Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review - Mora Classic No. 2

Here is a video review I did on the Mora Classic Number 2. It is a great little knife and inexpensive! $15 gets you a LOT of value.

In the video I say that it has a Beech handle. This is incorrect. It has a Birch handle.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Carbon VS Stainless Steel Blades

A common debate on knife forums and the source of much confusion, the differences between carbon steel and stainless steel have perplexed outdoorsmen for generations. How are they different? Which is better? Anyone who loves knives has contemplated these questions. The reason this debate continues is simple: It's not simple!

In reality we should not debate which is better, carbon steel or stainless steel, we should compare the many different types of steel and choose which is best for a given situation. You see, there are dozens, probably hundreds, of types of steel used in knives. They do not all fall neatly into "carbon" or "stainless". To make matters worse many companies use a proprietary steel and do not release their exact formula. Since it is not possible to compare all steels, the best we can do is make general conclusions.

All stainless steel contains chromium. Chromium helps prevent corrosion. However, it also changes the properties of steel in ways that can be undesirable. For knife users, the most negative affect chromium has on steel is that it makes steel more brittle. Knives with a high chromium content are harder to sharpen and more prone to breakage than knives with a low chromium content.

A shiny hunk of chromium. Courtesy of p.Gordon
To be officially categorized as "stainless", steel must contain more than 11% chromium by mass. Any steel containing less than 10.5% chromium could be classified as "carbon" steel. True carbon steel contains less than 3% chromium.

So you see, the difference between advertised carbon steel and stainless steel could be 1% more or less of chromium. Will a blade with 10% chromium be noticeably different than a blade with 11%? Probably not to the common man.

For the sake of this discussion "carbon steel" will refer to steel with less than 3% chromium  and "stainless steel" will refer to steel with more than 11% chromium.

Good steel contains at least .6% carbon. This holds true for both carbon or stainless steels. It is the carbon in the steel that allows it to be hardened to useful levels. Carbon allows the steel to be hard, yet flexible.
Chipped edge if a stainless steel blade

Stainless steel blades have the advantage of being resistant to tarnish and rust. The amount of chromium present determines how resistant it is. A knife with 11% chromium may be considered "stainless" but will eventually tarnish and rust. A knife that has 23% chromium may never rust, even when exposed to salt water. Think about it though: if 23% of the knife is chromium only 77% is steel! How well can you expect this knife to perform?
Rust on a stainless steel blade

As mentioned previously, this protection comes with a price. The more chromium the more brittle the blade. No one wants a knife that is too soft or too brittle. If it is soft, the edge will not last and the knife will bend. Too brittle and the knife will be difficult to sharpen and will break.

On the flip side, carbon steel blades will tarnish and will easily rust. You must clean them after each use. The blades will stain when exposed to blood and many acidic plants. This staining does not affect the blades performance and can actually protect it. Carbon steel is traditionally more flexible and easier to sharpen than stainless steel.

Both types of steel can be made equally sharp and be tempered to the same hardness.

All of the above is really just academic. What is important is how they perform in real life. For this I can only draw on personal experience. I own dozens of knives. I am quite good an making them sharp. How sharp? Sharper than a razor blade. There is no question in my mind that carbon steel blades are easier to sharpen. How easy? It takes me less than a minute to fully sharpen a carbon steel blade with a proper edge. A stainless steel blade will take five times that.

Look closely. The edge of theis carbon steel blade has been bent and repaired.

I've also noticed that when I am using a knife and it hits something hard like a bone or rock, a carbon steel edge will "bend" and a stainless steel edge will chip. A bent edge can be easily fixed, but a chipped edge needs to be reground.

In my experience, carbon steel blades are just as easy to take care of as stainless steel. I wipe a blade off to clean it to matter what it is made of. Who wants dirt or blood on a blade that you may cut food with someday? Once a carbon steel blade develops a patina it is fairly care free.

I prefer a carbon steel blade.

