Monday, December 31, 2007

Woods Bumming

Today Brendan, Mojo and I went out to the woods. I don't bother calling it hunting anymore :) In fact today I only took my 22 pistol with blanks in it for training Mojo.

All in all, it was a great day. The weather was very nice. We just got a light dusting of new snow, so all the animal tracks that we saw today were very fresh. There were lots of them too. The temperature was very nice out too. Brendan walked a very long way today without really knowing it. I think because the pressure of hunting was gone, we were there just to have fun.

No camera today, just videos. So let's start with an easy one.

Here is Mojo with his nose down, hunting like he should.

These next two videos need a little explanation. If you ever wonder why we don't have too much success while hunting, these two videos will explain everything.

First, is Brendan crossing a tree that had come down across the trail. In the very first part of the video his is hitting it with his walking stick. He was doing that for about a minute before I got the camera out to film a "why we don't ever see any animals video :)" So, just use your imagination.

This one we were crossing more deadfall. I was quite far away (just zoomed in). Brendan didn't know where I was (hence the whistle) and was being silly.

Here is Brendan with his hot chocolate. He has no issue claiming that this is his favorite part about hunting.

We (I guess I should say Mojo) came across a small dead deer. I got it on video, but I didn't want to linger too long because I was afraid the dog would take too much interest in it.

That is all for this time out.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Free Bushcraft Knife Review

I posted a few weeks back that I had one a Dan Koster Bushcraft knife. Bascially, Dan was making this knife new and for providing input, I won the prototype.

For a quick summary, I REALLY like this knife. Here are the full details.

Disclaimer1: This knife is the proto bushcrafter. Therefore it is possible that it is different than all the others being shipped. For sure, it is O1 steel. From there, only Dan really knows what is different. Since Dan was gracious enough to have a contest and give something away, I figured the least I could do was give a review with as much detail as possible. (added: The bushcrafter is now available as a standard model from Dan, and available in O1, along with other steels too).

Disclaimer2: There are no facts presented here :) Any time I state something, it is my opinion, and therefore subjective. So, if I state something that you don’t agree with, it is not fact anyway, and my opinion is not likely to change :)

First Impressions: The knife as received is exactly what I was expecting from the photos. Since this one was the proto (I think anyway) the edge was not as sharp as probably all the ones that were officially ordered. So, we spent some quality time on the belt sander. I merely followed the bevels that were currently in place (I am guessing 12-15 degrees per side??? I never measure anything :). I went down all the way to a leather belt with compound. This knife is now the sharpest thing that I own.

I touched it to my arm, and a whole lot of hair came off…..real easy. I meant to get a photo of that later, but forgot. My arm hair is grateful for not having to go through that again…….there is so little left from sharpening stuff these days :)

First, photos of the knife itself:

On to more review. First, the kitchen:

Kitchen Review: I used to quickly discard this type of testing. But, it has become really important to me. When I go into the woods for an extended period of time, I generally like to take 3 edged tools. A hand ax, a sheath knife, and a pocket knife. In general I don’t want to take any extra stuff, which can include kitchen knives, potato peeler, etc. Which means my sheath knife needs to get dinner ready as well as it can get a fire going.

The apple peel test. This knife performed excellent at this. In fact, it is the best non-kitchen knife I have ever used for this. It was very easy to do, and very little waste.

Now, try some carrots. The photos speak for themselves here. Not only was I able to cut pieces easily, the slice I am trying to show is darn thin!

On to some more fun stuff. I figured that the best way to test a bushcraft knife, is to do some bushcrafty type of stuff. So here we go:

Making a simple notch: I first started making a more traditional notch. Since this thing is so darn sharp, this is a piece of cake.

Finished notch:

Pointed notch: This one is not so typical. I make it by batoning the knife into the stick in two different places, 90 degrees to each other. Then, you carve out the notch.

End result:

Pot hanger: The pointed notch made earlier if very useful for and adjustable type of pot hanger. Here I carved off a section of stick, and put a dimple in the end to use with the pointed notch. All of this stuff was REALLY, REALLY fun and easy to do with this knife.

Making and eyelet: Cutting a small square eyelet is something that is typical in bushcraft. Here, I thinned down a branch to do just that. The point geometry of this knife makes this very easy to do. The first picture I am trying to show the tip popping out the eyelet hole, cross grain.

