Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Kydex Sheath for My F1

  It turns out that all my planning and scheming about a bag to take into the woods was rendered moot by the simplest of designs.  I went back to the bottle kit and adjusted a bit and landed exactly where I wanted to be... totally by accident.  It is that combination of weight and stuff I was looking for.  I'll do a write-up on it when things cool off some outside...  For now though, I can say the search is over.  More on that later.

One of the things I have wanted to do for a while now is get a good blade to include with whatever kit I had landed on, that could be out in the wet and wind for a day or two and not have issues.  After a pile of reading, I landed on the F1 from Fallkniven.  Just a superb blade so far though it has not been beaten or thrown.  Soon though.  In the mean time, just a damned good looker.

My first though was to make a kydex sheath.  Of course the thought that usually follows first thoughts like that is I don't know how...  So, after some youtube and some parts orders I got myself set up and went to it.  To be fair, it too three tries to get it to mold right.  I wasn't letting it get hot enough.  Once I did though, I got it this far.

Turns out that spine-side rivet is too close to the blade.  Otherwise from here, things were completely workable.  Bit of buffing, bit off sanding, bunch more rivets and...

Presto Chango F1 in a Kydex Sheath.  I suspect the belt sheath variety are harder to make.  This one though?  This one has a different purpose.  I wanted this on my strap for my hunting kit.  Little bit of paracord and a few holes in webbing later and she mounted up just right.

It just makes the kit complete I think.  I carried it out last Monday for 5 hours and it didn't slip once.  I imagine the retention is probably set too tight but that's really what I wanted.  I expect it to be there in case I need it and to be quiet 100% of the time.  A solid grip is required it seems.

The sheath was the high point of the hunt.  The rest was all cobwebs and sweat and no damned squirrels.  I was in the wrong place and the wrong time of day I think.  No worries though.  Still beats being on time for a meeting somewhere....  Later and thanks for reading.


Monday, September 9, 2013

The Best Hunt in a While

I've found over time that if I have to choose between shooting my limit for a given species each day or having one, really good and challenging hunting experience that may or may not yield a result, I'll take the good hunt.  Today was that day.

A Tranquility Sunrise

It felt very much like last week didn't really count because a variety of factors conspired to shorten the day and my rifle was my second stringer.  It was a hunt for sure but just not the foolproof recipe I have concocted over the years that makes the hunt a true experience.  I had things in order this week and Olivia (my wondrous wood stocked Marlin 980s) and I were paired up.  Also different than last week, today started as most squirrel hunts do... a hundred or so miles from where I need to be.  So at 4 AM I rolled out and at 4:15 on the money the car started and we headed south.  I decided on the ride down that we would go for my probably new favorite spot to hunt.  It proved to be a solid choice.  the 5:50 arrival meant 30 minutes in the dark waiting to be able to see.  I do love the sounds of the country in the morning...

The parking lot is situated at the north end of about a 700 yard access road that leads straight south to the end of a ridge.  The access road is flanked along the way by nut bearing hardwoods.  It's always a prime place to pick up and extra on the way in or out.  Since it was an easy walk, I hiked down and propped up and waited... and waited... and waited some more.  Nothing.  No barks.  No leaves bouncing around.  No stealthy shapes moving along branches.... nothing.  After about an hour I headed down the road.  At the very south end the road veers east and downhill.  To the south west is a long slow running system of fingers and saddles just infested with hardwood... and among those fine large trees we find squirrels, always and without exception.

I hiked in and down and found a good tree to blend in to and I waited.  Off down the hill I could hear one squirrel barking and managed to pick it up moving when line of sight allowed.  Hearing and seeing nothing else, I decided to move that way and see what came of it.

The Big Woods
The sun was still pretty low and the light was working for me.  I was able to move maybe 75 yards without much trouble.  The ground was damp and the cover was, if you paid attention, pretty workable. 

I thought I had lost the critter by the time I was approximately in position to watch the tree it was in.  Just the same though, I kept an eye on the tops and limbs.  Sure enough, after about 15 minutes it came back into view moving limb to limb and cutting some.  I watched a good long while and every minute or so checked the rifle to make sure it was still on safe and a round was still loaded.  The first good hunt of the season always makes me a little giddy.  I didn't want to lose anything to a mistake.