Are all stainless steels bad? No! I like the stainless steel used by Victorinox and Puma. Both use proprietary blends and are great! Modern, high quality stainless steel can come very close to the performance of carbon steel. If you work in a salt water environment, stainless is the only way to go.

Is all carbon steel good? No! Steels with low amounts of carbon or that are poorly tempered make poor knives. Not only are they hard to sharpen and brittle, they rust!

It really depends on the manufacturer. Most popular brands use good quality steel, if they did not they would no longer be in business. I can vouch for the steel used in Buck, Puma, Ka-Bar, Mora, Case, Victorinox, and Benchmade knives. Gerber, Spiderco, and SOG use a wide variety of steels in their knives ranging from poor to very good. You need to research the individual knives of these three brands. I personally do not care for Cold Steel, Schrade (since being sold in 2004), or "Made in China" brands.

However, no matter what brand, a high quality carbon steel blade will always outperform a high quality stainless steel blade. By high quality, I am talking a $200 and up price tag. Something that is forged with love and care.

If you have never used a carbon steel blade before, I highly recommend you try one. I recommend the Mora Classic Number 2. It is inexpensive, but has a very high quality carbon steel. Basically the same steel used in the Ka-Bar fighting knife.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How To Take Care Of A Carbon Steel Blade

It is generally accepted as "fact" that stainless steel blades are better than carbon steel blades. I was at my local Bass Pro Shops looking at knives a few months ago. I asked to look at a folding pocket knife with a carbon steel blade. The young man who was helping me obviously knew very little about the products he was selling. This is a common problem with large outdoor stores. He couldn't tell me if any of the knives they carried had a carbon steel blade. He even commented, "Stainless is better anyway." When I asked why he thought so he replied, "Because they do not rust."

I didn't argue. Defending the benefits of carbon steel to a person who believes that stainless is best is like explaining to a Apple computer user why you prefer a PC. They just don't want to listen.

The fact is, I prefer carbon steel to stainless steel. I am at a point in my life that I will not buy a stainless steel knife unless I have no choice. Many people shy away from carbon steel because they believe carbon steel blades are hard to take care of. Let me take the mystery out of taking care of a carbon steel blade.

Top: 25 year old carbon steel blade
Bottom: 2 day old carbon steel blade
Carbon steel will rust if left out in the elements. Let me tell you a secret that knife makers do not want you to know; stainless steel will also rust! Although, at a much slower rate. All knives need to be cleaned and all moisture wiped off before they are stored. This is the key to taking care of a carbon steel blade. Simply wipe off the moisture when it gets wet.

There is a difference between a patina and rust. Do not expect your shiny, new carbon steel blade to stay shiny. If you want a shiny blade, buy stainless. Over time carbon steel will develop a grey/blue patina. This is good. A knife with a healthy patina is protected from rust. To promote a good patina on your blade, simply use it!

See any rust? No! The patina has protected the blade.

You can promote a faster development of a patina by cutting acidic fruit or getting blood on it. Because I often clean game, my knives have a blood patina on them. This type of patina is usually blotchy. I find it very appealing.

Do not polish your carbon steel blade. This will remove the patina and all of the rust protection. A patina-less carbon steel knife will rust quickly.

I call this a "blood" patina. You can see the areas that contact blood the most.
I have never oiled this knife.
Some people like to oil their carbon steel blades. I personally think this is unnecessary unless you are planing on storing them for a few years. If you do want to oil your blade, use mineral oil. Another secret knife makers don't want you to know; honing oil or knife oil is just mineral oil repackaged.

To sum up:

  1. Clean your knife when you put it away
  2. Develop a healthy patina on the blade
  3. Apply a coat of mineral oil when storing for long periods
That's it! Taking care of a carbon steel blade is really no harder than a stainless steel blade and it is much easier to sharpen! (Plus a handful of other benefits. More to come.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review - Remington Blood Tracker

A while ago I was sent a Remington Blood Tracker to review. Whoever sent it to me wanted me to post a honest review of it on the Walmart web site, not necessarily on this blog. Since I actually like the light,  I figured that I might as well post a review here as well.

