On Discovering Self

"Walk in Peace... Learn from Nature... Find Yourself...

Monday, December 31, 2012

On Minnesota Bushcraft's 2012 Adventure Highlights

   As it is the last day of the year, I thought it fitting to look back at a few of this years bushcraft adventures by sharing some of the highlights with some chosen videos.
   It has been for me a phenomenal year with so many adventures in bushcraft. It has also been a great year for personal growth and learning and for making a lot of good friends, many of whom I can now call brother or sister and feel the camaraderie that comes with sharing our love and passion for bushcraft.
   The start of 2012 saw me trying vigorously to finishing all of my lessons for BushclassUSA Basic certification and I finally finished that with the completion of my Outing #5 on February 18th. Here is the video of that outing, although it is a bit lengthy, it is one of my favorite adventures.

     My goal was to have the Bushclass Basic course completed before attending the Second Annual Hardwoodsman's Meet 2012 in the state of Missouri in April. It turned out to be the experience of a lifetime and I made some great friends and look forward now to many more meetups and adventures with them. It was fun to finally put some faces to some of the user names I had come to know and respect. Here it is again, a musical highlight video of that great gathering of brothers.

   With April, came my commitment to meeting up with some friends who were interested in learning bushcraft. On April 2nd, we would begin meeting every Saturday at 9AM in a local state park. Little did I know that even 9 months later, I would still be going to the park every Saturday, rain or shine and meeting someone or anyone who would care to come and share the adventure.
    I have met many BushcraftUSA members now, all from Minnesota, who have found my little piece of wilderness and they have come and enjoyed meeting up and sharing the time and practicing and learning the ways of bushcraft. We just get together and have fun and share the dirt time. Here is a video of one of the larger gatherings we had on a Saturday morning.

      I have also found a great companion and friend and fellow bushcrafter in my nine year-old bush buddy, my son Christian. He and I have actually spent the last two years together on various adventures and expeditions and he has grown with every turn. He will one day, make a very fine bushcrafter in his own right. He helps to remind me how to be a kid again and to keep the sense of wonder and imagination. Here is a video of one of his latest accomplisments, of which I am very proud of him. He made fire with his fire steel, using natural tinder, that was in itself a little moist, and he did it without my coaching. He figured it out on his own.

   With the hot summer months of July and August, I was able to play with many more new things. I continued to polish my firecraft skills, including many bow drill fires and working on one stick and split wood fires. I have also come to appreciate and enjoy my flint and steel kit a whole lot more than I ever did in the past and choose to use it more often then any other method, and especially trying to always use natural tinders. Here is a short video of using the power of the sun to ignite some false tinder fungus. This method has now become an elective for BushclassUSA and I will have to do it again real soon to submit a fresh video entry for the elective credit.

   I have found a good friend in a BushcraftUSA member who goes by the user name "Sticker" although I now know him as Terry. I met him and his wife, "CallmeKris", as a result of my commitment to the Saturday morning 9AM MeetUps. He and I are about the same age and share the same love for bushcraft. I think he gets out about as often as I do, and we have met now several times and most of those times, it is just the two of us, having fun with him working on completing a Bushclass lesson or two and with me just playing and practicing and having fun showing him stuff he can try. Here is a video of one of my favorite outings with Terry. I thought it was at first going to be just me, heading out for a solo trip, in the rain. But as I got out in the bush a little ways, I slowed to take some video and low and behold, Terry caught up to me and we had a great time, in the rain, just doing bushcraft.

   Which, as you can see by the snow in the last video, brings me to the last couple months of the year 2012.
   I know that I have grown, and I have found deeper meaning for myself in the art of bushcraft. I know that I have been able to improve on my story telling about my adventures both alone and with others and recently I have been refining my video style and adding music and getting more creative about the way I see things and the ways that I want to tell it.
   So here finally is a video of a solo trip that I am very proud of, with a lot of effort given to trying to emulate my bushcraft story telling hero, Les Stroud. I like his style and will continue to study his videos and then work to refine my own brand of story telling.

   Of course, there is the last and final bushcraft trip of the year and I went out with a new christmas toy I gifted myself, a 1" Scotch-eye Auger. It was fun to be able to use a tool to make another tool.

