Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winter is Coming... and fortunatley I have Coffee and Bannock

I've had to rethink my long-standing tradition of taking a day off on each and every Monday from the opening of squirrel season to the week before Christmas.  When I started writing here, about all I gave a crap about was hunting.  It was the only thing I knew to do outdoors.  Then I got lost, started learning skills because being lost scared the raisins out of me, and then there was a long transition.  Now we're someplace new.  The Wednesday after Veterans Day really drove it home for me. 

It was cold.  We went from highs in the 60's to a high of 36 with a 20 mph wind in three days.  I decided to go anyway because I hate working in cubes all the time and I had the day to burn.  I hiked around in my woods a while.  There are still a couple of places where I haven't spent a lot of time so I went to visit one of them.  I rigged up the 5.11 pack and headed out.  No rifle.  No shotgun.

When I am not rushed by cold or hunger or some silly objective I am trying to accomplish, I try to get into the woods before sun-up and just observe.  I never hunt on the land I use for just woods hang out time.  It sees a lot of traffic from me and probably smells like a tire fire to the wildlife given the number of times and amount of stuff I have set on fire there... (This day would be no exception.)  Anyhow, I counted at least 5 distinct squirrels.  One was close enough to hit with a rock.  I didn't have the camera ready or I'd have good pics of him.

Anyhow, as the light came up some more, I noticed what I took for a squirrel's nest up a large cedar of to my left.  (South east given the direction I was sitting.)  As I watched it a bit more, off and on, I noticed that it seemed to move around a bit.  With still more light, I noticed it had fur.  At this point, I moved quietly as possible to get a better look.  Imagine my thrill when I looked up and saw this.

The zoom on my old camera was cranked all the way out and in the low light, this was about all the image stabilization could manage.  Not my best picture but still, no doubt about who was looking back...  Anyhow, the point is I didn't feel slighted by not shooting any game.  It was just as good to simply be out in it.  That's the not-totally-new-but-finally-clicked for me moment of this exercise.

With the cold starting to wear me down a bit and some hunger creeping into my tummy, I figured it was a good time to press on and make some fire, and hot drinks, and some bannock. 

As the name here would imply, the cedar fire is almost obligatory...

One of the other things I have been enjoying lately is the subsiding of the gear crazy in my head.  Developing something like an eye for what I will probably like and what I probably won't has led me to stop wanting so much useless or duplicate stuff and the stuff I have really works well I think.  One great example of that showed up in the form of the canteen shop / pathfinder canteen kit I bought a while ago.  I've dropped, frozen, boiled, and carried this thing all I can for a few months now and it seems to be holding up very well.  The cup is especially useful with the vented lid.  It's my coffee making choice in most situations.

It's only real drawback is weight.  For the cost difference to do titanium, I can carry the extra pound... 

Something I have been working on fire a while, off and on, is making good campfire bread.  Bannock is just the best free-form expression of outdoor cooking I have found.  I love the idea of something simple and sweet that takes some skill to make but is still hard to screw up beyond being usable.  I'm sure at some point I'll graduate to harder stuff but for now, making this well is my goal.

A while back, I went looking for a better way to cook.  Like so many things I go looking for anymore, the military surplus market really offered a great option.  This is my second outing baking in this mess kit. 

This time I think I nailed it.  By far, the best I have ever made and once I applied the Maple Syrup, it was gone in a hurry.

Another hobby I have picked up a bit is carving spoons.  I don't think it's something I'll hike out just to do but I could see carving in general as something worthy of making a dedicated tool (read as worth of making a carving knife) and having it with me for nights by the fire and so on.  On this day though, I was just in the mood to try again.  It went OK though the wood was not as cooperative as my previous efforts..

In the end, I ran out of time before I could get it done.  I brought it home to work on some more.  It's just not the same without the wind and the smells and noises though...

Thanks for reading along.  It was a great day.  I hope I get to go again soon...

A glamor shot of my knife... just because I love these things. 

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