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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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How good of an outdoorsman are you? Can you tell the difference between a cat and a dog?

Watch this video! Watch it closely because it has caused controversy in the social media world. It actually made me a little sad to watch this because it tells me a lot about how far away from nature most people are today.

I will say that I had the mystery solved in approximately 3.5 seconds and it only took me that long because the boy had brought me my coffee and I had looked up to indicate my thanks. What threw most people off I suppose was that very cougar like tail that this dog has. However, that is where the similarities end on this. Here are three reasons why you should have known this is a dog and not a cat.

  1. The way it’s acting. Cougars, even captive ones, are very wary of people and they actually don’t seem to like people at all… ever. So the fact that this canine comes sauntering into the picture nonchalantly, as if there my be a Snausage® to be had somewhere, is very telltale.
  2. . Those ears. Anyone who has ever paid attention at all will take note of the fact that a catamount, cougar, mountain lion, etc… has rounded ears that tuck back close to the head, (to keep them out of other animals mouths I’d assume). This animal has ears that stand erect and are as pointy as stilettos… Italian stilettos.
  3. The gait that it has. How many of you know that dogs are diagonal walkers and cats are lateral walkers, (for the most part at least)? What I mean is the difference between a trot and a pace if talking about horses. Cats usually move both feet forward on one side at the same time, (lateral walking or pacing), while dogs usually move opposite feet forward diagonally at the same time, (diagonal walking or trotting). Studies have shown that they do this to prevent their feet from colliding in the event they need to move quickly to avoid danger or subdue prey.
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Kayaking 202: Turning a kayak into a photo taking machine

And so I take my final bow as I present to you my kayak, all tricked out and ready to go on lake-water adventures as I endeavor on a trip to capture the stoic visage of a family of American Bald Eagles which inhabit the local state park.

I have labored long and hard on it, (not really), and I have done all that I wanted to in order to get it seaworthy.

Here are the changes I have made to it that make it ready to capture the photos and video that I am going after.

  1. I installed a go-pro mount on the top at the bow. I discovered right off that trying to mount it with marine rivets as I did nearly everything else, because the rivets heads would interfere with the camera mount. Hopefully the gorilla glue that I utilized to mount it will hold, otherwise I’m going to be hoping that the waterproof case makes it float.
  2. I used the gorilla glue to also mount two watertight cases to the floor of the kayak. One is big enough to hold the camera that I plan to use for the kayak photography, and one to hold my cellphone. Though I could have easily drilled and riveted both of these cases in, I didn’t relish the idea of breaking that watertight seal in any way.
  3. I riveted two eye brackets into the bow in order to strap a tripod into the bow. As I shoot more and more photography, I learn more and more that I need to have a tripod for stabilization. And so I plan to utilize this configuration in order to get those photos that have so far eluded me from across the lake. Of course I’ll keep you posted! Stay tuned for the next installment of kayaking for photography…
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Kayaking 101: 2 things you must do before you get started

 

 

 

A Sony a100 DSLR camera equipped with a Minolta 100-300mm

I have recently grown weary of walking the same old trails and driving the same old access roads looking for fresh game and new scenery for my photography.

My wife suggested that I take up kayaking in order to get to areas of a local state park that are inaccessible in any other way. Eagles for instance, are nesting on the far side of the lake and if I use digital zoom, my expensive Panasonic FZ-80 will zoom right over there so that I can just make them out, sitting in their trees and cavorting amongst themselves. Below them I can usually find where the Great Blue Herons are raising their elegant younglings, gracefully teaching them to fish among the cattails.  And so, I began the endeavor to find my path towards becoming a water borne photographer, and it was then that I discovered that I need to do two things in order to get started. Here they are:

  1. Consider costs and find the best deal out there. Now, I don’t mean just finding the best deal on a kayak, although I do mean that as well, but consider what kind of risk you will be putting your equipment through before you get started.  I have several expensive cameras and lenses. The first thing I did was go to my agent and add some extra insurance to my equipment. I also got online and looked for some inexpensive but useful alternatives to taking my best stuff out there. I found a Sony a100 on a popular repurposing site online for $37. It’s only 10mp, but it takes legacy Minolta lenses which are extremely cheap but very sharp.  I also found a Canon SX20 IS which is only 12mp but which has a 500mm focal length, ($24, same site). Both cameras work wonderfully and if they fall into the drink, I’ll be disappointed but I won’t sob uncontrollably for several days.
  2. Learn your equipment. Go to the local university and find out where the outdoor pursuit center, and get some safety training. The last thing you should want to do is get drowned while trying to get a couple of photographs. In upcoming posts, I will take you through the process of acquiring kayaks and equipment requirements to start using them for photography expeditions… stay tuned!
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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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Happy 4th of July from RDDUSA

