Sunday, April 19, 2009

Backpacking wok.... 鑊

Many moons ago I bought a backpacking wok off the big auction site. It was terrific! The curved sides made cleaning easy, and could cook or boil anything in it that I wanted to.

The only downsides were a little more weight and not having a stable base to set it on. I solved the instability by placing three fist sized rocks on the ground and using those as a tripod of sorts.

If memory serves me right it was between 10 and 12 inches in diameter.

I ended up giving it away to a friendly backpacker I met in Joshua Tree National Park.

I have done some searching, but I can't seem to find something similar enough to justify giving it a try.

Anyone know where I can find one? It must have a long handle, not two short ones.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bowfishing boat

I haven't had a whole lot of time to work on the "carp-e diem" bowfishing-flyfishing boat this last month, but it is coming along slowly and surely.

Several times I have had to solve problems simply because the plans I have are pretty simple, in many cases just the flat measurements.

The gunnels and chines were made of laminated slats of the 1/4 plywood instead of hardwood. That has taken quite a bit more time than if I had made them from hardwood, simply because I have to custom make each part four times.

Quite obviously I am still lacking one critical aspect of any good ship. The floor of the boat, a "deck" in proper sailor speak.

Once I get the deck installed in the next week or so all I will have left is the seat and the "knees" in the corners.

I am still debating on what finish I am going to use. I am leaning on chalking all the joints and an epoxy lacquer deck finish. I don't anticipate having the boat in the water for any longer than a day at a time, so I shouldn't need to go overboard on the finish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Survival Knife"

I am sure that like a lot of you I have always been intrigued by the whole "survival knife" concept. Ever since the original Rambo movie the hollow handle survival knife hasn't been hard to find. Unfortunately, in a "survival" situation, these knives would not last. I remember pretty vividly the summer festival when my parents finally gave in to my wants and let me purchase one of those made in China-plastic handle-with the saw back survival knives. With the compass on the top, loaded with three matches, some fishing line, hooks, sinkers and the saw inside the handle, it had the sharpener on the front of the pleather sheath. I went for the black instead of the camo...

I also remember in sharp detail the day I was cutting with it and it broke. Two pretty much worthless pieces. A blade with nothing to hold onto and a handle with no reason to be held.

But the concept has stayed with me. I am a four inch blade kind of guy, but a while back I bought a Cold Steel Bushman knife, well over my usual limit for blades I am interested in. But, at about $20, the price is nice. I bought it on that big auction site, sight unseen. I had only seen pictures of one side of the knife and I thought the handle could be sealed, but it ends up, it is just rolled. This isn't really a biggie, since I can still stuff gear inside the handle. I also had a Spec-Ops "navigator" sheath. It has a large pocket on the front... just right for some more "survival" gear.

Priorities during a survival situation are shelter, warmth, water and way down on the list is food. I think my kit covers all the bases.

Rope, snare wire, lighter, matches and a small ferro rod-magnesium stick combo, tinfoil (usefull for cooking, heat reflection, boiling water), a smaller knife for small work, a whistle, compass and flashlight combo (although I do not think a flashlight is "survival gear"), a small fishing kit, a feew safety pins, some rubber bands, a chunk of fire lighting wood-wax, and a ziplock bag for carrying water.

It all weighs about one pound.

Do I carry it into the woods with me? No. But it is an interesting concept, and one I enjoyed putting together just for a nastalgic ride.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New bow!

Holy smokes! The nicest looking bow that I have ever laid eyes on arrived at my doorstep today! I have coveted a Centaur longbow for several years now, ever since I first met Jim Neaves, bowyer extraordinaire, several years ago at a Traditional Expo West. Especially in traditional archery/ bowhunting circles, different types of bows, woods and bowyers speak to different folks and Jim's bows have spoken to me ever since I first shot one. I am going to save the actual review until I can get out for an evening of shooting, but I thought I'd tease you a little with the specs and a couple pictures.

58"AMO, 60#@26", very nice, dark cocobollo riser, extremely cool juniper limbs with a bamboo core. Stipped grip with a 6 point elk shed, a Centaur first.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I thought I'd share what I am reading right now (besides my nursing textbooks). Typically I am reading four or five books at a time and have a few on the bedside table waiting for me to finish something else.

On a recent trip to the library I picked up two books. Jimmy Buffet's "A Pirate Looks at Fifty" and Bob Simpson's 1988 book "Wilderness is Where You Find It." For those of you who don't know, Jimmy Buffet is way more than a sit-in-a-hammock-on-a-beach-and-drink-a-margarita kind of guy. He is an AVID fly fisherman. Besides that I wanted to read a little about some one's sailing adventures in the Caribbean.

