Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve Bobcat

I wanted to share a few pictures of a male bobcat I shot this morning at approximately 8:30 AM using my new Christmas present the Fox Pro Spitfire electronic game call. The bobcat weighed approximately 30 lbs and was a little more than 3 feet long from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. I had been using the "raspy woodpecker" on the 3-4 volume level when about an hour later he came slowly slinking in through the underbrush. One shot of 125 grain Remington core lokt from my XL7 Marlin in Springfield .30-06 dropped him cold. Taking him to the taxidermist tomorrow for a full body mount . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Make Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet

If you happen to be a fan of “Man vs Wild” you have no doubt watched Bear Grylls brave some of the most hostile landscapes in the world, in an all out effort to show the home viewers how to survive a variety of different and challenging environments. As he explains, in the shows introduction, he is to survive a week in a place you wouldn’t last a day without the proper survival training. From the jungles of Vietnam to the wasteland of the Arctic, Bear shows the home audience how to build shelter, gather food, find water and monopolize all available resources to survive. On these adventures, Bear takes minimal survival gear, typically including a canteen, knife, and if you look carefully on his wrist a Survival Bracelet. Constructed of 550 parachute cord and a D-anchor ring. This simple bracelet contains approximately 8 feet of useful cordage that can be used for everything from building shelters, rafts to fishing.

Making your own bracelet is simple and can be completed in about 1 hour. There are many patterns to choose from but click HERE for the one pictured above. Also, for another option this particular bracelet can be made without only the cordage and no additional hardware.

Rather just buy one check out this site:

Impressive Coyote Picture

I can't say I am overly excited to see coyotes running all over the property. However, I am impressed with the quality of this photograph. This is by far the best “yote” photo that the cameras have managed to capture to date. It looks like a strange smell on the breeze may be catching its attention. Also note the time the photo was taken and the temperature.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Parachute Cord Duck Call Lanyard

So I assume at this point you have read “String Theory I ” and “String Theory II ” and are cursing my name. This is no doubt connected to the fact that you are slowly beginning to realize that a gear hauler need only be approximately 22 feet long. I assume you are puzzling your puzzler wondering what to do with the remaining 78 feet of cordage. I suppose you could give out several gear haulers to friends and family, as Christmas presents, BUT I doubt they will appreciate the effort and fine craftsmanship. Better to avoid that potentially embarrassing scenario and read on.

With your remaining parachute cord plus an investment of approximately 2-3 hours of time, you can make a $40.00 Duck Call Lanyard. The fun part about this project is that the possible modifications are endless. A quick Google search will yield many different weaving projects that can be made with parachute cord and a few other items, including dog leashes, survival bracelets (my next project), belts, etc. Here is a cool blog to check out outlining what is possible:

For the Duck Call Lanyard two websites seemed to stand out as offering the best and most comprehensive set of instructions and photographs outlining the braiding process. The instructions and lanyard I made were found on the “Field and Stream” web site: HERE! I did find another set of instructions on “Duck Hunting Chat” that also looked interesting: HERE!

If you use the direction on the “Field and Stream” site, here are a few hints and suggestions that will make the project easier.

1. 14 ft. of interior line and 36 ft. of braiding cord is plenty to create this project. This also allows you to create two Duck Call Lanyards from one length of 100 ft. parachute cord.

2. Braiding to one side will create a DNA spiral like lanyard while alternating will make it flat like the one pictured. Depending on the style you want plan accordingly. If you choose to alternate make sure to pay close attention to what side you are on so as not to make a mistake. This is relatively easy IF you pay attention as you tie the knots.

3. The wrapped knot had me nervous because there were no good pictures and I wasn’t sure how to cut the ends. Looking online I found a picture (See left) and it worked great to cut the ending loop of cord in the middle. Having 6 inches remaining per side is good. I also used the wrapped knots to create two additional drop chords and I am pleased with the results.

I hope you enjoy the project, it really isn't as hard as it initially looks once you get started! If you have any questions be sure to drop me a line and I will try and offer you assistance. If you decide to tackle this project, be sure to e-mail me a picture of your "art work"!! Good luck!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!! Thanks to everyone for following, commenting and reading throughout this past year! It is your interest in my writing that ultimately drives me to continue to want to create . . . take care!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

String Theory (Part II)

Have you ever slowly and gingerly pulled your rifle up into a tree stand, only to let out a sigh of relief when it finally arrives safely to hand? If you have, then this posting is obviously for you. After years of searching for that silver bullet, miracle, super “string” my long journey is over and I must share my findings and introduce you to the world of the high tech gear hauler.

The Cadillac or perhaps better stated the Rolls-Royce of gear haulers is parachute cord. Much more than simply “string”, this kernmantle constructed dynamic rope is comprised of a 7-strand nylon core and rated with a tensile breaking strength of 550 lbs (insert male grunting here). These impressive attributes make parachute cord not only a sportsman's best friend but also tougher then the lips on a woodpecker.

