Daiwa Minispin

The Daiwa Minispin, an awesome little system. It’s only 4 and a half feet long of awesomeness. It is a small and very packable rod and reel.

It packs down to next to nothing considering that the hard case can double as a tackle box as well as protection for the rod and reel. The pack ability of the system makes it great to store in you car or truck so you will never be without a rod.

My dad told of driving up in the mountains, 2 hours away, and putting on his waders, getting on his fly fishing vest, all the gear to fish. Last thing to get out was his rod and reel. After getting all dressed up, he looks in the trunk and there is no pole. After that discovery he had to “covertly” undress and head back home. That was another 2 hour drive. It is easy to consider that hilarious. I still get a chuckle over that. BUT!!! About 2 weeks ago while heading to the mountains, I discover that I am without a pole. ARGGGG!!!!! Do I have the minispin with me? NO!!! ARGGGG!

That brings me to the biggest complaint to the Daiwa Minispin. I love it so much that I never pack it away to have as a back up. Fortunately for me, I discovered that I forgot my poles. So I stopped at a country store and bought a new rod. It was also a Daiwa. Daiwa got a triple from me. Well played Daiwa, well played.

Anyways, This system would have saved my dads bacon, as well as mine. Unfortunately I hadn’t packed mine away like I should have.

The video’s review speak for themselves. So please watch and take it for what ever you will. Thanks.

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Debris Shelter in the dark

I am always testing thoughts and theories that may apply to me. One of those theories is being to operate in the dark, in the woods. For me, I’m not lost in the woods until its well after dark. Even after dark, I will still try to extract myself. I have done it before. Successfully I might add. That was due to the fact that there were roads on 3 sides of me. I do adventure out into bigger woods, and given that past success does not guarantee future success, I try to never venture out unprepared. Or at the very least with tools to survive that I typically have on hand at all times.

This is where the bright idea of building a debris shelter in the dark came from. Short story: Me and my buddy were out hunting one weekend. After the hunt, we were kicking around ideas about survival and we decided to test our skills in building a shelter in the dark. How often do you get to put your skills to the test? Make the most of the opportunities. In keepings with accomplishing the task with the greatest handicap, or what one would be most likely have on their person at any given time, we went out with only what we had in our pockets. That included a knife, wallet, keys, and a lighter.

With 2 of us, this task was likely easier and less time consuming. My buddy did lose his lighter, his only source of light and heat. That reinforces the theory of 2 is 1, 1 is none. Keep track of your resources. We only spent about a half hour building the debris shelter and it was not perfect by any means. This was proof of concept and what to expect with building a debris shelter in the dark. I now know how hard it is to build a basic shelter in the dark and the obstacles that would have to be overcome.

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Husqvarna Forest Axe

An axe is an awesome tool. They can be much like a knife or flashlight, you can’t stop with just having one. The thing about tools are, they accomplish a task and give you the ability to build/manufacture things.

This review is of the Husqvarna forest axe. To be fair, I was looking for a general purpose axe with a wood handle. My goal was to be able to fell small trees and split wood. Basic tasks for an axe, and this axe should be able to do it. Trusting the name and reviews, I bought it. I use a wood stove for supplemental heating.

Buying on line is a double edged sword, or a double bit axe. It can cut both ways. That is a subject for another post/rant. We’ll leave that alone for the most part, except to say that it is good to get an opinion from a like minded buyer. That was my issue. I didn’t realize the reviews for this axe were from the bushcrafter crowd. I am into bushcrafting and camping have been doing so long before it was in vogue. Maybe that was my mistake. I am not afraid or unaccustomed to maintaining a tool. So the main reason to buy this particular axe was to have one with a wood handle. Wood handles can be fairly easily replaced, unlike metal or composite handles and each one has its pluses and minuses.

The main review is in the video and having a bit of knowledge of what makes a good axe will say the rest. Maybe I will do something about that later.

Final conclusion about this particular axe is its great for bushcrafters, not so much for homesteaders or those looking to use daily for routine work.

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Making an H&R 20 ga accurate with slugs

There is something special about a “first” gun. I will admit that I have considered selling it but couldn’t bring myself to do it. The subject gun in this case is an H&R (Harrington & Richardson) single shot 20 gauge shotgun. It is certainly nothing special when compared to the other offerings available today. BUT….. Over the years, many people I have met have about the same gun. Most commonly I will see them chambered in 12 gauge. What ever Gauge they are chambered in, they have some similar characteristics. It is a “budget” gun: light weight, single shot, break action, the hammer is the safety, and are priced to sell to the masses.

