Bushcraft

Makin’ Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly

by Todd Walker

Vegetarians fear bacon. It’s the “gateway meat”. The temptation heightens with the mere aroma of this sizzling strip tease. Only the most hardcore herbivores can withstand the maddening scent in the olfactory receptors!

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

From a bacon-lovers perspective, preserving this fat-laden meat is a Doing the Stuff skill “worth it’s weight in salt.” However, if you believe the Big Fat Lie, go ahead and brace yourself for some disturbing news…

Your grandparents had it right… bacon fat won’t kill you. You need healthy fat in your diet.

Whether for health concerns or just to build a self-reliant skill, making bacon is a simple process anyone can do.

The recipe I used was given to me by Brian Manning, my instructor at The Pathfinder School. He made a video called “Hog and Hominy” where he carves up a side of his dry cured bacon to fry over an open fire. I had to make my own.

That's Brian Manning hamming it up

That’s Brian Manning hamming it up

I asked and he shared his recipe in the description box under his video. Be sure to check out his channel – Snow Walker Bushcraft – for some great tutorials and 18th century living skills.

I also found a helpful video by Steve Davis on his channel, “woodcrafter76“.

Here’s what you’ll need for makin’ your own bacon to cure what ails you…

The Bacon Cure

  • Find a fresh pork belly, pasture raised if possible. I bought mine at a health-food grocery store called Earth Fare. Your local butcher shop may have fresh pork belly or can order it for you. Of course, the freshest route is to butcher a hog yourself. My pork belly weighed 12.6 pounds and was on sale, half-price!
  • Buy salt and brown sugar. Lots of it. Three pound boxes of course salt. I used about 12 pounds of salt and 12 pounds of brown sugar. I’d probably use less on my next batch of bacon.
  • Brian used cracked black pepper for an outside coating. I did not but may add some for taste.
  • A large plastic bin with lid. No need to be air tight. You’ll also need a second large container to combine and store the cure mix.
  •  A dark, cool place. A refrigerator, root cellar, or cooler works.
  • Butchers string or stainless steel meat hooks. Don’t have any meat hooks? Use string and a needle for hanging your cured bacon to air dry.
  • Patience. My pork belly took 14 days to cure.

Step 1 of Makin’ Bacon

In a large container, combine equal amounts of salt and brown sugar thoroughly. In hindsight, I should have used a larger mixing container. Sugar ants made a visit to our kitchen because of the spillage from my smaller container. You can never clean all those tiny granules off the cabinets and floor.

Step 2 of Makin’ Bacon

Rub the pork belly with the cure. Make sure you don’t miss any of the crevices on the flesh side. It’s like applying a rub on a pork butt for smoking… rub it good and cover it all! These little hidden hideaways need cure applied to prevent moisture build up. Moisture is your bacon’s enemy.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The first light coat of cure

Place the coated sides in your container(s) and stick ’em in the fridge or a cooler with some ice blocks. I used a large cooler since there wasn’t much room in DRG’s fridge. Plus, I don’t trust Moose and Abby, our two rescue dogs, to be in the house alone with bacon sitting about.

I found that frozen water bottles worked better than those blue freezer blocks. I even added a 4-year-old glass jar of frozen chili to the rotation. Simply swap out melted water bottles with 4 or 5 frozen bottles in your freezer each time.

Leave the curing container in the cool place overnight and let it work.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The morning after… Drain and rub more cure mix

Drain the collected liquid and re-apply the cure. Only this time you’ll want to add a thicker layer. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of cure in the bottom of your container and place the skin side on top of the cure. Now add a generous amount of cure to the flesh side which is facing up. Remember to hit all the creases with the cure. I added a 1/2 to 1 inch layer on top. In hindsight, that much was probably overkill but Brian said I should add more cure. So I did.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

About an inch of cure covering the meat

Put the lid back on the container and place it back in your cool place.

Step 3 of Makin’ Bacon

Repeat step 2. Drain the liquid and re-apply cure mix. After a few days you’ll notice the amount of accumulating liquid on the flesh side decreases. The cure on the bottom (skin side) will still be wet and should be replaced with new/dry cure mix.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Late in the process you’ll have little accumulation of liquid in the container bottom with wet spots on top.

At that point in the curing process, you can scrape off only the dissolved cure mix and apply a thin layer to the area. I didn’t chance it. I basically re-coated the entire pork belly for 10 of the 14 days of the process.

Step 4 of Makin’ Bacon

Once satisfied that the liquid had stopped draining from the meat, I gave it a couple more cure applications. On day 14, I examined the belly and found no liquid had dissolved the cure mixture on top or underneath.

Step 5 of Makin’ Bacon

Wash off the remaining cure mix under cold water. Use your hand and fingers to scrap off any stubborn cure mixture from all sides of the pork belly.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Getting ready for a wash and smoke

Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels or a drying towel.

Step 6 of Makin’ Bacon

This step is optional but I prefer a good smoke flavor in my bacon. Smoke is also an added preservative in meats.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Keep the temp very low… below 200 degrees

I used my Big Green Egg and applewood chips for smoke flavor. You want to smoke the belly not cook it. Keep your smoker temperature under 200 degrees. If you have a cold smoker, even better.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Applewood smoke engulfing my bacon

It took some doing to get my BGE to hover between 150 to 175 degrees. Once regulated, I smoked the pork belly for about 5 hours. I gotta admit that I was a bit worried when I saw the belly looking all sweaty after the smoking process. It was supposed to be dry to keep bacteria from forming on and in the meat.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I hoped that the next step would remedy the wet, flimsy looking sides of pork belly.

Step 7 of Makin’ Bacon

And it did.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Use a large canvas sail needle or leather working needle threaded with butcher’s twine

String up the cured bacon with butcher’s twine and a needle or use meat hooks if you have some. Hang the slabs of goodness in a room in your house to air dry. You’ll want to cover them in a breathable fabric to keep flies and insects off the meat. I was in the process of hand-sewing a canvas bag when DRG, in her common sense tone, suggested using an old pillow case.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The bacon hangout

And the rest is history, folks. I love my smart wife!

The two slabs of bacon are air drying from a shelf in our laundry room encased in cotton pillow cases.

If you took your time and followed the process, the dry cured bacon will last several months at room temperature. I plan on dividing the belly into sections and freeze all but one part for immediate use and save the rest for future outdoor adventures… if it doesn’t get eaten beforehand.

Now go enjoy the intense flavor of your homemade bacon over a campfire! Or your kitchen. Or anywhere you can!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network. P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Real Food, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

9 Ways (Some Illegal) to Catch Fish for Self-Reliance and Survival

by Todd Walker

Outdoor adventures can turn into survival scenarios without warning. If we knew of the crisis ahead of time, we’d simply take steps to avoid it.

But that’s not always possible. 9 Ways (Some Illegal) to Catch Fish for Self-Reliance and Survival - TheSurvivalSherpa.com The title of this article mentions two terms, self-reliance and survival, which need to be defined. I want to make the distinction because some of the fishing methods listed are illegal and should only be employed in a true survival situation not to stock your freezer for the winter.

Self-reliance is dependence on one’s own capabilities, judgment, or resources. The opposite of dependence upon others.

Let’s put survival into context…

Survival involves any situation where death is imminent if conditions do not change.

Running out of trail mix on a day hike is NOT a survival event.

Which begs the question… how long can you live without food? Conventional wisdom, which I seldom agree with, tells us about 3 weeks. You’ll eventually have to eat to stay alive in a long-term situation.

In a 72 hour survival scenario, you may be better served to fast and drink water.

But let’s face it, the majority of us will never be in a long-term wilderness survival scenario. But it never hurts to have a few survival fishing tricks in your tackle box.

If you’re not in a life or death situation in the backwoods, you’re simply backpacking, hiking, or camping. Looking at your short-term survival priorities, food is way down the list. However, eating becomes more important the longer you’re not found. And you don’t know if 72 hours will stretch into weeks.

There are also possible events where major disruptions happen or the rule of law goes bye-bye. Practically speaking, learning to legally catch fish now before an event can reduce your grocery bill and build food independence. Eating is part of being self-reliant. If you’re preparing for a disruptive event, hopefully you’ll have a portable water craft, nets, and heavy-duty fishing gear available and ready to go.

Canoes and kayaks are portable.

Canoes and kayaks are portable and maneuverable

In a wilderness survival scenario, you’ve got your shelter, fire, and water squared away. Now you can give attention to that calorie depleted body of yours.

The water’s edge is your first survival fast food stop. All lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams are home to a rich resource of edible aquatic life. Don’t overlook the small stuff. Survivors are opportunists without a picky palate. Fish, large and small, are in the water. You have to convince them to join you for dinner.

Here’s how…

Pack Emergency Fishing Tackle

The ideal situation is to have a fishing kit with you in the backwoods. Fishing line, hooks, and sinkers aren’t going to add much weight to your pack.

I’ve seen many kits in Altoids tins that weigh very little and would serve to procure fat fish. I went a different route. My Cigar Fishing Kit allows me to use the aluminum sleeve as a hand fishing rig. The line is wrapped on the outside of the tube to allow me to cast into the water. However, in a 72-hour survival event, your time and energy would be better spent meeting other priorities than sitting on a bank hoping a fish hits a single hook.

Trapping animals is a numbers game. So is fishing. The more hooks you wet, the better your odds are of eating. That’s why I carry a more substantial fishing kit on longer backwoods trips. My minimalist Cigar Fishing Kit rides along in my haversack… always.

