Monday, November 10, 2014

What to do this winter

Well winter has come a little early here in the Land of 10,000 lakes. Today brought our first snow fall of the season. A sticky, heavy, wet 6-8 inches or so.

To go along with my last post regarding Experience vs. Knowledge  may I offer a suggestion? How about taking some classes in bush craft skills online?  What if I told you they were completely free? sound too good to be true? Think again, my friends.

One of the best forums out there that pertains to bush crafting is Bushcraft USA, the link can be found on the sideboard of my blog. There are so many great threads on that board it's unbelievable. Trip reports, gear threads, vendors, and much more. One of the best features is Bush Class.

Bush Class USA

Bush class is an online course offering various classes on skills and techniques ranging from the basics through intermediate and advanced skills. They are taught mainly by Terry Barney of the Midwest School of Bushcraft. Terry is also a former Air Force Survival Instructor.  While Terry is the main man, many of the courses are taught by other amazing members of the forum.

These classes are done on your own time with no pressure. To earn your certification in each of the three levels you submit pictures or video of your completed class in the appropriate threads. In addition each to the skills each course requires a number of outings, many of which are "overnighters". They don't have to be done in order but one class does build on another so it is easier and makes more sense to do so.

Personally I wont be winter camping this year so my over nighters will wait until the spring thaw, but I will try to get out for some outings to hone skills during some of the milder days ahead.  The classes themselves, aside from those requiring fire craft can be done in the comfort of your own home, mostly.

A great way to gain some valuable experience with some skills to have if ever you should need them.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Knowledge vs. Experience

Facebook, for better or worse, created some really good discussion today  among my friends.  A few of them stumbled upon an online quiz to determine how long they would last in a survival situation.  While some of the questions were quite good, many of them were of the sort where the "right" answer would be easy to determine by the actual questions.

After a few points about how plant/pollen allergies would make thriving in the wild impossible for a couple of them even though they scored well, one friend had a very good observation.  She stated something about scoring well because she watches a lot of the survival shows on cable so she knew the answers. She then stated she wouldn't actually do as well as her score indicted because while she may KNOW how to survive she has no EXPERIENCE in a survival situation. Her skills are all theory and not actual practice.

I'm hoping that this post will act as a nudge for me in the coming long cold Minnesota Winter months to keep up with some skill practice.  I live in the city. The winters are long and cold here and it is very easy to curl up on the warm couch with television and the internet and while away the hours.

Ordinary days

This post, while I hope others will read, is mainly here as a reminder to me. A quick note to remind us to take note of even "ordinary" days. I'm just a budding blogger, starting out and hoping that I get better and better with each post. I'm not the story teller I want to be just yet, still perfecting my skills as a wordsmith.

The idea, then, is to take note of the small things, the ordinary things, we find outside and write about them.  Lets take a moment when we can, to notice things. On our way out to the car in the morning, or standing at the bus stop, walking the corner store, whatever. Perhaps, if we go out with the intent of writing about our experiences we might enhance them. We might become more observant, more critical, heighten our awareness even. We may think of things in a new way, question things we thought we knew, not to mention learn new things. Anything is possible.

If I can train my brain to the point that when I am out on a hike or a simple walk around the block or impromptu outing to look for interesting things...well I might just find them!

To me this is similar to my reason for taking a camera with me when ever I can. Hoping that I will take a picture that will rekindle the experience or feelings that I felt at the time of the photo.

Who know, if we take these notes and write them down someone, our family or students might look on these quick notes and observations and find them fascinating.

Now. To give credit where it is do, what got me on this topic was an article I found in the July-August edition of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine. It's put out by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and I absolutely love this magazine. This particular issue opens with an editorial by the editor in chief, Kathleen Weflen and its called "Take Note of Ordinary days". It speaks in more depth on just what I've blogged here and its what sparked this post.

Soon the weather here in the Northstar state is going to get down right cold. When we are bundled up like arctic explorers quick stepping into the next warm shelter or store I can't honestly say I will be able to notice much. From now until then, and as soon as I get acclimated again, I will endeavor to take better note, and post them here, of "ordinary" days.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hey folks,

Well I finally scored at the local thrift stores after what feels like years of searching for outdoors gear. I saw the big pot with lid and bail on the shelf with a $5.99 price tag and was already happy with the find. I was completely surprised when I picked it up and it felt heavy.  I popped it open and, well you can see in the pictures what I found inside. I put a death grip on my find and headed right for the register, worried a little that they would tell me that it was priced wrong when I got to the check out.  It feels like the same metal military cook sets are made from, aluminum I'm guessing?  No stamps or other identifying marks anywhere on the set so if you have a clue about who or what the set is, please share.

On to the pictures!

The pot as I found it on the shelf. It's big, easily holds a gallon or more of liquid. On sight I thought if nothing else I could collect and boil water in it at a family or hunting campsite.

This is what I saw when I popped the lid!

