Geocaching: Fun for the whole family

What is Geocaching?

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Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS unit can then try to find the geocache.

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How do I get started?

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First create an account (free) on Geocaching website. Then spend a few minutes reading the Geocaching guide page. This explains everything you need to know about geocache. Familiarize yourself with the terms used on the geocache by visiting the glossary page and reading some of the logs posted by people who found caches.  A good starting point is to read: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching

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What you need to start?

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The main necessity is a GPS device or a GPS enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the cache coordinates. Not familiar how a GPS works or how to use one, the Outdoor Navigation with GPS book will help get you up to speed. Other items can be found in a starter kit, but it is not essential.

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Tool of the Trade.

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Things I like to carry:

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 SEE VIDEO HERE

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WARNING: This adventure could be addictive and fun, so get the family involved. If you have kids who think their cell phones are only for text messaging or playing video games with their friends. Tell them they can use the GPS feature in the cell phones to pinpoint the cache location using coordinates posted on the website for each geocache.

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A project, a long time coming. Pt.2

Continuing from part 1 of the smoker build project.

After all the welding was finished, I took it outside to give it a test burn. This will check the flow of smoke from the firebox to the cook chamber. I coated the interior of the chamber and racks with cooking oil and added charcoal and wood the firebox. After an 8 hour burn and the exhaust bellowing smoke like an old coal train, I was satisfied.

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first test burn

Smoker First Test Burn

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Approaching the finishing steps of the build, were the temperature gauges with guards, a front folding shelf, and finally the high-heat paint.

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A quick video of the finished project, ready to fire up and add meat, for smoke goodness.

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Enjoy

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Burgers Done To Perfection

Summer and grilling go hand in hand to most families and friends. To me there is nothing better and faster on a hot day, than burgers and beer.

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Over the years I tasted  lots fast food burgers, none compare to a well prepared burger made from your own hands. You know the care you take into using the right ingredient. If you buy the frozen burger patties from a grocery store, you will have to cook it through so no red juice comes out. That is because the ground meat is from trimmed meat of different parts of the beef. If you like your burgers medium, you need to buy a chuck steak or roast and grind it yourself, then you can eat it to medium done.
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I don’t mind store-bought frozen patties, but I  buy Angus beef 1/3 to 1/2 pound burger patties. If the local wholesale store carries them, I will also buy bison burger patties, but they are a leaner patty so I wrap in bacon (because everything taste better with bacon).

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To get the perfect restaurant style grill marks, I start with a medium hot grill 350-375 degrees. I clean the grate with a bbq brush, then use a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil and wipe where the burgers are going.
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Grill Temp

Medium Grill Temp

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Lay the patties on the grill and take note of the time. I rotate it at 45 degree after 4 minutes. After another 4 minutes I flip the burger, and continue cooking another 4 minutes. The last rotation and wait 4 minutes and your ready to rest.

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perfect grill marks

Burger with perfect grill marks

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I like mine simple with a little mustard and a raw onion ring on bottom and bbq sauce and spinach leaves on top. (Above picture has cheese on bottom to show grill marks.)

 

Enjoy

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A project, a long time coming. Pt.1

A start of a project that I have thought about for a while. After using my Weber and UDS for bbq, smoking meat, ribs, and everything else. I needed a bigger surface for myself, my family and friends. Since my addiction to low and slow bbq four years ago, I had to use both of my Weber and drum to smoke a lot of meat. Well this new project will make things easier for me to cook more meat in one place.

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It starts with a used compressor I got on Craigslist. It’s a 60 gallon air compressor that is 3/16″ thick, that measures 20 inches in diameter and 48 inch long. This will allow me to make this project for half the cost of a professional model. Also I will use a stove I built for a wall tent, as the firebox. I designed the bbq smoker on a CAD program, to get the basic shape, and I used a bbq smoker calculator to find the right volume for the smoker.
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First step is to get the tank stripped of the motor, brackets and feet. Then a quick power wash to get the grease and grime off. I left the fittings on until I decide which needs to be removed. The use of masking tape to create the cut line, makes the job easier. Here’s a quick time-lapse video showing me cutting the door of the cook chamber.

