Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Modified Hunter's Firelay

    I recently came up with a modification that improves on the Hunter's Firelay. The classic style is basically 2 logs laid parallel to each other over the heart of a fire's ember base. The logs are kept close enough to hold a pan just above the fire.

    The main issue with this setup, is the kindling must be stuffed under the pan to burn, thus stifling the air flow the fire needs to burn efficiently and clean; the fire starved of oxygen struggles and must be maintained frequently as it produces a less than ideal heat.

    My modification starts by slightly angling the parallel logs into a subtle "A" shape. Next, I add a third log at the end of the parallel logs. Last of all, I change the location of the kindling so it's no longer stuffed under the pan, its now on the third log with an additional log laying perpendicular for a heat reflector.

    Its quite easy to accomplish and elevates the fire from the stuffy interior of the parallel logs to the open air, now heat created is reflected into the cooking pan or pot as well as the 3 logs to which it sits; the logs underneath in turn glow red with embers sustaining and magnifying the heat the humble kindling creates. Its a pleasure cooking on this firelay, stews are boiled with hardly any effort in terms of fuel gathering.

...A hand full of sticks has never done so much work!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wild Sharpening Stones

    Sharpening stones are necessary kit correct? Indeed they are, so much so because their a vital component to maintaining the most important manufactured tool carried into the wilds; a metal knife. A sharp rust free knife is a proper knife, a proper knife is a functioning knife, a functioning knife in the hands of a skilled person can make miracles commonplace. From carving fire kits, traps, feather sticks, containers, spoons, bows, arrows, spears, butchering, shelter components, to cooking rigs, a knife equals life. Thus a smart plan is to have a backup for your sharpening stone that can be found in the wilds, keeping that ever important tool in top shape no matter the situation.
    Stones found amongst streams, rivers and lakes fit the requirement as a Primitive Mimic for a sharpening stone. Truly all that must be found is a smooth stone with a flat spot. Sharpening in the same way as a handheld stone makes quick work of sharpening a knife's edge, I use small circles along my knife's edge, alternating sides until my edge is ferocious. That's it, done deal.

...If ever your found in the wilds without your sharpening stone, never forget whence sharpening stones originated.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Panissed Fish

    Panissing a fish is extremely satisfying, its a bit of old bushcraft thats fallen into disuse over the years. Ive eaten everything from Trout to Salmon with this method, and it never disappoints! The means to cook with this method are easy to obtain, a straight thumb thick stick double the length of the filet is split 3/4's down its length, and 2 sharpened pinky sized sticks, are woven through the top and bottom of the filet, continuing across the back and poke through the filet's face on the opposite side. The last step of prep is sliding the held open long split stick up the filet's middle, following the path of where the spine was.
    At this point the fish resembles a boat's sail. Using roots or other natural cordage, tie the top of the split stick with 2 half hitches or a clove hitch to secure and tighten the panissed fish in place.
    Roasting a fish in this manner is very easy, you simply angle the fish toward your fire and its done cooking when its golden brown. Cooking this way is simple, delicious, and adds absolutely no weight to your pack.

...Life becomes a little more enjoyable when little sticks at your camp, comprise your cooking equipment.

-Mitch Mitchell

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Magic Of Spoon Carving

    Ive carved many spoons over the years, and the season, the locale, the type of wood used, even the weather at the time, all play a part in forming the memory carried within it. Some spoons are basic with clean lines, others sleek with refined angles, all depending on my whim at the time and listening to what the wood was telling me to carve. Point being, there's a magic to walking into a forest and keenly choosing your work piece to whittle down into an elegant, yet functioning work of bush art literally employed everyday at meal time to cook your soups and stews, to flip your frying fish filets, to stir your coffee and teas, to mix your bannocks, and of course; savor each spoonful of a meal.
    Creating something so valuable for everyday living with your hands, knife and wits, imparts a feeling of connection for the forest within yourself that's reaffirmed every meal its spoon shares with you.

-Mitch Mitchell

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Ultimate Bedroll

    Bedroll. The word means so much more to those of us that spend long periods in the wilds. A bedroll is our bed, our sanctuary, and our place of healing. It is our shelter, within our shelter. My bedroll that I've devised is Fire Proof, Water Proof, and Cold Proof; only resistant truly, as nothing is "proof" not even granite (ask the tides who's winning that one).
    My bedroll consists of three components, a sleeping bag, a waterproof bivy, and a wool bivy. My wool blanket I've specifically designed to be rigged into a bivy while still retaining its ability to be a simple blanket. The sleeping bag and waterproof bivy keep me warm and dry while the wool bivy provides additional warmth and the all important fire resistance to the equation; allowing me to lay near my fire vastly improving my state of sleep, and increasing the temperature range my bedroll can function in.

...A bedroll with these attributes is quite potent, a warm and dry repose goes a long way in the cold and wet seasons of the year, while just the light and comfy blanket provides the means for a restful sleep in the scorching season.

