Poplar Fire Tender

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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

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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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Dead red dot scope

For any weapon, it will only be as useful as it is accurate. Having a good reliable sight system is a must. Reliability is kind of a loose standard outside of a combat situation. The most likely situation is for hunting. For a hunting situation, there is no justification for taking a bad or unnecessary shot.

So to stick with the topic of this post we will concern ourselves with a red dot scope. Red dots have gained popularity over the years that they have been on the market. Battery operated sights do have their faults. Number 1….It’s battery operated. Batteries die, when their dead your trip is over for a red dot scope. Some scopes have illuminated reticules that have cross hairs. Those types are limited to available light unlike a red dot.

My first experience with a red dot was on a cheap entry level crossbow. It was a Horton Steel Force. The reviews are pretty bad on them. I did have to send one back but if you get a good one, it is enough to get you in the game. It did take a couple deer and my ex took a bear with one. That’s not bad for a cross bow with bad reviews. It did come with a cheap red dot that was replaced with a $30 BSA red dot scope. Oh the early days of a new type of hunting. As with any weapon, you have to sight them in and be confident in their accuracy and efficacy. You owe that much to the game your hunting to be able to make the most humane shot possible.

Despite ones experience with any given weapon, it is possible to not bring your “A game”. It’s always a good idea to check and re-check all the gear your taking. I would say it would be a rookie mistake to not check your red dot, but I have seen experienced hunters make that mistake. The first instance was my ex passed on a deer due to a dead battery. She didn’t check it before entering the woods. We left the cross bows where people could “play” with them. Someone apparently was checking it out and left the scope on. Out of little kids reach, but the big kids (adults) found it.

For the second time, it was a buddy of mine. He made the same mistake. Finding out that the battery is dead when it counts is totally the wrong time. In somewhat of his defense, it was his first year hunting with battery powered sights. It happens. I would like to say it would never happen to me but I won’t ride to high of a horse. LOL I have made sure that I have a fresh battery in the pack for the cross bow I hunt with. Having seen 2 instances of failure, I always do my best to check the sights ever time I go out. (before I leave the house and have an extra battery).

So with the possibility that exists that someone could have a dead battery, what is the possibility of “winging it” with a dead battery? Putting it out there that someone made a “rookie mistake” may seem wrong, but any of us may experience it. This was an experiment of the feasibility of taking a shot anyways. Not at a live animal. Thoughts will cross your mind at the time when it may matter. It’s always good to know if you can make a humane shot if it happens to you. (or me)

Enjoy the video and keep in mind the sight system you use and weather or not you might want to have a back up, be it an extra battery or iron sights.

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Dove hunting fun

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Dove season rolls around again. Since there’s only about three states that allow dove hunting, some of you may not get to enjoy the experience. Fortunately Virginia has allows dove hunting.

The season opens in September and marks the beginning of hunting season. Squirrel season typically starts the same day. I know what you may be thinking. How much fun could dove hunting possibly be? That was my initial thought when a buddy of mine kept asking me to go. He has dove hunted before and already knew how much fun it could be. So after some arm twisting I decided to go. I grew up jump shooting grouse but dove is different. There’s much more shooting involved and, lots of misses too.

I always equate dove hunting to cat fishing with out the beer. LOL It is a more social than any other form of hunting. Being quiet isn’t necessarily required. That is if you are on a field with friendly people that don’t take it to serious. Safety is still number 1. With guns involved it has to be. As I always say, “there is nothing so important to shoot that justifies an unsafe shot”. Hunting dove involves a bunch of hunters spaced out around a field just sitting and waiting for the birds to fly over. (a cut corn or sunflower) I have paced dove flying next to the road. It seems that their cruising speed is about 35 mph. It’s said that they can fly as fast as 60 mph.

Opening day is the best day to go if you can find a field that isn’t overly crowded. That’s when the maximum number of birds are still on wing. The third season in December and January can also be good as the birds migrate south. Some of the largest flocks I have seen have been in the third season. At that point I am still hunting deer.

So how did the opener go for me? It went about as expected. I ended up with 6 birds off of a field that held about 60 to 80 resident birds. That was in a 2 hour time span. It never fails that the opening day ends up being in the 90’s. So you stick it out as long as you can with lots of water, sun screen, and insect repellant. Throw in a few boxes of shells and you have quite a bit of weight to carry in. The return trip involves no water and a few less shells. I have found that you can never carry enough water to sit straight in the sun for hours on end at that temperature. Especially when your hunting partner doesn’t know how to meter it out. LOL

As for the eating of dove… they are actually good eating. We don’t just let them lay and rot. Besides being illegal, that would be a waste of a good meal/snack. I will usually hunt that Saturday and fix dove poppers on Sunday while watching football. I will have to do a post on cooking them soon. Six is enough for a good snack.