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After cutting the door, I tacked it back in place in two spots, and added flat bar to create the door frame. My next step was to weld the hinges, and test it out to see if it opened without interference. To create the stand for the smoker, I used 2 inch square tubing. By drawing the layout on the floor, I made it easy to tack and weld the stand.
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The fire-box is a 1/8 inch steel stove for a Wall Tent I built that is 16x16x24 inches long. This is a reverse flow build, so one of the things I’ve decided  is a 1/8th inch plate with an angle iron down the middle, to use for the baffle plate. It will help drain the grease.

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I cut  4 inch tubing at a 45 degree, and 24 inch long. Reversed the pieces, and welded to create the exhaust. I aligned it between where the two racks are going to be, and added a shut down cap. This will allow the cook chamber to fill with smoke, adding more smoke (which means flavor) to the meats.
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The next step of the build was to put a handle to open the cook chamber, a firebox grate for the wood and temperature gauges to keep track of the temp across the racks. I ordered some bbq gauges from Amazon and it arrived in about one week.

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 Stay tuned for the next part of the smoker build coming soon……

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Fishing Without A Boat

As a teenager, I hung around with a group of buddies who spent a lot of time fishing. We marveled at people with the nicest boats and equipment, who probably didn’t spend as much time on the water as we did with little equipment.

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The old days we didn’t bother watching television shows to find out what the pros were using, or going to outdoor shows to see the new line of boat motors or electronics. Our time outdoors taught us to appreciate what we had and not take anything for granted. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with boats that cost more than cars and fishing rod and reel that cost more than some shotguns or rifles.

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What I am saying is that a boat is not needed gear for fishing, and lots of money on equipment doesn’t guarantee success. I’ve owned boats, but enjoy dozens of days fishing along the shore of rivers and lakes.

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From shore your access to get at fish in deep water is restricted, but the result is simply adjusting your possibility to fall in with what shore fishing time offer. You might find that you can increase fishing spots without the need of a boat. Many anglers target huge waters where some great shore and bank fishing is available, most often in spring and later fall.

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The simple route can work just as well, and there is still a fair amount of summer remaining to give it a try.

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Top Camping Tips

For starting a campfire:

  • Save your dryer lint. It will make great tinder and catches fire quickly. It also stores in 35mm film canisters.

  • Cotton-ball rolled in Vaseline or hand sanitizer will burn for about 3 minutes giving you plenty of time to get your fire started.

  • When starting a camp fire keep water nearby in case of emergency and to soak coals when done.

  • Clear at least a 3 foot area free of leaves, pine needles, and dry grass around your campfire site.

  • Pitch your tent at least 15 feet away from the fire. Closely supervise your children at all times.

  • You can make waterproof matches by dipping normal wood matches in melted paraffin.

  • Save cardboard tubes from kitchen and toilet rolls, stuff with waste paper and use as fire-lighters.

  • Make fire starters by filling paper condiment cups with saw dust and pouring paraffin into the cup.

Tents and sleeping:

  • If you must sleep on a cot in cold weather, insulate yourself from cold air under the cot with several layers of newspaper.
  • Use a large zip lock bag, filled with air, as a pillow. An old closed cell foam exercise pad will make a good sleeping pad.
  • Plastic juice bottles makes a good latrine for cold weather camping. You don’t have to go very far from your sleeping bag.
  • Old shower curtains make a great ground cloth.
  • When sleeping in a tent, a ground pad or air mattress should be considered for comfort against the cold ground.
  • After returning from a trip, set up and clean your tent in the backyard. Use a damp sponge and mild soap. Let it dry before putting it away.
  • Store your tent in a cool dry place. Your attic gets very warm and this can damage the coating.
  • Beeswax applied on your sleeping bag or tents zipper will allow it to close much easier.
  • Never use candles or matches inside a tent – only battery-powered light.

Insects and other critters:

  • For biting bugs a good insect bug spray with DEET keeps most of them away.

