New Productions

Here are 3 new knives– A 3-1/2-inch full tang, a 4-1/2″ full tang, and a 5-inch buffalo skinner. All are CPM S30V steel.

These knives are ready to ship– first come, first serve. $289, $349, and $399.

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The Pugio

There are a number of really interesting points in this documentary.

First, the map of the Roman Empire. As I saw the animation of the spread of the iron kingdom, I stand amazed at the indelible mark this has made on the morals and culture of the subjugated nations. Germany, Scandinavia, and Russia largely escaped those ravages. And the subsequent history and character of these nations is enlightening by contrast.

Secondly, I find the method of carry demonstrated to be highly instructive. As anyone knows, carrying an item that is nearly 3 feet long on a daily basis, and keeping it in a position that can be drawn smoothly and efficiently, whether on foot, horseback, or when sitting, is a major accomplishment. Most swords are carried cross-draw, but the gladius was carried strongside.

Obviously, the pugio itself is much smaller. Yet, even so, a blade the length of a span, with an overall length approaching a cubit, is no “incidental” item. The button-strap attachment to the girdle is highly interesting.

I find the raised ridge on the center of the blade to be very interesting. It seems that this was the Roman answer to the “blood groove” or fuller found on many blades today. However, considering the elements of friction, suction, and bone-pinch that the blade would routinely encounter, I suspect that the raised midriff was superior to the “blood groove” in most respects.

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Cookpot Sizing for Wilderness Living

One of the very most basic tools for wilderness living, that must be carried or fabricated for survival, is a container for heating water and cooking food. And most of us will need one before we can make a clay pot.

The classic “bush pot” is a #10 tin can, that has about 3/4-gallon capacity, and is equipped with a wire bail. But is this the end-all item? No.

This can might be a tad bulky for the individual survivor to tote around everywhere, and may be replaced by something as small as a metal mug. But the bigger issues are the lack of rust resistance, and that notorious seam at the bottom that can be so difficult to clean. The benefits are that the can is usually available at no cost, and it is light weight. It will typically hold up for a few months of field use.

Another issue is finding a good lid for this pot. We have found that certain can-openers can preserve that original lid from the can, and then we add a handle for lifting the lid.

If we are serious about maintaining individual function in the wilds for more than a couple months, we would do well to consider getting stainless steel bush pot with a bail and a lid.

Currently, has several items that seem very well designed for our purposes. They include a 1-quart bush pot, a 2-quart (64-ounce), and 120-ounce size. All come well-fitted with bail and lid.

Personally, I would gravitate toward the 64-ounce pot for a lone individual. This would allow boiling a generous quart of water at a time, and cooking a full meal. Anything smaller could mean slim pickings, and a full-time job boiling, and waiting for water to cool. (Yes, the water often takes longer to cool than to boil–especially in warm weather.)

Another factor that may be overlooked, is the dynamics of group function. Primitive cooking takes time. There are no electric or gas ranges, timed ovens, Instant Pots, or crock pots in the primitive setting. We either tend a fire pretty much the whole time, or use a “couch cooker” (insulated box in which a boiling pot is placed overnight) or some labor-intensive coal-pit variation. So if all the quart-size bush pots must be used daily in a group camp, it is less efficient than if larger pots are available.

In my experience, it is helpful to have larger pots, and a few small ones, in the group’s camp kitchen. Especially for sterilizing water, large kettles are nice. In general, a 5-gallon pot is quite heavy to move when it is full, and is also about all we could fit in a larger backpack so we might consider that to be at the top end of our size selection.

What are your thoughts?

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On the Main Website Now….

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The Call of the Wild by Robert Service

Have you gazed on naked grandeur

where there’s nothing else to gaze on,

Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,

Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,

Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?

Have you swept the visioned valley

with the green stream streaking through it,

Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?

Have you strung your soul to silence?

Then for God’s sake go and do it;

Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.

Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,

The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?

And learned to know the desert’s little ways?

Have you camped upon the foothills,

have you galloped o’er the ranges,

Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?

