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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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Military surplus camouflage: Flecktarn vs Digital

Flecktarn is a term derived from two German words, Fleck and Tarnung, which mean speckled and camouflaged respectively. This pattern was developed by German engineers in the 1970’s and replaced the more floral pattern of Germany that was popular during WWII.

What’s interesting is the comparison of modern American military digital camouflage, adopted in 1992, to its European counterpart.

There are as many styles of camouflage as there are tastes in women. And the fact of the matter is that each one has its own use and advantages, depending on the environment and situation that one finds oneself in. Some of the styles of military grade camouflage are as follows:

  1. Brushstroke. Developed by British during WWII using large brushes to paint different swaths of colour over their khakis before jumping into enemy territory.
  2. Tigerstripe. Very similar to brushstroke and popularized in the jungle warfare experienced in Vietnam, these cammies were highly sought after but rare, being used mostly by elite special forces and supply clerks.
  3. Duck Hunter. Used mainly by US Marines fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. This style became popular amongst American outdoorsman and was prolific in early department megastores like K-mart.
  4. Engineer Research and Development Lab, (ERDL). This pattern was much like the Duck Hunter pattern in the fact that it was popular with hunters.
  5. Woodland Camo. This was by the far the most popular of all of the camouflage patterns, at least until the early 2000s when the digital camouflage came on the scene.

The end result of all of this has culminated in the modern American digital camouflage. The United States Marine Corps was the first military branch to adopt the micro-pattern camouflage, finding that the small dot pattern was more inherent to camouflaging than any of the larger pattern, blob style patterns.

And in the end, even though the German style of Flecktarn is stylish, sporty,  and sustainable, it is not as effective at hiding you in the bushes as is the American digital pattern.

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Sportsman’s ambiance: 3 must do steps for getting a hornet’s nest for your den

 

If you are a hunter, outdoorsman, sportsman, or even a survivalist or a prepper then it is most likely that you have a man cave somewhere. One of the aspects of having a man cave is having manly, out-doorsie things hanging up in it. An old snowshoe for instance, or a wretched old Coleman lantern. Anything that will put you in mind of an old Jack London style trapper cabin located on the tundra in the wilds of Alaska.

One of my favorite wall hangings is a deserted, (and completely vacated), hornet’s nest. The good news is that a hornet’s nest is not hard to find; the bad news? It’s difficult to vacate. The other good news is that nature and the changing environments will help you to get that perfect decoration.

Typically a bald-faced hornet’s nest is usually the size of a football or sometimes a basketball. They can, however, get much larger than that and of course you can find them much smaller as well. This nest is usually built over a period of half a year and is always started by the queen who emerges from hibernation in the spring and gets the business started by chewing wood pulp into paper, making brood cells and laying eggs in each cell. The workers are then hatched and take over the menial tasks while she lays eggs over the summer creating an army of workers which build and inhabit the nest.

Winter drives the queen back into hibernation while the workers all freeze to death until the next spring when the process starts all over again.

The nest that is left will never be inhabited by bald-faced hornets again!

Here are three things you must do to ensure you don’t have any hornets left in your nest before you take it into your man cave:

  1. Gather it in the winter. And if you have spotted a likely hornet’s nest, make sure that you gather it after the very coldest part of the winter. These workers have to get very cold to die and even then if they are still around they can be revived by warmth. Don’t be afraid to inspect the nest very closely before you take it inside.
  2. Smoke it. In the old days, people would get a smoky smoldering ember and let the smoke permeate the nest to ensure that the inhabitants had vacated it completely.
  3. Seal it. My favorite answer to this quandary is to seal the nest in shellac and make sure that whatever is in there will stay in there, and it will also make it a bit more durable to be used as a wall hanging. It is made out of rustic papers after all.
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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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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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Junk food survival: 3 reasons you need to include corn chips in your bugout bag

By: Mr X, Survivalist

 

I have been assailed lately by health food nuts. My wife, for instance, has gotten onto this grassfed beef movement. Well, that’s all well and good, and the fact of the matter is that I can see the intelligence in eating food that has been prepared in accordance with the plan of the One who created it; however, that doesn’t mean that the schemes of man can’t sometimes be beneficial, especially in a survival situation.

And so, it is this humble survivalist’s opinion that you should take the time to throw a couple of bags of corn or potato chips into your bug out bag, because they actually come in quit handy for certain situations. Here are three prime examples of times when you will be glad you have them and some practical uses that you can put them to. Not to mention that they are cheap and easy to come by, at least in this day and time.

Prepared chips are highly caloric and high in carbs.

If just taken at face value, and used for nothing more than a prepared and individually packaged food  source, these small bags of chips are excellent for short term survival needs. They are salty and filling  and will give a much needed burst of energy and warmth by their very nature.

They are salty.

Not only is that salt beneficial to you, but it is also attractive to other creatures of the wilderness and    is therefore beneficial for use as bait. This has been one of the most confounding aspects of survival that I have experienced whenever I have tried to lure game into a trap or ambush area, finding a bait source that would attract them that wasn’t available somewhere else.

They are highly flammable.

In a survival situation, this is much more exciting than it might seem right now, especially if you are caught in a rainy or foggy environment. They are also waterproof while they are sealed in their bag; however, I would recommend that you open them under cover if you plan to use them as a fuel source for a fire.

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Buying a survival truck: 7 things you must consider

Recently it became apparent that my car, which has just gotten off warranty, was designed to start dollaring me to death. Notice that I didn’t say “nickel and diming” me. That’s because the particular car I bought only has $200 + parts on it.

