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Playing with baby skunks, (and dealing with the aftermath)

If you have never had the pleasure of holding or playing with a tiny baby skunk, then my heart goes out to you because you have really missed out on something. This is because skunks are adorable, especially baby ones.

I remember seeing a group of baby skunks once on the college campus I was working on with my old buddy Jaybird Young.

“I’d love to hold one of those” I gushed as the little line of furballs marched past, following their seemingly serious-minded mom.

Jaybird thought quietly for a moment, one hand resting on his chin as he contemplated. “You know”, he finally replied, “they can’t spray when they’re young like that I’ve heard”.

“You sure?” I asked suspiciously, “I never heard that before.”

“Positive!” he said.

That was the day that I discovered Jaybird Young to be a liar and a fool; or maybe I was the fool. In any event, one thing you need to know is that little skunks can spray just as well as big skunks can. And let me tell you that there is a reason that skunks only have one natural predator known of, (great horned owls), can you guess why?

Here’s a little biological information regarding skunks. First of all, the chemical that they secrete to make that smell is called mercaptons and they are the same exact substances that are found in tubers such as wild onion and garlic. This is why sometimes the aroma given off from a skunk spray is often enticing in a strange way, and sweet smelling. That is, when they are experienced from a distance, the experience is quite different when experienced up close.

If your experience with baby skunks somehow goes south, here’s a no nonsense recipe for knocking the edge off of the assaultive odor, (there is no “cure” and I really can’t be bothered with that “tomato juice” nonsense). Here’s the winning recipe:

Measure out 1/4 cup of baking soda and mix it thoroughly with about a quart of hydrogen peroxide. Add a couple of tablespoons of your favorite smelling dishsoap, (preferably something that goes well with garlic). And then wash well the contaminated areas.

 

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Survival 201: How to make meat in dire straits

 

 

 

Have you ever been in a survivalists dire straits? I’m not talking about the British rock band, but instead I’m speaking of, as Merriam-Webster puts it: “In a very bad or difficult situation”.  Dire Straits works like this: Imagine that you are on a five days fishing trip on Loon Lake in the North Woods of Maine. On the first day, as you are kayaking north along one of the many tributaries, you are suddenly overturned by a young cow moose who has ventured out into the lake for reasons known only to young cow moose, and your bungee strap, (which you had just unlooped to retrieve your camera to take a photograph of a different cow moose who was also swimming in the stream), snags around the moose’s neck and she swims off with your kayak, bedroll, rifle, and pack. You are left with your camera in one hand, (water soaked), and your kayak paddle in the other. It suddenly occurs to you that the last time you checked your GPS, you were 15 miles from your truck. You, my friend, are now in Dire Straits.

There are many issues here, but in this writing I want to address the problem of gathering emergency rations in the form of meat. Understand in this scenario we are only trying to get back to a place of restorability so that we can go from a survival situation to one of modern comfort. Hopefully you had the wherewithal to have a backup blade in your boot or strapped to your floatation vest. If not, better find some sharp rocks…

I like to kill two birds with one stone. So, if I’m trying to make my way to my car, and if I know I have to travel along a stream, I will generally travel at night and walk in the stream. I do this for several reasons, not the least is so that I can hunt while I’m traveling.  For some reason, I’ve always found that animals such as frogs, muskrats, raccoons, and waterfowl – creatures which are active at night – are more susceptible to  hunting because they don’t expect danger to come from the middle of the stream, they expect it to come from the forest. A homemade two prong spear, or gig is my tool of preference for this type of hunting because it’s easy to make and works great for frogs and fish if you drive them into the mud to hold them there until you can grab them The trick is to wedge them into the “V” of the spear.

 

 

 

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Survival 101: 3 things you must consider when hunting with a throwing stick

By: Mr. X, survivalist

As we stood facing the long line of upended pieces of firewood – all set neatly in a row on top of the railroad tie which was itself suspended between two short fence posts buried deeply in the ground – I remember thinking again that this is stupid.

We were learning throwing stick from the Old Tracker himself, Tom Brown Jr. An avowed hunter and outdoorsman, I can remember thinking at the time that this was a ridiculous endeavor, because no animal was ever going to just sit still and let you hit it with a stick… ridiculous! Except, here I am decades later and I can assure you that hunting with a stick is completely do-able.  The trick lies in two areas; 1. slow down, and 2. move fast.

