. Your going on a day hike. Nothing crazy, out for a few hours and then back. Something happens and now your out over night. For this I'll assume lost and not injured as that is a whole other barrel of monkeys.

Well, we can help ourselves with shelter right away with what we choose to wear. Our clothing can be our first level of shelter. Dress for the weather of course, Bring something along for just in case. I'd recommend some good cargo type pants. Something with good pockets and belt loops. I'd aslo wear a good sturdy belt and a belt knife or mulitool of some kind. If you don't want to wear a knife, a pocket knife in your pocket is a great idea. A moisture wicking top if hiking in war weather will help control body temperature during the hike.  Carrying a light weight jacket,a rain poncho/ tarp,  or even a sweatshirt can make a huge difference if your day hike suddenly turns in to an over nighter or a weekender.

 In the Winter you may need to bring along something more substantial, heavy coat, underwear, etc... location dependent. That means what I bring for a winter emergency here in Minnesota may be different than someone in Arkansas.

Alright I'll leave this here for now and we will return in the next post and take about part 2 Water.

Hey, let me know what you think, leave a comment or a suggestion.

Thanks for coming along.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

What happened to the good old Leatherman?

Rewind to the year 1991.  I was stationed in Ft. Richardson, AK.  At the time I was a young Infantryman in Bco (Mad Dogs) 1-17th IN.  Just about every one of us had a multitool on our belts daily. That tool was the Leatherman.  It's name was a brand standard like Kleenex or Fed ex. You didn't ask your buddy for his multi-tool when you needed it, you asked for his leatherman.  It had everything you could need on a regular basis: pliers, a good knife blade, a file, screwdrivers tips. It was awesome.  I remember it had a little tip that was awesome at getting the carbon off of the bolt on an M16A2.

I used mine daily whether we were in garrison or the field.  There was always a use for it.  On a deployment to the Philippines I gave mine to a counterpart. A tough as nails Phil Corporal who could drink beer with the best of us and showed me how to live in the field on the islands. I figured I'd just pick up another one when I got back to Rich at the PX, no big deal.  Long story short, I forgot.

A few months later I was stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC with the 82nd.  there were options now in the multi-tool department. Gerber had one out know that could deploy it pliers with just  quick flick of the wrist.  I decided to give that one a try.  It worked just fine, in fact I noticed over the years soldiers changed from asking for a Leatherman to asking for a Gerber... Times change. I'm not sure where mine ended up, a few years later and we were even issued them from Uncle Sam.  I still have one in my OTIS cleaning kit too.

early this year, 2018, I got to thinking that I really wanted to have a multi-tool on hand again for day to day needs.  I searched up Leatherman again as it was the original and the one I liked the best. To my surprise the original model is available again!  I can get an original PST for the low low price of $245!!!  No way in hell.

 I was really surprised that the original model was not still widely available.  Leatherman DOES have quite a number of models available in several sizes. The Wave, the Surge, the Sidekick, all have great tool features and wonderful curves and lines to them. I wanted the classic though, just as I remembered it. 

I was happy to find a model that was very close to the PST and decided it would be the one I wanted.  The Rebar.  It has 17 tools on it as opposed to the original PST's 14. It has pliers, wire cutters, crimpers, wire stripper, ruler, knife blade, serrated knife blade, a file, a saw, and several screw driver blades....

I found one on ebay for less than half the MSRP shipped only missing a sheath. I ordered it up and got in my happy hands this past Tuesday.

I'll be happily using it from now on. I'll post up a quick review of it later on this year as I've out it through it's paces.

If you are interested in Leatherman products, here is the link to their home page.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A boy's first knife

It's an important time in a young boy's life when he gets his first pocket knife. 

My first pocket knife was a two blade jack knife. It had a brown handle with small silver shield on the handle. My Grandfather took me down to our local Target store and we picked it out.  I was 7 years old. I was SO proud. Then I screwed up and lost it.  I had it in my pocket, where it had lived from the day it was given to me. I was playing at a friends house when it fell out. My "friend" grabbed it up from the ground and ran inside his house. I ran after begging him to "Give it back!" He didn't. In fact he lied to his Mom and told her he didn't have my knife. His older sister took his side too, even though she knew he did have it.  I was beside myself crying. I walked slowly home and sat on  he front steps feeling awful.  A few minutes later the older sister came up the street on her bike. She said something about giving back my knife and she threw it. From the street. My heart leaped at the idea that I would get my most treasured item back! She didn't throw it very hard and it fell into the street before it got to me. It fell in to the street and right down a storm drain. I was crushed.

In the short time I did have that knife I had the wonderful experience of sharing time with Grandpa. We sat in his back yard and whittled away at the many maple branches that fell from the huge tree in the yard. Even now I can remember how smooth those twigs and branches felt after we stripped them of their bark. The fresh green scent that came up from the bark curls gathered around our feet.  I knew I was doing something with Grampa that"kid stuff". This was important stuff, grown up stuff. Even at that young age I could feel the seriousness of handling a pocket knife safely.

Tonight I had the privilege of working with a group of cub scouts on their Bear Claws adventure. We learned safe handling and care for pocket knives. How to cut with their knives, how to sharpen, even the correct way to hand their knife to someone else.  I don't know if they picked up on the seriousness of the lessons, I know from the smiles and nods I received their Dads and Grand Dads did.

Pictured at the beginning of this post is my son's first pocket knife, an Opinel No. 6.