Paracord is available from several different online sources and resides in every single military surplus store I have ever set foot in. For those looking to make a fashion statement or match their favorite hunting jacket, it comes in practically every color imaginable, including I believe invisible. Sportsmen not satisfied with the everyday standard 550 paracord, know commercially as type III, may invest in type IV having additional breaking strength up to a hefty 750 lbs. As if determined by divine providence, both type III and IV have enough strength to double as haul cord for pulling out a deer. Simply tie one end onto the massive rack, wrap the other end around a sturdy cut tree branch and your outta there faster than you can say hot steamin' buck seamen!

An investment of a thousand feet of parachute cord, will set you back about $45.00, providing you with enough gear hauling yardage to last until the day you die. If the spouse gives you a hard time about such an exorbitant purchase, repeat after me, “I have to buy that hun, you want me to be safe don't you?” This particular remark has no viable response and has on occasion allowed me to purchase everything from brand new rifles to 12 packs of thermal underwear. (HINT: You may want to be getting a pen and writing this down.)

Knots to Tie
In my previous life as a rock climber and mountaineer, few things were more important than good knots. Hanging a thousand feet off the ground, you must be absolutely confident the double fishermen, figure-eight, butterfly or clove hitch you just tied was done correctly and is the right knot for the intended job. Along those same lines, care must be taken to correctly tie the gear hauler first to your climbing stand and secondly to your firearm. If using a climber stand, cut cord to a length of 22 feet. This allows you to know when you have reached the desired stand height of around 20 feet and provides you enough cordage to tie the required knots. Burn any cut ends lightly with cigarette lighter to insure it won't fray. Use care to fuse the inner core with the outside sheath or they will later separate.

Fig 8 w/ Double Fisherman
The combination of a figure eight and double fishermen knot is highly effective. In other words, practically zero percent chance of failure. This end will be looped over an acceptable part of your climber and pulled up to the proper height as you climb the tree. If hunting out of a permanent ladder type stand the loop can be fastened to a tree branch or stand by using either the loop or by threading the end of the rope through the loop and creating a cinch around the arm rest. The cinch is much easier to untie with cold hands than a knot.

The other end of the gear hauler is of course attached to the firearm. Depending on the type and configuration of the firearm you carry (lever gun, bolt or semi automatic action, scoped, shotgun or having a sling) it will potentially be different.  Three over hand knots, a simple square knot or figure- eight with the back-up double fisherman are all equally effective depending on the situation. My favorite for lever guns is figure- eight with the back-up double fisherman. Where the pre-tied loop is brought through the lever and looped around the barrel, NOT through the trigger hole. Scoped guns have a smaller pinch point between the scope and the barrel and may not accept the larger diameter of parachord if tied in a knot and attempting the same hook-up.

Who hasn't pulled on their gear hauler, only to find it tangled around a tree root, branch or rifle. To combat this issue, after securing your rifle to the cordage, take a few seconds to check that as the gear hauling rope neatly coiled next to and not on top of your rifle and in an area that you have cleared of debris. As the rope unfurls, the end attached to the rifle should be on the bottom and NOT the top of the pile. This will ensure that the rope is played out from top to bottom and doesn’t “birds nest”, creating a knotted mess. Another school of thought, to avoid the worry of having to deal with the potential worry of jumbled cordage, is to hang your gear hauler off a sturdy tree branch or from the side of your ladder blind. (Note: If leaving it out for months at a time be watchful for damage caused by weather, UV, mice and abrasion.)

Lastly, what should always be firstly. Be sure to ALWAYS UNLOAD YOUR FIREARM before attempting to pull it into a tree!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

String Theory (Part I)

On occasion, I receive perverse pleasure in writing extensive volumes about the mundane or ordinary. Perhaps better said, it's my way of making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill. This dysfunction is well reflected in my previous postings Ode to the Pee Bottle I and Ode to the Pee Bottle II. While some could argue a pee bottle is a critical piece of hunting paraphernalia, in the end, it is ultimately just a bottle into which you squirt urine. It is most likely not worth two blog posts and the approximately four hours and 1200 words it ultimately took to create. Ultimately, you may begin to see the method behind my madness and the fun challenge in picking topics that stretch you as a writer, forcing you to work hard, to create an interesting piece of literature from basically nothing. A friend of mine once said, “you can't make chicken $%&t out of chicken salad” BUT what I later came to realize is if you try hard enough, you may be able to add enough antiseptic, spices and mayonnaise to the chicken $%&t to trick someone into taking a bite. Henceforth and thereto, is the long and involved explanation that leads to my latest blog postings. Hours of time were invested on this particular writing project; most of it while perched high in a pine tree during October and November patiently waiting for that record book buck that never materialized. During those long hours of thoughtful reflection, a literary idea was born that eventually came to be known as “string theory”.