Screw cap taped

My Emergency Cigar Fishing Kit

For a larger fishing kit, include these items…

  • Pack plenty of hooks (30 to 40) in different sizes. Use small hooks to catch smaller fish which can be used to bait larger hooks for the big meal fish.
  • A spool (200+ yards minimum) of fishing line. Spiderwire offers braided (super strong) and monofilament fishing line in many strengths. 10 to 12 lb. line is multitask line.
  • Lead sinkers/weights. Yes, they add weight but are too convenient not to pack.
  • Snap Swivels. Saves time re-tying hooks.
  • Artificial lures and a jar of salmon eggs… when digging/finding live bait is not an option.
  • Tarred bank line (#12 and #36). This cordage is in all my kits. It works especially well when setting up multiple hooks.
  • Multi-tool. Useful for removing hooks from fish and too many other uses to mention here.

Fishing Techniques

Warning: Should you decide to use any illegal fishing techniques mentioned, do so for survival purposes only. While I don’t advocate breaking laws, the State’s rules go out the window when your life is on the line. Research your federal and state fishing laws.

Limb Hooks

Locate trees with low branches overhanging the water’s edge near cover. Most fish hang out in cover like weed beds, lily pads, and fallen debris. Casting into cover usually results in snags or lost tackle.

A boat or canoe makes tying limb hooks easier but isn’t necessary. Simply grab a green limb with your hand or a hooked stick and pull it to you on the bank. Tie a line with a baited hook on the limb and easy it back into the water.

For a larger fish, use bank line with a circle hook – my preferred hook for catfish. Setting 15 to 20 of these limb hooks dramatically increases your odds of eating and frees you to attend to other survival priorities.

Jugging

The idea is to tie a baited line on a floating device. It’s a sad fact that plastic bottles litter our woodlands. Other people’s trash is a survival resource if you develop a Possum Mentality.

One effective technique our neighbor used when he’d fish in our lake was to make a cane pole “jug” fishing rig. He ran a bamboo cane pole through a chunk of styrofoam and tied a line to the pole just to the side of the foam. Bob would bait the hook with a small pan fish and toss the rig into the middle of the lake and continue fishing with his spinning reel. When the pole stood on end, he’d haul in a lunker Large Mouth Bass!

Bamboo

Bamboo “Jug” fishing rig

It’s not likely you’ll find styrofoam and cane poles in the wilderness. However, you may happen upon a patch of bamboo or river cane. If so, cut a 8 foot section of bamboo 1 to 1/2 inches in diameter. Find a larger diameter (2-3 inches) and cut a piece with two compartments in tact. You could also bundle several smaller diameter sections together for the float if larger diameter bamboo is not available.

Lash these sections to the middle of the longer pole and tie on a baited line to one side of the rig. Toss the rig into a lake or pond and forget about it. When a fish takes the hook you’ll know it. The rig will stand on end.

Note: You probably won’t have a water craft to fetch the rig from the water in a wilderness survival situation. Tie a length of cordage or fishing line to the pole to retrieve the rig once a fish is on. Always carry a roll of bank line in your pack.

Trot Line

This method works in rivers and still water. A trot line consist of several baited lines dangling off one long line suspended between two anchor points (trees or limbs usually). Bank line is excellent for this application.

Secure the dangler lines (#12 bank line) along the long line with enough space between each dangler to not tangle under water with live bait swimming on the hooks. Of course, you’ll need live minnows, crayfish, or small pan fish to bait the trot line. You could also use rotting, stinking stuff as bait.

Spear Fishing

Metal fish and frog gigs are available and can be kept in your pack. Just cut a sapling for the handle. However, a down and dirt gig can be crafted from a green sapling alone.

diy-survival-gig

Used about 6 feet of cordage here

Find shallow water and wait for fish to pass by – even snakes and frogs – then spear the critter. Take into account the angle of light refraction when spearing a target under water. It’s not as straight as it seems.

Herbal Stunning Agents

Native Americans and indigenous people around the world have used fish toxins to harvest meals. Common plants used in my area by the Cherokee are Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) and Polkweed (Phytolacca americana). The plant material was crushed and introduced to slow-moving streams or pools which stunned fish and cause them to float to the surface. They were easily harvested by hand, nets, or spears.

How to Build a Cigar Survival Fishing Kit - TheSurvivalSherpa.comHow to Build a Cigar Survival Fishing Kit - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Harvesting Black Walnut leaves

The bark and green husks on black walnut trees contain saponins which fish intake through their gills and stunning the fish. The same goes for Polkweed berries and leaves. Research your local plants to find which plants were used to stun fish.

Netting

You don’t pack gill nets or seine nets in your backpack probably. However, for long-term self-reliance, nets are a proven method of catching fish for large numbers of people. Store away a few for emergency food procurement.

Circular cast nets have weights on the outside edge that is thrown and used to catch bait fish in coastal areas. In the hands of a skilled net caster, a cast net can harvest a bucket of fish in no time.

Blast Fishing

Using an explosive device to stun or kill fish for easy collection is illegal for sure. It also destroys and disrupts other life in the ecosystem. A small M80 (small stick of dynamite) will stun and kill fish in a pool of water. Survival use ONLY.

Chumming

This method is used to attract fish to easy food sources. You’ve likely seen it used as an attractant on Shark Week. It’s like feeding ducks at the park. Word spreads because fish love an easy meal.

Rotting animal flesh, insects, worms/grubs, or fish guts can be cut into small pieces and scattered into the water. This technique works best when done on a regular routine. You may not have this luxury in a short-term situation. Drop a baited hook into the chum area to increase your chance of snagging a fish. Or you might even catch a turtle.

Again, before using these proven fish catching techniques for long-term self-reliance, do your due diligence. For survival, do what you have to do to stay alive.

You got any survival fishing tales? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network. P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Economic Collapse, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

How to Extinguish Your Child’s Fear of Fire with a Single Match

by Todd Walker

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Last summer I took my 7-year-old grandson to my shelter in the woods for a little dirt time and some quality Pops and Max bonding. We gathered up some dry material for our campfire. We laid everything out in three piles; tinder, kindling, and fuel.

It never crossed my mind to warn Max about the shower of sparks that was about to rain down on the volleyball-size tinder bundle.

“Whoa! Whoa!” he panicked and scurried away from the area.

Granted, the big ferro rod I use is like watching fireworks explode. But once the fire was going, Max found it difficult to even stand near the small campfire without some reassurance and coaxing.

He was down right scared of fire.

The “Stop, Drop, and Roll” fire safety campaign in school showed how fire could destroy your house, your family, pets, and even you. An irrational fear of this wonderful tool of self-reliance smoldered within his psyche.

How could I help him learn to use fire safely and overcome his fear?

A Bright Idea with Matches

Matches light birthday candles. That’s a happy time, right?

One reason Max (and maybe your child) was afraid of fire is that no one had taken time to teach him how to safely strike a match. We stepped out back to Pops Shop, pulled up two stumps, and opened a box of kitchen matches.

As adults, use the E.D.I. approach… Educate: teach the skill and cover safety concerns, Demonstrate: doing the stuff yourself, Imitate: allow your child to imitate the skill).

Steps to Safely Strike a Match for Beginners

Ask your child if they’ve ever attended a birthday party where the cake exploded into flames and burned the house down. It sounds silly but your child needs to make the connection between a controlled fire that is useful and the potential danger of unattended flames.

Step 1: Educate – The Fire Triangle

Introduce the Fire Triangle.

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Every fire must have these three elements

For a match to burn, the three sides of the triangle have to be complete… heat (ignition source – friction), oxygen (air), and fuel (the wooden match stick). Fire and heat rise. The flame will not suddenly run down the match stick and burn your fingers.

Step 2: Demonstrate

Find a spot that isn’t windy, indoors or out, strike a match and hold it vertically for your child to observe. He will notice that the flame will burn a short time in a vertical position before going out.

Now have your child hold an unlit match vertically. Light another match and hold it vertically next to your child’s match head until his ignites. Have your child hold steady and watch his match extinguish in a swirl of smoke.

Repeat the process with two new matches. Next, have your child hold the match horizontally once it is lit. The flame will slowly burn towards his fingers in a controlled manner. About halfway to his finger tips, have him blow it out like a birthday candle.

It’s likely he will feel the warmth of the flame on his finger tips. That’s good. Ask him if he was burned or in pain.

Safety Note: Be sure the demonstration area is clear of flammable material. Use a metal bucket or dinner plate to discard the spent matches. A child may panic and toss the burning match to the floor or ground.

Step 3: Imitate

Now is the moment of truth. Will he strike his own match into flame?

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Max imitating

Give a brief demonstration of how to strike a match. Strike away from your body. This was a bit awkward for me as I’m used to striking towards my body and cupping the burning match to create a wind screen.

Use wooden kitchen matches because they are more sturdy, longer, and easier to strike for beginners than short wooden matches and paper matches.

Have your child hold the non-flammable end between his thumb and middle finger. Move his index finger down the match stick to apply pressure on the match head as it passes over the striker strip of the closed match box. Make sure he understands to move his index finger down towards the non-burning end after ignition. Just saying.

Max tried and failed his first few attempts. He was using a poor angle with the match head on its side. Coach your child to hold the match at just under a 90 degree angle and perpendicular to the striker strip.

This process is simple for adults. But remember, your teaching a child who has never lit a match.

Make sure that he holds the box firmly and strikes the match away from his body. I suggested that Max prop the corner of the match box on a solid surface for added support. The last thing you want is for a piece of burning match head to land on his body and further burn the fear of fire in his mind.

