Friday, December 19, 2008


With our recent snowstorms I have been thinking about the power of observation. My wife noted some tracks out in the backyard and asked what they were. Most likely a cat I said. I went on to explain that cats tracks seem to meander more than dogs do.

There are other observations to be made in the snow as well.

Snow will obviously melt on south facing slopes, but also on the south western side of exposed boulders.

There are ways to tell some really specific things about the weather, both on the ground and up in the atmosphere, but closely observing snowflakes.

Since wind can be a killer in the white months, when looking for a shelter, look around for prevailing wind direction. You will not bare patches, drifts and "frozen waves" or "dunes."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Still here

Well, it has been a looooong time since I last wrote here.

For my loyal reader out there..... I apologize.

I wasn't much of a backcountry hunter this fall. Or much of a hunter for that matter. Elk hunting was disappointing. Lots of other hunters about, no elk sighted or heard, but I did find some sign. Anyway, I ended up being so discouraged and had such a bad migraine, I came home early. I also found a nice little watering hole, but it was really brushed in and I couldn't figure out how to really hunt it effectively. I am sure the bulls were wallowing in it as the rut heated up. Alas, it was pretty clear when I was there, indicating it was just being used for drinking

And I haven't been too motivated to get out much since then. I'll blame it on the wife.... she is pregnant and I didn't want to leave her for extended lengths of time. And gas prices.... it's not worth it to drive an hour to hunt for two and come right back. And a new job... I didn't have any paid time off until recently. Anyway you slice it I didn't get out much.

But there still is time. I'll get out for rabbits I am sure, and birds, especially ducks, should start heating up with the coming colder, wetter weather.

I have a handful of projects for the dark winter evenings as well. I am planning a bowfishing- exploring boat.... a pirogue as a matter of fact. They are a cross between a canoe and a flat bottom jon boat. I am also continuing to work on a good, durable alcohol stove. And I have a knife that is now almost completely sheathed as well as one more puukko blade. Also I am going to attempt a fire piston! I found some good directions here, although I think I will end up "dressing up" mine a bit with some exotic wood scraps leftover from bows. And speaking of bows, I need to get going on a basic bowfishing model for the spring....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Finished a new knife...

to go along with the longbow I made last year. I am pleased with how it turned out and it should hold an edge better than one of my purely homemade knives...

Fancy equipment

This is going to make it tough to justify to my wife exactly why it is that I need that new high dollar fly fishing rod:

Photo: NC Wildlife Resources Commision

(From WNCN, Raleigh)
WILKES COUNTY, N.C. — A backyard angler has bagged the state’s record channel catfish using a 2½-foot hot pink Barbie Doll rod and reel.

David Hayes caught the record-breaking fish from a private pond while fishing early this month with his granddaughter, Alyssa, 3. The 21-pound, 1-ounce catfish measured 32 inches long — 2 inches longer than the Barbie Doll fishing pole. “After catching two or three bluegill, Alyssa turns to me and says: ‘Papa, I’ve got to go to the bathroom. Hold my fishing rod,’” Hayes was quoted as saying in a news release from the state Wildlife Resources Commission.
“A few minutes later, the float went under, and I saw the water start boiling up — I knew right then that I had my hands full with that fishing rod.”
It took Hayes about 25 minutes to land the fish, which measured 22½ inches in girth. Hayes said that once he got it to the bank, he was pretty certain his channel cat would exceed the previous state record, an 18-pound, 5-ounce fish caught in August 2007.
The fish was weighed on certified scales at a nearby grocery store, and a fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Resources Commission certified that Hayes was right. — WNCN, Raleigh, N.C.


One of those things that all outdoorsmen (and by that I mean the women are included as well.) should know is knots. Just like tools, there is a knot for the job. And when you use the right knot, the job becomes easier. Take rock climbing, for example. While I don't climb very much any more, I have in the past. The ubiquitous knot in rock climbing is the figure 8 knot. You could use a simple overhand in some of the situations where a figure 8 is used, but a "8" is a better choice because it can be "broken" after it has been loaded and more easily untied.