Where I do My Best Writing
Every year, thousands of sportsmen pile into the Maine woods to pursue one of the most noble and cunning of game species, the White Tailed Deer. When all is said and done, another November will again all to quickly slip past, ending the season for the rifle toting crew. Some hunters will leave the woods elated, having harvested the deer of a lifetime, others will leave frustrated, having made critical errors in judgment resulting in accidents. For the accident prone crew, a majority of these desperate scenarios, could have been prevented with adequate preparation and knowledge.

Preparation starts at looking over all of your gear to find weaknesses; loose scope mounts, frayed climbing harnesses, rusty gun triggers, leaky pee bottles, etc. No item or article in your hunting arsenal should be beyond close examination. Knowledge comes in understanding that deer hunting isn't about chasing bucks; it's really all about the latest and greatest in hunting equipment. Fancy new high power rifles, space age camouflage, ergonomic backpacks, light weight portable tree stands, thermal rated boots and on and on. What is shocking, is despite the lofty price tags endured to obtain these items, sportsmen still remain slipshod in the strangest of areas. These indiscretions, range from wearing cotton socks in thermal boots, buying crappy ammo for thousand dollar guns and not using a tree stand safety harness. Of all these sporting sins, one stands out as barely above forgivable, as it serves to not only protect you from getting potentially shot but can also save your firearm from a damaging fall.

Yes, readers it is my belief, that an entire deer season can hinge on that most unlikely and unassuming of equipment the gear hauler. Now don't pretend like you have no idea what I am talking about. You know the drill, walk to your deer stand, tie unloaded rifle to string (gear hauler), climb tree and finally pull on string (gear hauler) to lift rifle into tree. It may at first appear to be a relatively trivial piece of hunting equipment, however, this is where many make a critical error.

Every hunting season, I am amazed by the number of sportsman toting around equipment oozing hundred dollar bills, like Grandaddies vintage Winchester or latest synthetic, Leupold laden firearm, yet have no concern about lifting these heirlooms and investments 20 feet into a tree stand, using a badly frayed gear hauler closely resembling dental floss. Sure your Great Grandfather used to spin tall tales of how he once had to cut the waist band out of his underwear to fashion a gear hauler but do you really want to spend a long day in the woods with a dented rifle and saggy drawers? Now is the time for you to take action and throw out that old dilapidated string you have been calling a “gear hauler” and enter the 21st century.

The story continues Friday (10/16/2010) . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010

Basic Survival Kit

I received a few e-mails asking about what an "essentials" kit might look like. Basically a list of things you can't live without. To respond to these requests, here is a smaller "portable" kit recommended as a good place to start for those wanting a light weight option. After all the most important thing about carrying a survival kit is MAKING SURE YOU CARRY IT! Considering you dress in layers and are properly prepared for the anticipated weather, if used correctly, the kit contains enough items to pull you through all but the most desperate of conditions.

1. Spare Compass
2. Whistle
3. Lighter
4. Waterproof Matches
5. Space Blanket
6. Small Knife
7. Toilet Paper
6. Twenty Feet of Rope
7. Water Purifying Tablets
8. Four Packets of Hot Hands / Hot Toes
9. Small Right Hand of GI Joe - that my son wanted me to put in survival kit. Said it was an extra helping hand. Basically be sure to include some kind of mental stimulus that will get you home!
10. Water Proof Poncho

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Rabid Survival Kit

From time to time, I will be asked by family, friends and sports specifically what is in my “hunting season” survival kit. Usually this initial question will be followed by additional questions asking specifically why I carry each item and what items I consider most critical.

The first thing I stress to people, is that for a survival kit to be completely effective, it needs to be a direct match to your personal needs and the challenges you are most likely to face. While some items will remain unchanged (Matches, Compass, Whistle) other items may need to be removed or added based on the specific climate, expected conditions, environment and circumstances. For example, my “Truck” kit contains a snow shovel and tire chains, my “Mountaineering” kit contains a SAM splint and avalanche probe, my “ATV” kit contains a tire inflater and tow cable and lastly my “Guiding” kit contains flagging tape, extra clothes and extensive list of first aid items.

It takes close to 30 days to starve to death and 3 days to die from dehydration. Considering these timetables, it is highly unlikely you going to starve to death or expire from dehydration in the Maine Wilderness. In Maine, if you are lost, your biggest concerns should be centered on dying from injury, extended contact with the elements or a combination of both. To protect yourself, you need to have the tools to defend against wounds and/or exposure.

The last point is to understand survival is HUGELY mental. If you believe you will live there is an excellent chance you will. With this in mind, it is essential your survival kit contain a few items designed to support your mental condition.