Bob Simpson I had never heard of but the display at the end of the book shelf had it sitting there, and while I wouldn't recommend judging a book by its cover, seeing a trio of backpackers on this cover made me judge it to be something I am interested in. Unfortunately it is a lot of horsepacking and not much else, but I am enjoying the read.

And I don't have it yet, but I am thinking I found the next addition to my personal library. Mike Mitten ("herdbull" over on tradgang) wrote a book called "One With The Wilderness, Passions of a Solo Bowhunter" and this cover looks absolutely amazing! Right up my alley! So I will be writing up a review once I get my hands on this one.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gaucho Fire Drill

I found yet another method of fire by friction. This one seems pretty unique to me, I don't recall ever seeing it in any of my scouting-survival-bushcraft-outdoors type of books.

Worth giving a try.... I think it might work very well with a nice socket and a more traditional type of fire board/ hearth on the ground.

The picture appears to show the "gaucho" standing upright and leaning into a tree. I would imagine that you just twirl the drill...

I'll take some pictures and report how well it works if I get "round to it."

Western States Traditional Rendezvous

I am really looking forward to this year's Western States Traditional Rendezvous! It is a gathering of traditional bowhunters and archers, and typically is the largest gathering like it in the Western states. This will be the first time I am able to attend and it will be a very nice cap to a short break from school between the spring and summer semester.

The Idaho Traditional Bowhunters are hosting this year, and it will be at Magic Mountain located near Twin Falls Idaho.

And, if all goes well I will be shooting a new bow this year as well! I got a call from Jim Neaves late last week and I am up on his list! I have wanted a Centaur longbow for almost as long as I have been shooting traditional, so i am really pumped! I gave him a little leeway as far as wood, but my preferences are either cocobolo or koa for the riser and juniper or bubinga for the limbs. I have spoken with Jim on several occasions and shot his bows at the last few traditional bowhunter's expo west conventions (R.I.P.), and I can tell you he is a top notch guy, not to mention a superb artist. I will be doing a writeup of the bow and the Rendezvous, so be sure to check back.

Also coming up is bear season, as well as the annual Idaho Traditional Bowhunter's "carp-e diem" carp shoot. Last year was tons of fun and I hope to actually bring something to hand this year.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fire by friction

The American Bushman recently posted a vintage "survival in the bush" video from the Canadian Film Board's archives. (Worth watching, by the way, so head on over to A.B. and check it out). In the video there is a somewhat unique way they make fire. Essentially a fire trough using a dead jack pine, I haven't seen it done quite that way before. My French is quite rusty, but I believe the technique is called "escoux de codjigen", also known as "algonquin fire stick. Of course I may have heard it wrong or butchered the spelling.... at any rate, it is now on my list of summer time list of to-dos.

Of course the first thing I did was google it. No dice. Various spellings, still no luck. Anyone familiar with this technique?

I did run across this great old article that "describes and classifies the machines used by man, at various periods in history, for producing fire." Fun reading!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Jarvenpaa Bush knife

I have really enjoyed this little pukkoo bush knife for over a year now. Originally I bought it after noticing it in Ragweed Forge's inventory. Then one of the hook and bullet magazines featured it in a "survival necklace" article. After that I just had to have it.... and I am glad I did. The article noted it had a true Scandinavian grind, however, mine arrived with a slight secondary bevel. But it was quite sharp and has proven to be a tough edge that it easy to get razor sharp. I really like the grip, but the sheath was never my favorite. So I ordered a JRE bushcraft sheath from Ben's Backwoods, and combined it with a Swedish army firesteel for a superb lightweight bushcraft knife.

It now sits with a convexed edge which is proving to be tough and a good match for this knife. I also decided to introduce a little protective patina to the blade via the "mustard overnight" technique. The results were less than what I was hoping for so I sanded it off and now have a nice dull matte finish thanks to 600 grit wet and dry sandpaper.

Although I love the knife as is, IF I could change anything I'd prefer a bit more blade depth and width. The spine, even after a bit of file work, still could be flatter. And the fit and finish work could be better (but as is it is right on par for a $40 knife, and nothing to sneeze at, I know how hard knife finish work is).

The JRE sheath is as good as anything I have used before. Stout, good quality thick leather. Well made all around!

So if you are looking for a lightweight bushcraft type knife, and want something other than the ubiquitous Mora #1 or 2, check this one out. Combined with a JRE sheath and a firesteel it will serve you well for a long time.