Now normally I am pretty cautious and on this day, even more so, since I was already in the company of two people I just met. At this point I did not even know their names. And now we were about to go into an even more unknown situation. Looked like a time to be real friendly.
As the three of us approached the three young men, I noticed right away that they all had commercially made blow dart guns leaning against the trees. One of the guys was wearing OD green and muted natural colors and the other two wore blue jeans and a mix of "hunting" type garments, but not a lot of camo.
I asked right away if they were "bushcrafters" and if they were out just practicing skills. They said almost in unison that they were not really bushcrafters, but were out for the morning to cook up a couple pounds of bacon and to maybe try to bring down some small game with their blow dart guns and to use their small game licenses. They wanted to kill some small game, dress it and prepare it for a meal right in the field. One of the guys said that he had seen almost every survival show on television and that he and his wife and family were thinking of moving to Alaska to try homesteading. He had watched a lot of Yukon Men on the Discovery channel along with Alaskan Frontier and all the Dual Survival shows.
After a few interesting moments of getting acquainted, they asked if we would like to see a demonstration of their blow gun prowess. We said sure and one of the guys succeeded in putting several darts in a small group about 10 yards away. I was impressed. I could see why they wanted to see if they could bring down some small game. They mentioned that most of the small game they saw so far, seemed to scatter anytime they tried to move up on it. They would continue to practice.
They had a pretty good fire going by now and the fry pan was on. They started on the first pound of bacon and invited us to have a few other breakfast treat items. They seemed like pretty good fellows and were family guys and were out to just have an adventure. I could not fault them for that, though I did inform them that they were still on state park property and would have to get a lot closer to the river for that to change.
Of course, once the subject of survival TV shows and the like came up, I steered the conversation towards bushcraft. Since they had a fire going, we naturally got onto the subject of methods of making fire. I offered to demonstrate the use of the bow drill to start a fire by friction and quickly set to working finding the pieces I needed near by. It wasn't long and I had a spindle carved and a hearth board made and was starting to hunt for what I would need for a bow. Soon I had all the pieces together and set to work making the first burn in divot.
One of the young men was very interested in the process and asked if he could take some video with his phone for reference later. I said I didn't mind and started to explain the process a little more for the camera.
Well the burn-in revealed what I suspected was going wrong and that was that I was not getting any good black dust, but rather a brown and cooler dust then I had anticipated. I suspected some moisture, but went ahead and cut my notch and tried again to coax an ember out of the spindle and hearth board I had made.
Failure. Sometimes that happens. It started to smoke, but would not cherry up. I could tell from the squeaking sound it made as I spun it up, that the hearth board was just a little moist. But the spindle looked good, so I would have to try a different hearth board. I found one, carved it up nice with my knife and set work. But now the pressure was on, and all eyes were watching. Could I really get this to work? Will the hearth board be dry enough this time? Will I succeed in even getting the tinder to work, after I get a coal?
Read more about this adventure with strangers in Part III... Happy Exploring.