  • Animals are drawn to campsites by food left out. Raccoon, porcupine, skunk, and chipmunk don’t try to catch or pet them.

  • Snakes are not likely to bother you if you don’t bother them. Leave them alone and stay away.

  • To keep mosquitoes away rub the inside of an orange peel on your face, arms and legs.

Utensils:

  • Channel lock pliers make good pot holders.
  • Use a cookie tin as a dutch oven.
  • Make a camp oven by lining a cedar box with aluminum foil, push coat hangers through both sides about half way up to form your grill.
  • Canning rings can be used to cook your egg in for egg sandwiches. (Works well for English Muffins or Hamburger buns).
  • A length of chain and a piece of coat hanger bent into an S-shape will allow you to hang your lantern from a tree limb.
  • A Frisbee will add support to cheap paper plates when the plate is placed inside the Frisbee.
  • Keep the water in your canteen cold by wrapping the canteen in foil.
  • To remove smells from canteen, put 3 tsp. of baking soda in canteen with a bit of water. Shake & let sit for an hour, then rinse.
  • Use 1 gal. plastic jugs that you buy milk or water. Fill with water almost all the way to account for expanding ice & freeze.
  • To keep things cool, blocked ice lasts longer than cubed ice. Make sure the cooler is closed tightly.
  • Plastic butter tubs make good storage containers for your camp kitchen.
  • Plastic bottles can be used for canteens. Make sure the lid does not leak before using in a backpack.
  • Keep batteries in a proper size prescription bottle to insure that they cannot run themselves down by accident.
  • 35mm film container makes a good storage places for small items of all sorts.
  • To prevent batteries from draining down if a flashlight is nudged on, put the flashlight batteries in backwards.

Safety:

  • Learn to recognize poison ivy, sumac & poison oak, stay away from them. Never eat anything unless you know exactly what it is.

  • When swimming in a lake watch for holes and drop-off. Don’t get too far out or you could get tired.

  • Alert others before leaving camp for any reason. Keep a whistle in your pocket or wear around your neck.

  • If you get lost, blow your whistle and stay put. Try to sit down & relax. Blow your whistle periodically.

  • Twist ties can be used to hold up another tarp from your dining fly to form a wind screen.

  • Drill a hole in the bottom of nested poles and put a screw in to stop inner poles from sliding out.

  • If your hand warmer came without a bag or the bag has been lost, replace the bag with a sock.

  • To protect your feet from blisters, smear soap on the inside of your inner sock at the heel and underneath the toes.

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These are some of my favorite camping tips I’ve learned over the 30 years of being in the outdoors.

 

 

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Dealing With Spring Black Bears

Black bears are curious, persistent animals, and after hibernation bears are hungry. During the spring and summer, bears search for food constantly to put enough fat to survive the winter. Bears travel over large areas in search of food. Once bears find a food source, they remember its site and return regularly. When berries and vegetation are scarce, bears are often drawn in by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, barbecues, compost or garbage.

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Spring is a good time for residents who live close to bear habitat to check their property for food sources that could attract bears. Bears that are trapped because they have become a nuisance are destroyed and not relocated. Relocated bears rarely stay where they are released, and they may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else.

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If a bear enters your yard, don’t panic and don’t approach the bear. Always leave the bear an escape route. You should leave the area and go inside until the bear leaves. A treed bear should be left alone as well and it will leave once the area is quiet. Bears are normally shy and usually flee when encountered.

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Tips for avoiding bear conflicts:

 

  •  do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors
  •  do not use bird-feeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees
  •  store pet food inside and feed pets inside
  •  clean and store barbeques grill after each use
  •  pick fruit from trees as soon as its ripe
  •  limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings
  •  store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans

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People should always be cautious around bears,they are unpredictable wild animals.

 

 

 

 

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Things to know before going fishing

I’ve found few activities that are more relaxing than spending an hour or even a minute casting a line. Even while typing, I can hear the rustle of the river and see a lure breaking the plane of water and sinking toward my next catch.