All pulled out. all the pots and lids have a slot for the handle attachment and most of the pots have what I am calling bail nubs on them. Little protrusions that a wire bail can be attached to. 5  drinking cups, 1 collapsible cup, 5 - medium sized plates, 1 handle that fits all the pots and lids, the big pot and lid everything fits in, and 3 other pots and a lid. The numbers work out perfectly as I have the wife and I and three kids in the immediate family.

A previous owner even did a mod on this pot to add a pour spout.

A final shot of just the pots and lids.

From feedback on some forums these sets were made by various manufacturers. Some have mentioned that they are very similar to cook sets designed for boy/girl scouts. I'm still on the look out for good cast iron pieces but the Chow hall is that much closer to being fully set!

Thanks for looking, and thanks ahead of time if you have any info to share.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I just celebrated a birthday in late September and I decided to get myself a little gift. As I believe I have mentioned before I have a large quantity of Military Surplus gear, thanks to a long career in the Army. I've been trying to collect a few more...traditional...pieces of gear as of late.

 For over a year now I've had my eye on a little canvas and leather version of a dump pouch. A dump pouch is a piece of kit some soldiers and the like use to throw empty rifle magazines in to quickly collect them up. Often it is a collapsible pouch the folds up to a small size, easily kept out of the way of other gear. Well, I found a craftsman who makes a beautifully done leather and canvas version and ordered one.

John from Badger Claw Leatherworks makes many fine leather and waxed canvas goods and has built a solid reputation as a sheath maker for custom and production knives. John is a skilled craftsman whose talent with design and craftsmanship is evident with even just a casual look at the products on his sight,  The transaction between us went flawlessly on his part. I received my pouch about 3 days after he shipped it. Probably would have come sooner had I not delayed the process by not sending the correct payment on my first go.

The item I ordered was the Bushcrafter's Dump Pouch. It is a waxed leather and canvas collapsible pouch with stainless steel hardware. The pouch rides nicely on a belt and stays out of the way until needed. There is a decent sized fire steel loop an a nice steel D- ring for external attaching. Keep in mind anything attached to the ring will be obstructed by the full pouch when it is opened.

This photo shows me wearing the pouch just in front of my Turley Green River. You can see how compact it is and you can just make out the D-ring on the bottom right near my pocket.

In the top pic you can see the fire steel loop better. That steel was a last minute add for the photo, in real use I will have it tied off by a lanyard. The bottom picture shows it fully opened.  In actual use, I pushed the pouch around to the front of my belt more so it rested more on the front of my thigh.

I wore the pouch out on a quick little hike around the woods near the cabin. Figured if I was planning to use it as a foraging pouch I had better do some foraging. Found some thistle down still on the plant, a hand full of acorns but I could have had as many as I want, and some birch bark. 1 hand full of each barely started to take up much room in the pouch. It has plenty of size to hold tinder, foraged edibles, interesting rocks, etc...

This picture shows how the retaining strap snaps inside the pouch to help secure it...and another shot of my Turley Green River knife ;)

A better shot of the back of the pouch. That belt loop is very generous, I'm guessing a 2" belt would slide right in just fine. You can also see how that D-ring is covered when the pouch is opened.

I'm completely satisfied with my Bushcraft Dump Pouch from Badger Claw Leatherworks. If you are in the market for quality leather or canvas goods with a more traditional styling, you could do much worse than checking out John and his work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Camp News!

Hey all,

Quick update on whats happening here. Had a really Good Summer up at the cabin and I do have pics to post in the near future. I've located my camera's mini USB cord now so I can download again!

Had the kids with me up at the lake quite a bit. Lot's of firsts in fishing and the girls even learned to tool around in the kayaks a little bit.

Fishing was better than it has been in quite some time, even started to see some Northern Pike in the lake on a regualr basis. One particularly clever one set up under our dock most of the year living off the "dock Sunnies" that always hang out there.

It was fun to see my oldest girls reaction as she was reeling in a Sunny and that ol Pike took a shot at it. She almost threw her pole in the water!

I'm getting my youngest, the Lad out of the cabin and intothe woods/water more too. He'll come along just fine I'm sure. I've got another entry planned, "Herbology 100" on a few of the natural plant remedies a good friend of mine found when we took a wlak around the cabin and driveway.

And coming from the chow hall will be an entry on some wild raspberry/ Rhubarb jam I'll be cooking up soon!

Stay with me! But get out doors and take a friend!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hey all,

I'm getting out and about again and should have more content to add here soon. Been working on some kits and gear and should have more reviews and some load outs to show soon. There will be more from the Chow Hall, too, as I experiment with some new diabetic friendly bushcraft meals.

One trip/hike is in the works. I plan to start hiking some sections of the North Country Scenic Trail. Check it out, it is a National trail, Similar to the great Appalachian Trail. This one runs from North Dakota all the way to New York. Fortunately for me it passes about 20 minutes north of my family cabin. I got a couple of maps from the trail association and I found several really good day hikes and possible overnighters.

Keep watching!