With that in mind, my list of "must know" knots:
#1: Overhand. The most basic knot. The building block for most knots.
#2: The square or reef knot. Strong, but still basic. Lots of applications.
#3: Bowline. Pronounced "beau-lin" if you want to sound salty. Again, loads of applications.
#4: Prussik. Anything from self recovery to tightening your tarp setup.
#5: The other basic knot, the girth hitch. Most hitches are a variation of this single knot, but this will get you through much more than an overhand will.
And #6: Monkey's fist. Just because it is cool.

Check out Grog's animated knots for some excellent tutorials on various knots.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hunting area pictures

I thought I'd share some pictures of the area around where I am planning on hunting next month. At this time I don't have anything more specific, but after I return from the woods I will.... until then, enjoy these!

Knife Techniques

I found another great video of knife techniques. This one is by a great outfit up in Washington called "Bushcraft Northwest." I particularly like their videos because of the similarities to where I hunt, fish, hike and wander... enjoy!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

I have been busy.

Busy trying not to get too dehydrated. Trying to stay cool. Trying to get my six mile run time down to around 40 minutes. Trying to thin out my outdoors gear, think through what I'll be taking on this year's elk safari.

I have also been scouting from afar. I am trying a new place for elk this year, a different elk zone entirely. It began, I suppose, last year when the hunting was good (it always is), but the locating elk wasn't so good. So I had it in mind to maybe try something new next year. I began by wiping the slate clean and looking at past hunting stats in Idaho. What areas had the highest success rates? What areas had the most hunters? With that info, I narrowed it down, and made a few phone calls and emails. I scoured my maps. I narrowed it down further. And while I am not 100% certain where exactly I'll be, I think that might be an advantage from previous years. I have some flexibility built in.

But at the same time, these are the dog days of summer. In a lot of ways, I have a harder time with this period each year than I do with cold snaps in the dead of winter... It can be hard to stay motivated and get ready for an upcoming hunt when it's too hot to go outside.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Single Bevel Broadheads

As hunters it seems to be a paradox that we want to take the life of an animal, yet we (and perhaps this isn't true of all hunters, but the vast majority of them it is) want the life to be ended painlessly, quickly and to that end, there is a lot that goes into our planning.

One of the tid bits I have been mulling over in my head the last few years is new information concerning single bevel broadheads. It is a topic of discussion, at times bordering on heated debate among traditional bowhunters. Ongoing research has been spearheaded by Dr. Ed Ashby, a retired optician out of Australia.

In a condensed version, a single bevel broadhead twists into the animal, using the forces created by the single bevel to cause quite a bit of torque.

Because of the torque, it has been shown that it can cause bone breaks in critical near hits on leg and shoulder bones. It also effectively creates a larger wound channel in soft flesh by creating a "wrapping" effect as it is twisting.

I encourage you to read a bit about the doc's research here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Backcountry Food

I have been thinking about my meals lately. I love to cook. I love to eat. For me, meals are best eaten with good company or while camping (that big, generic term that could mean anything from a monstrous- big RV in a non wilderness setting to an ultralight off trail backpacking trip). Hotdogs and cold spring water taste like the finest French cuisine when cooked on a willow stick over a fire.

But when you are in the backcountry, and what you carry is how you get your daily energy, taste moves down (just a little) on the list of importance, ease of cooking and weight move up. There is a delicate balance between caloric intake, physical weight of the food, amount of fuel needed to cook the food and taste.

On my bookshelf are several outdoor cookbooks. Much more than just gorp recipes, there is some really good tasting stuff, high in nutritional value, that are lightweight. Go check some out at your local library. I guarantee you'll find something you like. And as a side bonus, most of the time it will save you money over freeze dried foods.

And as for cooking the food, that's where quite a bit of my thoughts on this year's trips have gone. When I was in high school I bought a Coleman multifuel stove. It worked great. I was in love with the fact that it could burn just about anything. Jet fuel? Sure! Kerosene? You bet... white gas.... just about anything in a pinch. I envisioned myself trekking across the globe, using whatever fuel was local. Great stove, simple to operate, somewhat compact, but it was heavy. And you had to prime it.

And then I bought a MSR Whisperlight international. Also able to burn just about anything that is flammable, it was lighter weight. I still had to prime it, but it was more compact. The burner also detached from the fuel canister which was a little more flexible in terms of packing. A good stove that could simmer. It's drawbacks included being a bit too fussy for me.