   The year 2012 has been a great one for Bushcraft and looking forward to 2013 it looks like it will be even better, with even more adventures in store. I look forward to sharing it all with you and look forward to hearing from many of you as you follow along or maybe perhaps even join us here in south central Minnesota. So until next year, Happy Exploring.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Improvising A Mallet And The Scotch Eyed Auger

   As it was the last Saturday of the year, I decided to take advantage of it and get out for some dirt... or ah rather, make that snow time.
   As I arrived at the park, snow started to come down in beautiful and sparkling flakes. The freshly fallen snow and still morning air made for a surreal quiet that set the mood for what would be a great solo trip.
   I didn't feel the best when I first started out, so I was not going to push it. That's why I at first decided on a simple twig fire. But as usual, once I got out and about, things started to improve and I started to feel better.
   I have discovered that most of my outings usually involve some sort of firecraft practice and some other bushcraft skill practice or lesson. And once the fire is going, I usually will boil some water for a meal or a hot beverage.
   I like to experiment with different fire methods and today it was to make fire with a flint and steel, charred cloth and natural tinder gathered on site. The cedar bark was just a little on the moist side and I thought with packing it in my bandana and warming it up inside my jacket, I might be able to coax it into flame. It took some time to get it warmed up and dried enough, but in the end I prevailed.
   I also got a chance to make a mallet using a christmas gift that I gifted myself and that was a 1" scotch eyed auger that I ordered from a seller on ebay who was based in Great Britain. It took a few days to arrive, but I am very pleased with the 1" auger and look forward to using it on many more outings.
   So here is the video of my last solo day trip for the year 2012. It has been a good year for me bushcraft-wise and I am very pleased with the number of posts I have been able to share with you my friends here at Minnesota Bushcraft, and I look forward to sharing many more adventures in 2013.

   I had a lot of fun today, making this video and I am still working on my style. I am excited about discovering more of what I can create with my video equipment and will hopefully soon be able to work with multiple cameras. Thanks for watching and until next time, Happy Exploring.

Friday, December 28, 2012

On Making A Handle For The Cold Steel Trail Hawk

     It was December 22nd, a Saturday, and the temperature was around 17°F and there was very little wind. A perfect winter day for getting out and having some bushcraft fun. It was also partly cloudy and the fresh fallen snow made a good crunching sound under my boot print. As I hiked out to my usual camp spot, I enjoyed the sun on my face and I could not help but feel there would be a lot of animal activity to be seen and heard. I was not mistaken.
   Shortly after heading down the hill towards the Minneopa Creek, I spotted a large buck just a short distance away. He snorted vigorously and trotted off in the direction of the creek, looking over his shoulder and wondering just who this interloper was that was invading his morning browse.
   I watched for awhile and got some video the best that I could and then headed further down the trail. I had it in mind to get a good fire going, make some hot water for cocoa and try my hand at improvising a handle for my Cold Steel Trail Hawk tomahawk head that was stuffed in my satchel. It proved to be a great adventure and I think the tomahawk worked great for all of my efforts. I know that I can definitely do this again and it will be fun to try over and over.
   Here is the video of my adventure and how things came together. I hope you enjoy it.

   It was a very enjoyable solo trip for the day and I am only sorry that some of the rest of the BushcraftUSA members could not make it out for the fun. Maybe next time. Until then, thanks for watching and Happy Exploring.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Cold And Wet And Rainy Day... What Fun.

   This last Saturday, I was determined to get out no matter what. The prediction was for rain and I didn't care. The prediction was for it to be cold, around 35° F, and I didn't care. It goes without saying, things were going to be wet with all the previous day's snow and ice. But I was determined to go, even if it meant going alone. But as luck would have it, I have found a hardy soul in my friend and fellow bushcrafter Sticker. He managed to catch up with me heading down the trail in the rain as I was taking video for what I thought would prove to be an interesting story of me going it solo in the rain.
   As we got further down the trail, the rain slowed to a slow drip and then a spattering and we decided to work on some skills together. He would work on putting up a tarp shelter, so that he could complete his "Student Practice for a Tarp Shelter" lesson for Bushclass and I would work on making a split-wood fire with shavings and feather sticks for tinder, just because that seemed like a logical choice considering the wood we had available. Everything was wet.
   I managed to get the wood split, and found it to be still a little moist but not too bad and figured I could get it lit with some good tinder prep. I tried two different types of wood for shavings, some from the ash wood that I had harvested and split and some shavings from a much lighter wood, probably some basswood on the verge of going punky. It was very light weight and made good shavings and was pretty dry compared to the ash shavings.
   I had mixed the shavings together and when it came time to try to light it, the ash shavings were just not taking a spark as well as I had hoped. The basswood shavings however, seemed to take a spark and burn pretty good and were the trick in the end, in getting the fire going. In hindsight, I should have not mixed the shavings together, so that I could have switched it up right away and not spent so much time experimenting to find the "sweet spot" of the driest and lightest.
   It was a great adventure and a lot of fun and I would not have missed my time in the wood with my pal Sticker for anything. I was glad he showed up and was willing to give it a go, even in the rain.
   So here is the video of our adventure and I hope you enjoy it.

