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New muzzle loading technology: 3 reasons why the firestick must be a gamechanger

If you are a traditionalist like I am, then you probably have a .54 Hawken™ rifle lying around somewhere. Some of my fondest memories come from shuddering in the cold wind, fingers trembling, as I tried desperately to shake granulated black powder into my nipple hole to get a shot at a deer who is standing in a meadow, contentedly watching me with a bemused look on his face, because my ignition system had failed due to condensation of gunmetal and moist black powder…

Well, those days are over. They actually have been for a while with the development of the Pyrodex™ pellet system. But the need for a possibles bag and multi function process to effectively hunt with  muzzle loader is now even more streamlined and we are coming to a place where we can leave our possibles bags at home.

This new technology is called the Firestick™ and it has been developed by Federal Firearms Corporation. This new development still loads the round through the barrel, effectively keeping it a “primitive” firearm; however, the charge comes in the form of a plastic casing, similar in form to the old 45-70 Springfield Buffalo Gun, (the 1873 Trapdoor). This casing fits neatly into the rear of your supported in-line firearm, right behind your sabot round. There is a hole in the back for your primer to fit into.

This round is the equivalent to a modern rifle round and is nearly infallible while still meeting the criteria for muzzle loading rifles. This means that every animal on the face of the earth is now susceptible to primitive hunting. Here are three reasons this technology will be a game changer:

  1. You can keep all of your rounds together in one place. No more searching and digging in different pockets and pouches for a quick reload.
  2. The rifle won’t foul as quickly. This new technology is cleaner than traditional black powder and therefore won’t dirty your rifle.
  3. It’s more accurate and stable. This new technology offers a payload similar to a modern high powered rifle.
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A rough winter: 6 survival tips and tricks to get you through

I happen to own, through inheritance, a horse farm that I rent to others more prone to enjoy such things. Though I have had my time in the saddle, I have never really grown to enjoy it. Instead I like to be in the woods, either taking photographs or living by limiting myself to a survival bowie, a handful of salt, and the clothes I’m wearing… or both. I recently awoke to my telephone buzzing incessantly at 11:30 at night, it was a text from my renter, it said simply: “There’s no water”

We have just had a pretty good cold snap here in Ohio, and water, as it’s prone to do when exposed to freezing temperatures, will freeze. And so, I was a bit perplexed by the fact that this gentleman was calling my at 11:30 at night because his water was froze, and it made me think that perhaps we as a society have gotten to the place where we are way too dependent on others for our very existence.  So, here are six tips to keep in mind as we head into what’s likely to be a very cold, rough winter.

  1. Watch those forecasts. We have come a long way from the old Native American “weather rock” days. Modern forecasters are able to predict the weather to within ten degrees of authenticity and so we should not be surprised by any cold snap in this day and time.
  2. Make sure you are cognizant of the sacred four needs for survival. Those are: shelter, water, fire, and food. These four things are all that you need to live, or should I say… exist. This is the bare minimum that you must have to keep your heart beating, and that, in the end, is what survival is all about.
  3. Gather old clothes, dry foliage, hay, straw, etc. We are kept warm in cold times by dead air space. That is basically a layer of air formed between you and the environment that your body will heat up and maintain an aura of warm air around you. Therefore, if you want to survive a cold snap that involves your heat source going out, you need to learn to bundle up. Pile in blankets, stuff clothing with paper, cloth, stuffing, etc… and remember to stay dry.
  4. Have alternative shelter available. A nice tent, tarp, or even a small camper available for in the event that you lose heat in your house, or if you lose your house such as in a flood, earthquake, or fire, will be invaluable and none of these options are very expensive.
  5. Keep a  reserve of water somewhere.  Or get a means to purify water easily. You can’t last more than three days without it, but there are many easy ways to gather water during a cold snap. Frost and snow can easily be turned into potable water.
  6. Get some food together before you need it. You don’t want to have to eat poor old Fido because you didn’t prepare for an emergency. There are plenty of surplus MREs and if you’re not into that, you can find freeze dried meals at your local outdoor pursuit center. If you don’t have the budget for that, sardines at the dollar store are a great alternative.
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Pakisteel: The saga of the $15 Damascus

By: Mr. X, Survivalist

If you have been following me at all, then you know two things about me, well… maybe three. First, I’m always looking for a good deal; second, everything I do centers around survival; and third, I’m hard on equipment.