The common complaint of this gun is that it tends to shoot low. This is due to the 20 gauge chamber being considerably larger in diameter than the barrel. My buddy has the same gun chambered in 20 ga. except his gun has a groove on the chamber to “supposedly” sight for a slug or buckshot. The last time I played with the idea of shooting slugs was with his gun. Even with the crude groove sight it shot low. That was a few years ago. With gaining a renewed interest in that old 20 ga. I picked up a fiber optic sight made by Truglo. In the video I say its Hiviz, both make a similar sight. It has been a while since I bought it. OOPS!!!!

My intent in buying the new sight was to make it more friendly for small game. The sight does bring the bead up to about twice the height of the original brass bead. I have found that it does make it more accurate with bird shot for small game. For slugs and buckshot, it still hits to low for an ethical shot. I have an affinity for this gun. I want to make it work. I have sacrificed the comfort of my shoulder for this test. Anyone with experience with this gun knows that it will leave a bruise. Probably the biggest complaint of this gun, IT KICKS LIKE A MULE!!!! We would grouse hunt with these things. After the hunt we would shoot clays with the leftovers. After going thru a box, dad would have an extra box in which he would ask if we want to shoot some more. I struggle to remember anyone saying yes.

So for the brass tacks of the experiment, how to make it accurate. The after market sight needs to be mounted up against the stock. Not at the end of the barrel. You need to be sure to line up the front bead to the brass factory bead. This should be done after each shot. When sighting, place the brass bead over the fiber optic bead mounted farther back to form a figure 8. Bead over bead. This test was done at about 25 yards. As a word of caution, it is always recommended to make sure that you never shoot a slug in any gun with a choke less than modified. Full chock is a definite don’t do. Be sure to check your gun and educate yourself on shooting slugs through your gun. Your safety is your responsibility.

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Debris shelter built in the dark

If your anything like me, your not lost till it is well after dark. With this in mind, I want to know the ease or difficulty in building a shelter in the dark.

Back in my young dumb days, it was common to sneak out the window and run around having fun in the dark. We never took a flashlight. Navigating through the woods and town was never a problem. How we never got lost is beyond me. LOL. Today isn’t much different except I don’t have to sneak.

Getting around in the dark is rather dependent on a few factors. Moon phase and moon rise and set are the ones you can count on at any time from the beginning of time till now. If you have never been out during a full moon, it is surprising how much light just the moon can provide. The moon will cause trees and such to cast a shadow. With about 15 minutes to gain your night vision a full moon will provide enough light to do about any task. The other factor is “light pollution”. Light pollution comes from city lights. Clouds and humidity tend to amplify the effect. Both will reflect light back to earth. The atmospheric conditions, size, density, and proximity from a town or city will determine how much light you can use to your favor.

So back to the conditions we faced. There was a quarter moon, light clouds, about 10 miles from a small town. Temperature was a mild 45 degrees in late December. About all you could see was a dark shadow of the person next to you. It was DARK! Gathering materials would be difficult task.

Our challenge was to travel about a quarter mile in the dark and use only what we had in our pocket to build a shelter. For a list of what was in our pockets: 2 lighters, 2 wallets, 2 sets of keys, 2 pocket knives. This is the totally unprepared situation. Of course our clothes on our backs is in play for resources, but not to be used. In my view, max handicap (worst case scenario) makes anything less “easy”.

According to the rule of 3’s, shelter ranks higher than fire. There are conditions that I tend to flip that assessment. Being a bit chilly and a lack of light is one of those times. Fire provides warmth and a sense of “home”. “Home” is a source of light and heat. It, in this situation fire would give a point of contact and help not lose your rally point. Keeping a fire in sight ensures you wont lose your camp. As in a book I read once, “your not lost, your camp is lost”. The mind set is that “your not lost”. Mind set is huge in survival. Be positive, never quit, you will make it out alive, NO MATER WHAT!!!! Building a fire for an experiment and risk catching the woods on fire needlessly was part of the factor in NOT building a fire. This furthers the handicap.

We had our mission in mind. Lets do it! We walked down a fairly well defined trail for about a quarter mile with no light source. We had in mind to find a ridge pole to place in a V of a tree. That was the first obstacle. Having a design plan in mind and the reality on the ground was 2 different things. Finding a V in a tree was hugely difficult in the dark. After searching for the “prefect” tree to build off of, and not finding it in the dark with only light from a lighter, we moved to plan 2. Plan 2 ended up being using a knife to cut a notch in a sapling, pushing it over to provide the main support and ridge line. That was lesson 1: don’t get stuck in one design of a shelter design. The lighters were used in place of a flashlight. The best method we found was to hold the lighter out an shield your eyes with your other hand so not to ruin your night vision. This method only provides minimal light. As we found out later, processing materials with a lighter in your hand will cause you to lose your lighter. My buddy ended up losing his lighter. Materials are secondary. NEVER lose your source of light or fire!!! Not to bust on my buddy, it is just a lesson learned. Keeping track of your gear is hugely important, especially when your only equipped with minimal gear. I’m just glad it wasn’t me. (that’s a bust on my buddy, LOL).