The Remington Blood Tracker is a blood light. There is some confusion on what a blood light does. They are only useful in a few very specific circumstances. A blood light sends out a light wave similar to a black light. You have seen how a black light will make some colors "glow" and other fade? That is what a blood light does with the color red. When it works, it is amazing. I have found that they work best on fresh, bright red blood. Dark blood, like from the liver, or dried blood does not show up. Also, and this should be obvious, they only work at night.

If you live in an area that has trees that drop red leaves, this light is less effective. Every red leaf looks like blood! Blood lights work best in conjunction with a regular white light. Scan the area with one then the other. Blood lights quickly show fresh red blood, but actually hide dark or dried blood.

One interesting thing I discovered while using this in my back yard. It makes fresh dog and deer poop glow.  I about had a heart attack when my dog pooped and it looked like blood under the light. A quick scan with a while light showed that it was just normal brown dog crap.

The Remington Blood Tracker is a great little light. It is very, very well made. It will take a beating. For its torture test I gave it to my two year old to play with for a week. She loves flash lights, but often destroys them. It came back to me with barely a scratch.

The battery life on it is very good. With high quality batteries I got over 20 hours of life from it. The red beam is quite dim. This is perfect for using in a blind or in woods you know well, but do not count on it to navigate a new area. It is strong enough to see the imediate area, but not spook game. Keep in mind that red light hides blood. Blood is basically invisible under the red light.

The blood tracker light works as well as more expensive blood tracker lights. It illuminates bright blood, like that from a lung shot, very well. I personally would have preferred all six LED's to be blood tracker and just forgo the red light.

The belt sheath it comes with is very poorly made. I would not trust it. The first time it gets caught in brush I beleve it will rip. This is becoming the norm with flashlights. I wish companies would make a slightly better sheath for thier products. I would pay a few extera dollars for a nice sheath.

If you want a blood light, this is the one to buy! It is less than $15, so why not?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Toddler "Proofing" My Jon Boat - Pt 3

I've been preparing my Jon boat for my daughters first fishing season. You can see the mess it was in when I started here and the new electrical system here.

I wanted to make an area in the front of the boat for my daughter, Lila. My idea was to make it somewhat padded. She trips over her own feet, so with the swaying of the boat I'm sure she will end up falling in it. Every surface is hard and/or sharp. I don't want her getting hurt and becoming afraid of the boat.

I had lots of ideas. I looked at upholstering the seats and hull, but that would have been impractical and expensive. I thought about taking pipe insulation and lining the gunwales. Still might do this.

What I decided on was covering the seats and sides of the hull with life preservers. This is simple, cheap and multipurpose.

I attached the life preservers with bungee cords. To attach the bungee cords to the boat I screwed plastic conduit brackets to the boat. These are light, strong, and will not corrode.

One of the most trippable things in a boat is the net. I glued a sink drain pipe to one of the seats. The net slides in and rests agaist the side of the boat. It is easily accessable and out of the way.

I still need to pad the front bench, it has a sharp edge. But asside from that I believe it is much safer than before.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Toddler "Proofing" My Jon Boat - Pt 2

I had to refit my Jon boat this year due to an enormous amount of neglect on my part. Almost everything except the hull had to be replaced. Since I had to start over, I decided to make the boat as toddler friendly as possible for my daughter, Lila. You can read about the mess it was in part 1.

My goal is not to make it look pretty. That would cost way to much money and take a ridiculous amount of time. Time that I do not have. I simply want to make the boat as simple and clutter free as possible. I don't want Lila to trip over loose wires or random pieces of gear.

Since all of the wiring was corroded and broken, I decided to tear everything out and rewire. I used to have the boat wired from aft to stern. This way I could transfer the trolling motor to the front or back, depending on what I was doing. I constantly had problems with loose or disconnected wires, and the boat was not designed for a front mount. So, I decided to keep all of the wiring in the back of the boat this time. Some of the lakes I fish in do not allow gas motors, so this boat is 100% electric. Call it eco-friendly if you like!