I know, a contradictory in terms right? Well, not really, because to be a successful throwing stick hunter you have to master both concepts. The nuances to hunting with a throwing stick are in-depth, and I will not be able to cover a lifetime of learning in such a short article, but I can give you the three main concepts right here, right now!

  1. Slow Down. You have to stalk to be able to hunt with a throwing stick. The real trick is to create an environment that triggers the instinct to freeze and blend in to the surroundings. It is this freezing in place that gives you the opportunity to throw your stick, otherwise you have to really hone those skills to be able to hit the animal once the flight instinct has set in.
  2. Move fast. When you are within striking distance, you must be able to throw the stick faster than the creature can flee for it’s life.  This takes being able to go from a non-threatening pose to a deadly one in much less than a second. To  really do this effectively you must learn to “cock” your throwing arm while still stalking because any threatening gesture will trigger the flight response, and animals, it appears, do have at least a minimal understanding of the basic concepts of physics.
  3. Throw True. The trick to effectively using a throwing stick lies in the same skillset necessary to effectively throw a tomahawk, but on a horizontal plane as opposed to a vertical one. (The exception would be if you are throwing at a squirrel on the side of a tree or something similar).

 

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Hunting camp 2017: 2 reasons to take your horse camping

If you are preparing for a military tent adventure, especially a winter camping trip, don’t dismiss the possibility of taking a horse with you to deer camp. There are several reasons to take Old Tenderfoot along other than the fact that it just looks cool. Here are five.

  • No adventure is quite as exciting without a certain spice of danger. Let’s face it, the reason that we go on military tent adventures is to face the dangers of the wilds. We make a bid to leave the seclusion and safety of our homes and venture out into the wilderness, man against the elements.  So… why not pit man against beast as well? There’s very little more dangerous than trying to take a powerful, living creature who has a will of its own, and trying to make it carry you around on its back.  Not to mention the fact that it has ten times your strength, twenty times your speed, 4 times your weight, hooves that can kick concrete bricks apart and a bite that can easily crush walnuts.
  • You can hunt deeper into the woods and get there faster. There’s nothing like a long ride into the mountains in the early morning while hunting big game. The warm smell of your shaggy friend as he bears you through the rough terrain or deep snow is second to none, and even if you don’t have a successful hunt, you can have a wonderful horseback ride. With a horse you can camp deeper into the wilderness as well, hauling your tent and all of your needed supplies on his back rather than having to use a truck or other means of transportation.
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Survival 101: make your own jerky

If you ever find yourself on a long term survival trip, one of the easiest ways to get food is to preserve meat for long term hoarding. This can be done by salt curing and drying, or by smoking which is the most sure-fire way, (no pun intended).

Salt curing.

  • Using any meat or fish of your choice, the trick is to slice it as thin as possible. The point of both methods is to dehydrate the meat to prevent bacteria from spoiling it, and the drier the meat the better it will cure.
  • Rub salt all over the meat. It will draw moisture out and will kill bacteria.
  • Set in the hot sun. This will roast/dry/jerk the meat, turning it into a very hard sheet of dehydrated muscle.
  • Eat with care. This is a very hard and dry piece of meat and it is very salty as well. Look closely for signs of spoilage, and sniff well. Can be used to mix with berries and nuts to make Pemmican, but is also good to boil with vegetables and tubers for stew.

Smoking Jerky

  • Using any meat or fish, slice as thin as possible.
  • Build some sort of framework to go above your firepit. This framework is often multilayered and triangular in form to allow the smoke to rise and coat the meat evenly. The point is complete dehydration of the meat.
  • Build your fire and put green wood on it. Either fruit or nut wood works best. Avoid the evergreen variety, and any sort of bitter wood as this will permeate your jerky and gag you when you try to eat it.
  • Cover the meat. This is done to contain as much smoke as possible. If you have a dead deer, you may use the deerskin to envelope the meat and will thereby smoke the hide too.
  • Smoke until completely dry. It helps to flip the meat also, giving the bottom part against the wood of your frame a chance to dry out too. Smoking time will depend on how thinly you sliced your meat.
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SURVIVAL PARACORD; 4 HANDY USES YOU CAN IMPLEMENT TODAY

We’ve all been there. One minute you are out in the bush enjoying a camping or hunting trip and the very next minute you are engaged in a fight for survival, depending on nothing more than the items you have on you and your steely wit to save from certain death and damnation. In times like these there is nothing in the world that you need more than some para-cord. Of course we all know how to make cordage out of the inner bark of certain plants and trees, or how to cut cordage from rawhide, but to be honest, having some prepared and quality manufactured cordage on hand can be the difference between a fun survival trip and one which is just a miserable struggle. So here are four ways to be prepared for a survival situation by having paracord on hand as a replacement for everyday items.