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Trout, salmon, steelhead to me it doesn’t matter what bites, or if anything bites. The key is just getting out and enjoying time fishing – alone or with friends or family. Fishing can and should be an enjoyable hobby. If you’ve spent any appreciable amount of time fishing, chances are you’ve had a question or two about what you can or cannot legally do.

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You might be surprised that one of the more common question is who needs a fishing license, and if I have kids along, do they need a license and can they catch their own limit? The simple answer is anyone age 15 and younger does not need a fishing license. Once you reach age 16, you need a fishing license. That’s pretty simple and does not allow much room for confusion. The key here is that it must be the kids who catch the fish. As an adult, it would be a bad idea to catch your own limit of fish, then catch and keep more fish as part of a child’s limit.

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The difference between daily and possession limits is also a common question. A daily limit is a limit of fish taken between midnight of one day and the following midnight. No matter what time you begin fishing, the time frame for you’re daily limit ends at midnight. That means it’s not legal to catch a limit of fish in the morning and then head back out for another trip in the afternoon or evening to catch more fish.
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The possession limit is the most number of each legally taken fish species an angler may have in his or her actual possession during any phase of any single fishing trip of more than one day. Say you head out for an extended fishing trip. The limit on fish is five daily and 10 in possession. No matter how many days you’ll spend on the trip, you can only keep five in one day and have 10 fish in possession. You can eat some of the first day’s catch, but the fish do count in your daily limit. If the fishing trip is planned for three days, you’ll only be legal to transport 10 fish home.

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Before your next fishing trip, take a few minutes to check the regulations.

 

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Looking for a gluten free meal, here is my favorite.

Video

What’s gluten? Well, it’s the elastic protein that is in wheat, barley, rye etc. Even that’s confusing. Some people refer to the  proteins in cereals or grains as “gluten.” Some people will also use the phrase “corn gluten,” which confuse those with gluten allergies.

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Technically, the proteins in wheat that cause damage in someone suffering from celiac. The medical community and the food industry decided on the phrase “gluten-free” to refer to food without any of those potentially damaging proteins.

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Enough about the technical details. Here is a video on a gluten-free meal you can make, minus the bread of course. I like to make it in my smoker, but it can be made on a grill. By far my favorite thing to make on my smoker, and your guests will love it.

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BACON EXPLOSION from Burnt Finger Barbecue:

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Dealing With Nuisance Critters.

The best method for dealing with critters ( raccoons, squirrels, mice, etc.) in the spring is prevention. Trim trees, over-hanging branches close to the home and close off any external openings, that will allow entry to a home or structures.

Repellents such as mothballs or ammonia soaked rags are an option to convince a critter to leave. Care should be taken to make sure that the family are not affected.

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Once the critter is out, one-way openings, such as an 18-inch section of 4-inch diameter PVC pipe placed at a 45-degree angle pointing toward the ground, can help keep critters from returning.

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Bucket traps may be lethal or non-lethal. Both types have a ramp which leads to the rim of a deep-walled container, such as a bucket. The bucket may contain a liquid to drown the trapped mouse. The mouse is baited to the top of the container where it falls into the bucket and drowns. In the non-lethal version, the bucket is empty, allowing the mouse to live, but keeping it trapped. The unharmed mouse can be released outdoors far away from the home or cottage.

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Here are 3 easy homemade mouse traps

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Another frustration, for homeowners close to wooded areas, is deer and their attraction for gardens. Whether city or country, any gardener will relate that a deer can turn summer plants to shreds in a short time.

 

Whether it’s deer-proof hay yard, or high plastic fences surrounding gardens, there are no easy cure, or end, as dealing with wildlife involves few guarantees.

 

In early spring as you plan your garden, take several factors into consideration. First, if the goal is to protect your garden, an 8-foot-high, completely enclosed, mesh or chicken wire fence is the best deterrent. A less costly alternative is dividing your garden into smaller plots with four-strand smooth-wire fence. Deer can easily jump over such a barrier, but they’re less likely to take the leap if they’ll wind up in a small enclosure.