I was able to salvage the fuse box and most of the sockets. This saved me a good bit of money.

I made a frame made out of oak and mounted it next to the rear seat. I covered the frame with corrugated plastic. This is the same stuff that political yard signs are made out of. It is cheap, strong, and 100% waterproof. I made all of the connections with outdoor rated, waterproof connectors. These are much more expensive, but totally necessary. This electronic box will not survive being submerged, but it will still work in a rain storm.

12v socket for the GPS or Spotlight

I use two batteries. One is a deep cycle marine battery. This is dedicated to the motor. I also use a smaller automotive battery. This is to run the bilge pump, live-well pump, and other electronics.

I also have the secondary battery wired as a backup for the motor. To switch from the main battery to the secondary I simply have to unplug the motor from the left socket and plug it into the right socket. I'm not sure exactly how much run time I have between the two batteries. I rarely fish more than four or five hours at a time. When it is time to switch to the secondary battery, I head home.

My fuse panel works remarkably well. Figuring out how to wire it correctly took some time. I am very comfortable with electronics and electricity, but it was still a bugger.

One of the problems I always had with my previous boat build was the bilge pump. I could not figure out a way to attach the pump to the bottom of the boat. It came with suction cups, but those simply did not get the job done. To fix this I bolted the base of the pump to a piece of  corrugated plastic and then glued the plastic to the hull with silicon. It worked amazingly well.

Another problem I had was with the battery clips constantly coming loose. This time I am going to use the wing nuts on the battery to keep the wires connected. It will take a couple extra seconds to connect the battery, but I think it will be well worth it.

I am very confident in the wiring of my boat now. Plus, everything is out of the way with nothing to trip over.

Next, I will show you how I created the padded Toddler section of the boat. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No, A Flint And Steel Is NOT A Good Choice!

I recently wrote a post on the Traditional Flint and Steel (not to be confused with a fire steel). It was shared to a few survival message boards and actually became one of my all time top posts. Anytime anything is shared on a message board there is going to be drama and disagreements. People are going to point out all of your flaws, right down to grammar. This is why I hate message boards and rarely participate. While 90% of the users are great, helpful people, the other 10% are whiny, babies that have no idea what they are talking about!

I concluded my post by saying that the traditional flint and steel was a poor choice for a survival kit because it took skill to use and required char-cloth. In a survival emergency you need to be able to create a fire fast and easily. There was some disagreement on this.

During a recent winter storm I went in my backyard and tried to make a fire with a fire steel. Everyone agrees that making a fire with a fire steel is much easier than making one with a traditional flint and steel. You can watch the results:

It is hard to make a fire with anything in a winter storm. Why would you limit yourself to a flint and steel? Your life depends on it.

The guys that tried to say that a traditional flint and steel was a good choice argued that the flint could be fashioned into another tool and that you do not NEED to use char-cloth. While this is a true statement, I'll wager they have never tried to make a tool from a piece of flint or make a fire with a flint and steel without char-cloth. Both take immense skill. The average hunter, or even average outdoorsman could never do it in a survival situation.

I stand by my assessment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Toddler "Proofing" My Jon Boat - Part 1

Hunting season is over and I am now starting to think about fishing. I am extremely excited about fishing this year. Not because I have a new spot or because I have new gear, its because this year I will have a new fishing buddy. My daughter, Lila! She will be three this summer. We have gone fishing in the past and both had a blast!

One think I have to take care of first.... my Jon boat is a deathtrap.

Two seasons ago I upgraded my simple Jon boat into a bass boat. I put in a casting deck, storage compartments, swivel seats, and a front mount for the trolling motor. I added a live-well, ran wire throughout, and installed a fuse box with switches. It worked moderately well, although all the extra stuff added a ton of weight. I used to just stick it in the bed of my truck, but I ended up having to buy a trailer to put it on.