Next came a small little stove that runs on butane canisters.... it fits in the palm of your hand, weighs very little, includes a piezo electric starter (no more matches, except for backup!).

But my newest stove is going to be one of these. A "penny stove." Simple to make. Extremely lightweight. No noise, which I REALLY like, all of the above stoves sound like a jet plane. Durability, which I value very highly, might not be as good, but as long as I am careful, I don't think it will be an issue.

They also have some recipes I am looking forward to trying.

Here are some more recipe links:
One Pan Wonders
Packing list and recipes
This one has some great ideas. Cooked in boiling water, freezer bag recipes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bucket list

By now we've all either seen the movie "the Bucket List" or know what it's about.

Do you have your own bucket list? Of outdoorsy things to do before you kick the bucket? Learn 100 useful knots or tie one perfect monkey's fist? Learn how to get your knife razor sharp or learn how to make a bamboo flyrod? Land a 20# bass or kill a 6X6 bull elk in a fair chase hunt? Caribou, moose, coues deer, bighorn sheep, turkey slam....?

The list could go on for a long, long time. Much longer than most of us have the finances, much less the time, to do.

I am working on mine. I'd like to challenge you to work on yours. Evaluate your priorities. Take a look at your future, family, finances, and what you would have to sacrifice to get it done. I'd love to hear from you, so after you figure out your bucket list, drop me a line!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Map and compass

I have been brushing up on my map and compass backcountry navigation skills lately. This skill, I believe is in the top three skills in any woodscrafter, hunter, hiker, fisherman, bushcrafter, etc., should know.

Here are some good sites:

Backcountry Navigation


Great full fledged lesson on land nav

Orienteering is fun. Here's how to do it.

Youtube video making life with a compass easier to understand!

Navigation with a compass and a map is easy. It is a few simple bits and pieces of information and skills, thats all. The more you do it, the more you think about it, the easier and more intuitive it is.

So get out there!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Daypack for elk

Whats in your backpack? On the various archery forums, this question comes up several times a year. Everyone is different. Every hunted area is different as well, slowly going from vast expanses here in the west to small woodlots in the east. Some like a buttpack, others a backpack. Some like branch clippers, others a saw, and some, none at all. There are those who strap their knife on the belt, grab the bow and go, maybe stuffing a granola bar in a pocket. Then there are those who bring everything possible to the tree stand, hauling up a monster sized backpack that weighs as much as they do. It all depends on the area you are going to hunt and your level of woodsmanship and comfort.

Here's what I take, give or remove an item here and there as it is forgotten or not needed.

Starting with the backpack and going clockwise:

The backpack is a Kelty Cougar. Great daypack. Comfy straps, just enough organizing pockets, hydration bladder compatible, it's the right size for me, and it has quiet fabric.

I carry some camo blind material, a couple legths of rope and two cloths pins. Obviously to set up a quick blind when there isn't brush to utilize or to augment what is available. Weights about 8 oz.

I also sometimes have an inflatable cushion. It is rolled up just below the blind material. Weighs less than a pound.

Binoculars and a bino harness. Currently it's either some smallish 8 power Bruntons or (shown) a set of 10x42 Leopolds.

Hat. Depends on the day, but shown is an oilcloth pack hat.

Enzo trapper knife (on belt).

Matches in a waterproof case. It also has a backup compass. This is in a pocket, dummy corded to my belt.

Map and compass. In a pocket and again dummy corded.

Toilet paper. Self explanatory, but also serves as a fire starter and trail marker (which, unlike surveyor's tape, decomposes quickly). In a ziplock.

The five small articles are duct tape (blister prevention, gear repair, etc.), burnt cork (face camo that comes off when its time to) and a bic lighter. Some bullion packs to make some hot drinks if need be. Good stew base as well. Water pure pills. Potable aqua.

A small pot for boiling water, drinking, etc. It doesn't have a lid, I wish it did, and the handles flap, so they are rubber banded down.

A small water bottle. I also carry a hydration bladder. That's a lot of water, but in the high back country, you can get dehydrated fast. If I'm not peeing a lot, I'm not drinking enough. I carry the small bottle so I can throw in some electrolyte drink mix.