Use as many matches as needed for your child to achieve ignition. Once he succeeds, have him hold the match vertically until it burns out on its own. Then repeat until he’s comfortable.

Be generous with the high-fives and fist bumps!

Allow him to practice his new-found skill. Have him hold the burning match horizontally and explain that this technique is used to light a campfire. *Hint, hint*

With supervised practice and coaching, Max burned through half a box of matches building fire craft skills and destroying his fear of fire.

Pops, can we go to our shelter and build a campfire? I want to cook some noodles.”

Load up, bud!

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Lighting his tinder bundle

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Letting his fire eat

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Enjoying his Ramen noodles we prepared over the campfire he built!

Not much is more beautiful in our world than cooking Ramen noodles over a fire my grandson built!

Check him out on our video. He is now known as Max “Fire” Walker…

Click here for more on our Boomproof Fire Craft Series.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bombproof Fire Craft: 8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit

by Todd Walker

If you haven’t had a chance to read Part I of our Fire Craft series, I recommend that you start here.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You depend on your “Next Fire” kit in all weather conditions. It’s your go-to resource for building sustainable, repeatable fires.

But here’s the thing…

You can never have too many fire resources!

Get creative with your 10 Piece Kit and you’ll discover many items are hidden fire resources. As a refresher, here are the 10 Piece Kit items:

  1. Cutting tool
  2. Combustion device
  3. Container
  4. Cover
  5. Cordage
  6. Cotton bandana
  7. Cargo tape
  8. Cloth sail needle
  9. Candling device
  10. Compass

The second C above has “captain obvious” written all over it. Combustion equals fire, right?. But the beauty of the 10 C’s of Survivability is that each piece should have a minimum of three uses to help meet the following survival priorities.

Having the knowledge and skill to use these resources creatively in fire craft might end up saving your life.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources

Know the capabilities of the resources within your kit. This takes Doing the Stuff  to build Self-Reliance with your gear. No need to tell you this but UPS will not deliver skills to your door step.

Here’s how to use items in your 10 piece kit as a fire resource, excluding your orthodox combustion devices of course.

#1) Cutting Tool

A high carbon steel knife doubles as a flint and steel set. Simply find a rock harder than the knife steel and strike down the spine to scrape tiny metal shavings off which oxidize quickly and spontaneously combust.

Plus, your cutting tool can craft primitive friction fire sets to create an ember which ignites a tinder bundle. There’s too much a good knife can do to list here.

#2) Container

Metal containers can be used to char material to make next fire easier. Place 100% natural cloth or plant tinder in the empty container and place it in the fire. Be sure to seal the lid with a metal nesting cup or flat rock that will starve the process of oxygen. When the smoke stops coming from the container, remove the container and let it cool before opening the lid.

Test the charred material to see if it will take a spark from a ferro rod or flint and steel set. If not, your char material is not cooked enough. Repeat the process.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Also makes a mean cup of hot cocoa!

A sturdy stainless steel container can also be used to carry burning coals for a couple of hours if the need ever arose. I personally carried a cup of coals in my SS nesting cup for two hours while constantly blowing the coals to keep them alive… and then built a fire with what was left to boil 64 ounces of water. Not bragging, just letting you know the capabilities of a good metal container. Try that in a Nalgene bottle.

#3) Cordage

This item can be made from material off the landscape. However, it’ll take some skill, considerable time and energy. Carrying commercial cordage in your kit allows you to have sting for a bow drill set to make fire.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Bow and bow string

#4) Cotton Bandana

This kit item has so many uses. In fire craft, a 100% cotton bandana or even pajamas makes excellent char cloth to help ensure your next fire.

Here’s a thought though…

There are too many other valuable uses for a bandana than char cloth if suitable plant tinder are available for charring. Charred plant tinder will be part of this Fire Craft series… stay tuned.

#5) Cargo Tape

Duct tape, like bandanas, have crazy amounts of survival uses. One being it burns like napalm.

Loosely roll a two foot section into a ball. Now light the tape with an open flame, if you have one, and it will burn for several minutes to ignite tinder and kindling. Very useful as a fire extender to dry damp tinder material.

Caught without a Bic lighter or other open flame ignition source, rip 1/8 inch strips from a one or two foot strip of tape (I assume you remembered to pack your best ferro rod). I’ve found Gorilla Brand tape to be the bomb. It’s more expensive but you get what you pay for.

With every strip, you’ll notice hair-like threads hanging off to create surface area. We’ve already discussed the importance of surface area in tinder bundles – see Part I of the series. When these narrow strips are piled loosely into a bundle, you can achieve ignition with a good ferro rod.

Here’s one of our video demonstration of this technique:

#6) Candling Device

When choosing a flashlight or headlamp, it’s wise to choose a torch powered by standard AA batteries. Even AAA batteries will work as an ignition source. I also have a cool little LED camp light that snaps on top of a 9 volt battery that I keep in my pack.

To achieve ignition with batteries, we need to move past the 10 piece kit. Steel wool is not a part of the 10 C’s of Survivability. However, as a cleaning and tool maintenance item, make it a habit to pack a bit of AAAA steel wool. You can find it at most any paint or hardware store.

Each AA or AAA battery has 1.5 volts. That voltage alone will not achieve ignition with steel wool in my experience. Daisy chain two batteries, head lamps and flashlights usually have at least two, by taping the junction of a positive and negative end together with Gorilla tape.

Now tear off a small strip of steel wool (1/16th inches or smaller) just longer than the two batteries. Fray the ends of the steel wool strip to create surface area. Hold one end of the steel wool to the negative pole. With the other end, touch the opposite pole while simultaneously touching a small batch of steel wool which will ignite and can be added to a tinder bundle. Steel wool is an excellent way to ignite marginal or damp tinder material.

For those that know me, I love to enjoy a fine, organic dark chocolate. The bars I buy are wrapped in foil. The foil can be used as a conductor if steel wool is not available. See, another redundant use for chocolate bars.

#7) Compass

Your compass is a source of solar ignition if you have a quality base plate compass with a 5x magnifying lens. I invested in the Alpine Compass before I attend the Basic Class at the Pathfinder Learning School last year. The magnifying lens on this compass will create embers on char cloth via solar ignition all day, every sunny day.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My instructor, Brian Manning, explaining details on my Alpine Compass

Now we’re officially out of the 10 piece kit. But here’s a bonus… my 11th C of Survivability which I’m never without in the woods.

#8) Cocoa Powder

Hot cocoa! The key word being hot. To make a hot cup of this luxurious, energy drink, you need fire.

And cocoa powder can give you the assist in your next fire!

Here’s how make Fire by Cocoa

[Note: I carry 100% raw cocoa powder not the Swiss Miss packets. I’ve not tried the pre-packaged hot chocolate mix full of sweeteners with solar ignition.]

Place a small dime to quarter size amount of dry cocoa powder on a “welcome mat” (leaf, leather or wood chip) as you would when creating an ember with a bow drill set. Whip out your magnifying lens or quality compass on a full-sun day. Align your lens perpendicular to the sun’s rays so that it focuses the solar energy in a tiny, burning spot on the pile of cocoa. You’ll begin seeing smoke rise from the cocoa in a few seconds. Hold the magnified sun spot steady for 30 to 60 seconds.

Remove the lens and watch the smoke rise from your smoldering ember as it grows in your cocoa pile. Transfer the ember onto a finely processed natural tinder bundle and blow the ember into flame.

Our quick video tutorial shows you how to start a fire with cocoa powder:

By the way, you can achieve solar ignition with dry coffee grounds and tea in the same manner.

After placing the burning tinder bundle under your kindling, boil some water in your stainless steel container, add the desired amount of cocoa powder (sweeteners optional), and enjoy.

Fire from cocoa for hot cocoa! One of the many unorthodox methods of fire craft.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bombproof Fire Craft: Build a “Next Fire” Kit that Cheats Death

by Todd Walker

Of all the outdoor self-reliance skills, fire is king. Many will argue over my statement.

Bombproof Fire Craft- Build a -Next Fire- Kit that Cheats Death - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You know fire is life out there! No one can deny its usefulness as a survival tool.

Here are my reasons it tops the list of wilderness survival skills…

  • Potable water via boiling for hydration – essential for Core Temperature Control (CTC)
  • Cooking  (especially hot cocoa)
  • Create charred material for your Next Fire
  • Fire hardening wooden weapons/tools
  • Burn and scrape wooden containers
  • Wilderness clothes dryer
  • Making pine pitch glue, straighten arrow shafts, bending wood, etc., etc.
  • Smoke for preserving meat
  • Hygiene – take a smoke bath to kill bacteria on skin and clothing and repel insects
  • Making medicinal concoctions
  • Emotional camp comfort and defense against uninvited wild visitors
  • Illumination
  • Hypothermia’s antidote (CTC)
  • As a southern Chigger magnet, the fact that smoke drives these tiny biting mites out of debris shelters is reason enough to make fire my #1 wilderness survival resource in the South. If you’re not personally familiar, they can cover your body with red, itchy welts that can drive you to the brink of insanity!

Fire is even a survival tool in modern homes. The crackling oak logs in your fireplace, the blue pilot light in the furnace, even your electric hot water heater and night-light in the baby’s nursery makes fire indispensable to every home.

To the modern mind, access to fire’s life-sustaining value is automatic. Press a remote for endless hours of TV entertainment flowing from coal-burning power plants.

Unfortunately, fire is not automatic in wilderness survival.

For this reason, and the chigger thing, your Next Fire kit should contain at least three different ignition sources to help you build a sustainable fire.