Doesn't look too bad from a distance
At the end of that season we threw a tarp over the girl to store it for a few months in the winter. The fishing season here in south east Virginia is very long. We normally only store the boat for three months. My dad and I didn't even take out the tackle boxes, we just stored everything under the tarp. It was waterproof and we were just going to store it for a couple months.

That month my wife gave birth to our second daughter. I underestimated how much more work a second child would be. You would think that it would double the work. It actual made things four or five times harder! We did not take the boat out last year. In fact, it sat behind a shed for over a year and a half without anyone even checking on it.

Funny thing about tarps.... they get holes.

Water got into the boat, was trapped by all the gear, and could not escape by evaporation. The casting deck, wiring, and most of the gear was trashed.

Brand new box of lizards? Now a box of mold.
Almost everything will have to be replaced.

I decided that since I had to start over I would make the boat toddler friendly. My first job was to gut it.

I tore out the casting deck and all of the wiring.

How many can boast having an ant colony living in their boat?
Then I vacuumed out all of the debris, bugs, and slugs. I found some nasty stuff. A bag of catfish bait was left under a life jacket. A cup of worms was still in one of the tackle boxes. The boat required three washing before I decided to move on.

My goal is to create a padded area in the front for Lila. Her mother or I can sit next to her or behind her. She is convinced that she will have a steering wheel in the front so that she can steer "just like Dora". So, I will have to figure out something for her. I also want to make things as simple as possible. No wire, rods, nets, or gear to trip over.

I plan to keep you updated on my progress.....so stay tuned!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review - Nano Streamlight

Here is a video review for the Nano Streamlight. I really like this little flashlight. I keep it with me at all times.

I'm still learning how to shoot and edit video. I'm mostly pleased with how this one turned out, although there is much room for improvement.

I doubt that I will do most of my reviews in video form. It is just too time consuming. Fun! But time consuming.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oh Yea! I'm Officially A Published Photographer!

Actually, I'm technically a published photographer. Pretty good for someone who only owns a point and shoot and broke two cameras last year!

I've had my articles and photos published before, but I've never been paid for them... until now! Three of my photos are included in Grit's Guide To Backyard Rabbits.

I feel more lucky than proud. It is exciting to see my name next to a photo in a real, nationally distributed magazine.

I used the funds I received to buy a new camera and a mount that will allow me to take videos through the scope on my rifle. 100% coolness! More on that soon!

It is actually a good little book. I've been interested in raising meat rabbits for a long time. I think this is a sign that I need to take the plunge!

This magazine will be on news stands soon. Look for it at home, garden, and farm stores. I bet large book stores will have it too. Grit is a popular publisher.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Second Issue of BowAmerica Came Out Yesterday!

The second issue of BowAmerica came out yesterday. This months theme is my favorite: small game! I wrote an article on how to tan a small game hide using a version of the brain tan. Instead of brains I use eggs! Check it out!

I'm not sure If I will be contributing to next month's issue. I don't have much experience with the theme, but hopefully I will find a way to contribute!

This magazine is getting better and better!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Explaining Death To A Toddler

Like most fathers, I want what is best for my daughters. I am trying to teach them the basics of life at an early age. It is in the early years that a persons fundamental way of thinking is formed. It is from this viewpoint that all of their decisions will be made. One fundamental attribute that I want my daughters to have is a respect for life. Life, all life, is beautiful and precious. For them to truly cherish life, they must understand death.

My oldest daughter, Lila, is two, almost three. This week we have had a few things happen that have led to a discussion about death. First, our yellow canary died after a long illness. It was a relief to see it go, I had been contemplating euthanizing it. I'm glad I didn't have to do that. I told Lila that the bird got sick and died, explaining that it fell asleep and would not wake up. She had no real reaction, although she has brought it up a few times. In retrospect, that was a really sucky explanation of death. It's no wonder she did not understand.

A few days after the canary died I showed Lila a video of me shooting a Starling in our back yard. I got a new gun-cam and was testing it out. Starlings are an invasive species that are decimating the blue bird and flicker population in the US. It is legal to kill them whenever and however you please. They are not only not protected, you are encouraged to kill them. I kill one or two a day. I've literally killed hundreds from my bird feeder. You can watch the video below. I just got the camera, so it is not very good.