First aid kit (already went over this in another post)

Bandanna. Besides a knife, possibly the most useful item to carry.

Brush clippers. For making shooting lanes and blinds.

Small, lightweight Gerber axe. Quite a few uses. Shelter, firewood, etc, etc. Heavier than a folding saw, but quicker and uses less energy when you are in a pinch.

Headlamp. (pretty much in the center of the gear). LEDs "never" burn out, use battery power by sipping rather than gulping.... really, LEDs don't have a downsize other than not throwing a huge swath of light. They are visible a long way off though. I also have a one LED bulb watch battery flashlight on the strap as well. Doesn't weight anything and is a nice backup.

The little camo bag has my skinning and caping knives, a sharpener and a pair of medical gloves. For when the work begins after an animal is down.

The green stuff sack has some lightweight mesh game bags. Also for when the work begins.

Not shown:
I almost always have my little GPS unit with me. It's a Garmin Geko and it is great. I carry a couple extra batteries, AAA, with it, which also fit the headlamp.

Some food. Trail mix, granola bars, fruit.... jolly ranchers to suck on in the blind so my throat doesn't parch.

Not much, really. With a full supply of water, it probably weighs less than 15#, but with this gear I am comfortable and confident I can weather a storm, survive an injury, take apart an elk or deer, and find my way back to camp, truck or home.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Backcountry Navigation, AKA Land Nav Part 1

One of the cornerstones of woodsmanship is learning the art of knowing where you are and planning where you want to be. It is the bedrock of staying found instead of getting lost. The backcountry can be immense, but it can also be as small as the woodlot down the street.

The basic (modern) tools of navigation are map, compass and GPS.

However, the mantra of bushcraft is "the more you know, the less you carry." With that in mind, I am going to discuss some of the alternative means of direction finding available. In the future I will write about map, compass and GPS techniques.

Moss doesn't only grow on the north side of trees... this is an old wives tale. It grows 360 degrees. It usually is heavier on the north side though. This would be a last ditch way of getting your bearings. You have to understand that it grows thicker on the north side because it is the shaded side to understand why this isn't a good method of direction finding. Since north facing slopes are typically the slopes that are timbered, and the north facing slopes are more shaded, it is natural that the moss (which by the way is often lichen and not just moss) grows 360. I will say that the more north you go, the better the odds that the moss will be exclusively on the north side. But I digress,

You can find your north from south with a tree, the sun and either snow or some time.

The snow to the north side of a tree will remain longer than the exposed southern side.

Since the sun moves from East to West, try this experiment next time you are out hiking. It has to be a sunny day. Find a stick a couple feet long. Stick it in the ground, pointed straight up. Notice the shadow of the stick and either place a smaller stick into the ground at the end of the shadow, dig a shallow trench along the shadow or place another stick in the shadow.

And wait.

15 Minutes later you should notice the shadow has moved. Again mark the shadow using a different stick, pebble, etc. Next, simply connect the dots between the ends of the shadows. You now have an east- west line. The first marker you placed is west, the second is east. And as you know, if west is on your left, then north is to your front, east to your rear.

Not as accurate as a magnetic compass, but a useful skill non the less. And it forces you to stop and think, which is oftentimes more important if you are turned around than actually finding out direction.

Of course, direction can be intuitive as well. One particular area I like to hunt elk is the front range of the Whitecloud Mountains. From the valley floor at 7000 feet, the mountains rise up to 10000. The valley is large enough to make its presence known 99% of the time. The other 1% is covered by "if I am climbing, the valley is behind me." Unless of course I have climbed over the ridgeline. The ridgeline runs roughly north south, so I know the valley is to the west. Although I am in the "backcountry" hunting there, I am confident I can find my way out, in the dark, without a compass simply by ensuring (and I know that here I would know if I went over the ridgeline) that I didn't cross over the ridge, and heading downhill. At the bottom there is an access road, and beyond that, a river.

But I don't always hunt there... and, having been turned around before, and the ensuing miles long walk back to camp or the truck being lost is no fun.