After some time of not exactly known length the critter decided to come down out of the tops and make for the ground.  As it cleared the lower branches and hit the trunk proper, I lined up and flicked of the safety.  When it paused I fired.  In an ideal world I would now say it fell out and just cleaned itself on the way down.  Sadly, for an aging guy like me, eyes are not always in touch with hands and I missed.  Fortunately the critter had a death wish, took two strides down the trunk, stopped and stuck out its head looking around.  This time, no miss.

2013's first redhead
 One round through the eye finished this up nicely.  I was pretty surprised that I could still hit that well with open sights at the 30'ish yard involved.  Turns out if I just slow down a bit and remember the practice, it all works like it used to only slower...

Anyhow, I scooped it up and waited to see if any others were around.  An hour later I still had no other sounds or signs so I decided to bag it.  Things were getting hot and the flies were starting to really get into the blood on the carcass.  While I was wrapping up, I happened to look up in the tree where I got my good shot and saw this...

Maybe if I take that shot a couple of minutes sooner and miss my day goes all different and we're talking about how much Benadryl I carry for things like hornets.  The good news is though, not today.  :)

Thanks for reading along,


Monday, September 2, 2013

Fest der Herbst beginnt Eichhörnchen

The idea that Labor Day was on Sept 2 this year made it, in my estimation, the nearly perfect holiday.  I was off work on the second day of squirrel season in Ohio...  I have to say, it was hot.  It was sticky.  It was hazy.  Still in all though, I don't remember a lot of first days of seasons that have been as satisfying.

The hike in was brier and dew and lots of work.  The moon joined me for the last bit of the hike.  I almost stopped and just waited for the full day to land on the field.  It was slow going.

I had the 980s out with me this morning.  I'm not sure I understand the fuss about these rifles as sub-standard.  Mine shoots well and hits where I aim it.  It also turns out they are pretty robust.  I managed, as I seem to do a lot, to fall and bury the front site in the mud.  A touch of cleaning and clearing later and all was functional.

I had the concept bag out with me today for her maiden voyage.  I was able to pull it together just about exactly like I planned.  I packed it over the last week in four different bags and a few different ways in each.  In the end, the Versipak Jumbo won out for wear ability and packing functionality.  I need to get some more time with it.  I have some concerns about how things worked today and I want to see if I can make it right before I do an in-depth post type thing about this.  The thing is still bullet proof and looks nice too.

This is where I hunt for a traditional first day of season.  It's a small little side stream that used to have a bridge over it before that big elevated oak on the right started growing.  It's all maple and pine but gets lots of traffic and I enjoy being down there and propping up on the old ricks along the stream.

I had a couple of shots today but they were crazy long for open sites.  I took them both and scared the critters away but no joy on anything to clean...  No worries.   There will be more trips this year...

Random shots of the day...

An old road sign with some stuff growing on it down by the bridge leftovers.

The Creek Bed

Glamour shot of the bag and rifle on the rock wall.

Tranquility is infested with butterflies this time of year.  Here's one that stopped right in front of me...

Thanks for reading along...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Bag for Ranging and Roving - Concept Phase

One of my favorite reads on the whole of the Internet is The American Grouch.  Recently, I was drifting around, reading some stuff I hadn't looked at before and I happen on an article called Rifleman's Bag.  Check it out here.  Damned fine reading all around on that site...

Anyhow, the concept there is something I have been after for a hunting carry for a while now.  I really enjoyed he simplicity and effectiveness of the set up... not too heavy, not over crowded, fully and completely functional.  I decided to do some cogitation... Given the gear I have and say $100 what could I come up with that would work as well with the same qualities?

I considered a number of options.  First, and because I have them around, I decided one of my Maxpedition bags would be a solid platform to use as a basis.  Currently, I have three bags that might qualify; A Versipak Jumbo, A Versipak Colossus, a 10 x 4 Bottle carrier, and a Noatak Gearslinger.  I have some other stuff I could use too but these things are bullet proof.  I figure it we're going to rig it up and spend some time with it, it should last.