Lila knows that I like to shoot Starlings. Whenever I grab my air rife she asks me "Going to shoot a Starling?!?" I showed her the video hoping that she would be sobered. I thought that her seeing the bird eating, and then not moving would help her understand exactly what was going on. I was taken back by her response.

She laughed hysterically and wanted to see it again. My wife and I were a little shocked. I decided to close the laptop and just address the issue later. Lila had different plans

She grabbed her flashlight, told me it was a pretend gun, and started asking if she could shoot stuff. First she wanted to shoot her baby doll. When I told her that we only shot Starlings, not toys. She replied by wanting to shoot the doggies. Then her sister. Then her mommy. I have a morbid sense of humor and found this amusing at first, but then the seriousness of it sank in.

Lila truly had no concept of what happenes when you shoot something. She is very familiar with guns. While she is not allowed to even touch daddies guns, she does have a toy gun of her own. She is not allowed to play with it unsupervised. I set up a target range and use the toy gun to teach her gun safety. We shoot at targets and "hunt" stuffed animals.

I decided that I needed to use this as a teaching opportunity. So, I took her by the hand and walked her outside to the body of the starling. It was not gory, but there was a little blood. This was good, Lila understands blood. I explained to her very candidly that when you shoot something you hurt it and it dies. Like most toddlers she is obsessed with booboos, so she understood the hurt part well. I explained that when something dies it will never play and have fun again. It will never eat yummy food or see its mommy and daddy again. I tried hard to bring it down to her level while maintaining an accurate, sober description of death.

I explained that the only reason I killed this Starling was because it was an invasive species and was taking over the habitat of local wildlife. This, of course, when right over her head. I ended up just telling her that it was a bad bird that hurt other birds. Not 100% accurate, that individual Starling was not inherently "bad", but the Starling population as a whole is "bad" for the environment.

When we were done I asked if she still wanted to shoot her doggies. She said "No! No want to hurt them!" It started to sprinkle, so we went back inside.

To my annoyance, she immediately grabbed her flashlight and started shooting at a statue of a bird I have on our mantle. It was not a statue of a Starling. I reiterated that we only shoot Starlings, reminding her that Starlings were black birds with long yellow beaks and a short tail. One step at a time.....

Why did I go through the pain of explaining death to my two year old while standing over a dead, bloody bird? Because I want her to appreciate life. I am convinced that hunting, specifically killing, has made me love and respect animals more. I am caring and compassionate with my pets and local wildlife. I appreciate the meat I eat more now that I understand that a real, breathing, feeling animal died so I could have it. I appreciate life.

Hopefully, my daughters will someday do the same.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Gear Review - Lightload Towels

I've got something a little different today. I received a package of Lightload Towels from http://www.ultralighttowels.com/ Via the Outdoor Blogger Network. I've been inspired by the Video Editing tips posted on the OBN by The Bearded Boar to make more videos. I've purchased two new cameras, some mics, and a bunch of new mounts to add to my existing, outdated camera gear. One of the cameras came today and I couldn't help but try it out!

So, here is my first attempt at a video review!

Edit: My wife just informed me that the video was not very good because my lips do not match the sound. Its really hard! I'll work on making them better before I publish any other!

OK, to sum up the video:

  • The towels are light weight and compact
  • They are reusable
  • They absorb about 2.5 OZ of water, NOT 4 OZ! My math is broken.
  • I like them
I actually use carry this product on a day to day basis. I keep one in the little first aid kit that I keep in my vest. It has come in handy several times as I have a 1yo and a 2yo. There is always liquid flying when you you have toddlers.