Ignition Sources

Bombproof Fire Craft- Build a -Next Fire- Kit that Cheats Death - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Plant tinder and ignition devices going clockwise from 12:00: Cottonwood inner bark, Tulip Poplar bark, Horseshoe Fungus, Flint and Steel w/ Char tin, Magnifying Lens, curls from feather sticks, and in the middle is Fat Lighter’d shavings, Gorilla Taped Bic Lighter, and Ferro Rod.

Depending purely on primitive combustion methods like a bow or hand drill is reserved for primitive living experts or backyard bushcraft practice sessions. Failure is always an option with friction fires. Heck, even modern ignition sources doesn’t guarantee fire in all conditions.

I’ve listed the advantages and disadvantages for the items in my Next Fire kit. Each device is easy to use with practice.

A) Bic Lighter (Open Flame)

Advantages

  • A new Bic will give you thousands times more open flames than a box of kitchen matches. A wet match is useless… well, except for picking your teeth.
  • Submerge a Bic and it can be back in service within a minute or so by blowing the moisture off the tiny ferro rod striker.
  • Easy to use. Even a young child can use a lighter (Tip: always remove the child safety device from Bic lighters in fire kits to make them easy for you and a child to use in an emergency).
  • Even an empty Bic is a useful combustion device. More on that later in our School of Fire Craft series.

Tip: Wrap Gorilla tape around the lighter and you have a built-in tinder and fire extender – a walnut-size ball of duct tape will burn over 10 minutes.

A-Waterproof-Tinder-Bundle-Hack-That-Guarantees-Fire

Use a carabiner to attach the duct taped lighter to your pack

Note: I only use matches for specific fire challenges. They are not a part of my Next Fire Kit.

Disadvantages

  • It’s difficult to monitor the fuel level unless the housing is clear like the cheaper, rectangular lighters. I only carry Bic lighters.
  • Extreme cold will kill a Bic. Warm it in your arm pit or crotch to get the butane flowing again.

B) Ferrocerium Rod (Spark Ignition)

Advantages

  • Scraped with a sharp flint shard, broken glass, or a 90º knife spine, 1,500º F to 3,000º F sparks spontaneously combust to ignite tinder material.
  • Sparks even in wet conditions.
  • The average outdoors person will never wear a ferro rod out.
  • Can ignite many tinder sources, even non-charred material.
  • Beginner skill level needed to learn to use one.
  • For more info on ferro rods, click here.

Disadvantages

  • They are consumable.

C) Magnifying Len (Solar Ignition)

Advantages

  • Beginner skill level. Ever drive ants crazy with one as a kid?
  • Ignites different tinder materials.
  • Saves other ignition devices on sunny days.
  • Self-contained – no assembly required.
  • Never wears out. Always protect your lens from scratches and breakage.

Disadvantages

  • Depends on sunshine.

D) Sure Fire – Not an ignition device but…

I consider this item essential to every Next Fire kit!

InstaFire: Lights in Wind, Rain, Snow, and on Water!

InstaFire burning in the creek! No toxic chemicals in this sure fire.

I carry commercially made chemical-based sure fire starters as well as DiY sure fire. There is no such thing as cheating when it comes to making fire in an emergency scenario. Practice primitive but prepare modern!

Advantages

  • Works with spark ignition or open flame.
  • Burns several minutes.
  • Burns when wet.
  • Easy to ignite.

Disadvantages

  • Sure fire is never a disadvantage.

D) Flint and Steel (Spark Ignition)

This primitive method may seem outdated or useless by some but I include it in my Next Fire kit because options in fire craft make us anti-fragile.

Advantages

  • Lasts virtually forever.
  • Any rock harder than the steel can drive sparks from the steel.
  • That same rock can be used on the spine of a high carbon steel knife to ignite charred material.
  • Intermediate skill level. Easy to use with prior practice.
  • For more info on flint and steel, click here.

Disadvantages

  • Sparks in the 800º F range – significantly less than ferro rods.
  • Charred material or specific un-charred plant tinder are needed to catch sparks.

E) Charred Material

Partners with flint and steel but is works with solar ignition and ferro rods.

Advantages

  • It only takes a spark to create an ember. Works with solar ignition too.
  • Easy to make and use – even without a metal container.
  • Any natural material (cloth or plant tinder) can be charred.

Disadvantages

  • Must be dry to use

With the exception of the magnifying lens and flint and steel, the other devices mentioned are modern. I’m bypassing friction as an ignition source but will cover the basics of ancient fire craft later in this series.

None of the ignition devices, modern or primitive, will build a sustainable fire without a proper pyre (pronounced the same as fire) – a.k.a. fire lay.

No matter how you construct your pyre, these common denominators must be present for a fire to grow.

Like all living things, fire must eat to live.

The Meal Plan for Fires

Mistakes I’ve made and seen others make when practicing fire craft, even with open flame ignition sources, were more times than not due to poor preparation and taking short cuts. This is especially true with primitive methods. With only a small ember to ignite a tinder bundle, choose the most finely processed combustible natural material available.

The following three-meals-a-day analogy may help you feed your next fire.

Breakfast: Tinder

This meal is truly the most important meal in a fire’s life. To help the flames rise and shine, feed it what it loves… a hearty helping of fluffy, dry, dead plant material.

We eat grits for breakfast in the south. My Yankee friends eat other disgusting mush.

Like food, tinder varies by locale. Your job is to spend time Doing the Stuff to test different plant tinder and find the best local breakfast to feed your fire.

Plant tinder, when processed or broken down to create surface area, will accept a spark or small open flame from a match or lighter to produce fire. In the eastern woodlands, the Piedmont region of Georgia in my case, we have an abundance of plants and trees which can be processed (shredded) down to create tinder the size of hair stands.

It’s all about the surface area!

Some of my Georgia favorites I’ve had success with are…

  • Tulip Poplar inner bark
  • Red Cedar bark
  • Cottonwood inner bark
  • Fat Lighter’d, fat lighter, lighter wood, non-Georgia natives call it fatwood (resin-rich dead pine stumps, knots, and limbs) – more fat lighter’d info here. Make a quarter-size pile of lighter’d shavings with the spine of your knife to create the Breakfast of Champions for any fire!
backyard-bushcraft

Fat lighter’d shavings lit with a ferro rod

  • White fluffy stuff – cattail heads, dandelion clock, and Bull thistle gone to seed are a few flash tinder that flame up quickly and should be added to other substantial tinder material for longer burn times.
Bombproof Fire Craft- Build a -Next Fire- Kit that Cheats Death - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Flash tinder (Bull thistle)

  • American Beech leaves die and hang around on branches well into spring just before new growth appears offering months of easy-to-reach seasonal tinder material.
Live Wild Where the Pavement Ends

Beech tree leaves

  • Pine needles – dead pine needles crushed and rolled (processed) in your hands will create nice bundles of tinder material. Look for mounds of pre-processed pine needles on roadside curbs courtesy of vehicle tires. Collect them and practice your backyard fire craft.
  • Dry grasses (flash tinder) – I like to use broom sedge to form a tennis racquet shape with a handle to hold my finest tinder material. A word of caution on grasses in humid climates like Georgia… they tend to hold moisture. Harvest grasses that have died naturally and are as dry as possible.
  • Black Sooty Mold – I first discovered this fire extender on American Beech trees and found it will take a spark from ferro rods and produces an ember via solar ignition. Click here for how to find and harvest this fire resource.

Lunch: Kindling

Nothing is more discouraging than watching your fire consume all its tinder and not eat the next meal… kindling. Your fire was hungry but didn’t like what you offered for lunch.

The best bet is to feed your fire the smallest and driest twigs available. This material is called “smalls” for a reason. Collect pencil-lead size to pencil-size material. The smaller the surface area the faster it reaches combustion temperature. If you have fat lighter’d or other resinous wood available, by all means, process it to use for kindling.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

One 2 inch stick of poplar made this: L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bark tinder

If “smalls” are not available or rain-soaked, create them by splitting a larger stick or limb with your cutting tool. You’ll find dry, combustible wood inside larger dead wood. Click here for a tutorial on creating a One Stick Fire.

Now practice it in the rain…

Dinner: Fuel

After eating lunch (kindling), feed your fire progressively larger fuel. Finger-size up to the size of your wrist tops off your fire’s diet. Your fire will let you know when it is ready to eat more fuel when flames being licking up and through the pile of kindling. Add too much too soon and you’re in danger of choking the fire. Heimlich maneuvers must be performed to free air passages to nurse the fire back to life.

Fire loves chaos and randomness. However, fuel should be laid, not thrown, on top of young fires. As it grows and matures, kick back and let it eat.

Bombproof Fire Craft- Build a -Next Fire- Kit that Cheats Death - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Remember… fire is life out there but never automatic!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping

Guest post by Kevin Bowen

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

First off, I must thank Todd Walker for the opportunity to write this piece for his blog. He really wanted to attend Kephart Days this year but an even more important event took place the same weekend that required his attendance, the birth of a beautiful, healthy grandson. Congratulations good buddy!!!

I first met Todd online about a year or so ago and then had to chance to meet up with him and Bill Reese at one of the Workshop in the Woods classes, hosted by primitive expert/teacher/author, and all around great guy, Scott Jones. If you regularly follow Todd’s blog, you have been introduced to Scott already. Since then, I have garnered a great respect for Todd’s attitude, an affinity for his ideas and work ethic, and more than anything, a love for his friendship. It’s truly an honor to help him out with this project. This article will have neither Todd’s articulate nature, prose, or flow. But, please bear with me and I will try not to bore you and attempt to deliver at least a sliver of the respect this event deserves.