If you have never considered dove hunting, give it a try. It’s a load of fun with a tasty treat in the end. There are still a number of days left in the season currently in Virginia. If in another state be sure to check the game laws. Be safe and be legal. Happy hunting.

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Legacy Green Beans and Bacon Presevered Pressure Can Style

Trimming up 6 pounds of beans….. Oh the joy. LOL
Canning is awesome for those that like to know what goes into their food source. It is a bit time consuming but worth it for the results. They are good. Took some to camp last weekend and didn’t hear any complaints.

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20141007_6Green beans…these are so easy to grow and are often prolific producers. So how can you preserve them? Canning and freezing are our favorite ways.

Canning fresh green beans is easy…but VaCreepinOutdoors and myself, we love to can them like our grandmothers did. With BACON! Yes, you can safely can green beans with bacon. My grandmother died when I was 8 years old. One legacy she left was a TON of canned fruits and veggies. My family got some of them and some were pressure canned green beans with bacon. Sadly, I opened and ate the last remaining jar of these about 8 years ago. I am now 42 🙂 and they were still delicious!!! VaCreepin remembers his mom’s and grandmothers canned beans too..so this article is in their memory and we hope you will give this a try and make it a tradition in your family too!

What you…

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Shelter options

Having shelter ready to go is a must. By the rule of 3’s, you only have 3 hours to survive without shelter. Of course that’s all situation dependant. In the summer shelter may not be so critical to have in a 3 hour time frame. Not to say that hypothermia isn’t possible in the summer, because it is. 98.6 degrees being the accepted normal body temperature, and knowing that it only takes a 3 degree drop in core body heat to become hypothermic, it is still a real possibility. I’m not sure of anyplace on earth that maintains normal body temperature 24 hours a day. It can rain for days. Think back to childhood about how many times you may have shivered in the summer as well as the conditions.  Heat stroke and sun burns also need to be considered. Weakening your body in any form puts a risk on survival.

I currently do not carry a trash bag. They are worthy of carrying for a minimum for survival. I couldn’t begin to say how many people have used them at sporting events, amusement parks and the like to stay dry to continue the fun. During my young dumb years when it was not to unusual for me and some friends to go spelunking, it was recommended as a must have for the “sport”. For those that may not be familiar with spelunking, that’s cave exploring. The reason to carry a trash bag was for its ability to trap body heat. Plus it took very little room to pack in. Belly crawling through tight spaces with a backpack isn’t possible. It’s kind of creepy if you ask me today. LOL.  Oh to be young and dumb again. NOT!

I do carry a cheap 99 cent rain poncho. This can do whatever a trash bag can with the bonus of greater mobility. That happens to be its greatest downfall. A poncho has open slits on the sides held closed by snaps. Wind and rain are notorious for finding even the smallest opening. Wet means cold. Cold means death. Of course that’s the worst case scenario. That is my approach though. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.  I like the idea of having my head covered with the poncho. This can be done with a trash bag as well. Arm movement and exposure are also a consideration.

With the talk of using plastic sheeting for shelter, it would be prudent at this point to consider “3 minutes without air”. What ever your plan may include, make sure it takes into consideration that, “keep breathing” . Insuring that what ever step you take does not involve accidental suffocation. Kind of like not falling asleep in the bath tub. In a survival situation, sleep will likely not come easy. I always figure my first night out being huddled under a tree wrapped in that 99 cent poncho. Having a secondary covering would be a good idea.

A cheap plastic painter’s tarp would be my secondary cover/shelter. A cheap plastic painter’s tarp is light and easy to pack. It can cover multiple people as well as one. Even being hastily thrown up, it could provide fairly adequate cover for the people in a group. I am typically alone, but you never know.

A bivy is also a good small light weight consideration. They look like a sleeping bag, but a bivy is nothing more than a shelter. They provide about 5-10 degrees of protection against heat loss. A bivy is little more than a shelter. This fact brings up a good point about what expectations that could be made of an uninsulated shelter such as a bivy. 5 to 10 degrees in the dead of winter is still freezing. Plastic shelters and mylar shelters (such as the bivy and mylar ‘blankets” are good at protecting against outside wind and moisture, but with regards to moisture, these shelters will also trap moisture.

Considerations for shelter are as follows: I like to have a solution that can be put up quickly and in the dark. Most typical emergency shelters provide 5 to 10 degrees of temperature difference. Comfort is likely to be secondary to staying alive. Practice in a controlled environment will pose the least hazard to you. Make sure you are not alone when practicing cold weather survival. That way you wake up.

With all considerations of possible dangers, I will say, practice with the means you wish to enter the wilds with. Gain knowledge for your most likely scenario, and come up with your best plan to survive. Survival is survival; go out armed to the teeth with the knowledge and equipment to survive. Keep in mind the various situations that you may encounter when you come up with your plan.

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