I received the Lightload Towels free of charge to test and review. The opinions expressed above are my independent thoughts and experiences.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Name The Animal That Did This

Here is a mystery. I was going on one last squirrel hunt of my season and found this in the middle of the woods:

A tree with a three inch diameter trunk was chewed on. The chewing started about four feet up the trunk and was about two feet long. The bark and some of the wood was eaten. I say eaten because there were no wood chips around the base of the tree. The bite marks were about half an inch long and a quarter inch wide. The tree was a hard wood, but I forgot to note exactly what type.

The forest I found it in is in Virginia, about an hour east of Richmond. I cannot think of any animals in this area that would do this. I was not near water and beavers usually chew from the base of a tree. I searched an area about a hundred yards in each direction and could not find another tree with these chew marks on it. If I was out west I would guess a porcupine, but as far as I know they are not in this area.

OK all you great outdorsmen, what did this? I know there are some biologists who read this blog. Do any of you know what animal this is?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guest Post - My Hunting Pack

I'll be honest. I don't read many blogs. I simply do not have time. One blog that I do read on a consistent basis is The Flying Kayak. Alex has some wild outdoor adventures and does a great job of writing about them. I always look forward to his next post! I was thrilled when he asked to write a guest post for me. Enjoy!

I was inspired a few weeks back by Tim at The Unlucky Hunter to do a post on what I carry in my pack. After reading his post, I decided to clean out my big hunting pack (the one I carry for all-day hunts), and limit it to –just- the things I need.

The following picture is everything that I carry with me into the woods for an all day hunt minus food and water (those get added before each hunt). It’s important to note that my definition of an all day hunt isn’t: Climb into the stand in the morning, get down around 10, go to the truck, drive around, eat lunch, get gas, stall until 2:30, then climb back into the tree. This pack is what I carry if I plan to enter the woods in the dark, and not leave until it’s dark again.  You will see redundancy in the pack and I feel that’s important…Especially with things you can’t afford to lose.

In this picture you can see:
  1.  Swedish Army Stove
  2.  GPS (no one likes getting lost)
  3.  Hand Warmers
  4.  A roll of Tarred Net Twine
  5.  A box of reflective tacks (Seriously, getting lost is terrible)
  6.  Orange marking tape (Not joking about the getting lost thing)
  7.  2 knives
  8.  An emergency whistle (sacrifice hearing loss for rescue)
  9.  A survival kit (details later)
  10.  A 3-in-1 deer call
  11.  Clippers
  12.  Bug repellent (Ever bow hunted in Florida?)

In addition to carrying these things in the pack, I take binoculars:

Some toilet paper, and a travel sized first aid kit are carried as well (not shown). I’m relatively  extremely accident prone, so the first aid kit travels from hunting pack to tackle box quite often.

1. The Swedish Army Stove is something I carry with me primarily because I think it’s kind of cool, and it serves a purpose. Yes there are –plenty- of stoves out there that are smaller/lighter than this one. If I had to guess, I’d say that this stove weighs somewhere between a microwave oven and a small anchor. But it works for me. It has enough room inside of it to carry:

-          The alcohol burner
-          A bottle of alcohol fuel
-          A C.R.K.T “Eat’N Tool” (It’s like the spork you never had)

Additionally, there’s enough room to put a lunch inside such as instant rice and a can of Vienna sausages (the lunch of champions…I know).

One thing I like about this stove is that one doesn’t have to use alcohol to cook food. It’s been designed so that it can be used to cook food over an open flame:

Or even feed a small fire directly underneath it:

2. My GPS is something I like to carry with me, especially during scouting season. It’s very nice to be able to enter a waypoint for a good looking deer trail or rub line, and then cross reference the coordinates back home on google earth. One –vitally- important thing to note about GPS’s in general is that they lose satellite signal relatively easily. All it takes is for one to walk into a very thick area of woods, or be surrounded by a lot of big trees and the next thing you know: No Satellite Reception. A GPS can be a valuable tool in the woods, but it certainly isn’t one to be relied on heavily. Always carry some other tool for navigation.

3. Handwarmers are something I enjoy having during Florida’s brutally harsh winters. It’s nice to keep the fingers toasty. Always remember that they have an expiration date. Practically willing a hand warmer to heat up isn’t a fun way to spend a morning in a tree stand.