Then I stopped, realizing I had gone into this backwards as I do sometimes....  What was it I really needed in the kit?  Forget the bag for a second...  I figured if I could sort that out ahead of time, I could probably match up a bag down the line... So I did.  The final list of carry items sorted out as follows:

  • Trangia Burner with handy scrap metal grate slats
  • 5 x 7 UL MEST Tarp from BC Outfitters pre rigged with tie out lines.
  • Small, Joelproof fire kit (tiny but workable)
  • Snow Peak Ti Cup and lid
  • Nalgene 32 oz water bottle
  • 12 oz reserve flask for more water
  • Thermarest Stadium Seat
  • Tent Stakes ( Note on this: Item #1 to buy...  I found 6" Titanium stakes  that seem tough as nails.  I need to try them out but they are promising... Field Report is forthcoming)
  • 550 Cordage - 12 extra feet should cover it
  • Compass
  • Gum
  • Eye Drops
  • Deet Spray
  • Lip Balm
  • PSK (This is another whole post...  It started in a tin and turned into an E&E pouch)
  • Leatherman Wave
  • Fixed Blade something or other
  • Small Radio

Now I need to get it put together.  With any luck I'll even get done by the weekend...  :)  6 days and a wakeup, BABY!  Squirrel Season 2013!  Woooo Hoooo!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Bug-Filled Sauna of Last Sunday Night

Packed up...

Set up...

Weathered on...

Cleared up...

Sweated out and misted...

Great trip overnight...

Great Coffee and too hot for any fire...



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Gear Infatuation Draws Down

For a while now I have been hung up on my gear.  I can trace this back five years or more to when I started hunting again.  On my first trip squirrel hunting in 2007, which was the first in many years, I took and old 12 gauge Remington 870 and wore a pack I had left over from packing laptops.  That was the last time I think I wasn't looking to augment the experience with new something or others to make it better.  At first it was well intentioned I think but that has morphed some.

In Sept of 2009 I was headlong down the path of building the finest 10/22 money could buy (I have (still) five of them in the configurations I like best) and elevating squirrel hunting to a religious sort of status in my life.  When I got lost in the woods, that I had been hunting for a couple of decades off and on, I decided it might be time to learn how to get along a little better since the rifle did little for me besides allow me to shoot things and lost with no plan is not a good feeling.  This in turn, led me to bushcraft.  I was dabbling in knife making by then.  I had a few under my belt and had just started to experiment with the Scandi grind and heat treatment which lead to more gear for making. (This is a bit different but still... more crap!)

As it turns out, most of online bushcraft is about gear.  I can hear most of them now, welling up and chests puffing out to say, "We use our stuff so it's not just about that..."  It's hard to argue against that point.  There's no argument to make.  To my own reasons for getting involved, it's tough to find our way out of an unfamiliar, sunless wood without a compass and a map.  So what is it then?

The adventure really starts when you are not sure what you have to work with is going to be enough. When it all may go to shit and you might get hurt, things are going well. When the unexpected winter storm wipes out your shelter and you have to cut and run for it in the dark and the cold or you have to improvise or you have to get the fire going with the last of the prep you have or whatever... This is what it's about. Or when you get to take your family out for a summer camp out and everyone enjoys it. This is what it's about.  I actually saw a thread on a forum a while back asking if people were reluctant to use the gear they had bought.  I wondered why the fu&* would anyone ask that question.  Then it hit me.

I am pretty sure going forward the premium needs to be on the experience for me.  Nice tools are nice tools but they are just tools.  The ideal kit is a distraction.  It's an insulation and false sense of security and worse, it deprives the would be owner of actual experience.  It's not what you need to be doing.  It's what you think you need to do something and an excuse for not doing it.  If you find that you need to name the maker of your knife every time you discuss using it to make a feather stick you might ask yourself why.  I did.  I didn't like the answer.  Am I preaching a little?  You bet. 