Another technique for staying found is using natural landmarks such as a stream. When I am out hunting or scouting for a hunt I try to avoid regular parking areas and trailheads. I will drive a road until I cross a creek, crick, stream, or river and will hike along it. When I am ready to turn around and head home or to camp, finding my way back is easy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Busy as a beaver

Well, I have been busy lately. Actually I have been on vacation, so busy might not be the right word for it... I had a family reunion on the Oregon coast. I absolutely love the O-coast, one of my favorite places on earth. Despite having nearly 20 others around, I found some quiet time to do some "bushcrafty" stuff. I made an inukshuk on the beach.

And then another (this time it was my wife's family) reunion down in Mexico. Puerto Villarta to be precise, Neuevo Villarta to be even more precise. It was great fun relaxing on the beach, downing an occasional cold cervesa and generally bumming around. I did some deep sea fishing and some snorkeling as well as beach bumming.

Anyhow, not very "backcountry" nor bowhunter-ish, but that's what I have been doing.

Oh, and I am also nearly finished with this year's elk bow, so I'll be posting that pretty soon, as well as srticles on whats in my bag this year, butpack vs daypack, knives and grinds explained, some new carbon arrows I'm shooting, scouting hunting areas from a long distance , glassing for game properly, and stalking.

Thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Wow, has it really been a month? Where does the time go? How does it escape so completely?

Anyway, I have made a couple more knives. Three to be precise. A couple kits and a homebrew.
Up at the top left is the homebrewed British bushcrafter. I stock reduced it from O1 barstock. It has bubinga scales, homemade mosaic pins, a handmade sheath (not my best work, but it'll hold the knife), as well as an unfinished firesteel. Scandinavian grind at about Rc 58. I am sure it will get some use this summer!

Down below that it a handy little neck knife. I haven't decided on the sheath yet, but I think the size will be handy. I sharpened it with a nice convex and it will shave now. This was a naked blade I bought a while back. Black and white ebony scales.

I also put together an Enzo trapper kit. Curly birch scales with red liners. I am very impressed with this knife! It carries in a homemade sheath with a mule deer topped firesteel. Fun kit to put together, this may just be my go to knife for hunting. I can make kindling, spark a fire, take apart some game, and cut up some lunch or dinner!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wilderness Medicine

It happens. We trip, slip and manage to mangle ourselves, miles from the nearest road, much less the nearest medical clinic. That's why it is so important to follow the old Boy Scout motto "be prepared."

For me, that means having along the necessities of medicine needed to care for what can occur. because the bushcrafters mantra is the more you know, the less you carry, my kit is small. Small is good, uncomplicated, uncluttered, easy and quick. Small is likely to be carried. We all know that a fully stocked hospital quality first aid kit is of no use if it is not present when needed, back in the rig or camp. With this small kit I can take care of most any wounds... but what is it missing, what eventualities can happen that I should plan for?

I have been doing some reading lately. Actually, reading might be to strong a term. Scanning might be better. I have read all these books though, and combined with a bit of thought and planning, as well as some basic medical training (I am an EMT-Basic), I feel I am well prepared to overcome just about any situation I might face in the backcountry.

I should also mention that this is my emergency first aid kit. I only use this stuff for emergencies. I have a couple band aids and some pain relievers (Tylenol PM) in my toiletries kit.

I highly recommend that you do your own research. Dig around on the internet, visit Barnes and Noble, go borrow a book or few from your local library on wilderness first aid. It is a very important part of being prepared for the adventures we undertake.

Here's what is in my kit:
Bandages (also called band-aids)
Iodine pads
Alcohol pads
Neosporin/ antibiotic ointment
Athletic tape
Gauze pads
Cotton tipped swabs (AKA q-tips)
Cough drops
Salt/ rehydration tabs
Pain relief tablets
*Not in picture:
smallest model Swiss Army knife (mainly for the scissors and tweezers)

All this weighs less than 1# and fits in a really small amount of space. It is always with me in the backcountry.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I suffer terribly from allergies. If you have them, you know how bad it can be. My nose is always stuffy, my eyes can tear up at the drop of a hat.... tons of fun. Last year I went to the allergist for the first time. They did the whole allergy test-prick you on the back thing. And I am allergic to just about everything out there. Grasses came up negative on their test, but I know I am allergic to cheat grass/ foxtail. When I go hiking I can feel it.