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Choosing the right tent

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Camping can give you a great chance to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the big city, for a chance to experience the great outdoors with the people who you love. There are many different kinds of tents available for sale, and the more that you know about the different types available, the better chance you have of picking the tent that is right for you. Here is some basic information that you need to know before you buy a tent.

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The first thing to consider when purchasing a tent is the amount of space that you need. While tents commonly advertise how many people that they can sleep, you have to take into consideration that not everybody is the same size. As a general rule of thumb when estimating how big of a tent you need, you should consider 1-1/2 X the room for every person that will be sleeping in the tent.

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You are also going to need room for clothes that you bring with you – be sure to make a realistic estimate when it comes to the size that you’ll need. NEVER put food in the tent. Also, you’re going to want to think about the level of privacy that you and you’re traveling companions would need – there are tents available that feature separate rooms, allowing for a decent level of separation between travelers.

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In addition, you need to decide how much trouble you want to go through setting up the tent. While some involve complex systems of poles and stakes that you need to assemble, there are many different types of tents that feature collapsible poles that make putting them together a breeze.

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When it comes to actually picking the one tent that you wish to buy, you should test its durability while you’re still in the store. Run the zippers on the tent up and down, being sure that they don’t catch or break. You’re also going to want to consider the quality of the material that the tent’s made of – check if it’s waterproof, and feel the fabric to make sure that it’s thick enough to hold for a while.

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Now that you know a little more about the qualities of a tent that you need to consider, you can make a more accurate purchasing decision.

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Keep a fly fishing journal

I found a good article about keeping a fly fishing journal. I have done this for years.
I have made a small booklet type that contains short descriptions to check off with a pen. Things I have entered are:

Weather
Water clarity
fishing conditions
fly used
leader length
line choice
amount caught
size

I  draw or download  a map of the lake or river and mark on the map where the fish were caught.

Then at the end of the trip I enter it in a spreadsheet on my computer for future reference.

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Fishing – a Family tradition

Introduce someone whether it’s an adult or child, to fishing and start a tradition. I remember as a boy watching and reading all I can about fishing. It turned out to be an obsession. Later on family members asked questions about how to catch fish and I was eager to share what I have learned.

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When my father retired, he said “what do I do now?” Well I thought about it for a minute and replied “You could come fish with me, we can learn together” That started a tradition that lasted til his early 80’s. Now he does not have the enthusiasm or strength to wake at the crack of dawn and fish all day.

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As I grew older, every summer was spent camping and fishing with the family, brothers family and friends families. I would take the kids out fishing on the boat and teach them the simple joys of the outdoors.

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If you are planning on fishing with a young person? Here are a few tips to get started:

 

  • Keep it simple. A simple rod, live bait or canned corn, bobber, split shot and tiny hook, make the perfect kid’s fishing rig. Teach patience, by telling them to watch the bobber. Panfish are the most cooperative and can usually be found near shore, to a kid, any fish is a trophy.

 

  • Distractions. Pack snacks, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cookies or just a bag of crunchy granola and juice boxes. A pair of binoculars, bird books or even a bucket of minnows can delay the sound of “I bored, I wanna go home” for hours.

 

  • Safety. Wear a life jacket. Kids look at what you do – if they see adults wearing a life jacket, they’ll wear theirs. Be sure to pack band-aids, pliers, a handkerchief, sunscreen and rain gear.

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  •   Next, write this phrase down on your tackle box: “It’s not about me, it’s about them.”

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Have fun, fishing is about making memories. Be willing to stop and turn over rocks, feed the ducks or just wander around looking for frogs, it doesn’t matter. Wonderful memories will be formed when people make fishing fun. The philosophy is that kids who spend time associated with the act of fishing will grow to accept this as simply part of life. And that’s a good thing.

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How to make a paracord quick deploy bracelet with the blaze bar.

Video

I found this video a great tutorial on making a quick release paracord bracelet. I’ll be making it before my camping trip. This is great for needed cord around the campsite.