As you celebrate this wonderful day with your grilled hotdogs and flame broiled burgers, please remember that this wonderful freedom that you enjoying in the form of celebration with friends and family isn’t free; it was bought with a price.

That price comes in many forms. Most notably is the blood and lives of those Americans who have fought and died to protect your right to lie poolside on such a glorious day and celebrate the happiness of living your life away from the tyranny and usury that is so prevalent in other societies under other government rules.

And so, I ask ,as you go camping this holiday season, or even if you’re just pitching the old military surplus tent in the back yard for your grandkids to play in… do so with a silent prayer on your lips and in your heart for those men and women who have taken up arms in just such an environment. In such an environment as this to live and sometimes die so that collectively we might all enjoy the right to enjoy the free capital lifestyle that has made America the greatest nation on the planet and many other nations much greater than they would otherwise have been.

I write this with the knowledge that as we progress forward that many lives must be placed in jeopardy, much more blood must be spilled, and more must be given from each and every one of us to maintain that which we have. Our sons and daughters will serve and fight and protect us all in these coming, uncertain days. My very own son, my first born, leaves for service in the Marine Corps in October of this year. He does so with gladness and anticipation; eager to defend the rights and liberties of this great Constitution. And with that in mind, we wish you all a very happy 4th of July.

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Beaver Sign: 3 things you must know about beavers

 

I was recently visiting a favorite fishing spot, which I haven’t been to in a couple of years. As I was walking down the trail to the pond, I came across two rough looking characters who were dressed in blue jeans and wife beaters. They both grinned maniacally at me as one of them pulled something from his pants pocket.

“So it’s come to this”, I thought as I contemplated my chances against the two husky but out of shape and overweight fellows. I knew I could at least outrun them but it is unfortunately not in my nature to run. I was at least a little relieved when the fellow who had went into his pocket unrolled a handkerchief to reveal a rumpled Morel mushroom. “I fount one” He grinned at me through snaggly teeth and ratty beard, as his companion looked on approvingly. I nodded my acquiescence, and moved on down the trail at a steady pace. It was then that I saw the damage that had been done to the once beautiful lake… it was completely trashed!

Not by the two miscreants, they had only been hunting mushrooms. No! The lake had been trashed by beavers. There were literally no trees that had been left unmarred. Many had been stripped of bark, while others had been gnawed down completely. There were large piles of limbs and branches, (dams) all over the lake. It was a mess. Therefore, for those of you who are uninformed, here are three things you must know when camping in beaver country.

  1. The little rodents are dangerous. Not only will they drop a tree on your tent, they will eat you up if you bother them. Those huge, curved teeth that they are able to gnaw through trees with will go through your flesh and bone with no problem.
  2. They will kill every tree they can get to. There is a reason that the pioneers nearly eradicated these creatures from the face of the earth beyond the need for fur hats.
  3. They are sneaky and hard to find. One of the tricks of locating these creatures, (they will make many lodges and move from lodge to lodge), is to watch the lodges on a frosty morning sand look for one that is steaming. They usually sleep about 9 deep and the vents that they put in their lodges will steam on cold mornings from the breath and body heat escaping.  In the summer watch for the cloud of mosquitos hovering around the vent, attracted by the carbon monoxide being released.
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All Terrain Vehicles: 3 things you must consider about maintaining your ATV

If you use an ATV, then you realize that one of the big aspects of owning and using an all terrain vehicle is the fact that they require a lot of maintenance. That being said, there are several important questions that you must ask yourself regarding whether you want to try to use an older model ATV or whether you should invest the resources into buying a new one.

Unquestionably an ATV comes in handy for everything from treasure-hunting to deer hunting. They are great methods of transportation for military surplus tent adventures as well. These things can carry a lot of weight and if you can balance it on your ATV, then you can usually transport it wherever it needs to go. However, here are three things you need to think about when deciding what type of ATV to get and use.