So, it should be no surprise to you that recently I was perusing eBay and discovered a veritable treasure trove of handmade custom Damascus steel knives that are extremely affordable. The problem is that they are all Damascus blades and they are all made in Pakistan.

I did a little research, and it seems as if there are some very talented bladesmiths in Pakistan; however, there is not a great supply of quality steel so they use old  rebar, a lawnmower blade, some pot metal from a sewer grate, etc… to form a blank that they can then grind and shape a blade from. The result is a very beautiful product that seems to fit the bill in every way. The question is “will they hold up in a survival situation”?

I went ahead and bid $25 on a few of them that seemed to be of better quality than the others, as much as I could tell from the photographs. One was a classic 12″ bowie knife and the other a “tracker” knife. I won the auctions for these two and am therefore going to put them to the test in survival situations and see if they hold up. If they do then I will also take them to an American Bladesmith Society guy I know and let him put them through the standard tests of the ABS.

The one thing I will note is that they both came to me dull as a fro, (an uncommon practice in American made knives), but both sharpened up to razor qualities with just a few passes on my old sharpening steel. So far so good. Our next installment will involve some simple survival tasks… stay tuned.

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Survival 102: 3 things you can do with acorns

If you have ever thought of cracking an acorn and eating it in the wilderness, it is likely that you quickly learned what mother nature’s natural syrup of ipecac will do to you.

If you were able to get past the bitterness of the meat, you likely experienced profound nausea and possibly vomiting. However, there are some actual survival uses for acorns, beyond  baiting deer or throwing at companions. The problem is that they must be prepared for hours before they can be used.

The problem with acorns is the fact that they are filled with tannins, (think tannic acid), that can be very beneficial if you are trying to preserve animal skins but are less so if being introduced to your digestive tract. They have to be blanched to be eaten by humans and you can get this done by either boiling them for hours, or letting them soak in a running creek for about three days. In a survival situation, I prefer the latter solution to the problem because you can hull them and then tie the meats off in a sack, or sock, or other porous container and then forget about them until all of the tannins have been leeched out. It does no good to just soak them in water without changing it.

Once thusly prepared these acorn meats can be used three ways:

  1. Roast them to eat like almond slivers. They are palatable and full of protein and vitamins. They taste a bit like roasted almonds without the tannins in them but have the consistency of a hazelnut.
  2. Grind them into flour to cook into breads or use to thicken stews. If you are like me then you eat a lot of stew in a survival situation, primarily because it is the easiest method of preparing elaborate quantities of ingredients quickly. The flour thickens stew nicely and gives it added nutrient. I’m not a big fan of bread, but I understand that there is nothing in the world quite like the taste of hot acorn cakes in the morning in a frosty camp. Just watch a rerun of Jeremiah Johnson o see a visual of this.
  3. Use the acorns to make a stuffing for wild game. I’m not saying that this s good, but it definitely is different.
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Deer Camp 2019: Be on the Watch for Poisonous Deer

Though they have not yet evolved in carnivorous or venomous creatures, that doesn’t mean that the whitetail deer population isn’t dangerous. No, they have not yet grown opposable thumbs, giving them the ability to shoot back, but they have developed a deadly disease known as EHD.

According to Michael Gordon of the Mossyoak.com website,  signs of infection are highly variable and many infected deer appear normal or show only mild signs of illness. When illness occurs, signs and lesions change as the disease progresses.

The animals are affected by the onset of a feverish and depressed state, swollen head, neck, tongue or eyelids and difficulty breathing. Deer usually die in one to three days from a severe infection. Some survive longer, becoming lame and lose their appetite while others may become disabled for weeks or months by lameness and emaciation.

The development of different lesions as progression occurs has led to the categorization of 3 forms of hemorrhagic disease: Peracute, Acute, Chronic.

PERACUTE

A very rapid form shows only severe fluid swelling (edema) of the head, neck, tongue, eyelids and lungs in animals living somewhat longer.