   It was fun in the cold and the wet and the rain. Sometimes you just have to get out, no matter what. Until next time, Happy Exploring.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Snowy Solo Day Trip

   This last Saturday started out as usual, as I headed out to meet any Minnesota BushcraftUSA members that might arrive for our regular Saturday morning meet-up at 9 o'clock.
    I arrived at the park, and waited the usual half hour until 9:30am, and when it looked like I was going to be the only one, I decided to head out for a solo day trip.
    It had snowed the night before, so the freshly fallen snow was perfect for seeing all the deer, fox, coyote and rabbit tracks and many others too numerous to identify.
    It looked like it was going to be a fun day, and the temperature was just right for a crisp mornings hike. Another thing that made it nice, was that there was little to no wind. It was completely calm and it was easy to hear all the birds and other animal sounds. I even heard and saw a few deer wondering the woodland, but were too fleeting to get any video.
    It turned into a good day to practice skills, so I thought I would try for Mr. Black's "Student Practice To Build and Use A Fire Reflector" elective that is part of the BushclassUSA forum.
    I had only very briefly read the requirements and after I got back home, I discovered that I failed to notice the shelter requirement. So since I missed that part, I will have to go with this elective once again, at a location where I have a more permanent camp with the lean-to I am building.
    I decided to make a split wood fire, as it was the easiest way to find dry wood. Then I used flint and steel with charred cloth to ignite it. Then I put some water on to boil for hot chocolate and when that was done, sat for a relaxing time listening to all the sounds of the woodland.
    Then it was time to head back. It was a great time and going solo always has its advantages and adventure.
    So here is the video of my adventure. My video style, when doing any solo trips, is heavily influenced by Les Stroud, of Survivorman fame. His visual cut-aways, long distance shots of himself, special speed up effects and general environmental perspective shots work to give a sense of what he is experiencing and draws the audience into his story. I can only hope to one day, get as good as he is and to improve on it with my own style and means.
   I hope you enjoy it.

   I am sure to make a lot more solo trips in the future, so I know there will be a lot more videos like this.  But this blog site is dedicated to sharing bushcraft adventures, and not just about me and my adventures, but about having the adventure with others. Until next time, Happy Exploring.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Bush Buddy And A Natural Tinder Callenge

   Last Saturday, Dec. 1st, I had the chance to get out with my eight year bush buddy, Christian. We've been getting out in the bush together for nearly two years and to look back and see just how far he has come with his knowledge of bushcraft is amazing.
   We decided on this particular day, that it might be fun to see if he could take on the challenge of building a twig fire and lighting it using his fire steel and natural tinders. He would try this completely by himself, without any coaching from me.
   I must say, it was a little frustrating, trying to not interfere, trying not to do the "dad thing", but in the end I was so very proud of him and his success.
   With that in mind, as you watch the video, you too might feel a little frustration as well. If you have ever struggled with making fire with your fire steel and natural tinders, you will understand what he is going thru.
    On this day, even the tinder (inner cottonwood bark) was not ideal and was just a little moist as he prepared it.
   But he persisted, and I held my peace and he prevailed.
   So bear with him, as I did, and I hope you will enjoy the video.

   We had such a good time, and I would encourage any of you my friends to get out and include any kids you have in your life,  in your bushcraft adventures. Happy Exploring.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Just Doing Some Cookin'

  This month has started off with a couple of good bushcraft adventures. I am going to change it up a bit and share last Sunday's adventure first and save last Saturday's adventure for the next post.
   The reason for this is that I sort of pushed myself to get the video done for Sunday's adventure first, so that my friend Sticker would have his part of the video to post up for his latest BushclassUSA lesson.
   We got together on Sunday, so that he could complete his "Student Practice for Cooking Bannock with Fire." The weather was near perfect for a good hike out to the new campsite. Sticker and his wife, member "CallmeKris", myself and my girlfriend, decided to get together with the idea that we were going to do some cooking. Making it a "hot" lunch for change of pace. My girlfriend brought some chicken fillets marinated in lemon oil and some seasonings and she also brought some potatoes which I diced and boiled. I brought a vegetable to heat up and the pack grill, which is a gift from my friend and fellow member "Little Jon."
   Sticker and CallmeKris fried up some pork chops and baked some potatoes and in the end, we all had a pretty good meal. Then it was on to the lesson and cooking the bannock.
   So here is the video of that afternoons adventure. I hope you enjoy it.

   In my next blog post, I hope to share what a great adventure I had with my eight year bush buddy, Christian, on this past Saturday. He has come a long ways in developing his bushcraft skills and this time around showed me how he can get a fire going, using natural tinders and under some not so ideal conditions. 
   Until next time. Happy Exploring.