  1. Wear a survival bracelet. You know what these things are, they are all the rage today, and most of you probably even know how to make them. If you don’t and you want to learn, watch a youtube video. Not only are they snazzy and you can make them to represent your favorite sports team or whatever, but they are easily incorporated into everyday dress.
  2. Craft a belt from paracord. Let’s face it, you need a belt anyway, why not make one from paracord and then you will have plenty of cordage with you at all times?
  3. Make a rifle/shotgun sling. This concept is relative to the concept of having a belt made of paracord. Why not craft your own long gun sling that you can use as a functional sling and put to use as cordage in a survival situation?
  4. Use as a wrap for your water bottle. Not only does this concept allow you to have a non-slip grip on your water bottle during a military surplus tent adventure or outdoor excursion, but it also supplies you with a plethora of cordage to use in a survival situation. As with all of these concepts, instructional videos are easily located on youtube.
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SURVIVAL WEAPONRY; 4 REASONS TO USE A SHEPHERD’S SLING FOR SURVIVAL

One of my favorite stories from the Bible is that of David and Goliath. It’s not so much that it is a story of great heritage and tradition, it is that of course, rather it is the concept of a man using what he had to get what he wants. It is, in fact, one of the ultimate stories of survival. And it warrants discussion, I think, because the weapon of choice for David was one of the most basic of all survival weapons, a simple stone sling. Now, a stone sling is not the most simple survival tool, that honor goes to the throwing stick, a solid bow of wood about the circumference and shape of your bent arm which you can hurl at enemies or prey with fairly amazing accuracy. But a sling is a very close second. A sling involves nothing more than two pieces of cordage, (rawhide or shoelaces will work), that holds a pouch for a stone in between them. (I have use the insides of pants pockets and shoe tongues before). The premise is to use centrifugal force to generate velocity and to direct the generated velocity at your target in an accurate manner, or, in layman’s terms: to get a good spin on it and give it a fling! These things are highly accurate and are used the world over to bring down some pretty hellacious foes. In survival, you will use what you have on hand. In any event, I have compiled four good reasons that a stone sling is a good choice for survival… enjoy!

  1. It is easily made. Whether you find yourself in a survival situation, are with your family on a camping trip or a military surplus tent adventure, or are embroiled in the most desperate of apocalyptic measures, you can always find what you need to make a sling. Even the half rotten carcass of a deer can yield enough rawhide to fashion one as will the inner bark of a willow tree.
  2. The ammunition is cheap. It shoots rocks, arguably the most common resource on the planet.
  3. It is quiet. Except for the spin of the sling through the air, and the whack of the stone on target, this thing is whisper quiet, unlike a bow that produces a “thwack” when the arrow is released, or even an atl atl which makes a bit of a snip when thrown.
  4. It is ultra portable. This thing folds right up into a pocket or will hang around your neck quite nicely. Also works in a pinch for other uses.
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THINK YOU COULD BE A HUNTER – GATHERER? THINK AGAIN

Photo By: Wikipedia.com

Consider if you will, the Hadza people of Tanzania. They are a true hunter-gatherer society who’s men leave their grass huts at the crack of dawn, poison tipped arrows in hand, and venture out into the wilds of Africa in search of their next meal. This meal could be anything from a small frog or bird, to a full or half grown giraffe. The women also venture forth to perform the other aspect of their existence, the gathering. They go in search of berries, roots, vines and tubers which add supplement to their otherwise protein rich diets. This is everyday life for this indigenous people, and it is the same lifestyle that your ancestors lived so many thousands of years ago. It is the same life that we practice, train, and prepare for as survivalists; however, a close look at these people reveals to us, if we are completely honest, a strong deficiency in our commitment to make a living like they do. In all fairness it must be said that the ability to eek out a living on the plains of Africa is not going to be the same as trying to live in the wheat belt of America or in the mountains and fruited plains. However, it becomes apparent that society and evolution have not necessarily been good to us as far as keeping our survival skills keen goes. A recent study from Yale researchers has shown that these people exercise vigorously nearly two and a half times as much as the modern athletic American or European. As a result the studies further show that these people are extremely low risk for ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, high cholesterol, and diabetes. They furthermore don’t seem to slow down as much or are effected as much by age as are their Caucasian counterparts. Nor do they suffer from dementia. Do you want to be a real survivalist? Take heed of these people then and see what it will really take in a post-apocalyptic society to stay ahead of the game… no pun intended.