If you missed the 2015 annual Horace Kephart Days event held May 15th-16th at the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, North Carolina, you missed an amazing and well run event complete with imparted knowledge, new friendships, relaxation, discovery, and fresh respect. The purpose of the event was to bring awareness to Horace Kephart “The Dean of American Camping”, his life and legacy, contributions to camping, woodcraft, preservation, and enduring spirit. In addition to this purpose was to observe and interact with Steven Watts, David Wescott, and the Acorn Patrol Classic Camping Demonstration Team.

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Steve Watts and David Wescott sharing the knowledge

Even the most novice outdoorsman should be familiar with the name Horace Kephart. Many have heard of the Kephart knife which was named after the style of knife that he preferred when enduring long spells in the outdoors. Even more so, his book Camping and Woodcraft, is one of the most definitive manuals for outdoors enthusiasts. There is an abundance of information on Kephart, even though there may be even more mystery surrounding him. I would suggest researching this great individual to seek the benefits that you would surely reap from it. Fortunately, conversations were already being had for next year’s event. Personally, I can’t wait to see what it will bring.

Having only Saturday to attend, I had to fit as much into 8 hours as possible, even though a full immersion into the subjects would have required much more time. Upon arriving, I immediately knew I was at the correct place even though I had yet to see a classic camper face. My senses went into overload with the whiff of the fresh air accompanied by that wonderful wood smoke and campfire aroma that we all love. It didn’t hurt that waves of the morning’s breakfast cooked over the fires were still lingering. Well, except enhancing my appetite.

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

What’s not to love about this camp!

Walking up to the campground, there was a beautiful scene of different shades of canvas set up meticulously all about the backcountry farm grounds. The tents were in perfect agreement with the old farm buildings and would make one feel as if they went back through a portal in time. Amongst the canvas were whelen lean-tos, baker tents, wall tents, diamond shelters, wedge tents, and others. The period representative items amongst the campers ranged from a few to an abundance, all stoking visitors inquisitive nature. The best part of the camp, however, was the warm and welcoming personalities there. Finally, after speaking only online, I was able to meet Steven Watts, David Wescott, and Horace & Laura Kephart’s great granddaughter, Libby Kephart Hargrave in person.   Also, in attendance were Georgia Bushcrafter’s Bobby O’Quinn and Master Woodsman’s Christian Nobel, along with Bobby’s son and Christian’s daughter. It is amazing to see the kids joining in on the fun.

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A classic camping bed in order

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

“Smoothin’ it” with a well equipped nightstand

After quick introductions and hellos, we headed over to the main museum building and auditorium. Just as welcoming inside the museum as on outside were other Kephart enthusiasts and lecturers. Some had even come from states away, even California. Speakers on Kephart and his contributions to woodcraft, conservation, and the Smokey Mountain National Park were Jason Brady, Bob Plott, George Frizzell, George Ellison, and Libby Kephart Hargrave.   After the lectures, descendants of Horace Kephart were on hand for autographs, discussion, and pictures. Participants of the event were also welcomed to participate in a documentary being filmed on Kephart, when walking around the campground, by providing one word that comes to mind when pondering Horace Kephart. Libby’s personal word was “complex” while my thoughts conjured up the word “reflective”.

When leaving the auditorium, we were also invited to stop by Mr. Bill Alexander’s bark basket display. Mr. Alexander was extremely inviting and you can easily see that he has a passion and artistic nature for his baskets. Fortunately, I was able to gain a little insight and tips for some that I plan to make as well. He is also an author, poet, hiker, and researcher as well as a great guy to have a long conversation with.

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Wash stand outside a tent

Back outside, the fellowship and enjoyment continued. Along with Mr. Watts and Mr. Wescott were the amazing Acorn Patrol members, who displayed an amazing 1920s demonstration camp. All of the members were not just displaying camping in the old style but exhibiting an old style neighborly attitude where all were welcomed into their homes away from home like old friends. Included in their displays were some extremely expensive items and priceless heirlooms. However, all were invited to touch, experience, and ask questions. Even offered were food, treats, drinks, and a constant willingness to sit down for a friendly chat. I also noticed in their displays that all of them had high quality tools, which was a tenant of Kephart. These are just a few testaments to their willingness to share their passion. These were also skilled artisans and exquisite researchers. Needless to say, they are enthusiasts of history, which is abundantly evident in their displays as they strive, and succeed, to be accurate. If any of you read American Frontiersman or The Backwoodsman periodicals, you would have surely enjoyed the research and writings of some of the Acorn Patrol members.

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Period cooler to keep food fresh

Speaking of past articles in the aforementioned periodicals, two items really caught my eye. One was the axe sheath featured in American Frontiersman #175, in an article by Watts & Wescott. It is a sheath/sling combo that allows a camper to have his axe securely on him at all time while retaining the use of both arms and hands. The other was a period representative cooler, also featured in a piece by Watts & Wescott in The Backwoodsman Vol. 36, No. 3. Amazingly, this cooler that one could put together for $35 dollars or so, will rival $300-$500 dollar coolers or similar size and keep ice in them for 3 days! All one needs is an enclosed wooden box,a #10 can (5lb vegetable or bean can), filled with frozen water, placed inside a larger pot with about 2-3 inches on each side for your “freezer” compartment, pack wheat straw all around this pot for your “refrigeration” section, and a canvas bag filled with about 2 inches thick of wheat straw to lay on top of the inside before closing the lid. Upon touch, Steve’s meat packages were still frozen and the eggs as cold as if they had just been removed from a refrigerator, even though the lid had been off for about 30 minutes upon my inspection.  Unfortunately, I missed seeing Acorn Patrol member, Thomas Ray’s ML Kephart knife and other blades that were loose representations of Kephart’s personal knife discussed in his article in American Frontiersman #175.

   In the afternoon, we attended the “Sermon on the Mount” presented by brother of divinity, David Wescott and brother of re-creation, Steven Watts. The lecture combined a pleasant mixture of information and comedy. The main topic was of classic camping and how it relates to Horace Kephart and also to our story of a nation and our legacy. First off, Mr. Watts and Mr. Wescott gave the back story of classic camping. In particular, how it became extremely popular from 1880-1930 due to a combination of the frontier being closed, a yearning to get out in the wild, and new technology including the automobile. Mr. Watts hit on it perfectly with the idea that “it was age of Daniel Boone meets the age of Henry Ford”. They also explained how the classic camping movement is on an upswing from the year 2000, no doubt in major part from the research, publications, and efforts of these two fine gentlemen and the Acorn Patrol as well. It’s no mistake that Camping in the Old Stylewas first published in 2000. In addition, they touched on how classic camping relates to modern and car camping today.

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Wescott’s tent and book, Camping in the Old Style

Mr. Wescott brought a new term to our attention as well, neoteny. Neoteny is defined as the retention of juvenile characteristics in the adults of a species. Well, needless to say, we get accustomed to and trained as adults to forget ways to think outside of the box, especially with survival and enjoyment as well. Case in point, how many of you created a tree house or fort that was sustainable at a young age just from construction scraps or whatever you could scrape up? Now, if you were tasked to create the same today, how many of them would hold up to the first step you took on it before collapsing? Personally, I’ve been looking for a term for some time now to describe this theory. Now, I have it. Furthermore, it really illustrates why we have a juvenile desire to just be in the woods and somewhat away from modern civilization that we’re accustomed to.

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Steve Watts with Suzanne Simmons, one of the Acorn Patrol “Original Eight” and the director of the 18th century lifeways program at the Schiele.  

Mr. Watts touched on the fact that what they are doing is not just recreational camping but re-creational camping, as in recreating the style that was at a per capita peak in about 1920. The idea was to head out in your Model T Ford for a weekend in the wild, in comfort, with your skills as a woodsman but with many comforts and luxuries of the day. Honestly speaking, I can now see how enjoyable and relaxing this camping can be. The furnishings may look old style but are deceptively comfortable. The tools are such quality that you often could finish a task in less time than you could with modern tools of a similar design but a sense of pride and enjoyment. We already are aware that anyone reading this article understands the enticing lure of the campfire and an honest meal cooked over it, as well as fellowship with your friends by the same fire before retiring to a nice slumber away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Steve did touch on, however, that there is no substitute for the knowledge in your head. The more knowledge of camping and woodcraft that you have, the less you have to carry with you and tasks are achieved more easily through an understanding and efficiency as opposed to confusion and struggle. He encourages us to research and participate ourselves.

The “Sermon on the Mount” lecture was one of the focal points of the events for me and really got me thinking. How many of our forefathers enjoyed this type of camping? Of course, miners, frontiersmen, soldiers, scouts, railroad workers, explorers, traders, etc. had to. But, how many after that did this because they truly loved and enjoyed it. Families would go out together to enjoy time together as opposed to substituting electronic devices for meaningful, wholesome interaction. One of my personal favorite historical figures, Theodore Roosevelt, specialized in this type of camping. He did so not just for his adventures and safaris, but because he loved it and the outdoors.

If you did not get a chance to attend Kephart Days this year, you surely missed a treat and I strongly recommend a trip to see these wonderful people and their craft next year. To that point, if you would like to see Steve Watts and the Acorn Patrol in person sooner than the 2016 Kephart Days, they will be having an event in The Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah Forest, NC in October. That too, I have no doubts, will be worth the trip, especially in the beautiful October weather. The entire group and all participants put on and together an amazing display. I have no doubt that Horace Kephart would have enjoyed this event and be proud of what his legacy represents as well as the movement it has spawned with these wonderful people.