Pine bows are the typical insulation from the ground for a debris shelter. Some woods just don’t provide pine bows, especially in the dark. Leaves, leaves, leaves… that’s the insulation. How much is enough depends on the ground temperature. In my assessment, enough is never enough. We only had about 8 to 10 inches of leaves for the ground barrier. For the conditions we faced it was probably enough. Fortunately the leaves were fairly dry. If had been wet, it would have been a different story. As a side note, every time you test fit yourself in the shelter disturbs your layer of insulation from the ground. Maybe, “or maybe not”, a minimal amount of “test fitting” might be best. In the wild its always a judgment call for your situation. Testing your skills and methods for the situations you may find yourself in is paramount.

Finding wood to use for the walls can be a challenge in the dark with little to no light. Leaves to use as insulation for the walls was fairly easy at the end of December. Leaves are light and fluffy at that time of year. The shelter we built had lots of thin spots. looking up from inside exposed many holes. With this being a test run for any future event showed having much more leaves piled up would have been better. Three times as much would have been best. We knew this when we started and finished the “project”. The next day emphasized that fact. Although we didn’t start a stop watch, it took an estimated 30 to 45 minutes for 2 of us to accomplish this shelter. Knowing the time to accomplish this task for the two of us gives us an idea of the difficulty in building a shelter in the dark.

Keep in mind that this exercise was with minimal light and 2 people, conditions are what they were for us. Night time extends the time for any task you wish to accomplish. Coming back in the morning exposed many more resources that could have been used. So close, but still so far.

Hopefully this post gives some idea of the hurdles you may encounter and overcome. A shelter of any sort is better than nothing. Allotted time and effort will be increased.

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Pressure Canned Sweet and Sour Chicken



I like to play around with my canning. I often find great deals on meat at the grocery store and given how expensive meat has become I will pick up every reduced priced piece of meat they have. But what I have run into is a complete lack of canning recipes for ‘meals’. Yes, there are soups out there and your traditional ‘how to can meat’ but a meal? Not much so I have turned to traditional meals and other types of recipes from old cook books and have found that I can can most of it so that all I have to do is add rice or pasta or something else for a fast and delicious meal.

We like Chinese food, especially sweet and sour chicken but it can be time consuming to make it for dinner and I thought: ‘why not pressure can it?’ so we can heat…

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CO2 deal with China

After reading some articles about the CO2 emissions deal the US struck with China and reading the comments to the articles, I wish to give my input. Of course we all have an opinion based on what we believe or feel based on the information we have available.  There is this thing called Agenda 21. That’s what I base my opinion on.


That is the link to 351 pages of mostly gobbly goop. Most of it is nonsensical wording to lose the reader in a bunch of “gobbly goop” that may or may not make sense to somebody. There are some points that will stand out if you can make it through the mostly “BS”.


This link states that the US is aggressive about reducing emissions NOW. China on the other hand will “think” about it in the year 2030.


That link is designed to discredit Republicans/conservatives. I will fully state that I am very conservative politically. Does this mean I wish to pollute freely? NO! I have the same water to drink and air to breath as you do. My issue is that the public is being manipulated to achieve a goal. The goal is Agenda 21. (World wide communism) Of course it will have a fluffier name than communism.

The goal is to get western nations to change their consumer habits. Another goal is to expand healthcare to the people of the world. At this point it is good to keep in mind that George W. Bush signed on to Agenda 21. China NEVER signed on to Agenda 21. The fact that China didn’t sign on is irrelevant. If the US changes its consumer habits, IE not buying things made in China, China will come into compliance by default.

How do you get the US to change its consumer habits? That’s easy, take away the money. Mandate by law that Americans have to spend a large chunk of their earnings on heath care and energy. Health care is somewhat optional at this point. Energy is a mandatory requirement. We can’t live without electricity and oil based products. (gas for our cars and coal based electricity)

I won’t go on about it all. Educate yourself about Agenda 21 and come to your own conclusions. Just keep in mind that nature arbores a vacuum. The decrease of the US means an increase in some other nation or organization. Who would you like to see increase? Who could do things better? Could you live with the end results?