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SPRING BEAR HUNTS; 5 OF THE BEST SPOTS FOR BEAR

Photo By: MPatterson

I have told you before about my favorite bear hunt plan that was going to be a combination military surplus tent adventure and hunting trip. In this endeavor, myself and The Wildman had planned on taking a black bear with a couple of spears in the Great Smoky Mountains, since we both fancied ourselves to be great hunters and survivalists. That was, until we actually arrived and found out two very key factors: 1. The black bears at the Great Smoky Mountains are protected, and 2. They are just little bitty things that are nearly as tame as dogs. After having fed several of them bologna and cheese sandwiches, and hearing one of them literally cry like a baby when The Wildman cuffed it on the nose for getting a bit “nippy”, we both elected to amuse ourselves with taking pictures and we left the hand forged spears in the truck. However, the North American Grizzly bear is another critter entirely, and if you are actually in the mood for a spring bear hunt, let me give you five recommendations, (according to LiveOutdoors), for an excellent bear hunt this year, where you will be more than happy in pitching your military surplus Army tent and making a week out of hunting this big, magnificent creature.

  1. Russia. In Kamchatka they offer more to enjoy than a milky butter rum drink, there are bear aplenty. Just a few miles away from Alaska, this territory is densely populated and very affordable in terms of actual cost. A guided hunt here starts at around $8,000.00 American and goes up from there.
  2. Romania. In the Carpathian Mountains is the place where 70 percent of the bear population can be found. These mountains stretch all of the way into the Ukraine, and this would be the site for a true and exotic adventure… there are many skeletons weathering on the crests and bluffs of these rocky mountains and not of them are quadrupeds.
  3. Canada. In Canada we have ample bear hunting in British Columbia, which will run you about $3,500.00 American dollars for a black bear and it just climbs from there for griz… however, there are ample griz and if you’re willing to pay you can harvest one for the hunt of a lifetime.
  4. Canada. Manitoba is another Canadian spot which just re-opened it’s bear season last year. Jump on the new season for a mere $2,650 dollars for a week in the wilds.
  5. Croatia. Gorski Kotar is a mountainous region in Croatia which is reportedly famous for it’s bears. Trophy hunting is the most expensive but is also most likely to be the most rewarding starting at $6,000.00 American.
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SAD NEWS IN HUNTING?: 2 THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT PEDALS BEING KILLED BY A NJ HUNTER

Photo By: The New York Post

It is with a heavy heart and sad visage that I must report to you the demise of the nations most beloved black bear, Pedals. Pedals was a stalwart and comely bear who had learned to walk around on two feet like a human after having probably been injured by a car collision. He lived in New Jersey. Pedals has been the ire of many an over-enthusiastic would be Sasquatch hunter and has also sent lots of people fleeing into the underbrush screaming at the top of their lungs, while he simply ambled about looking hither and yon for any scraps which would be of interest to a bi-pedal bear. His demeanor was always one of mild disinterest and he somehow created an air of Narnian proportions as he strode about like an absent minded professor who had somehow mis-placed his car keys. It is reported that a bow and arrow shooting bartender from Somerset County is the one who dispatched young Pedals to wherever it is that bi-pedal bears go when they get their birthdays turned off. And the New York post further reports that this individual has been targeted with scads of offensive hate-mail, threats, and petitions for his revocation of hunting rights… he did, after all, kill a beloved New jersey icon. I would like to point out however, two things that should be considered before passing judgement on the poor guy from New jersey.

    1. Pedals was a bear. And as such he was available for harvest in accordance with state law and game regulations. This means that even if the act of killing him was distasteful to some, he was open game during the hunting season. There had been a act afoot to have him removed from the public domain prior to his being harvested and the state of New Jersey had declined to remove him to a private sanctuary.
    2. He was wounded. This means several things. First of all, he wasn’t a Chronicles of Narnia character like Mr. Tumnus, he was a bear who was struggling to make a living because he was hurt. This is why he was often seen close to and in towns… he couldn’t compete in the wild. He was also dangerous. Since he was hurt, he was going to have to get food any way could and it is rumored that pets would disappear in any area he was seen at. This means that anything that was small and weak was at risk to become Pedals’ next meal… these are not conditions that make it favorable to enjoy a military surplus tent adventure anywhere near where Pedals was prowling around, especially if kids were involved.
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