To put some scenery to your imagination, I have included some pictures. However, you can also find pictures online that are surely captured with much better photography equipment and an eye than I have provided.

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Kevin with Libby Kephart Hargrave, great-granddaughter of Horace Kephart

There are too many thanks to go around for the enjoyment that I received at the event and new friendships/bonds created, but I would like to especially thank the following: Libby Kephart Hargrave for organizing and putting on a great event to celebrate “The Dean of American Camping”, Horace Kephart. Steve Watts and David Wescott for their relentless study, effort, and desire to educate and encourage this movement, as well as their generous hospitality and warm nature. The Acorn Patrol: Thomas Ray, Tom and Jennifer Mancke, Steve Maxwell, Jim Green, Michael Eldridge, Kim Niedert, Cindy Carpenter, and Eve King. This group put a lot of time and effort not only to create an immaculate display but also had the most inviting personalities while doing so. George and Elizabeth Ellison, Bob Plott, George Frizzell, Bill Alexander, Joe Flowers, and Jason Brady for their lectures and invaluable contributions to the event. Janet Deyer who serenaded us with lovely, period violin music. All of the Kephart descendants and Libby’s amazing husband, John Hargrave, who came out to attend and support the event and cause. The Schiele Museum for hosting the event and having other great exhibits to tour as well. The camera and production crew documenting the event and working on the amazing Kephart documentary that will be coming out. Last but certainly not least, everyone who came out from near and far to the event or who just happened to drop in out of curiosity and stay for a spell. Without you, this event would not exist. I sincerely hope to attend and see some of you there next spring. Hey, if you notice, should your name be Tom, Bob, or George, you are a shoe in to be accepted. Just be prepared to participate in the “Hello” echo when your name is called!

Horace Kephart Days: The Revival of Classic Camping - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Steve Watts, Kevin Bowen, and David Wescott

[I’d like to thank Kevin for sharing his experience and photos with us. Hopefully we can share a campfire and canvas at next years event. Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance! – Todd]

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Lost Skills, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Made by Hands: Make it or Buy it?

by Todd Walker

Made by Hands: Make it or Buy it? | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My blogging buddy, Patrick Blair (Survival at Home), is credited with the idea for this post. He recommended I share all my DiY stuff in one photo. Haha… that’s a challenge which would take a wide-angle camera lens.

Instead, I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve made over the years in hopes of inspiring others to make their own.

We promote skills over “shiny object survival” gear around here. But honestly, I’m a gear junkie as much as the next guy. We’re members of a tool-using species!

Man is a tool-using animal. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.

~ Thomas Carlysle

 

There’s more to self-reliance than just buying gear and tools though…

It’s about making your own and living this philosophy… Prepare modern but practice primitive.

Could the 10 C’s of Survivability be reproduced in a 72 hour survival scenario?

Yup. However, specific skills, resources, and time are needed, which may be hard to come by. So, Buy it… but learn to make most, if not all, of these essential kit items.

  1. Cutting tools – Unless you’re a very talented craftsman or artisan, I recommend buying the best knife, ax, and saw you can afford.
  2. Combustion device – Learn to make primitive fire via friction and flint and steel. Flint or quartz can be used on the spine of your high-carbon steel cutting tool to light charred material. You carry a next fire kit, right?
  3. Cordage – Finding natural resources suitable for cordage expends calories. Making indigenous cordage is a good skill to learn though. I practice making cordage because I enjoy primitive skills. If you don’t, buy cordage for your kits.
  4. Cover – A USGI poncho or emergency space blanket doesn’t weigh much and can be found for under $20. I hammock camp with my bed sheet tarp but carry an emergency space blanket I purchased.
  5. Container – You must stay hydrated. Yes, you can make containers from the landscape but a metal container gives you anti-fragile options!
  6. Cotton – Never made it… buy this item for sure.
  7. Cargo tape – Practice making natural glues but buy and keep Gorilla Brand duct tape in your kits. If it can’t be fixed with duct tape…!
  8. Cloth sail needle – My metal repair needle is mounted on the back of my primary knife sheath with Gorilla tape. Primitive needles or awls can be made from bone, but, again, time and resources area factors.
  9. Candling device – Buy a quality head lamp that takes “AA” batteries. I carry a candle and have made fat lighter’d torches and oil lamps but a flashlight is too easy to pack.
  10. Compass – Navigation is the primary use for a compass. If that’s all your compass can do, you should consider buying another one. My multi-functional Alpine compass can also be used for combustion, signaling, self-aid, and tick removal.

Even if money isn’t tight for your family, there’s no better satisfaction than using gear made by hands… your hands!

Today is a celebration of making the stuff of self-reliance. Click the title links in the photo essay for details on how to make your own stuff.

Made by Hand

Below you’ll find DiY projects in two broad categories: Outdoor Self-Reliance and Homesteading.

Awesome photo courtesy of Connor M. Lamoureux on Instagram (adventureconwards)

Awesome photo courtesy of Connor M. Lamoureux on Instagram ~ adventureconwards

By the way, if you’re on Instagram, give us a follow at… ToddatSurvivalSherpa.

Make tag
Buy tagor

 

 

How do you know when it’s best to Make it or Buy it? Skill level, tools and equipment, space, time, and resources are determining factors on which project to tackle. The ultimate goal of making stuff is… making us more self-reliant.

What kind of person are you making?

Outdoor Self-Reliance

Wool Blanket Hunting Shirt

100% Wool Blanket = Awesome Hunting Shirt

My hunting shirt made from an Italian wool Army blanket

Oilskin Bed Sheet Tarp

homemade-oilskin-bedsheet-tarp

DiY Hands-Free Ax Sheath

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Outdoor Cooking Tripod

How to Build a Bushcraft Tripod for Your Outdoor Kitchen

Prefect!

Mountain Man MRE’s (Pemmican, Parched Corn, and Dried Fruit)

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Smoke house teepee

Fixin’ Wax

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

Tree Bark Archery Quiver

IMG_2047

Base Camp Sawbuck

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Primitive Process Pottery

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Brian Floyd, our main instructor, made a tasty stew in one of his pots for lunch.

Wooden Spoons

Spoon Carving with an Ax | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Making Containers from Primitive Process Pottery - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Blowing through a section of river cane to burn the bowl of my spoon

Char Material for Your Next Fire

Blowing-My-Lid-Over-Char-Containers

Embers on charred punk wood

Waterproof Fire Starter

A-Waterproof-Tinder-Bundle-Hack-That-Guarantees-Fire

A door hinge pin chucked in my drill

Pine Pitch Glue Sticks

How to Make Primitive Hot Glue Sticks | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fat Lighter’d Torch

pine-tree-uses-self-reliance

Natural Cordage

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Indigenous cordage I made this weekend. Clockwise from 12:00 ~ Dogbane; Tulip Poplar; Okra, and Yucca.

Base Camp Stump Vise

Make a Stump Vise for “Smoothing It” Camp Projects | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Sling Shot Bow

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Duct Tape Arrow Fletching

Ducttapevanes6 - Copy

 

Cigar Fishing Kit

Screw cap taped

Screw cap taped

Altoids Tin Oil Lamp

30 Ultimate DiY Gifts in Santa's Survival Sleigh

DiY olive oil lamp

Survival Gig

diy-survival-gig

Used about 6 feet of cordage here

Homesteading

Compost Tumbler

 

30 Ultimate DiY Gifts in Santa's Survival Sleigh

DRG’s elevated compost tumbler

Rain Collection System

trading-theory-for-action

trading-theory-for-action

It’s not camo paint, but it blends in very well in the front yard.

Tomato Ladders

Todd's Tomato Ladders | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Four Tomato Ladders anchored and ready with an old wooden ladder on the far left.

Pallet Fencing

Up-cycled pallets, windows, and doors.

Up-cycled pallets, windows, and doors.

Rat Trap

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Paper Fire Logs

diy-firebricks-woodstove-logs-firewood

The wet fire log ready for drying

Farmhouse Table

Pipe clamps putting the squeeze on the 2x6's

Pipe clamps putting the squeeze on the 2×6’s

Foldable Sawbuck

Sawbuck: Work Smarter in the Woodpile

Sawbuck in the woodpile!

Battery Storage Rack

Attention Men: Pinterest is a Prepping Goldmine

Power at your finger tips

Self-Watering Container Gardening 

Image

 

Rendering Tallow

Almost ready.

Almost ready.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Get Your Gut In Shape: Down and Dirty Sauerkraut

Plumber’s Stove

How to Make a Plumber's Stove on Steroids for Cooking and Warmth | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cedar Bench

Here she sits outside my shop

Here she sits outside my shop

Plantain Salve

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

This tin fits nicely in my haversack

Being a student of self-reliance, my expertise is limited in making a lot of the gear I own. However, it’s good enough to get the job done. For instance, the bed sheet tarp has been through extensive field testing and has performed like a boss!

Then there are DiY projects I’ve tried that failed miserably. The journey to self-reliance depends on failing forward.

Your turn. What’s your favorite gear or equipment you’ve Made by Hand? Let us know in the comments.

Keep Making the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Herbal Remedies, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills, Water | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How to Make an Arrow Quiver from Tree Bark

by Todd Walker

How to Make an Arrow Quiver from Tree Bark - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The Tulip Poplar is the Swiss Army Knife of woodcraft and self-reliance. The properties of this Eastern Woodlands tree lends itself to many self-reliant uses…

  • Primitive fire – bow drill sets and tinder material
  • Inner bark for natural cordage
  • Spoons, bowls, cups, and tools
  • Medicinal uses
  • Material and building uses which we employ today

The best time to harvest the bark is late spring and early summer when the sap is rising.