But the best part about having allergies is the wonderful view you get when they are at their worst and you are out hiking...

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I'll admit it. I love gear. For me, gear is that all-encompassing term that, when it all comes down to it, toys. Some think of big boy toys as trucks, motorcycles and such. For me, big boy toys are the things that allow me to flourish in the outdoors. Knives. Yeah! Backpacks. Got a few. Stoves. Check! Tents. How many do I need? Sleeping bags and pads, lanterns, fly rods, float tubes, pots and pans, water bottles... the list goes on. Totally contradictory to my desire of a simpler life, uncluttered by "stuff." And yet, piece by piece, my collection grows and never seems to shrink. Without digging in my boxes in the garage I know I have at least three tents, three sleeping bags, two multi day packs, two messenger-type bags, two stoves, three lanterns. Redundancy is good, and I feel good having enough stuff to allow others to join me, but at what point is it too much?

This summer I want to thin the heard, streamline the quiver, cull the unused. It will be a challenge. I don' like to get rid of my fun stuff. I like my knives, and what if I need this or that? But the point is, I can only USE one knife at a time. I can only USE one tent at a time... one fly rod, one float tube, one multi-tool.

Maybe I can sell some of the stuff. Use the money for a new longbow. Now, a fella can't have to many bows.....

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sharpening knives

I am sharpening retarded. I have tried just about everything. The little carbide scrapers. They do OK, but they take a lot of metal away and it's not REAL sharp. I have a little Gerber ceramic and diamond sharpener gadget that works on the same principal, even uses the same angle. Still not REAL sharp. Several years ago I purchased a Japanese waterstone set, but it was time consuming messy and I still wasn't getting good results. But recently I was looking for some Ray Mears videos on You Tube and found this video. GREAT STUFF!!! Bingo, my knives were sharp. In no time flat I had sharpened the whole house full of knives. No small task since I have more than a couple in my stash and the kitchen knives. Just goes to show that a little tutoring goes a long way, a little shared knowledge makes the difference. Hope you enjoy it.

This years hunts

Well.... they may or may not happen! They may be short. Bu then again, they may go off without a hitch.... all because of life.

Life #1: My lovely wife is pregnant with our first child! Hooray! We are pretty excited. She isn't too far along, the due date seems a long way off with the recent 70-80 degree days, fresh cut lawns and leaf buds just beginning to come out. But a week away during the end of the second trimester for my elk time in the mountains seems a bit greedy and self centered. But then again, if that's what I need to stay sane,... we shall see.

Life #2: I am currently jobless. Thats right, still looking for some gainful employment. I am also looking at school which is the more tempting option. But not knowing when it would kick off throws a wrench into the whole hunt thing.

But still I plan. I pour over maps and sort gear. I fantasize about close encounters of the ungulate kind. I practice shooting almost daily.

What to do, what to do.

Priorities. Responsibility. Life is good.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Knife craft techniques

I recently stumbled across this great video of Andrew Price demonstrating some knife techniques. I have the Kellam Puukko knife he is using and it is great. I have never used the soft-of-the-knee technique but I might have to give it a go.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I have been thinking about inukshuks lately. I don't know why. So I set out on a little walk in some local woods to see if I could build one. How hard would it be with the predominant type of rock around here, rounded river rock? Well, to make one only took me twenty minutes or so, but as you can see, it's not very big, pleasing to the eye, nor was it stable. But it was fun. I will be on the lookout for better materials on my walks, I'd like to have one in my garden this year.

If you don't know what an inukshuk is, here's the rundown, straight from wikipedia:

Inukshak, also spelled inuksuk, is a man-made stone landmark or cairn, the inukshuk may have been used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds, or as a food cache. Often times when presented in human shape, inukshuks point the way along a trail, to a good caribou hunting or fishing area, or a place to cross a river.

Inukshuks are depicted on the Nunavut flag (a province of Canada), on the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games logo and the 1996 Rush album Test for Echo.

Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I am about halfway through another great book. It is my first one by Bernd Heinrich, and it may not be the last. I love journals that chronicle a year in the wild, and Bernd's "A Year in the Maine Woods", as you might have gathered from the title, does just that. He lives in a cabin with no electricity, no running water, living simply. Sounds good to me. Bernd is a professor of zoology at the University of Vermont, as well as a member of the Maine Sportsman's and Maine Running Halls of Fame. His observations of the natural world around him are making me really look forward to reading. I can see why he has won nature writing awards. One of my favorite quotes is also highlighted on the back cover, "the subtle matters and the spectacular distracts."

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I have wanted a canoe for quite some time. Honestly, though, it is something I have put off for several reasons. One being cost... canoes tend to be expensive for the amount if use I would give one. Another is storage. My lovely wife and I live in a little cottage with nowhere to really store a canoe. And last but not least, Idaho is not known for it's excellent canoing. Although we do have a lot of lakes, they are mostly high country back woods type of lakes and not the Boundry Waters type that are so conducive to great canoing. But still I wanted a canoe. Then I stumbled upon a newish boat building technique called stitch and glue. Cheap? Easy? Fast? sounds like it is right up my alley! First I found some free parogue plans. This was looking good! A couple sheets of plywood, some epoxy and scrap lumber and I can build the U.S.S. Nessmuk!

Further poking around, however, found me more of a traditionally shaped canoe. Grant's lightweight plywood canoe plans only set me back $14, and I was able to print them out right away. I have a couple more things on the "to-do" list before canoe construction actually begins, but I think I should get to it early this summer.

One final picture to view the actual size. I like the red, but I am thinking a nice sage green would be in order for my little craft.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Whisper Stik Review

The traditional archery community is a small one. Dedicated hunters and shooters of recurves and longbows compromise a small fraction of the total bowhunters out there. There is a ton of custom bowyers out there, most of them make the bows part time. Whisperstik bows are made by Jim Lund in Coral Michigan. Recently He graciously allowed some tradgang members to pass around some of his wonderful bows. I received the 60" mojostick recurve.

I took it out into some nearby woods for a proper evaluation. When evaluating a bowI look at several things. Are the glue lines even along the length of the limbs and around the riser? I hold the bow in my hand and notice how it fills my grip. I notice the round over of the fiberglass and how well the overlays and limb tips blend into the fiberglass. I turn the bow around in different light sources to look for any machining marks not sanded away. And while I can't second guess the bowyer on his vision of a riser block, I do look at the overall aesthetics of the wood used, the grain lines and the combo of woods used. Wisperstik knocked this one out of the park! The performance and craftsmanship are top notch. The price tag was left on the bow as it has made it's way across the country and the asking price of $530 is a great deal.

The bow I received was 60" AMO, 45#@28", and Jim used Honduras rosewood for the riser andash for the limbs. The limb core looks like osage, the riser overlays are rosewood and ash, while the limb tips appear to be black phenolic and elk horn. Clear glass was used and the bow was supplied with a two bundle fast flight string, beaver hair silencers, a stringer and a bow sock. The bow has a black leather grip, tied up and finished with eight yellow and black beads as well as a suede leather strike plate.

Glue lines along the length of the bow are terrific, consistent throughout. The entire bow is finished well, I could not find any flaws or toothmarks. The riser flows into the limbs very smoothly, it simply fades into nothing, and this is one of the toughest parts of building a supremely beautiful bow.

The limb tips are reinforced to allow for fast flight strings. The shield-shaped overlays are a nice touch. String grooves are one of the harder parts to get even and smooth and Jim did a great job here.

The shape of the grip is a bit unusual but I found it comfortable and most importantly, repeatable shot to shot. It filled my hand nicely and was secure both in shooting the bow and in general carrying positions.

The riser overlays blend smoothly into the fiberglass. Absolutely flawless Jim! Again, one of those very hard pieces of bow construction to get right.

The bow shoots where you want it to, is light in the hand, extremely quiet, shock free... in short, everything you could want in a recurve. Surf on over to Jim's Whisperstik website. You won't be disappointed. Thanks Jim!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Out and About

I woke up this morning and decided I needed to get out... I had a couple things I wanted to do and the days don't get much better, weather wise, than today...

I saw a bald eagle across the river. Fairly rare around here during this time of year. We do get some every winter, from mid November to early-mid March when the ice breakups begin happening up North. I watched him for a while and decided to take a picture. Of course, this is when he decides it's time to leave...

