Bushcraft, Outdoors, Camping, Wilderness Links - To Be Read In Front Of A Fire

This wonderful cold weather is keeping most of us inside. We don't have a fireplace, but if we did, I would curl up with a laptop in front of the fire and read.

If you have a fireplace and a laptop, here are a few reading suggestions that you might find interesting:

Mocotaugan: The Story and Art of the Crooked Knife.
This artifact, often called a “crooked knife,” is anthropologically important, intriguing, and often beautiful. Yet the significance and merit of the knife is little known today outside of a small circle of anthropologists, collectors, curators, and native American craftsmen. Mocotaugan traces the history of the knife from its Stone Age origin to the present; and examines in unprecedented depth the art of that essential artifact. The publication and distribution of Mocotaugan is a non-profit effort to make the exceptional nature of this knife better known to as wide and diverse an audience as reasonably possible. To that end, the entire printed book is available for downloading in PDF form on this web site, on the condition that all use of text and images be properly credited.
From BushcraftLiving.com, a downloadable PDF pamphlet by Anthony S. Emery on the traditional craft of net making.

Learn how to make baskets out of natural cordage and materials at Basket-Making.com. Useful for if you are beginning to feel a little neurotic from work, etc...

Now that minus 30 degree weather is upon us, here is a timely article - The Big Chill: A quick guide on hypothermia and how to treat it.

Stop reading for a little bit and watch Michel Blomgren's 'Survivor' videos - amazing stuff.

Ashley of Natural Bushcraft UK has a terrific review of 4 simple and fundamental stoves for the outdoors. Browse through his site... very nice.

Jon Ridgeon has some well-photographed bushcraft tutorials - well worth reading and looking through. This guy does some very high quality bushcrafting.

Back to videos again. Dave Cantebury of Wilderness Outfitters Archery has a ton of great videos on this YouTube channel. A must see.

Northwest Journal has a set of great articles all about the fur trade, and the life of voyageurs in North America.

Wilderness Way Magazine has some back-issues partially available on the web - you will want to read each one of them.

A quick read of an article on Primitive Ways will teach you about "Indian Bow Making and the Secrets of Sinew Revealed". It will make you want to go to your local butchers and buy a pound of backstrap sinew to play with. Well, it has made me want to do so.

Hope you enjoy some of these resources.



A Panoply of Downloadable Bushcraft E-Books

I am a member of the online forum BushcraftUK.com, a great place to learn, to share ideas, and to get to know other folks who are also interested in outdoors and bushcraft concepts and activities.

There is a Resources page which offers a set of downloadable PDF format e-books - well worth looking through. You are sure to find a few new ideas here and there.



A Winter Sit in the Woods and Online Resources

I like winter. But it occurred to me this morning that I like winter when I'm outside, a lot more than I like winter when I am inside. If I have a couple of hours this weekend (evening probably), I might go down to the valley for a sit in the woods and a cook up on a stove.

Decado is out in the snow keeping an eye on his winter shelters and wearing wool and snowshoes. He knows about the winter.

So do the folks at WinterCampers.com and WinterTrekking.com.

Finally, folks at the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Network are a good bunch, and you'll find a ton of resources on the site - consider joining up!



Good Curly Feather Sticks

I am at home, and close to the new baby, so I am not out in the woods making fire. And that's just fine. But if I were out there right now, I'd be noting that the weather is warming up slightly. It's still cold and all, but the thick snow is a good sign of moderate weather. Much of the dead branches laying about on the forest floor is covered in ice or in snow, or made damp from the nearby creek. If I had a minimum of available tinder (as happens sometimes - no birch trees nearby, the fluffy weeds have since blown away with the December winds etc...), I would rely on feather sticks to make a fire.

Basically, in places where you can't find dry tinder easily, shaving a stick of wood until you have fine feathery shavings will allow you to create the conditions for a fire to catch and grow. Mors Kochanski showed us how he was able to ignite a feather stick using a ferrocerium rod which we all thought was fairly impressive... You could use a flint and steel to make an ember, or a fire piston, or a good ol' fashioned match.

Making feather sticks tests your knife craft skills. Mors Kochanski writes in Northern Bushcraft that you must create the shavings on one plane of the stick. He isn't saying you need to be precise in keeping the curls all facing the exact same direction, but rather that you shouldn't be creating feathers all away around the circumference of the stick. Using my Mora, I use the curved part of the blade at the front, this helps curl the strips.