-Mitch Mitchell

The Caveman Steak

    The Caveman Steak is one of my all time favorite ways to prepare a good cut of steak. Delmonico's/Rib Eye's, Strip's, Tenderloin's, the usual suspects brought to perfection quite easily with  this incredible cooking technique. Coals are generated by burning some Oak or other hardwood of your choice that thrives in your local bioregion, and while the logs are still black and orange another stick is used to pop the coals free from the logs. In a matter of moments a sizable pile is easily accomplished and spread flat with a stick creating your cooking surface. Its incredible to realize these coals are screaming hot yet with care they wont burn or dirty your dinner.
    Simply lay your steak on the coals for 2-3 mins, then scrape off any coals that adhere to it when flipping it to cook the other side. If your coals need to be rewarmed, just drag some fresh coals from your fire onto them.
    Enjoy the incredibly robust flavor of an ancient cooking technique that has been with us for millennia, coupled with a genuine satisfaction from cooking without any pots or pans.
...A truly timeless method.

-Mitch Mitchell

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Horseshoe Bedroll Rig

    There have been many ingenious methods devised throughout the years for carrying bedrolls with rucksacks. Today we discuss a method I found in an old camping book from 1950; The Horseshoe Rig. This is an easy way to configure by just laying your rolled up blanket over or under the rucks top flap and tying the rest of the blanket down each side, thus forming the Horseshoe shape. This rig is extremely easy to setup, furthermore it eliminates any swaying or bouncing of your bedroll whilst hiking, which is common on other setups, giving you a more stable carry on your back.

Give it a shot and see if The Horseshoe Rig improves your rucks stability too.

-Mitch Mitchell

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Last Council

The tired Grey Squirrel whispered, "Were do you suppose you learned to build a woodland home?"
The Clouds swirled violently overhead, "Did you not first stretch your imagination on my canvas?"
The solitary Red Vixen blankly stared, "Who else revealed the importance of footfalls to you?"
The cracking Thunder exclaimed, "Forget not! None but I! The invisible tyrant! Had you trembling in ignorant terror!"
The lonely Trumpeter Swan cooed, "Where else did you learn to cherish your soul-mate?"
The broken Roosevelt Elk sighed, "Who else taught you majesty?"
The sorrowful Grizzly Bear growled, "Who else reminded you of your true place among us?"
The unkept Golden Eagle glared, "Was it not I who taught you merciful hunting?"
The mournful Bottlenose Dolphin reminded, "Who else humbled your assumed superior brain size?"
The tattered Mountain Lion interjected, "Where else did you witness a more perfect predater?"
The lone Grey Wolf asked, "Did you not learn to honor family from my prime example?"
The invincible Lightning flashed, "How quickly you forgot who gave you your two mightiest triumphs! You kept warm by borrowing the essence of the unfathomable Sun himself! ..And lets not forget who flowed in your beloved metal wires."
The unmeasurably potent Water came forward, shifting from caring curves to spikes of fury. "Unthinkable! You have made me Vile! Putrid! Poison! I the Granter of Life itself! For none live without me, yet you care not! Insolence! Arrogance! IGNORANCE!"

All lost their voices in the long ensuing silence. Finally the last Great Horned Owl gazed at them all, steadied herself, and spake solemn and resolutely;