I also saw a woodpecker and an osprey. The woodpecker is a little hard to see against the grayness of the cottonwood trunk.

And the osprey made his presence known with his unique call. Good place for fishing brother, the Boise river flows through a deep channel along this stretch and the gin clear water was broken by an occasional trout sipping a midge off the surface film.

One of my duties out on my walkabout was to review a bow, so I took a lot of pictures and just generally wandered about. Spring is here, one of top four favorite seasons! It was a little breazy, the sun was out and I soaked up its warmth, as did these flowers...

I also wanted to do some head to head competition of a couple knives. I love my Kellam Puukko. Probably the sharpest knife I have ever had. After being battoned through a evenings worth of firewood, it still shaves. I also am in love with my Jarvenpaa Puukko. It has a pseudo Scandinavian grind and great ergonomics for my small hands. Currently it is my favorite and I used it to start a little fire to heat some water for a spot of tea...

Hang with me here, I am still getting a hang of moving the pictures and rearranging everything.

Just like I thought, the Kellam cut easier with it's extreme sharpness (and all I have had to do is strop it now and then) but the Jarvenpaa just seemed more comfortable. I also like the Jarvenpaa's sheath better. It has a snug fit without being too tight and being a dangler type sheath it just works for me. The fit and finish on the knife is perhaps a bit utilitarian. The end cap is ground down but not polished and the edge is a bit abrupt, as is the wood to ferrule junction. The curly birch is great and has a nice warmth to it. I should also mention I cut off the "fishtail" on the sheath's bottom junction.

I also played around with another one of my favorite knives, my hunting neck knife. I bought it from the famous G. Fred Asbell here at the Trad West Expo a couple years ago. I made up a little sheath for it and included a little ferro rod/ magnesium fire starter. It is always on me in the backcountry... I can start a fire or whittle a squirrel trap if need be and the necklace provides some 550 cord if I need it.

I'll leave you with this, until next time, get out there.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Getting the hang of things....

slowly but surely. I noticed the pictures didn't post where I thought they were going to, and since today I have some time (actually I have too much time, but that is another story)... so I thought I'd post some pictures of a bow I recently made and just try to figure out the pictures-post relationship.

About a month and a half ago I received an order for one of my bows. The fella wanted zebra limb vineers, birds eye maple riser, red accents, 55#@28", 64"AMO.
Fresh out of the form:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Little hike

Got out and stretched the legs some today. About three miles round trip, 1500 foot elevation total (650 up, 650 down). Grabbed six geocaches, none were great hides, but it is always fun to find them. We found our "official" 200th cache, and I say official because we have found lots more that we didn't or haven't logged.

The good old Garmin Geko 201 was reliable as always, and really the only piece of gear we used.

Here is a shot of the scenery from our resting point. There was a fire that burned through the area just two years ago, the fire break is still evident... it looks like a faint road coming down from the saddle. It is easy to tell where the fire was, look for the areas with no sage/ buckbrush. Anyway, good hike, too much sun, and not enough sunscreen.

We also passed an old home of some sort. Sometimes I come across some history like this and wonder what stories have been lost.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

picture test...

Just trying to figure out how to post pictures, this is my first attempt.. I knife I made, bubinga handle with homemade mosaic pins. Damascus blade, spearpoint, bushcraft style blade, minus the scandi grind. Also made a sheath in the British bushcraft style as well as a cocobolo topped firesteel.

Friday, April 11, 2008


So, now that it has been half a year, lets get this puppy rolling. ..
First off, a big thanks to American bushman and his blog for the inspiration. For some of my further inspiration, check out my must read list or click into some of my links.

I am pretty excited about knives at the moment. I have always loved sharps, I can vividly remember my first knife, a stainless or nickel cheap thing, it had a small sheeps foot type blade and a nail file. My cousin Joey and I proceed to cut the back of my parents lazy-boy chair to hide our toys in. Never thought my parents would think to look behind the chair and see the gash...
My latest user knife is a Kellam Puukko. Love those puukko type blades!

Thats it for now. Great first/second posts, I know, but hey, I am just getting started. Much more to come, more excitement, build a longs and fun to come