The video below shows how you can feather a stick of wood to make fire in damp weather.

Woodcraft Wanderings has a very detailed and informative article that illustrates the making of fire using feathersticks and many other types of tinder.

Ben of Ben's Backwoods fame has a good article on feather sticks. It demonstrates good technique, and finishes with the note "The key is observation, practice and a sharp knife. Be patient and keep trying."

I would agree.



My Warm Military Arctic Gloves, Licorice Allsorts, a Ferret and a bag of Jelly Tots

The other week I went to the local army surplus store and poked around the racks and stacks of the stale smelling offerings. It's quite nice there, if you can get past the awkward people who examine you as you browse the products they sell. I came across a wire basket containing wool socks and grabbed a couple of pairs to leave in my car trunk for an emergency. As I lifted up the package, I saw beneath it a pair of military arctic gloves. Now these gloves are (as far as I can figure) the ultimate in gloves for cold weather. They are issued by both the Canadian and the U.S. military to be used in the arctic bases (North West Territories, Alaska etc...) so I figure they've had some extensive testing. Currently it is -18° Centigrade, or -30° Centigrade with the wind chill. That's -1° Fahrenheit, or -22° Fahrenheit with the wind chill.

They are big. I have big hands - my piano teacher even said so back in grade 10 - and this pair reads 'Medium' and I can fit my hand plus a live ferret, a half pound of licorice allsorts and an unopened bag of Jelly Tots into just one glove.

They have detachable liners that can be dried out in case they get soaked with perspiration, or just mucky.

The leather palms are made of horsehide. Horsehide is known for its rugged durability. Most of those WWII US Air Force leather jackets were made of horsehide leather for this reason.

Canvas draw-tabs and straps allow you to pull the wide gauntlets over your thick winter jacket's sleeves and then pull them tight. Small canvas loops are there to attach to a lanyard so that you won't drop them in the deep snow - I am going to use some 550 paracord to make some nice decorative and tough lanyards.

Finally, the back of the glove is covered with thick woolen fleece. This allows the user in extremely cold weather to wipe frost from their faces and beards without running the risk of scratching numbed, unfeeling facial flesh with cold-hardened plastic or rough edges. It is also useful just to hold against cold cheeks and noses etc... to warm them up quickly in case of impending frost nip.

I wore them down into the valley recently (second picture, hanging from the tree), and while it was very cold outside, my hands felt warm as though they were inside my coat pockets while standing in my living room at home. The wool liner insulates, and the layering effect traps air inside.

My only complaint was that they were so loose, I found myself trudging through the snow, holding my hands up and out like a surgeon who has just scrubbed up and is ready to examine the appendicitis in room 327, as soon as the nurse slips on his latex gloves. That was tiring after a while. Adding the lanyards would help that, and so would wearing a very light cotton or wool mix pair of gloves inside the gloves for a bit of friction. I'd recommend that anyway, so that if you need to be dexterous, you are still at least protected from the extreme cold if you have to slip the big gloves off.

I keep them in my car trunk, just in case an avalanch catches me unawares and I need to camp in the forest for a few days.



Farley Mowat's "No Man's River"

In the moments between learning about James, our new baby and making sure that we all eat and sleep, I have been reading Farley Mowat's No Man's River. I've always kept away from his books, I think because they were foisted upon us in high school as examples of Canadian Literature. Generally, in my view, Canadian Literature is about as exciting and heart-rending as Canadian Politics. ZZZZZZZZzz.

But the other day as we wandered about Chapter's bookstore I grabbed the book because it had a picture of an Inuit woman wearing a caribou winter coat, and I want a caribou winter jacket.
"Inland mountain Eskimos experience one of the world’s most extreme winter climates—temperatures of 55 degrees below zero or colder, often with gale force winds and blinding snow. Despite these daunting conditions, Eskimo people carry on with their daily life of hunting, fishing, gathering firewood, traveling, and camping. The key to their success and survival—above all else—is warm, effective, brilliantly designed and expertly made clothing.

The Eskimo people make their warmest clothing from caribou hide—a material that evolved over millions of years in the Arctic environment, providing caribou with unequaled insulation against penetrating cold and gales. Caribou hair is hollow, so it traps insulating air not only between the hairs but also inside them. Clothing made from this material is extraordinarily warm, lightweight, water repellent and durable."

No Man's River is an account of Farley Mowat's adventure and difficult experiences shared with a Metis trapper as they travel over a thousand miles by canoe. The repetitive and basic theme in the cold years following the war was of food gathering and survival, and living off the deer (caribou) and trapping to survive.