    "The smartest. The most powerful. The most ingenious. You entertained all of these notions, yet learned them all and more from us. You think you’re alone in your divine providence, but your nothing without the surrounding life that allows you to live. You starve without the animals and plants to eat, die of thirst without clean rivers to drink from, suffocate without breathable air, and succumb to exposure without rocks, soil and plants providing the necessary solace from harsh elements.
    There appeared to be two lines to your kind, those who remembered the gifts of the past and revered the wild mentors that gave them, and those of absolute self-absorption believing all knowledge came solely from yourself. Although one line was respectable, the other was but a lost fledging, desperately needing help back to its home. Incredibly, the majority of them were nothing without their precious artificially manufactured trinkets. Consider, without them there were more above than below you, on what you termed the food chain.
    Have you finally witnessed the abhorrent price for those wasteful items you needlessly manufactured? You reduced beautiful mountains teeming with life to sorrowful rubble, extracted their metal veins and bejeweled secrets within. You silenced untold scores of trees from singing their windswept leaves' songs, viciously ripping them from their ancient home. You knew this exposed the land to the unmerciful sun and elements, leaving every creature and plant homeless and orphaned in the torn asunder ghostland, afraid for themselves and their families; yet you did all this without regard to winter's close approach. Your cruelty is unmatched.
    All shared the atrocious crimes they witnessed, imprisoned plants, never allowed freedom and true life before eaten, their internal blueprints rewritten to such a degree, they were unrecognizable from their wild cousins. Pervasive toxic chemicals belched into the air and hideously dumped in rivers without care or thought, tainting everything in contact. Discarded trash leached poison for untold buried years, diabolical plastics killed for uncountable generations, your terrible explosives harmed all who dwell within land, air or sea.
    You were utterly ceaseless in your abomination's!"
    The animals each nodding as the simple truth cut through the clear, cold night.
    Resigned and forlorn, the Great Owl looked to the lone survivor of humankind, and continued.
    "One wonders if you managed to soil the celestial heaven's with your unnatural materials. We prayed for untold generations you would come to your senses and wake from your selfish suicidal nightmare. When you released your deadly radiation, forever scarring and insidiously poisoning the land, there was an audible gasp from the sacred earth herself; our prayers stopped that day and forever-more, for you were Hell bent and Demonic in your ways.
    Some of us have heard stories we were once in love in the dim past, but its clear your majority mutated into evil spirits when your tribe split into its two branches. All life watched your murderous insanity, knowing only upon the moment of earth's death or your extinction, would you rise from your madness and finally witness what you’ve wracked.
    We are the last there is, the last of our kind, of all kind. No more mating in bliss rearing our children to play in the streamside meadows, no more herds roving on frozen tundra's dancing with the beautiful aurora, long gone are the schools swimming deep into the sweeping currents winding around this once immaculate earth, no more soaring on the graceful breezes over the enchanted woodlands underneath. All is gone.
    Only we remain witness to the end you’ve brought to us all, every beautiful plant, every noble creature, every gorgeous mineral, every sacred fossil, even the pure clouds have been poisoned. You've finally seen that which we all have, for countless generations.
    This is the end of us all, but there's still hope for the future; for it is said in our oldest tale the earth's creatures were once as tall as the towering Sequoia were, wielding horns as wide as the Blue Whale was long, dwarfing all before and since. They were the pinnacles of all earth's tribes.
    Alas, they have been gone so long only the rocks remember them now, but what does survive is one of their beliefs passed down for countless aeons. We do not know if it is indeed truth, but those ancient masters believed, hidden deep inside us all live small secret animals; smaller than any grain or seeds, smaller than even powdery pollen was.  They believed they were here before all others, the very first animals, and in times of peril they council the true course.
    So you see there is hope yet, they will start the grand cycle anew."
    The last human finally broke his watery gaze from the Great Horned Owl, locking eyes with each and every pair afore him, forging a bond of love, compassion, understanding, respect, and regret.

Just then he seemed to relax internally and be at peace, "Yes" he whispered, "I do believe I hear their council."

-Mitch Mitchell

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Veils of Reality

    Whilst peering in a far track of woodland the veils of reality are not readily apparent. For the blood of the trees, conceal their rich cache of sweet syrup coursing in veins just out of touch. The stony acorns caress their illustrial meal, bidding all who wander a test of persistence and creativity. The formidable hive, a fortress of divine nectar thwarts all those lacking imaginative will. Roots and wounds, ponder when a traveler might concoct a weird mixture dreamt with eternal hunt's in the mind's eye. Yes, the very waves crashing above the continental shelf, curiously observe all who feel yet do not free the grains from their graceful prison. How long shall the minerals afoot wait for a keen eye to release their true form within? They care not, for their patience is of the aeons, unmarred amongst the ages before and after the frailties of organic thoughts.
    Indeed there are many veils of reality a mere thought away, surrounding and encompassing, enriching to character and skill; if one but knows, hears, feels, smells, envisions, even...converses.

...What veils are surrounding you?

-Mitch Mitchell

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Supreme Gift

    The Life Granter provides the blood of all, the life of all. It courses and swells, it gracefully flows, it fiercely hardens into crystals...a guarded spectacle of divine beauty and form. While some manifestations are heavy and lumbering; others disappear on a whim like smoke into the very air we breathe. Every instant, she transcends her corporeal shell, knowing all rely on her precious gift in various ways and degrees as gas, solid, and liquid. For without water nothing survives, all is rent inactive, the stasis of material death, water is literally material life.
    We are water life forms, carrying it as liquid and gas in our every fiber throughout our life that it grants us. As is the case for our plant cousin's in this strange realm, and our brother's and sister's the noble animals, who hold onto the precious knowledge of the real way of living on this majestic water life form our mother earth.
    The great and powerful earth relies on water to live like the rest of us, her explosions of molten rock, her ghostly valleys, secluded gullies, hidden chasm's, echoing caves, and living atmosphere, would not be.. only a dead shell, lifeless, cold and barren knowing only pure desolation. In turn, the earth is a gracious guest, sheltering this entity known by this current civilization's language as water, so she may frolic and play creating her incredible dancing droplets in the wind, at once pelting and soft, serene and frightening, racing down the earth's various rifts creating lush beauty with every grain. She stockpiles her frozen reserves to bask in the stunning and coveted auroras, shared with but a rare few.
    The greater part of mankind have lost their reverence and love for this omnipresent provider of life, while collectively slumbering in a nightmare the dominant culture fell into 12,000 yrs ago...yet all is not lost, a portion hath awoken, awestruck with unspeakable appreciation for the Life Granter's Supreme Gift.

..Do you yet slumber?

-Mitch Mitchell