ACUTE

A “classic hemorrhagic” form occurs. These animals may have edema in the same locations as Peracute but also have hemorrhages or congestion in the heart, pulmonary artery and oral mucosa, with some having erosions or ulcerations on the dental pad, tongue, palate and rumen.

CHRONIC

The chronic form is signified by growth interruptions of the hooves and possible sloughing of the roof walls. Other chronic lesions include: oral ulcerations, Papillae loss and scarring of rumen mucosa.

But also note not all of the above lesions will be found in an individual deer. Other diseases also produce similar hemorrhagic and ulcerative lesions. Dead whitetail are often found in or near water. The high fever and edema causes an unusual thirst and deer seek water and often die there.

WHEN DOES IT OCCUR?

EHD occurs when there seems to be an abundance of the culicoides insect. These tiny biting flies are the culprit for spreading the disease. The males and females both survive by eating nectar from flowers but only the female needs to eat blood for the maturation of fertilized eggs. Females typically deed at dusk or dawn often in large swarms in the vicinity of water, marshes or rotting vegetation. The females then proceed to lay their eggs en masse in habitat ranging from water vegetation, slow running streams, damp soil and manure heaps.

Nature seems to provide the conditions for the outbreaks of biting flies. Man has tried to control them but has failed. Nature provides a kill switch that occurs after the first frost. All the biting flies die off and so do the EHD outbreaks within a few weeks.

IMPACT ON DEER POPULATION

The severity and distribution of hemorrhagic diseases are highly variable. Past occurrences have ranged from a few scattered mild cases to dramatic outbreaks.

Death losses during outbreaks usually are well below 25 percent, but in a few instances have been 50 percent or more. To date, repeated outbreaks have not represented a limiting factor to deer population and growth. There is little evidence to suggest that outbreak severity is related to population density.

HD is the most important viral disease of whitetail deer in the U.S. and occurs over a large part of the country. Although the frequency and severity of outbreaks vary regionally.

The disease is caused by related orbiviruses in the epizootic hemorrhagic disease  (EHD) and blue tongue (BT) virus serogroups. Because clinical disease produced by EHD and BT viruses is indistinguishable, the general term “HD” (hemorrhagic disease) often is used when the specific virus is unknown. The EHD and BT viruses are transmitted by biting flies and HD occurs seasonally in late summer and early fall and then quickly ends after a killing frost.

DIAGNOSIS

So what I’ve gathered here is that the virus is spread by a biting midge that breeds in stagnant and warm waters after a drought or prolonged warm spell. The insects emerge and bite the whitetail and the virus is spread by a female midge biting a whitetail that has been infected and so passes it on to the new host.

The virus is not always fatal but has a very high mortality rate. Some animals eventually build up a resistance and some do not. The EHD is not transferable to humans and the meat is safe to eat. Livestock can also be infected and the disease may be spread from flies that were incubated in manure piles and cattle watering holes.

Although it seems that Ohio’s deer herd could be doomed, EHD has been here before and always dies out in the winter.

At present, there are no wildlife management tools or strategies available to prevent or control HD. Although die-offs of whitetail often cause alarm, past experience has shown mortality will not decimate local deer populations and that the outbreak will be controlled by the onset of cold weather. (1)

There’s even a video out there of a deer suffering from this disease that drowns itself in chest deep water, not even bothering to swim or turn and exit the stream it had wandered into. If you see deer acting strangely this season, put them down and leave them. It’s better not to risk eating a diseased deer. It’s not like the herd is sparse. Make sure you adhere to local and federal law when hunting and let a DNR specialist know if you have any concerns.

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Finding the beauty: Tactics for Retaining Your Sanity in a Survival Situation

It had been a hard trip. I had started out three days prior, camping out along the paint creek area of southern Ohio, and had made my way through the landscape, ending up at a small tributary called Big Cave Run on the old map I had found at the local courthouse. It was an old property, (at least six thousand years old Biblically)… theoretically. Historically, the property had been documented by a governing source for over two hundred years. I had started out my survival trip with only the clothes on my back. I had made some slate knives on paint creek with the help of a huge block of sandstone that I happened to find sitting at the water’s edge. The wear marks on it told me that it had been a favorite place of others before me to sit and make tools as well.