If you have seen the movie or read the book Snow Walker, then you'll have a sense of the hardships faced by the native northern inhabitants of Canada. I have learned about the land at the north of Manitoba and Nunavut, the journeys people made, the horrors they faced and the simple living that they reveled in. And I'm only 1/3 of the way through the book.

I highly recommend it.



James Ozan Peacock

Hello world,

I am James Ozan Peacock. My Mummy went through a long labour and after some consultation with the doctors, I made the decision to emerge in the operating room instead on Tuesday January 6th, 1 minute before midnight.

Mummy is very tired. So is Daddy. He's very proud of me and Mummy. I'll come home from the hospital as soon as Mummy and I are able.

We like the food at the hospital. I get the good stuff. Mummy gets solid food. Daddy takes Mummy's solid food when she is asleep. Daddy is very clever.

Daddy sings amazing, complex songs about the ceiling and the floor and about fingers. Mummy is very warm and has the best voice ever. She is very amazing super great.

Daddy says a Sundog appeared in the sky on my first afternoon in the world. I am led to believe that it was an auspicious sign. I am using big words already.

I've been told that I am looking forward to my first camping trip soon. I will have my own canoe paddle and wool blanket. I'll be popping in from time to time to make an appearance here. But first I am going back to sleep.


James Ozan

An Evening Before A New Boy Arrives

On this cold evening after returning from the hospital, I went for a 10 minute walk out into the park out back as the sun went down.

I thought about what is about to happen. Spring is in labour, and we are to return to the hospital in a few hours when the appropriate signs manifest themselves.

This is the evening before his arrival. It is a little boy.

What will I tell him about the world the day before he arrived?

What will he be thinking when much of his life has passed him by and he's my age?

Will he have lofty dreams? Will he be happy? Will he be content?

Will he travel?

Will he prefer the day?

Will he prefer the night?

I wonder.


Monty and the Well-Fed Squirrels

It is really cold outside today. We tend to keep the temperature in the house pretty low, and at night extra wool blankets really help keep us warm.

bushcraft, mungo says bah, camping, canoeing, algonquin park, flora, fauna, woodcraft
I'm not quite sure how the squirrels keep warm. They don't have the ability to knit or to manufacture wool blankets. But they make it, so I guess they've found a way. I do my part by feeding them lots of sunflower seeds, peanuts and seeds. I wonder if a farm supply store might sell bulk amounts for cheaper.

bushcraft, mungo says bah, camping, canoeing, algonquin park, flora, fauna, woodcraft
Monty went out and did his best to hunt for squirrel. He even got into his classic beagle stalking pose (see above). But truthfully speaking, he needs a little work. Squirrels would bounce and even stroll a few feet from his nose. They seemed to sense his reduced level of training. He did almost catch one who seemed so distracted by the seed bounty that he ran at a vector nearly grazing Monty's head. The squirrel then realized what he'd done and ran smack into a chair. Monty got a bit confused and stopped to watch the squirrel scamper away. It returned a minute later and sat on the table munching peanuts. Monty continued to watch.

bushcraft, mungo says bah, camping, canoeing, algonquin park, flora, fauna, woodcraft
Monty is a noble creature. He waits to be fed by me and none other.

bushcraft, mungo says bah, camping, canoeing, algonquin park, flora, fauna, woodcraft
A cloud of sparrows descends on the bird feeders in our backyard and in our neighbour's backyard. I like to keep them well fed too. It's only fair.

bushcraft, mungo says bah, camping, canoeing, algonquin park, flora, fauna, woodcraft
And while it is cold outside, we're doing our best to make it warm inside. The baby's room is ready now. We put up the illustrated letters of the alphabet on the wall yesterday. I tapped in 28 nails, 14 on top and 14 on bottom, on which to hang the cards. Spring was kind enough to remind me that the alphabet has 26 letters.

bushcraft, mungo says bah, camping, canoeing, algonquin park, flora, fauna, woodcraft
In fewer than 3 weeks we get a new arrival in the family. Spring is tired out and has decided that sooner is better than later. Suits me fine - all the sooner for a mini camping companion in Algonquin Park.