  1. Parts availability. One of the biggest problems you’ll run into when keeping an older ATV is the fact that the parts for it are going to be hard to come, and it is certain to go down at some time or another. Your best bet if you are going to use an older model ATV is to buy some spare parts whenever you can and keep them. This means extra fuel pump and several filters, spare cables and custom fittings, and any fuses or spare switches you can pick up, as well as several oil filters.
  2. Ease of maintenance. One of the advantages of an older ATV is the ease with which they can be worked on. ANY incorporation of electronics into the power train is going to result in complications in the mechanical function of the ATV in the event of a SHTF type scenario.
  3. Ease of transport. The lighter your ATV, the better off you’re going to be if you have to push, pull, or carry it. I once had a Honda 4trax that was light enough I could load it myself into a pickup truck without a ramp. It was on 250CCs, but it worked great for everything I needed it for.
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Fathers Day 2018: 5 must have gifts for dad!

5 Reasons to get super excited for June 16th!!!

June 16th of this year is Father’s Day, and I’m super excited to see what my children have gathered for me this year. They almost always get me something “outdoorsie” and I have asked specifically for military surplus items for the last few years.

As a matter of fact, military surplus equipment never gets old, and here is a list of five items, (5), that will never get old for Father’s Day, and which you can never have too many of.

  1. A military surplus cold weather parka.

    Some of you might errantly think that if you have a field jacket then you don’t really need a parka. Well, that’s wrong! It’s like saying that if you have a quilt you’ll never need a sleeping bag, and while it’s possible to survive without one, life sure is easier in the cold weather if you have a parka. They are warmer, longer, and better equipped to keep your head and neck from freezing.

  2. A military surplus M-65 Field Jacket.

    This is better for all weather that isn’t the most bitter cold. As a matter of practicality, you can pull your liner from it and use it for more of a “windbreaker” effect on those milder days. I love wearing an M-65 field jacket almost more than any other jacket… especially the VietNam era “Woodland Camo” design.

  3. Military surplus BDU pants.

    Again, “VietNam” era, woodland camo. I prefer the cold weather pants all year long due to the durability, though they are great for wicking away moisture. However, I have found that they have a tendency to gall your thighs on the hottest of days.

  4. A military surplus duffle bag

    . These things are great for any type of clothing, gathering, or collecting.

  5. A military surplus backpack.

    I have these set up for different uses. I have one that I take muzzleloading, another that I take hiking, one that I take when doing photography, etc….

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Military surplus news: 2018’s MRE change

Photo courtesy of the US Army

I’m so excited by the newest addition to the military MRE selection for 2018 that I nearly can’t stand myself.

In a move reminiscent of the daily lunch option at Preble Shawnee Consolidated High School in rural Gratis, Ohio, the military is now offering  an opportunity to have pizza for lunch out in the field as a MRE option.

In a recent news article in KITUP magazine the cat was let out of the bag:

 

The pepperoni pizza entrée has been added to the 2018 Meals, Ready to Eat menu and should be on its way to the field soon.

The pizza MRE will include cheddar and jalapeno cheese spread, Italian breadsticks, cookies, cherry-blueberry cobbler and a chocolate protein drink powder.

“You know, for a pizza that has to last for at least three years … it’s pretty stinking good,” said Jeremy Whitsitt, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Combat Feeding Directorate.

“Whenever we have sampled it with people, the primary comment that comes back is, ‘Hey, it tastes like the pizza I had last night that I put in the fridge,’ he said.

“I think that is a great compliment when you think about bread, sauce, cheese and meat — all have to survive in the same pouch together for three years without going bad, or getting stale or moldy,” Whitsitt added.

The pizza is made with a high-heat-tolerant mozzarella cheese and a process that controls moisture levels, pH and oxygen levels to ensure a three-year shelf life, he said.

However, it’s difficult to predict when units will see the new pizza MRE, he said.

“I can’t tell you when troops will see it because that’s all dependent on what their stock is and how quickly they eat though their older stock” of MREs, Whitsitt said.

Defense Logistics Agency officials said it will be available to most troops in about 18 months, according to a May 25 Army press release.”

The good news for us is that these babies will be hitting the surplus line soon enough and we can enjoy our youthful dietary measures all over again.

 
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