Water Resistant Florescent Orange Pouch – Some of you might recognize the old pouch, in the accompanying photo, as the original L.L. Bean “Survival” pouch. Years ago, these handy zippered pouches with a convenient belt loop, were provided to any person who successfully completed Maine’s hunter safety course. Over the years, L.L. Bean eventually discontinued the program but a few of these original workhorses are still kicking around. Drop me a comment if you are still carry one of these!

Essentials – Items that you should never enter the woods without.
1. Spare Compass – Most important is not to get lost in the first place and if you do get lost find your way out. If your primary breaks, have a back up.
2. Whistle – If you are injured and can’t get out, make sure others can find you.
3. Lighter – A fire is needed to stay warm and dry. Fire also will provide mental solace through a cold, dark night.
4. Waterproof Matches – If the lighter fails, a back up is critical
5. Space Blanket - Insulating blanket that reflects 90% of your body heat back to your core

First Aid Kit – Items to stop bleeding in a small cut or severed limb.
6. “First Aid Manual” – Should you be on the ground unconscious and bleeding to death, hopefully someone reads and understands how to save you.
7. Small Knife – Cutting clothing to fashion slings, bandages, etc. (Quite honestly, I have never found much use for small knives in survival situations. However, the large hunting knife I carry on my belt all season is an extremely functional survival tool.)
8. Ace Bandage (Self Adhesive) – Quickly secures bandages over gaping wounds.
9. Duct Tape (Wrapped around Film Canister) – Provide additional support for Ace Bandage. Small pieces can function as band-aids.
10. Super Glue – Small cuts on hands unable to hold duct tape (May remove)
11. Ten Feet Paracord (Attached to Whistle and Compass) – Functions as a tourniquet. Can also be used to tie knots for mental stimulation, fix a busted bootlace or secure poles for shelter.

Things to Save Your Hunting Day – It is important to remember its a survival kit but also doubles as your “support” through the hunting season.
12. Four Safety Pins – Bust the zipper on your hunting jacket. Splinters
13. One Cough Drop – Coughing uncontrollably and scaring all game for miles
14. Two Hot Hands Packs – Frozen hands and/or feet tempting you to go home early
15. Toilet Paper – Fire starter, Mental stimulator?
16. Three 12 Gauge or Springfield .30-06 Shells – Fire starter, signaling device, food collector
17. Hooded Emergency Poncho – Stay dry and comfortable even when caught unprepared
18. Water Purifying Drops – Got dry throat and not want to contract beaver fever?

Mental – Designed to occupy your mind and provide comfort
19. “You Alone in the Maine Woods” – Full of practical advice to help you survive, doubles as a fire starter, splint for a busted finger
20. Three Beef Bouillon Cubes – Three days worth of salty goodness
21. Glow Stick – In a downpour with no hope of starting a fire? The glow will spark your internal fire and lighten your spirits.

Marked for Future Removal – These items have been in my survival kit for a long time and since they take up little space I have allowed them to stay.
22. Tin Foil – Drinking cup
23. Film Canister filled with Fishing Line and Small Lures - Fishing
24. Razor Blade – Back up for knife
25. Wire Saw – Cut poles for shelters

Be sure to drop comments on other materials you carry in your personal survival kits and if you have other thoughts, opinions and ideas on cool or interesting waysthat the items in my kits could be used in a survival situation! Thanks!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Incredible Power of Deer

Another amazing story of deer survival . . . well at least for one. This whitetail had been dragging around the other dead deer for days before finally becoming entangled in a fence row. A brave soul with a hacksaw eventually released the live deer.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deer Hunting Chores

Deer hunting season has ended but there are still chores to complete. The completion of a few simple tasks will make sure your next hunting season is safe, fun and successful. Here are a few suggestions . . . please add comments with others you may have!

  • Cut nuisance limbs and branches obstructing shooting lanes. After staring at them for long uneventful hours you must have them all memorized by now!
  • Make sure to put a light coat of oil on your shotgun or rifle. Do not to store it in a cloth case as moisture may collect and cause rust to form.
  • Thoroughly clean, dry and organize your hunting clothes. Nothing is worst then opening up a crateful of moldy hunting clothes opening day next November!
  • Organize your calls, toss old scent, empty pee bottle, etc. It your not planning to use your backpack for other outdoor pursuits, make sure to take out the beer jerky and other mouse tempting snacks.
  • Check your tree stand or climber to make sure it is in good shape. If it looks damaged replace or repair it.
    Inspect climbing harnesses for signs of abuse.
(REMEMBER to tell your spouse that now is the time to buy next year’s Deer hunting equipment, as many stores will be running SALES to liquidate DEER Gear and make way for ICE FISHING!!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Toughest Buck

WARNING this post is a little bit graphic! These photos have been circulating around via e-mail and I wanted to share. I continue to be amazed by the resiliency of the whitetail deer!

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