The final hole:

This knife does really well at this. A knife with more curvature to the blade (like the nessmuk) will actually make the feathers curl much, much more. But as far as being thin, I am able to make some of the thinnest feathers even with this knife. Just not much curl, which is just a nit picky thing.

Firesteel: Not so good on this one. The spine, while square seems to have a very small bevel on it. It makes it look very nice, and I can see how it would look “unfinished” without it. However, it does not make for easy striking of a firesteel. I think I might spend more time on the belt sander to make this square. But, I could actually get sparks, but it was not easy. Normally, I could light a featherstick like this, but not this way. (added: I just found out that after making this prototype, Dan made square spines on all his other bushcraft knives. So, this should not be an issue anymore. Additionally, a thumbramp can be added, which is a bunch of lines machined into the back for traction. I suspect they would produce a pretty good spark).

As an aside, I know that the firesteel strikers work well, and all that. But, for me, that is yet one more thing that have to have. I am much more aware of my knife, and where it is, and I am much less likely to loose it than I am a small striker. Therefore, I really like my knife to be able to do it to. I tried to get a photo of some sparks, but they were difficult to produce and time with the camera.

Suggestions: Besides a more square spine (for the firesteel) I only have one suggestion, and it might not even be a worthy one. I have seen (but not used) some bushcraft knives that try to have curvature all along the blade length. I will try to describe that with the following photo.

Overall, there is a long section of the blade that is basically straight. Attempted to be shown by the red line. It might be cool to have the blade more similar to very poorly drawn in blue line. Of course, this could effect the tip geometry which I like so much about this knife. So, once I had my own suggestion in my hand, I might not like it :)

Other things to note: The texture of the handle is great. Canvas micarta is one of my all time favorite handle materials. The texture on this is excellent (I believe it has been bead blasted in some way). It fits really well in my hand. I am sure the thicker slabs will be nice too. I am sure I would be happy with either. The blade length and proportions are all great.

Summary: This knife is a must have. It seems I change favorite knives as often as I change underwear :) But, I really like this one. As a general purpose type of knife, it works out great. As a camping type of knife, it is small and light, and you will not even be aware that you have it……which means that you will actually have it with you! The other great thing is that unlike some other knives that I own, it is very small and compact. So, if you are camping around other people, say a more typical campground, this one is not likely to scare people the way other knives might :)

As an added bonus, this knife is MUCH less expensive than you might think!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Well, sometime ago I abandoned my folding pocket knife in favor of a small fixed blade to carry everday. The main reasons being eliminating the folding mechanism and a better selection of steel.

The only problem is that the knife I was using was just too big. The blade was a little long, handle a bit bulking, and it was in a small leather sheath. Even though it was a small sheath, it was kind of a pain to dig out. Along comes the Swamp Warden......

These are great little knives from the Swamp. Made from SR101 steel, which is a modified 52100. If you ever do some searching about Swamp Rat knives, you will soon find that the steel is legendary. The Warden's come with a skeletonized handle. I didn't take my photos until I had already wrapped the handle if 550 cord.

The little kydex sheath works great for carrying it around your neck, or take the cord off and it goes nicely in the pocket. It is much better in my pocket than my previous knife....shorter, thinner, lighter.

I ordered two because I knew if I just got one, my wife would steal it. So, hers is the Sage colored, and mine is the black one.

A close up showing the cord warp.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mojo in the Woods

We have been working with Mojo a bit, with the rabbit scent and the sock and all that. But, today was the first day we got him out in the woods for a bit. Both Mojo and Brendan did really great today, and we even saw a rabbit!

At first, Brendan was trying to follow Mojo everywhere.

On our way out, it started snowing. You can only see a little bit of the flakes here.


I wanted to take a picture of me and Brendan together. Brendan always has to be silly for the camera lately.

Now all I have to do is spend about 2 hours picking all the "stick-ums" out of my Filson double mackinaw :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Training the Dog Photo

Jen dug up a photo that I didn't know she took while Brendan and I were playing with Mojo with our sock "rabbit."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Splitting Wood and Keeping your Fingers : )

I visit and read a lot of knife forums. I was reading a post over on Blade Forums about a guy that was camping with some non-camping friends. He got up before the rest of them, and decided to start a fire and get things going. The only problem was they either had a little rain, or a little dew that cause him to have to split wood with an ax.