Have you chummed up with the mesa?

Do you know its moods and changes?

Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.

Have you known the Great White Silence,

not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver?

Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your huskies up the river,

Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?

…Then hearken to the Wild — it’s wanting you.

Have you suffered, starved and triumphed,

groveled down, yet grasped at glory,

Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?…

Have you seen God in His splendors,

heard the text that nature renders?

(You’ll never hear it in the family pew).

The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things —

Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.

They have cradled you in custom,

they have primed you with their preaching,

They have soaked you in convention through and through;

They have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teaching —

But can’t you hear the Wild? — it’s calling you.

Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;

Let us journey to a lonely land I know.

There’s a whisper on the night-wind,

there’s a star agleam to guide us,

And the Wild is calling, calling. . .let us go.

–Robert Service, posted on

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Favorite Snowshoes

Winter has come here a few weeks early!—past-season/evo-trail-past-season.html

We often find that fairly small snowshoes work best for us. We have “tails” that increase the surface area, but hardly ever use them. Your mileage may vary.

The worst snow conditions are when there is a hard crust that almost bears a person’s weight, but breaks at the last instant. It makes level ground seem like climbing a ladder. A snowshoe quickly fixes the problem.

Today, Mom wore snowshoes and I didn’t. They slowed her down. But if the snow had been a foot deeper, it probably would have evened out. It was 14-20 inches of fluff.

When wearing snowshoes, lighter, less-insulated boots work well. The snowshoe reduces heat loss to the ground, and to the sides and top of the foot–since it reduces direct contact with snow.

Today, we saw bobcat and fox tracks, as well as the usual elk, rabbit, squirrel. Also tracks of snowshoers from the Forest Service and their dogs.

Making Roycraft snowshoes from young trees is a good woodcraft project. (Selecting them in proper places benefits the forest, too.) They do work well. And this is one application where disassembling parachute cord is worthwhile. When I used baling twine, it took 5 bale strings per snowshoe.

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Grinding an Axe



This is an excellent video, but I can’t embed it here. Hopefully you can copy and paste the URL, and get it. It is on the OUTDOORS55 channel.

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USAF Pilot Survival Knife Fails

Most people don’t treat their knives exactly like this, but this video does show what can happen in a serious emergency when everything is at stake.

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Carbon Steel Maintenance

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Memories of a Woodsman

This is a reply from a friend, after reading a recent post.

Thank you for sharing your observations. I enjoyed reading it. It brought back many memories.

Since I came down from up north I haven’t really hunted. Up north though I really did hunt and I did it several months a year throughout the year. Walking along in the forest was ever so natural. I noticed after awhile that I had a certain way or style to my coursing along through the woods. Much like a person’s unique signature, gait, manner of speech or fingerprint there was a way I conducted myself when I was carrying a weapon and looking, being aware of my surroundings.

Partly because of the presence of large and potentially dangerous bears I was very careful when in thick brush or areas with limited visibility. Many times I simply circumnavigated brushy areas which could conceal an animal or keep me from visually detecting it. I didn’t ever want to place myself in a situation where the critter could sneak up or lay wait for me me. I was constantly aware of anything a bear could use to hide in or behind to get close to me. Many times I avoided trouble because of that kind of super vigilance.

As a hunter I also would analyse my path according to the direction of the wind. If I were approaching a ridge or meadow of just a patch of sparse covered ground I’d ask myself which way would my scent be carried and I’d progress accordingly.

Having an awareness of which way the wind was carrying your scent (and to a degree the noise you were making) allowed me to get very close to my targets.

Being aware of your noise as you passed through brush or foliage or wet mushy ground was another consideration that after awhile became second nature. What kind of clothing you wore was a big factor in being quiet. Nylon was not something I wore in the woods. It made terrible noise through the brush and was forever “crinkling”. Wool was very quiet and had a softening effect on sound production. Jeans or Levi’s or Carhartt type material were also no no’s I avoided.