4. The roll of tarred net twine is something I began carrying with me fairly recently. I substituted it for para-cord. I won’t be going into details for all the different ways one can use this material simply because there are too many. As a general rule: If a situation requires a form of twine, the tarred net twine will work.

5. The box of reflective tacks is useful just about every deer season. I carry the tacks in a box because…well…Imagine carrying them in a plastic bag. Stick them on a tree to mark your trail into and out of the woods in the dark. When you shine a flashlight, ‘ta-da’, you now have a glowing trail. I like to stick them on both sides of a tree. In addition, I like to use something similar to driving hand signals with the tacks when marking a trail that twists and turns. For a left hand turn on the trail, place two tacks directly next to one another horizontally. For a right turn, place one directly above another.

6. The marking tape serves the same purpose as the tacks do…just in the daylight hours. One can also pace out distances around a stand and hang a little tape if you don’t have a fancy range-finder.

7. I like to carry two knives with me in my pack. Each knife serves its own purpose. I carry a pilot’s knife and a Puma skinning knife:

The pilot’s knife comes with a sharpening stone and is used as a sort of “do-all” knife. The Puma skinning knife is used just for skinning animals.

8. I carry an emergency whistle with me because…well…If it could be useful on a boat for rescue, I figured it would work well in the woods too.

9. Something that I –always- have with me in my hunting pack is a survival kit:
My dad made it for me a few years back. Inside there are three items: A compass, emergency blanket, and the actual ‘kit’ in a waterproof bag.

Inside this kit there are:

-          Vasoline soaked cotton balls (for fire)
-          Safety pins and 100lbs Power Pro gel spun polyethylene (for practically anything)

-          Seven strand stainless steel wire (for snares)
-          Water purification tablets

-          A fishing kit with hooks, splitshot, and monofilament line

-          A diamond hone (for sharpening)
-          Bug repellent
-          Signaling mirror

-          Magnifying glass

-          Duct tape
-          A firesteel striker

-          A Swiss army knife

Carrying the survival kit in my hunting pack gives me quite a sense of security. I know that if something were to happen, I have a means to make fire, secure food, and be rescued.

10. The 3-in-1 deer call is something that I actually use a lot. I’ve called several deer right to the stand in the past with this call. It has settings for a buck grunt, doe bleat, and fawn in distress. I think it’s getting to be time for a new call though. The fawn in distress call no longer sounds like a fawn in distress. It sounds more like a fawn being choked to death…which I guess is still distress, just not the right kind of distress.

11. Clippers are a valuable tool in my hunting pack. I use them to clear the trail to and from the tree stand so that I can enter it more quietly. It’s also very nice when stalking because you can silently clear out brush that would otherwise be the noisiest thing ever encountered during a stalk.

12. Bug repellent in the final thing I carry with me in the woods. Now I’ve forgotten nearly every piece of hunting equipment that needs to be carried from time to time. Ammo, food, water, compass, hunting license…You name it, it’s been forgotten before. But bug repellent in the only item that has caused me to wish for a swift death if forgotten. It’s practically a necessity.

Overall, I’m happy with what I carry in my hunting pack. It has evolved over the years, and I’m constantly adding/subtracting things that I think I need/don’t need. There are plenty of things that get added right before I leave for the woods that are just situational. In archery season, I’ll often just go out in short sleeves. But in the dead of winter, I make sure to throw an extra sweater or sock hat into the pack before I leave. Additionally, ammunition will often make its way into the pack depending on the season. Other things that I find necessary for the woods are not carried in the pack, but rather, on myself. Things such as a multi-tool or flashlights are carried on me much like my wallet or keys. You never know all the things you’re going to need when you enter the woods, but I think my pack has me pretty well covered.

This was my first attempt at a guest post, so  big thanks has to go out to Tim for trusting me enough to write something good enough for his site. For more of my writings and reports, please visit http://theflyingkayak.blogspot.com/

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