Obviously, you don’t want to cut down the only tulip tree in the forest. I scout my woods to find an overcrowded stand of poplars and harvest one out of 3 or 4 which are close together. The rest of the tree doesn’t go to waste. What’s not used for containers is used for natural cordage, tinder material, spoons and bowls, and primitive fire sets.

Trees under 6 inches in diameter are felled with my take down buck saw. I use an ax for trees over 6 inches. Need felled a tree?  Click here to learn how.

Arrow Quiver

The entire process can be done in the woods. Or, do as I did… cut the log into 6 foot lengths and haul it to the vehicle for transport home. Actually, I did part of the project in the woods and finished up at my shop.

Below are a few tools used to make my quiver…

How to Make an Arrow Quiver from Tulip Tree Bark | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Bucksaw is not pictured

Cut and Remove Bark

On a straight section with few knots (or eyes), measure off the desire length of your quiver. Cut through the bark to the white sap wood on both ends in a ring fashion. A saw makes quick work of this task but can also be done with a knife.

How to Make an Arrow Quiver from Tulip Tree Bark | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The whole sleeve removed. The bucksaw is 21 inches long.

With your knife, cut a straight line from both ring cuts down the length of the log all the way to the sap wood. Be sure to cut through the outer and inner bark.

Work your knife or a wedged stick under one edge where the parallel cut meets the ring cut and begin gently prying the bark free from the sap wood.

Take it easy. Going too fast will cause the bark to crack and ruin your resource. You’re not cutting the bark loose as you might skin a big game animal. The knife is a pry bar now. Free the bark about an inch or so on both edges of the center cut.

Wedge your fingers between the freed bark edge and the sap wood and slowly begin separating the bark. Work your way around the entire log from the center cut. Be careful not to prick your finger on any small prickly points on the sap wood.

Once disconnected from the sap wood, the flexible bark sleeve can be removed. Now your ready to make lacing holes along both sides of the center cut.

Bore Holes

Now that the bark is off the tree, slip it back on. The log will be used as an anvil for boring lacing holes along both sides of the center cut. You don’t have to use the log as an anvil but it’s a bit more convenient to do so. A wheel punch used in leather work is another option for making holes in bark.

How to Make an Arrow Quiver from Tulip Tree Bark | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Stitching holes bored into both sides of the parallel cut

With a bone awl or modern awl, bore a line of holes about 1/2 inch from the edge of both center cuts. I spaced my row of holes about 1.5 inches apart – starting at about 1 inch from each end. Try to keep the holes matched up on both sides of the center cut.

Lacing

Rawhide, natural cordage, or synthetic string are all options. Your choice depends on what’s available and how primitive you want your quiver to look. Tarred bank line is a down and dirty option that will work… forever.

I used artificial sinew and leather work needles to stitch the seam in a ‘X’ pattern. Measure and use about 4 times the length of the quiver in cordage. This allows enough leftover cordage to attach a carrying sling when the stitching is done.

Plug End

Cut a 1/2 to 3/4 inch section of wood off the log to be used as a plug for the quiver. The plug cut should come from where you made your ring cut.

Once the seam is laced (loosely), insert the plug into the end of your quiver. Tighten the lacing. Stand the quiver vertically and tap the plug end on a flat surface to ensure a flush fit. The lacing will hold the plug via friction but needs a more secure method.

I used about 8 small nails spaced around the plug end. Drill evenly spaced pilot holes which are slightly smaller than the diameter of your nails/tacks. Hammer the nails into the pilot holes to secure.

As the bark dries, it curls in on itself. The plug prevents this on the bottom end. However, on the open end, stuff some newspaper, bubble wrap, or other material a few inches down tube to hold the cylindrical shape as it dries. The drying time takes a few days to a week depending on weather conditions.

Shoulder Sling

You should have the long tag ends of cordage leftover at the plug end. I laid a two foot length of leather thong evenly between my two tag ends of cordage. Secure the thong to the quiver with a simple square knot (right over left, left over right).

How to Make an Arrow Quiver from Tulip Tree Bark | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This sling is similar to the hands-free ax sling I made only more narrow

I did the same thing at the opposite end and attached a piece of scrap leather (25 inches long) to the thongs. The thongs allow me to adjust the length of my quiver much like the sling I made for my hands-free ax sheath.

You may also want to add a strip of fur on the inside rim to prevent arrows from banging against the bark quiver when walking the woods. It also adds a great primitive touch to your functional work of art!

This Tulip Tree will provide enough bark for more containers and other resources of self-reliance. Here’s a bonus berry basket made from another 22 inch section of bark…

How to Make an Arrow Quiver from Tulip Tree Bark | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A berry basket for Dirt Road Girl

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, DIY Preparedness, Doing the Stuff, Primal Skills, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Gnawing Solutions to Self-Reliance: 18 Beaver Habitat Resources

by Todd Walker

North America’s largest rodent may be considered a nuisance to farmers, landowners, and highway departments. From a self-reliant perspective, this fury critter offers more benefits than damage in most cases.

Gnawing Solutions to Self-Reliance- 18 Beaver Habitat Resources - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Last weekend our family gathered to fulfill my brother’s request. After spreading most of his ashes in the lake behind my parents house, Kyle, my brother’s oldest son, and I took a small container of his ashes to the feeder creek where my brother and I spent many childhood hours catching crawdads and reenacting the Daniel Boone TV show.

Childhood memories were as fresh as the day our jack knives carved “CW” and “TW” in the paper-like bark of a massive Beech tree on the creeks bend. Kyle and I searched for the tree with no success.

I felt lost. Not just because my brother would never tramp these woods by my side…

The entire landscape surrounding what was once a creek full of boyhood memories and misadventures was unrecognizable. The stream which once flowed unobstructed under a thick hardwood canopy between two ridges was now a decade old beaver pond.

My eyes witnessed a complete transformation. Twenty-five yards to both sides of the creek grew a lush, green landscape of grasses, cattail, and other aquatic plants. The scenic vista stretched 100 yards with dead standing timber scatter intermittently. Our life had changed much like my beloved creek.

Self-Reliant Resources Gnawing to be Discovery in Beaver Habitat | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Kyle and ‘Abby’ walking on beaver pond sediment collected over the years. The creek of my youth had split which once ran three times the size on this spot.

Inspired by Scott Jones, Georgia native and author of A View to the Past – (and a recent roadkill beaver on my drive home) – this article highlights the importance of the fury woodland engineer. For further research on the role beavers and their habitat played in pre-history, read his book.

Jones pegged it when he wrote that the beaver is…

“next to fire and human activity, one of the premier agents of landscape and habitat alteration on this continent.”

Our upland creek had morphed into new ecosystem. Presented with a smorgasbord of new resources, the beaver pond could be viewed as a gnawing problem or…

The Gnawing Self-Reliance Solution

It’s a dam good idea! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

Seriously though, when a beaver couple selects their home site on a free-flowing stream or creek, landowners may look despairingly upon the beaver colony and the accompanying swimming hole. However, with a view to long-term self-reliance, one should consider leaving it to the beavers.

Here’s why…

With the wetland area comes a host of new and beneficial resources for the homesteader, farmer, woodsman, foragers, primitive technologist, hunter/fisherman, wildlife, and the land itself.

Below are the top 18 resources available in your local beaver-built wetland habitat…

The Beaver (Castor canadensis) 

Beavers were once near extinction in Georgia and the United States due to over-trapping and habitat loss. A reintroduction program in the 1940’s successfully repopulated our state and nation. In fact, they’re thriving to the point in Georgia that there is no closed season on harvesting beaver.

A harvested animal can be used for

  • Meat – prepared correctly, beaver tenderloin, back straps, hams, and even the tail makes a tasty and nourishing meal.
  • Pelt – composed of long, coarse hair with wooly undercoat, beaver pelts were luxuriously warm winter hat and mittens.
  • Teeth – the chisel-sharp incisors make great primitive scrapers for wood carving tasks
  • Castor glands – used in the perfume industry but are most valuable for trappers as a universal furbearer attractant. For those interested in trapping, check out this informative article on harvesting castor glands and oil to make your own attractant.

Not crazy about the thought of eating a large rodent? No problem. A beaver colony is full of southern hospitality. Their engineering feats offer accommodations for fury, feathery, and finned appetizing meals.

Fish

In mature beaver ponds, many species of fish are available. You may not catch one as large as the one I’m tangling with below, but rest assured, you can feed yourself and family from beaver ponds.

A large grass carp

Landing a 25 pound carp

Limb hooks, fish traps, and trot lines are great for harvesting fish while you attend to other tasks of self-reliance. However, don’t discount cane poles! My brother and I pulled many a mess of fish from fishing holes with a homemade bamboo or sapling pole.

Reptiles

Venomous and non-venomous snakes are fond of wetland habitat.

Didn't get close enough to identify this one but we think it was a Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) by its behavior

Black snake resting his briar hammock

We didn’t get close enough to positively identify this one but we think it was a Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) due to its behavior. Racers like to climb and lay on vegetation. This guy/gal was using a clump of dead blackberry bushes like a drying rack.

Water moccasin

Water moccasin is a venomous snake common in and around beaver ponds in Georgia

Watch your step when scouting for resources in beaver ponds. The only venomous snakes in our area of Georgia to be concerned about are rattle snakes, cottonmouths (water moccasins), and copper heads.

Turtles and beavers go together. And, yes, turtles are edible.