How to make a paracord quick deploy bracelet with…

 

 

 

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Lubricating Knots

I see a lot of fishers, be it fly or bait fishers, use saliva to lubricate their leader or tippet material to cinch a knot. After doing this for a several years I found that depending on what you eat, your saliva becomes more or less acidic. Adding knots to your leader, to reduce to a smaller tippet size or just adding a longer tippet section reduces the strength of your overall leader as much as 20 – 30%. Why reduce your chances by using saliva to lubricate your knot?

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The last couple of years I found that people were asking me why I keep dipping my hands in the water I fished, when tying a new fly. “This is to keep my hands cool when I fish” I replied.

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Meanwhile, I see them eating their lunch and heaven forbid ORANGES (yuck) adding to the acid in their saliva. Then they go ahead with tying new flies to their leaders, which they lubricate with their saliva. The result would be a weak knot. In the summer when you are fishing, the weather is beautiful and you become very thirsty, your mouth becomes very dry. This is the worst time to use your saliva to lubricate a knot, I found that my knot used to fail 6 out of 10 times. You can actually see the leader near the knot kinked or stretched, due to heat when you pull the 2 sections apart. By dipping your knot (at the stage that you would be adding saliva) in to the water you are fishing, it cools and lubricates the leader so you can tighten your knot. I found that my percentage of successful knots went up to 95%. This has worked for me for the last 2 years. I still see people using saliva, but I keep telling them “I’m keeping my hands cool”.

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Tight lines and strong knots – Frank

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Staying clean in the outdoors

Camping is one of our favorite pass-time, especially in the summer months. It is no surprise that kids and teens will get dirty. Either it is gathering firewood or playing along a lakeshore, they will need someway to clean up.

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A few items I’ve come across in the surplus / outdoor stores, are:

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SHOWER ENCLOSURE

SUN SHOWER

You can hang the enclosure between two trees and add a rubber floor mat from the vehicle as a way to keep your feet free from dirt. The upper and lower part of the enclosure has a bladder which you inflate to keep its shape.

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The shower is a thick black plastic pouch with a cord for hanging above the enclosure. At the bottom end there is a short plastic tube with a nozzle you can twist to close or open, to conserve water. By leaving the solar shower full of water and in the sun it will heat the water in a few hours. If you need it right away, or need it for the next person, have a big pot of water warming on the fire, then add it to the pouch.

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Steelhead Heaven on the Dean River

This trip started out like every other trip, with a sleepless night anticipating big fish and landing my first one on a fly. I was after the beautiful steelhead of the Dean River.

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The morning was not how I imagined in my sleep. It was foggy with light clouds, which made me nervous, due to the small plane I was about to fly on. When I arrived at the South Terminal I saw the rest of my party already waiting. I was traveling to Bella Coola with two other people, Neville Gosling and Wayne Phillips. The other person in our party was Arthur J. Lingren. He was already at the camp, being there the week before.
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After checking in our bags and gear, we had a short breakfast followed by a chat session. We could feel the excitement of our week together, fishing for chrome bright summer steelhead.

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As I peered out the terminal window to what was our means of transportation, I started to get a little uneasy. I dislike flying with the big airplanes and you could imagine the feeling I had when I saw the small twin propeller aircraft. The flight was reasonably smooth once we got to cruising altitude and the view was spectacular. I saw high mountain peaks still covered with snow, glaciers in the valley between mountains leading to lakes, and low laying clouds with just the tops of the highest mountains peaking. However, before I knew it, we were descending into Bella Coola. Looking down at the terrain I could see the Bella Coola River in its glacier colors.
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At the airport we gathered our gear and food and trucked it next door where our helicopter was refueling. After a short orientation on the safety features of the helicopter, the pilot started loading our gear. Two people would go with the helicopter; the other would take the rest of the gear in a small Cessna 206 to the Kimsquit airfield. I guess it was my lucky day, because I got the Cessna.