A Tutorial on How To Build a Coke Can Stove for Hiking and Camping

Okay, following up on a recent post about emergency preparedness, picture this: your power has just gone out. It is the middle of winter, and the battery-powered radio reports that a major substation has suffered an outage due to iced-over power cables. You are told to expect that power will return in no less than 7 days. So you get out all the blankets in the house, and warm up the bed. You find your 72 hour kit, first aid kit, candles, flashlights, your food supplies (some freeze-dried entrees and cans of food), water, radio and more. After all that fussing around, you decide you want a nice cup of coffee and a hot meal. You have a camping stove that runs on naptha but you'd rather use that outside so the fuel doesn't smell so strongly. You need a quick stove for in the house. A good option for this is an alcohol stove.

I was at a dollar store the other day wandering around the aisles. Other than the things we were actually going there to get, I started browsing the shelves with an eye on camping and bushcrafty things - products I could use directly or indirectly to fuel the fire of my hobby.

I saw a pile of Fondu Fuel bottles containing denatured alcohol and had a little ponder. After a minute of semi-deep thought, I decided that finally it was time I made a Coke Can Stove. Or a Pepsi Can Stove. Or a Pop Can Stove. Whatever you'd like to call it. But because I drink Coke, it would have to be a Coke Can Stove.

Boiling water is obviously important when camping or hiking or during a power outage. With one you can make hot drinks, heat meals (boil in a bag, or heat straight from the can), cook rice or eggs, wash for regular hygiene or for first-aid reasons, sterilize gauze or needles or sutures, and much more.

Now this is a very simple little stove. All that is needed to build one is a pair of Coke Cans (specifically the bottom half of each can), a tuna can or some kind of base, something to cut the drink cans (knife or scissors) and something to poke holes in the drink cans (pin, or drill, or awl, or a nail). Into the stove you pour the denatured alcohol, light it and heat up your food or boil water for tea.

Anway, all I know is that it took me about 15 minutes to assemble a Coke Can Stove. Here is how you can do it too:

Acquire two cans of Coke and drink them quickly and grab a can of Tuna - consume tuna quickly. Rinse out the cans.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
First of all drill roughly 8 to 14 1/16th holes into the rim of one can - you can also use the awl on a pocket knife or a pin mounted in an Exacto-Blade sheath. These holes are the gas jets. Also drill 3 1/16th holes into the center of the concave section. These will serve as gas jets also, but primarily as the fuel-filling holes.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Carefully score each Coke can an inch from the bottom using the tip of your knife resting on a solid item about 1 1/2 inches high (I'm using the tuna can above). Rotate the can against it a few times. This will keept the score consistent and level.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Then remove the tops of each can by roughly cutting an inch above the score.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Dispose of the cut off tops (recycle them).

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Slowly working your way around, cut tabs down to just above the score marks on each can using scissors.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Bend them back and forth to get a neat break at the score line. This makes a very clean and straight edge.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Dispose of the tabs (recycle them).

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
The next step is to nest the two halves together, top into the bottom.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
You may find that bending little indentations in the top piece will help you slip it into the bottom piece.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Be patient, it seems tricky, but you'll get it.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Once it starts nesting, firmly and carefully tap the top section into place using a heavy object like a full can or a book.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
In the image above, you can see the fuel jets and the filling holes.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
This is a lightweight stove, which is also pretty tough. You can carry one around in your jacket pocket. The fuel is stored separately.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
I'm using a metal tray for safety above. The Bic lighter will get the stove going.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Fill the concave cavity about 3 times with fuel and allow it to drain into the stove.

Then pour about a teaspoon of fluid onto the priming section (in this case the tuna can). The fuel within the stove needs to be primed before it can ignite - i.e. it is heated by the external flame on the priming surface until alcohol fumes are pressurized and are emitted from the fuel jets.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Above you can see the priming flames begin to heat the stove and the fuel within.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Here too - but I have used a regular empty tin can as the priming surface (better for the photograph). Soon the priming flames will exhaust themselves and burn out, hopefully not before doing their job.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
See the priming flames on the side of the stove in the image above, and the pressurized fuel jets beginning to ignite.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Here the initial burst of pressure has subsided, replaced with the regular fuel jets burning. They will increase in size in a minute or so, once the stove has warmed up.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
In the image above, I have placed the stove within an Ikea cutlery drainer which I have used as a wood stove. Above it I have placed a camping pot full of water. It took about 10 minutes for 1 1/2 liters of water to come to a boil, shortly before the stove ran out of alcohol fuel.

You can keep one of these stoves at home, one in the car and one in your jacket pocket for the moment that you need hot cocoa.

Let me know if you have any questions please about the construction of this stove.



Most Popular Posts