The rain fell in a persistent patter. Not quite enough to send me to shelter, it was a warm early June, but just enough to keep the blackflies and mosquitos away, and to keep me soaked to the skin. By the time I had travelled the three mile distance to Big Cave Run, I had two knives, some cordage, a fish spear, and a trouser pocket full of frogs legs from the night before. I hadn’t been able to cook them because I couldn’t get a fire going to save me. And it was on Big Cave Run that I finally built a debris hut just so I could work out a fire kit. That night the rain finally stopped and I ate froglegs around a snapping fire while the spirit of an old indian kept me company. I left when he told me in the gathering darkness that this was no place for the living to have to be alone with the dead.

I left for him the spear and two knives to do with as he wished and I walked out of the creek bottoms and back to my car… travelling east.

This  trip lasted only three days, but in that three days I learned a valuable lesson on survival. That is to keep yourself involved in things beyond the plight at hand. The experience is so much more than where you will get your next drink of water or where you might sleep that night. Beyond the basic necessities of shelter, water, fire, and food, the most trouble you will have in a survival situation is keeping your mind occupied. Let it wander and entertain itself. At least that has always worked well for me.

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Survival essentials: 3 reasons to keep a Case Trapper with you… no matter what

I have been a survivor all of my life, but I became a survivalist in 1987 when I took the Standard Course with the Old Tracker himself, Tom Brown Jr.

One of the things I had learned long before ever taking my first survival course was the importance of having a knife in your pocket. I grew up on a horse farm that also had a working herd of black angus cattle. My father, an old time cowboy, used to carry a pearl handled Solingen Cutlery stockman’s knife in his front right pocket which he used for everything from farm/ranch work, to entertainment. He even had one of the four blades on his full size stockman reserved for eating. He called it his apple blade. It didn’t escape my attention that the “apple blade” was also the preferred utility for cleaning the grit from under his fingernails when sitting around the stables at night after working horses.

We all know how important it is to have a good survival knife in your kit when on an expedition. However, you need to ask yourself how often the likelihood might arise for you to be thrown into an unforeseen circumstance where you won’t have time or opportunity to grab a kit bag, but will be forced to go with just what you have in your pocket. That’s why I always carry a Case™  brand trapper pocket knife. There are many companies that make these knives, however, few companies make them as well as Case™ does. Here are three reasons to keep a Case™ trapper in your pockets at all times.

  1. It has two blades. One is known as a clip point utility blade which comes in handy whenever you come across something that needs stabbed through… your belt for instance, if you lose weight and it needs to be tightened by making new holes. And lastly, the “spey” blade, which gained it’s name from the design which works perfectly for castrating livestock. It is also good for skinning by not having a sharp point that will slit your hide as you are skinning your game.
  2. It is well crafted. You might find other trapper style knives, but you won’t find one that is as well made as the Case™ brand. It is made to last and will hod up to the hardest abuse. There’s a reason you don’t find any cheap used ones on eBay.
  3. It has a lifetime warranty. If you manage to break this thing through normal use, you can get it replaced at no charge. Yet another reason you don’t find cheap used ones anywhere.
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Making meat 101: How to spot a game trail

It was a laughable scene in many ways. The figure four deadfall trap had been set well, but had two major, fatal flaws.

First of all, it was tiny for a deadfall. It was great if the setter had the intention of trapping moles or fieldmice, but it wouldn’t kill a rabbit or even a squirrel, (though it might have irritated the squirrel).  Secondly, it was set on the edge of a cornfield, which is fine, but it wasn’t near any cover and was out in the open. There was what appeared to be peanut butter on the end of the trigger stick.

In theory that’s a feasible setup; however, my experience has shown me that in practice this was more than likely to be a failed set. Here’s why: In order for a fieldmouse or a mole to get to the trap and partake of the peanut butter bait, (which would have been more valuable for caloric content than the fieldmouse it might have yielded), it would find it necessary to leave the thick foliage that protects it from the threat from above, (hawks and owls), and go out into the open. As a matter of fact, it would be a rarity, as determined by the sign, for anything small enough to get caught in the trap to be in the vicinity of it.