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The flight to the Kimsquit airfield took 30 minutes, and we traveled north up the Dean channel. I was leaving civilization behind and entering wild untouched territory. As we approached Kimsquit, I could see what looked like a clearing in the trees. This was to be our landing strip. I was already tense about going to a smaller plane, but landing on a gravel runway was not my idea of fun. The pilot made it look easy. Before long we had the gear and food unloaded. In the distance I could hear the helicopter approach. From the Kimsquit runway to the Totems camp was about 4 km. I helped the helicopter pilot with the gear and we took off for camp.
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I had a wonderful view from the front seat of the helicopter, just skimming the trees as we traveled along the river. At about the half way point from camp, the river goes through a canyon with a small cascade. The strength those fish have is surprising, to make it through that kind of obstacle! As we approached camp I noticed that there were not many places to set down the helicopter. The first guess was a place 50 yards behind camp, which did not seem possible, since I had to cross a small creek and thick bush. The second guess was a gravel bar across the river, which was not a good idea, as I had to take the rest of the gear and food. The pilot set the helicopter down on shore, 75 feet from camp on a bank that had about ten feet of clearance from the rotor blades to the trees. We unloaded the helicopter quickly, so we could settle in and start our week of fishing.

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The water was flowing fast and high with a tan colour, probably from a slide up river. We got our gear on, put our rods together and tied on our flies before the mosquitoes and horseflies ate us alive. We split into two groups, with Art and myself in one and Neville and Wayne in the other. A short walk to the pontoon boats and the zodiac and across the river we went. I got to use one of the pontoon boats, which was exciting, since I never used one before. It was a bit tricky at first, but after you pointed in the right direction and let the current take you across, it was the easiest way to move.
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After a few fishless hours, the water level got higher and coloured up some more. I decided to go back to camp and get my gear in order. Wayne and Neville got in a few hours later and Wayne started on dinner. The menu was remarkable, with every day having something from a different ethnic group. We started with Greek, followed by Chinese stir fry, prime rib on Wednesday when the river guardians showed up for dinner, succulent ham on Thursday, and Italian pasta on Friday. I think someone must have told them about my eating habits. After dinner there were cocktails by the fire, with a few stories by Wayne and Art. Wayne was the comedian of the group, telling amusing stories and jokes to make our stay a pleasant one. That night I slept great, due to lack of sleep the night before and with a little help from my ear plugs.

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The next day Art was up and making coffee, before I even knew it was morning. With a little cleaning to rid the tables of mouse feces and inspect our storage box for intruders, we took a couple of snacks and a juice box for our day on the river. A quick huddle to discuss the game plan and across the river I went in one of the pontoon boats. Art and I worked the top end of the Cottonwood Run to the beginning of the Island Run, where Wayne and Neville started their morning. Art being the gentleman that he is, would let you start on a part of the run not covered. When you reached the tail out, you would go up to the head and work it down to the tail again. Covering water like that, was the best method for our success. Art explained that being in the lower part of the Dean river; fish were bright, clean and moving constantly. Working the run a couple of times would give you another chance at a bright summer steelhead.
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As the week went by, the water dropped steadily and cleared considerably. Runs that we overlooked, were now starting to show their bottom structure, because they were flowing high and hard to read a couple of days earlier. Water we that we had covered with shooting heads, was now fished with sink tips or long leaders and a floating line. By Tuesday the river was clear enough to use just a floating line and long leader, with a fly just under the surface. My first steelhead came to a fly at the left bank of the camp run. The run is a deep, slow-moving water close to shore, which produced a few fish during the week, for some of us.