Using natural sound to cover your own was a technique I used many times to approach deep into prime deer country undetected. On windy days the animals would bed down in thick brush so they could hear anything approaching them and would use that as a sort of perimeter alarm. The only way to get close was to slow way down and let your sound blend in with the wind moving through the area.

Yet another trick was moving along a stream or creek. Walking on rocks or boulders is quieter than moving through brush or foliage that drags on your clothes. Generally the wind flows down the creek and thus carries your sound down with it. The gurgling water can also mask your sound if you’re careful. One time I was walking up a stream and came to a crossing with about a four foot bank on either side. I poked my head up over the bank. There not 12 feet from me was an entire herd bedded down and I had just walked up to every one of them undetected. Needless to say there were bodies and legs and fur flying everywhere. I was completely caught off guard just as they were and had to content myself that I’d been able to come that close to them at all. Shooting was out of the question. Accuracy while having a heart attack is never very good!

Another time I was returning to the beach from back in the hills and I was following a small stream that had cut deep into the ground. It was a ravine about 12-15 feet deep with steep sides and not very broad across, kind of like a canyon might be in dryer areas. Up ahead I saw a huge old growth that had fallen across the ravine and was suspended about 3 feet above the water. The tree was a monster and I judged it easier to crawl underneath the thing than to exert myself in climbing the sides of the draw and crossing over the top of the log.

Taking a moment to rest my rifle against the log I bent down to get a drink. While I was drinking I looked downstream underneath the log and what do you suppose I saw? 4 very hairy and very large feet not 5′ away standing just on the other side! Talk about a heart attack…..I was having one! I’d been so careful and quiet I’d literally walked up to within arms reach of a monster bruin. Long story short I made tracks for the tall timber and got out of there. That could have been a very ugly situation. It left such an impression on me I still remember the date: October 2, 1987. I could feel the cold fingers of panic clutching at me whilst I made my escape and I’m forever grateful I was able to literally keep my head. That’s another dimension to being in the woods, keeping your wits about you especially in trying situations. To lose control of your mind in an unforgiving situation or environment spells danger. I’ve saved myself more than once by quelling the furtive and irrational suggestions of emotional thought in life threatening conditions.

That’s another aspect of being alone or in the woods not talked about. Your mental state. I believe or I’ve discovered that after awhile and much experience hiking around in the woods a person gains a kind of confidence an almost tangible security field around him. You can see it in a person, the way they move, the way they talk and dress, the gear they carry. They know who they are and what they’re about. This is something I’ve observed many times. There are so many advantages in being out in nature that one isn’t even aware of. By simply beholding nature, imperceptibly we become changed in our characters. I know that my own experience has made a huge difference in who I am.

And by the way, that bear? He’s now a rug. [He decided to track down the author, rather than leaving good enough alone.]

One of the last hunts I did up north was on Prince of Wales island. I recall being in the forest on the edge of the bay and smelling the deer before I saw him. While it wasn’t a shock to me at the time I do remember thinking how my senses had become so attuned to the surroundings. Like you were saying, you start picking up on the little things without even noticing it until it just happens and you become aware you are doing it without trying. I love that part of being out in nature. Your senses really come alive.

One last item before I close. In all my experience, I’ve never felt closer to God than when I was alone in those wilderness areas. Those 3 years in particular I spent fishing out on the coast alone totally self sufficient were the best I ever had. I remember not sleeping during a terrible storm as I was anchored up behind some no name rock. Dark dark dark and just nasty outside. Curled up in my bunk and nothing to do but talk to God and talk we did. I’ve had no experience like it since. Totally stripped away from the security of man’s infrastructure I was clinging to a tiny little shelf of beach behind this rock just getting tossed back and forth in the swell. Where do you go in your mind at a time like that? I went to Jesus and we had a wonderful time just He and I. It reminded me of the words in that song: In the Garden.

For many years now I’ve wanted to return to that place or similar conditions just so I could experience that interaction again. What a powerful time that was. It was a Calling, a personal interview kind of thing and I’ll never forget it.

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