Splitting wood that is large enough to stand up on its own is easy enough. In this particular posting, the guy was splitting small pieces. There are several reasons to do that (more on that later). Once pieces can not stand up on their own, you need to revise your technique. This particular guy ended up chopping the tip of his finger off!!! YYYYEEEOOOWWW! When his friends woke up, he was passed out on the ground from blood loss.

The video below shows a very easy, but little used technique (at least I have never seen others use it) for splitting wood that is too small to stand up on its own.

There are several reasons for splitting wood this small:
- I carry emergency tinder with me, but it is saved for just that...emergency. So, without the aid of firestarter, newspaper, etc, small wood starts easy.
- For a small cooking fire, especially a lunch fire. Small pieces allow you to control heat better. It also gives you a fire that will die quickly after cooking so that you can get on to other activities.
- Wet wood! This is probably the most important one. When it has rained heavily, or even snowing, dry wood can be hard to find. Seasoned wood that gets wet will usually only be "wet" for the first 1/4 to 1/2 inch or so. Getting to the center of the wood will get you dry wood. With a properly made feather stick, and small split pieces of wood, this means you have all you need. Tinder and kindling all in one package.

If you have not been able to start a feather stick with a ferro rod, I encourage you to try. It is much easier than you think. I included a feather stick at the end of the video.

For all you gear junkies out there, the ax used here is a Gransfor Bruks Small Forest Ax.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Training the Puppy

I don't have any pictures, but today Brendan had a blast training Mojo for rabbit hunting.

We are starting out the training easy. We have an old sock tied to a string that has rabbit scent on it. We tied Mojo up, and I ran around the backyard with the sock in tow behind me. I had Brendan pretend to chase the sock, but not catch it. This is let Mojo see what we were doing, and get him excited about doing it too. It worked too :)

The fun part was letting Mojo go, and letting Brendan run around with the sock and string. Between trying to run in all his snow gear, laughing so hard he could hardly run, and getting caught up in the string while running, I am surprised that Mojo never caught the "rabbit."

Brendan's laughing was the funniest part of the whole thing.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Batoning is not Abuse!!!

The whole reason I made this video is that it seems on most knife forums that batoning is one of the most controversial subjects. Batoning is probably the source of more broken knives than any other use method.

Us owners of good knives love to do it, without fear or hesitation! But, you still see people saying stuff like:
- It is not necessary.
- You should never need to do it.
- Wrong tool for the job.
- They are not going to select a knife based on being able to baton.
- Etc, etc, etc.

I think people think of batoning as using a big knife to split wood. That is exactly what this video is about..... a different type of batoning.

Here, I am using a small knife (SR YK) and a baton to make something very common in bushcraft. A notch. This method is very quick, very effective, and has multiple uses. Making a cooking crane, tent peg, tarp guy line peg, pretty much anything you would need a notch for.

I really like how my dog IMMEDIATELY runs off with my baton the second I set it down :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Scray Yard Yard Keeper Edge

I was very fortunate to get a very nice gift from Blade 2007. A friend that lives in Georgia, and was very close to the Blade show was able to attend. He bought me one of the Scrap Yard Knives Yard Keepers, which was a blade show only exclusive.

I had been undecided on whether or not I was going to use it. In order to keep avoiding making that decision I have just been using other knives of similar size.

Then, a user on the Scrap Yard Forums (Horn Dog, also in GA) really re-profiled the edge of his, and put in through a set of tests where the knife performed extremely well. This got me itching to get mine out and do the same.

Just an FYI, this is a short, stout, thick little knife. The blade is approximately 1/4" thick.

First, my sharpening device. I use a variety of gritted belts, leather belts and compounds:

On to the knife edge. I tried to take several angles. It is hard to show in photos:

As a test of sharpness, I made a very QUICK fuzz stick. I know I can do better than this, but this was just done very quickly.

No Posts for Awhile

It has been quite some time since I have made a post. The main reason is that we took a long Thanksgiving weekend to visit family in Georgia. Jen posts about all the family stuff over on the family blog, so I have had really nothing to post about.

Other than our trip, it has just been work, and taking care of the kids. Except for the next post I am about to write.