So, in this series I am going to show you how to run an effective trapline in the wilderness using nothing but pitfalls, deadfalls, and snare traps. All made from natural materials found in the woods. But in this first section we will simply discuss location. There are two types of places to trap small game, either in feeding areas or along game trails. The game trails are easier  to spot and trap because the game you are hunting will traverse the trail out of habit and won’t require conscious thought. There is a small game trail pictured in the photograph attached to this blog. Can you see it?

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Make that fire! Three tips to get fire everytime

If you have ever had the frustration of being on a campout or a survival situation, and you weren’t able to get a fire going, then this is for you.

I learned a long time ago that there is much more to building a proper fire than simply adding heat to fuel in the presence of oxygen. Even though all of those components are necessary, there is also a certain science that has to be followed in order to find an effective fuel. For those of you who have been there, you’ll know that fuel taken from the ground will not be suitable. Here’s why:

Just as heat is attracted to cold, (this is why the ground pulls the heat from your body when you lie on it), wet will go to dry. So whenever you have your fire fuel lying on the ground it is susceptible to getting moisture, especially since the low profile will prevent there being any circulation that could cause evaporation. So, that being said, here are three tips that will give you fire everytime:

  1. Find good tinder. Tinder is the stuff that will burn from a match. My favorite tinder is a bird’s nest. Now that being said, you shouldn’t be shaking baby birds out of their nest in order to build a fire, and you shouldn’t have to. There are plenty of empty abandoned nests out there.
  2. Find a good supply of wood. A good rule of thumb is to gather at least three times what you think you’ll need. I always look for a snarl of wood that has fallen from a tree during a past storm. I generally like to gather firewood that I can break to proper size because trying to cut or saw firewood in a survival situation is a waste of time.
  3. Build a teepee fire. This is an age old design that is tried and true. The concept is to use your smallest fuel, (your tender), as the nucleus, and then build your fire up in size from there.
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Spring adventures: dodging eagle babies and more

As spring finally emerges from the frosty swell of what turned out to be a harsh winter, there are some things you need to be cautious of as you meander out on your warm weather excursions.

Of course we all know to avoid the baby skunks as we go about taking photographs or looking for deer sheds or morel mushrooms, but did you know that you need to be cautious about baby eagles too?

Evidently, the young eagles will begin trying to fly before they are ready and many actually end up on the ground after having become emboldened, (by the very fact that they are eagles I suppose), to try their wings before they are ready, and tumbling to the ground.

And so it was in such a predicament that I found myself in one fine spring day when I was just a boy. I lived near a state park in Ohio and decided that I would  forgo the farm pond that I usually fished and meander the five miles or so to Acton Lake at the Hueston Woods State Park. This was a more worthy adventure for two reasons. One: it was a state lake and required a fishing license, which I didn’t have, so it gave an additional element of adventure to my nine year old mind, and two: it was well out of earshot of my dad who was notorious for ruining my fishing forays with his various fool notions, (moving hay from one barn to the other for instance).

So it was with light heart and heavy worm can that I headed across the McQuiston’s pasture and into the wilds of Hueston Woods. I was nearly to the horseman’s camp when I came across this sweet little bundle of grey fur that looked just adorable. His little long legs and oversize yellow beak were irresistible to me as I scooped him up as he attempted to scurry off. His cute little pecks against my wrist were almost comical and though I didn’t know right then what kind of bird he was, I knew that he was a raptor of some sort and my mind was immediately filled with thoughts of becoming a falconer, raising this young bird to be my constant wilderness companion. I envisioned having a T stand built for him to perch on in my room and could just taste the wide array of small game that me and Ziggy could attain.

My, but couldn’t he howl? I was very surprised that such a little guy could work up such a piercing screech, but was confident I could train him not to shriek so. It was then that all hell broke loose.

Apparently mommy eagles don’t abandon their young when they fall from the nest because the next thing I knew I was in the fight of my young life. Here’s another interesting note. Eagles attack in pairs. Did you know that? And they are tenacious as well, being willing to follow an adversary for several miles if the atrocity committed is serious enough.

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