That’s ok though, it’s still a good car it’s just not something I’m going to be running around the countryside in. This car, which is extremely good in the snow, will instead sit in a driveway awaiting the coming of age of my 13 year old daughter who will then start driving it, (and will work countless hours at McD’s to pay for those $300 sensors).

And so then it is time for me to find a used truck with which to foray out on my adventures from. I have purchased many such trucks over the years and have developed seven rules I go by when doing so. Here are seven sure fire tips for buying a used truck.

  1. Get 4 wheel drive. You might be tempted to buy something that has rear differential and whatnot because it is cheaper, but there is a reason the 4 wheel drive trucks sell so much higher, and faster. That’s because if you need it you really need it.
  2. Check the 4 wheel drive out. Just because you found a truck that say 4X4 on the bed, doesn’t mean that the 4wd works. Check it before you buy it. I always stop and place the truck in neutral before I engage the 4wd in either high or low.  I know that many are designed to allow for shifting on the fly… but why would you?
  3. Buy from a private owner. I say this having bought used cars from the dealership before and having them be ok; however, I’ve always had my best luck when buying from a private owner.
  4. Take a long look at the current owner and his things. This is going to be a great indicator of how the truck has been maintained. Does the guy or gal keep his place clean and neat? Is the grass mown and trimmed? Get a look into his garage, are there tools scattered around?
  5. Look for rust! Rust is the biggest enemy to any vehicle. Look for bubbles in the paint too, because that is rust as well. I always look at the frame as well. I once bought a 13 year old used truck without checking anything else out when I saw that the original factory stickers were still stuck to the frame it was so clean.
  6. Check the Fluids. One big indicator that something is awry is the presence of certain kinds of fluids in places they should not be. Oil in the antifreeze for instance.
  7. Ask a lot of questions. Find out why the person is selling his  truck. Did he buy it for a child? Those are the best ones to get, the ones that were bought for a child which the child didn’t want. Another good buy is someone who has lost a loved one who owned it, or who has simply bought a new one because he or she had the money to and nothing better to do with it.
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Kayaking 202 (C): 3 things I have learned the hard way

Ok, so this wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it was going to be. To be honest, though I am in very good shape, I am in terrible shape for kayaking and I much underestimated the flexor muscles necessary to keep this tippy thing above water. Therefore, today I am sore and, (I know from experience), tomorrow I will be REAL SORE! That is okay though because I really learned a lot from this endeavor.  And I really had a good time. Despite living a life fraught with danger and adventure, I have never been kayaking before. I have spent hours and hours canoeing but the two aren’t really alike.

Kayaking for the purpose of photography, too, added a dynamic to this experience that makes it like no other endeavor, and since the purpose of this writing is to give advice on kayaking for photography, here is what I have learned from my first try.

  1. Use that launch at the marina. I took the path of naturalism for my first trip and I found out that the path of naturalism involves two things: water and filth. There’s nothing like flinging wet lake scum across your camera lens while flipping your legs into a kayak from the water’s edge that will make you squirm and squeal maniacally. Although it’s doable in a pinch, there is a very convenient launch at the marina that offers you the opportunity to insert and extract easily with very little water and no lake scum involved.
  2. Lose that tripod! Though it seemed like a good idea at the time, I am better off using a handheld camera because the kayak is in constant motion. Just… no! put the camera around your neck and shoot by hand. You can keep the tripod with you for the chance that you might pull up to shore and get a shot from the land, or from a submerged log.
  3. Use your rivets. Remember the nifty watertight containers that I gorilla glued to the kayak? Well, it doesn’t hold. So there is a reason that most things end up getting pop riveted for marine purposes.

In our next installation we will look at some of the improvements I’ll make to the improvements I made initially and we’ll give her another try… stay tuned.

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Kayaking 202(B): 3 ways to tell when you should just go home

And so with great trepidation and trembling fingers, I loaded my brand new kayak onto the Subaru and headed for the local state park and lake.

It has been raining to beat hell here in southern Ohio, and there was finally a break in the constant drizzly downpour that is supposed to last a few days. So I figured to take advantage of the respite, (I understand that we have another hurricane coming through at some point), and when I got there I discovered that regardless of how excited I was to get out into the water and grab some awesome exposures of buttery wildlife goodness, there was absolutely no way in the world that I was going to. The biggest clue for me was the fact that the only other watercraft on the lake was the mud drudger, and those two guys on it looked   nervous as hell.

The next clue was the fact that there was about five inches of concrete left showing on the boat launch dock, (when there is usually a foot or better), and I could literally see currents forming out on the body of the lake, which was choppy and wind driven. I pondered about how tippy my little 8′ kayak was just being manipulated by the current created from the circulation pump in my swimming pool, and even though I could see the white slash of wings from the eagles flying way out in the distance on the other side of the lake, I left the dreams and visions of snapping some shots there on the lakeshore and grudgingly headed on home. So, here are three clues to keep in mind when you are ponding stormy waters.

  1. Watch for activity on the water. Basically, if no one else is on the water, not even a gaggle of geese, you should probably be asking yourself why that is. If no one else wants to go out because of high water you should most likely follow suit.
  2. Look at the topological indicators. Water levels as opposed to established water lines for instance. Understand that the more volume is present, the greater the force of gravity will affect it and you.
  3. Watch for white water. It shouldn’t take me to tell you that the whiter and more turbulent the water is the more dangerous it is.
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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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