This snapping turtle is next to a size 12 shoe for comparison

This Common Snapping Turtle is next to a size 12 shoe for comparison

Foraging Flora and Fauna

IMG_1616

False Nettles growing in sediment build up along the creek

River cane, Willow, Tulip Poplar, Arrowhead, Cattail, and other plants and trees that thrive in wetland habitat are available in and around beaver ponds. Always, always, correctly identify wild edibles before consuming.

Cattail

Cattail

Woodcraft and Primitive Skills

Debarked wood for tool handles, digging sticks, bow drill sets, shelter, and rabbit sticks can be found in beaver habitat. Wood removed from a dam will quickly be replaced with freshly gnawed logs. Some of my favorite walking sticks were removed from beaver ponds.

Flooded timber in our beaver pond was home to many wood peckers

Flooded timber in our beaver pond is home to many woodpeckers

Try removing bark on a log using only primitive scraping tools and you’ll have a new appreciation for beaver-chewed wood.

Beaver damage to a maple on a small pond at the property

Beaver damage to a maple on a small pond at the property

Firewood is plentiful, too. Beavers eat the bark off large diameter trunks killing the tree to open the canopy above. Standing dead, they eventually fall from wind storms or get gnawed down.

The spillway in the middle of one of the dams

The spillway in the middle of one of the dams

Exercise caution tramping through beaver dams and ponds. Watch for hazards while admiring the beauty.

Wetlands and Stored Water

The natural way to create beneficial wetlands costs no money and is built by Mother Nature’s best engineer… the beaver.  The beaver pond at the head of our lake provides critical habitat for waterfowl.

Even without the beaver pond, we have a deep water lake. However, landowners and farmers without a man-made lake or pond could benefit from a beaver-built watershed for irrigation.

  • When water tables drop during drought, water will be available in beaver ponds.
  • Dams also serve to naturally filter water and remove silt.
  • Stable water supply for wildlife, livestock, and vegetation.
  • Elevates ground water table.
  • Formation of fertile beaver meadows after being silted in.

Beaver Facts

  • Lifespan – 5 to 10 years in the wild
  • Size – 30 to 50 inches from head to end of paddle tail
  • Weight – 40 to 60 pounds fully grown; the Ice Age beaver, Castoroides, was said to have weighed 400 pounds… that’s a big beaver! (Source:A View to the Past)
  • Diet – Southeastern beavers eat tree bark: Sweetgum, Willow, Dogwood, Tulip Poplar, Pine, Cottonwood, Maple and most any tree available. They also dine on aquatic plants, roots, fruit, and tubers and stems of plants in the beaver habitat. Beavers will also venture into corn fields for meals.
  • Identification – large rodent with orange teeth, coarse outer hair with a wooly undercoat, webbed feet with claws, and a paddle tail used as a rudder, warning signal when slapped on the top of water, and a prop when standing to gnaw trees.
  • Natural Predators – Bear, bobcat, cougar, coyote, and humans
  • Shelter – Beavers build dens in lodges in the ponds they’ve created. They burrow into banks mostly in my area and not the typical beaver lodge. On deep water lakes and larger rivers, bank dens are their homes. We call these critters bank beavers.

The gnawing solutions are worth consideration by every student of self-reliance for long-term sustainability. What do you think? Benefit or nuisance?

Though I lost the Beech tree containing our initials due to flooded beaver habitat, our property has gained a valuable wetland resource. Plus, Kyle, part of the next generation of Walkers, found his initials he’d carved in a smaller Beech tree and forgotten about. I think I’ll go add “CW” and “TW” to this new family tree.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Water | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Tulip Poplar: A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The window of opportunity to foraging many wild plants is short. Catch them in their growing season and you have a meal or medicine. Once they’re gone, you’ll have to wait several months to enjoy their benefits.

Not so with trees. They don’t wither in late autumn and disappear. Understand their properties as a valuable year-round resource, trees become indispensable to for outdoor self-reliance.

We’ve discussed a few trees found in Georgia offering nutrition, medicinal, and other benefits. Check out the Trees for Self-Reliance tab at the top of this page for further research on useful eastern woodland trees and projects made from them.

One of my favorites is…

Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

The tulip poplar is actually not a in the Poplar family. Early North American settlers thought this tree was related to the European white poplar, which are members of the Willow (Salicaceae) family.

Nope. The Tulip poplar is actually in the Magnolia (Magnoliaceae) family – flowering plant family.

Other common names include yellow poplar, tulip tree, yellow wood, and canoe wood. Some names I’d never heard before are saddle tree, lyre tree, and old wife’s shirt. I’m guessing the leaves resembled an old wife’s shirt to some early settler?? Come to think of it, they do remind me of a T-shirt.

No matter what you call this tree, tulip poplars are easy to identify in any season and contain rich resources for woodsman, homesteaders, and outdoor adventurers.

Identification

One of the tallest and most distinct in the eastern woodland, tulip poplars grow to heights of 120 feet (or more) with straight limb-less trunks until they reach a narrow crown. Large 2 inch orange, green, and yellow cup-shaped flowers appear in mid spring (in middle to north Georgia) resembling tulips flowers. The leaves are quite unusual in appearance, nearly square (4 to 6 inches long) with 4 to 6 paired lobes on long stalks which wave in the slightest breeze.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com (1)

Drink the honey-like nectar straight from the flower cup if you find any hanging low… cheers!

Even in winter, long after their leaves have turned yellow and littered the forest floor, one can spot these trees easily. In a race to the top of the forest canopy, this fast growing hardwood drops its lower limbs leaving dark scars resembling scattered “black eyes” along the length of the gray trunk.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com (1)

The trees have eyes!

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com (1)

This clump of tulip poplars would be very noticeable even without foliage

Before dropping, the bark of dead limbs often peel revealing a whitish colored wood which contrasts well in darker winter landscapes.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Exposed white wood of a fallen poplar

You can find these trees ranging from Ontario to northern Florida and west through Mississippi. They like well-drained soil in moist valleys and ridges.

Here are 5 ways to use my most popular tree resource in the eastern woodlands…

#1 Resource: Combustion

Whether making primitive fire by friction or using your Bic lighter, locate a tulip poplar and you’ll likely find dry, dead limbs near the base. I often run across clumps of poplar trees with the smallest tree standing dead. Harvest it for the wood and inner bark to assist your fire craft.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One stick fire

One 2-3 inch x 12 inch dead limb of tulip poplar, bark intact, may be all you have but is all you need to build a sustainable fire. Process the inner bark into fine hair-like fibers to form a tinder bundle. Split the wood down into pencil-lead, pencil, and thumb sizes. If dry, the inner fibers will ignite with sparks from a ferro rod. Use your Bic on marginally dry tinder.

If you need coals for cooking or “burn and scrape” woodcraft projects, choose another wood like oak or hickory. I’ve found tulip poplar doesn’t make coals but burns to ash.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Primitive Bow Drill Fire Kit: Poplar used to make a hearth board, spindle, and bearing block

Once you and a tree collaborate to make primitive fire, there’s a primal rush that pulses through your being… You’ll never be the same!

#2 Resource: Cordage

You may not plan on being without this vital C of Survivability, but if you are, the inner bark of tulip poplar can be twisted into fine to large rope. Natural cordage isn’t that difficult to reproduce from the landscape. It just takes time, resources, and skill… which is why you should always carry stuff to lash and tie things together.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

1/8 inch diameter reverse twist tulip poplar cordage

#3 Resource: Self-Aid

Self-aid should be your top priority on wilderness outings. Even if you manage to avoid stupid stuff, accidents happen.

Besides being an excellent resource for fire and cordage, tulip poplar’s inner bark and leaves were used medicinally by Cherokee and colonists in Georgia for treating…

  • Poultice from leaves for inflammation and sores
  • Inner bark tea for fevers and upset stomach
  • Supposedly, inner bark was chewed as an aphrodisiac
  • Tooth aches
  • Colonists used a tincture of root and bark to treat malaria
  • Used as a tonic to induce perspiration to treat fevers
  • Root bark and seeds useful as a wormer for the body
  • Cough syrup from bark

#4 Resource: Container

In late spring, the bark of the tulip poplar is ripe for harvesting. Baskets, arrow quivers, and other containers can be crafted from the outer bark. Simply score the bark with a saw or knife to the sap wood, split the bark vertically, and peel the bark off the log in a whole section.

#5 Resource: Building and Woodcraft Material

The Foxfire Museum in North Georgia showcases the pioneer culture of Southern Appalachia with displays of cabins, barns, and out buildings built from long, straight tulip poplar trees. DRG and I have visited the museum on two occasions to admire the self-reliant skills needed to sustain their way of life.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Reconstructing old cabins with tulip poplar at Foxfire Museum

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

In woodcraft/bushcraft, tulip poplar is a good selection for spoon carving, pottery paddles, and even dugout canoes. History tells us that Native Americans made canoes of this tree. Daniel Boone is said to have made and used a tulip poplar canoe.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My tulip poplar “burn and scrape” wooden chili spoon

#6 Resource: Edible

One of the highlights of spring foraging is the sweet, honey-like nectar found in the cup of tulip poplar blooms. As mentioned previously, mature trees drop their lower branches which makes finding low-hanging blooms a challenge.

Your best bet at sipping this delicacy is locating a tree in someone’s yard. In my experience, yard trees have lots of lower branches still attached since they aren’t competing with other trees to reach the top of the forest canopy. If you’re fortunate enough to find one in reach, pluck the bloom and drink the nectar straight from the cup. You’ll be in competition with the local squirrels though – so get to them early!

I’ll leave you with an image of an interesting triple tulip poplar near my shelter.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Almost a peace sign

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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