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Poplar Fire Tender


Who doesn’t like a fire besides a smoke jumper? Those of us who are outdoorsmen and women tend to love our fires. And being a hunter, there’s always the chance that I may wind up spending some time out in the woods that wasn’t exactly planned for. So having knowledge and skills that may be useful is high on my priorities list. Fire is near the top.

When ever I am out in the woods, for what ever reason, I am always on the look out for things that would be useful to me for making and building a fire. Finding tinder that can take a spark is one of those things that can be hard to find if there’s little dry grass or possible cat tails growing without being near a body of water.

If you have and can identify a tulip poplar tree just start checking the fallen limbs in the area for bark that peals and has the stringy inner bark while gathering firewood. The poplar is pretty easy to identify when it still has leaves on it. In the winter you may have to observe the dead leaves on the ground. Most dead branches are not so obvious as one in the video. Where this video was shot I checked about a 40 yard radius and found 5 branches suitable for harvesting the tender. As stated earlier, you might have to peal some bark because the others were less obvious.

Of course you could use other materials for tinder if you use a match or lighter that can sustain a flame. I like to use the most challenging option I carry. If I can get a fire going that way, a match or lighter should be no problem.

Next time you’re out, give it a try.

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Never ending Green Beans


It is currently mid October and the green beans keep producing and putting on more blooms. This is the time of year that most gardeners are praying for the first frost to end the season because they have been blessed with a lot of their fruit of their labor. With the beans lack luster performance over the summer months, that’s ok by me. Not having enough plants to really justify canning, we bought a few bushels from a local farmer and canned to our hearts content. We have broken into some of those already and they turned out great. At this point the plants leaves are getting a bit sparse and wilted but that makes the beans easier to see. It is putting on new blooms as well, so there are a few more harvests to make.

So what to do with the green beans from the garden? The garden only produces about 2 quarts per picking. I end up picking every 2 to 4 days. The beans and cherry tomatoes are the only things we have to deal with at this point. With a manageable number of beans I find it best to just freeze them.

The process of freezing green beans is pretty simple. Like about any process with green beans, you cut them into bite size pieces, about an inch in length. Bring a pot of water up to boil. Put the cut beans in the boiling water. The water may stop boiling with the mass you just put in, so wait till it comes back up to a boil. Let boil for 3 minutes. Have another pot of cold water with ice in it ready to chill the beans. After that 3 of boiling, place the beans in the ice bath for another 3 minutes. Strain off the water and put in a ziplock bag. Throw in freezer and your done till you wish to eat them.

As a note for freezer storage, a zip lock bag is for short term storage in the freezer. For longer term it might be better to vacuum seal them. But its green beans, there’s no since growing them if your not going to eat them. I’m sure you could work them into a meal in the near future. We sure do.

Simple recipe for these frozen beans are:

Melt some butter in a pan

Add green beans (thawed first)

Throw in some chopped onion

A little garlic

Maybe some bits of bacon

Sautee till the beans are a dark green, then serve and enjoy.


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Guard Dog Flashlight

I had the pleasure of “playing” with a Guard Dog flashlight before I knew exactly what I was “playing” with. Oh yes! There is a story. It wasn’t mine and the owner wasn’t around to give proper advice or training on it.

So I ran across a nifty looking flashlight. It looked rather powerful. The first thing that caught my eye was the word “Guard Dog” written on it. That’s a cute name for a flashlight right? It’s just a flashlight. It was bright. Since I like to have my battery powered equipment to use the same size batteries, I figured I would unscrew the end and see. After a few attempts to unscrew the ends resulting in failure, maybe the extra little button was the battery release. So having a firm grip on the light end and pushing the “battery release button” I found out why the light is call that Guard Dog. It has a tazer!!! Needless to say, the flashlight promptly hit the ground and left me laughing my head off.

After my little experience with this thing, I had to give it some analysis. It does well as a flashlight. The scalloped edge would make it a good striking instrument. The tazer cannot be used simultaneously with the light.

As for the tazer….. The fact that I shocked myself, although it was in my hand and not a body shot, and I was able to immediately laugh I have to question its ability to incapacitate an attacker. It cannot be used unless in tazer mode with the light off. The button to activate the tazer is probably way too small to use in a panic situation. The user would have to be in arms length of the attacker. That’s way to close but it happens. The tazer may be effective if the person being attacked could hold it to the attacker’s body and drive them to the ground. That would require a level of violence that most people have in them. Most likely it would just make the attacker mad and more determined if they only received a momentary jolt.

Considering my experience with the Guard Dog, It makes a great flashlight. The tazer feature is not something I would want to rely on. In my opinion, it is a great concept but falls short in its ease to deploy. I will save my money for a less expensive light and a good pair of running shoes.

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