I think I'm sick of gear talk so... no more.  So I guess we need to ask then...  What's left?  I have a pretty good idea I think.  :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thoughts & Impressions: Using the Bark River Gunny

In January of this year I started looking for a knife that packed small but didn't give away much in terms of grip ergonomics or functionality. I have a rampless Bravo 1 that I love dearly and will keep to the end. It's one of the most comfortable blades I have ever used but the damned thing is huge.  I wanted something smaller. The Gunny and the Bushcrafter from BRKT appeared, on paper anyway, to be possible solutions.

I ordered the Bushcrafter first because I wanted it to work really badly.  If you ever get to watch Mors Kochanski's videos on what he feels makes up a good knife ( and you think he knows what he is talking about...) the appeal of the Bushceafter becomes pretty obvious. I made 1 trip with it and then made no more. I sold it the next day. That knife is not for me. While well made, the grip is not something I liked and the blade geometry was not really what I wanted to deal with. Good knife, not for me.  Then I ordered a Gunny from

My A2 / Antique Micarta Gunny

Since it arrived I have taken it on 5 or 6 trips into the bush.  I have completed a few challenges / class things with it over on BCUSA including the 3x Prep exercise of the Hardwoodsman's challenge and the five splitwood fire requirements of the Intermediate bushclass cert.

A Fire Prep Example
I have to say  that I have been impressed with the Gunny in a number of ways.  Firstly, the handle fits me like it was made for me.  This is something I didn't expect at all.  I was concerned out this doubly because I was not able to fine a rampless knife in a handle material I could stand.  Turns out, the ramp isn't really an issue on this one.  Hated it on the Bravo.  Don't mind it on the Gunny at all.  Second, and this has been a surprise also, I have prepped maybe 10 fires with this knife now and it is just now where it needs the edge touched up.  The pile in the picture above is cedar and, granted, it is soft however, I have done hickory, oak, pine, and even gotten this blade through some red elm...  It holds a superb edge.

I've used knives, both custom and other, that cost a good deal more than this little blade and carried much more "forum cred" with the "experts".  I have to say, this is one of the best blades I have used... including other models from Bark River.  If you are in the market for a good field knife that won't break the bank, is pretty damned tough, and not so big as to get in the way...  I suggest this one. 

Here's the me and the Gunny doing the 3x prep thing for the Hardwoodsman Challenge if you want to see it.  Admittedly I'm not driving it into rocks and standing on it but I think you get the idea.  It can take some working without much issue... 

I guess one final note of endorsement goes like this.  I liked this knife so much that I decided to buy a second one.  I have absolute faith in the Bark River warranty for these knives so I know they will fix whatever I break but I didn't want to be in a spot where I didn't have one to use...  #2 is a Ghost Green Jade handle...  very nice.  Anyhow, thanks for reading along and feel free to hit me up with any questions.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lostness Undone and Leather Envy

I may very well be alone in this but I have to say... lately stuff with the job, stuff with the kids, stuff in general... it all just takes so much time.  Couple that will the desire to succeed at everything and placing enjoyment second and things go sideways sometimes. 

It seems like an odd thing to say and may not be the best way to do this but I was fortunate enough to come down with a stomach bug last week for 3 or so days.  The wife, being who she is, put the whole house in "isolate dad" mode 'cause nobody else wanted it and I called off for a day or two because work was not going to get done... I had about 60 hours all to myself.  It gave me lots of time for thinking.  hmmmm....

With the next birthday looming large, it may be time to consider that I'm as far up the chain as I want to be right now and that my kiddos are not going be small forever and.... ... I may not be taking care of me enough to ensure I can spend my later years doing the things I love to do...  I think it's time to move towards balance again.  More on that to come I hope.  On to the other thing...

A while back I developed a real interest in the BRKT Bushcrafter.  I held off on buying for a number of reasons but on Valentines Day and then DLT Trading put one on sale...  well... you know what happened next.  Anyway... 

you get the idea

Like most BRKT knives, I thought the sheath sucked.  I'm sure it's functional but I like my dangler sheaths.  I decided to make one yesterday while the gang was away...  turns out, I am not very good at sheaths.

Fitting the basic folded form to the blade is not that bad but the rest....


let's just say I doubt anyone else will like them as much as I do...  :)

Tough and Ugly...  I can dig that.  :)