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Every day we alternated runs to fish, starting at the head and working to the tail-out. We rotated turns after each one got a fish. One morning Neville and I went for a fifteen minute hike to the Victoria Run, which was where one of the area lodges set up camp. The trail leading to the run is an ATV trail used by the river guardians and a few people who owned ATV’s. That morning the helicopter came and collected the occupants of the camp, which left the run to us use along with one other fisher. I hooked a beautiful steelhead at the tail of the run, which jumped and pulled the hook loose, sending the flyline and hook back at me. After checking the hook to see if it needed sharpening, I cast it right back and let it swing in the same spot. To my amazement another steelhead hit, taking line off my reel at an alarming rate. It headed right down to the end of the run. After what seemed like an eternity, the fish came to her senses and slid on to the beach. After a quick picture, I gently released her back to the river to continue her journey.
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Tuesday evening turned to heavy clouds with a light sprinkle, which eventually turned to a light rain overnight. In the morning you could see the effects of the rain, as the river was starting to colour. We had a quick coffee, grabbed our snack bars and juice and hit the river. The morning fishing produced a fish each for my partner and myself, before the river turned a light tan colour. As I made my way back to the pontoon boat, I stopped to talk to Art. From the opposite bank I could see an intruder in our camp, it was a medium-sized black bear, heading for our camp. After a short attempt to get his attention, he kept on going into camp. We all headed back across the river to our camp to see what kind of damage the bear caused, expecting the worst. Hearing our yells, the bear retreated into the thick bush with minimal rewards from our camp. We cleaned up the mess and started on brunch. The bear did not go very far. He smelt something appetizing, that turned out to be the bacon sizzling on the skillet. On the trail behind camp; after brunch, one of the guys came face to face with the same bear. A quick shout and a blast from a bear banger and the bear disappeared, later seen crossing the river above the Cottonwood Run. Since the river stayed coloured, for the rest of the day, we prepared for our guests. Two river guardians and a fishery head biologist from Williams Lake, came for dinner that evening. We supplied the prime rib roast with potatoes and vegetables, and they supplied the wine. I think the only thing missing was the candles and bow ties.

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The week was ending quickly and being focused on catching steelhead; I hardly noticed the view. I sat on a log waiting for my turn at the run; meanwhile absorbing the landscape. This is one of the last places lacking any logging, and I hope it stays that way for a long time. You look around and realize that this is a pristine place, maybe one of a few remaining places in the province. This was a trip come true and one that I will remember for a long time.

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Tips for Ultralight Backpacking

Here are some tips for your next backpacking trip, that I have used and found some friends use as well.

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  • To have warm hiking shoes in the morning, put them under your sleeping bag by your legs, or even in your sleeping bag if you have a plastic bag to put them in.  .

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  • Use less stove fuel by cooking out of the wind. Block the wind with an improvised windscreen. Cooking time can double, in a slight breeze.

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  • Heat loss results from evaporation of moisture (this is why your body sweats to cool off). To cut this form of heat loss, you need to stay as dry as you can. Wear your rain gear when walking through wet bushes, and don’t sit directly on snow.

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  •  Transfer heat loss results from heat being moved away from your body by direct contact with colder things. Don’t sit directly on cold rocks or snow – use your sleeping pad, or sit on a log (wood transfers less cold than rocks).

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  • A lightweight pan. You probably won’t find it in backpacking catalogs. Every titanium pan I’ve seen weighs more than the cheap aluminum pan I see in a local dollar-store. They make backpacking pans too thick. I use a stainless steel canteen cup for everything and it weighs about two ounces.

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  • A light seat cushion can be made from a sleeping bag pad. Use an old basic blue foam pad. Cut it about 12 X 12 square out of it. This will weigh about one ounce (3/8″ pad). It makes a nice waterproof seat when you want to sit on a wet rock, log or on the ground. Pack it against your back inside your pack and it will also pad you from any sharp or bulky items.

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  • The cold wind chills the front of your body, even though your back is hot and sweaty. To help, put your jacket on backwards with the zipper along your back, and leave it opened. This will keep your back cooler while protecting the front of your body.

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  • When it is hot, soak your hat in every stream or water source you pass. A wet hat is like a little air conditioner on your head. Try a wet bandana around your neck too. This trick works best in dry climates.

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  • Attach alligator clips to the top of your pack, and you’ll always have an easy way to hang clothing to dry while you hike.

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  • If your damp clothes haven’t dried by morning, put them on – unless it is too cold. They’ll dry quickly once you start hiking. Drying them this way is generally safer than allowing damp clothes to accumulate in your pack.

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  • One way you can lighten your load is to carry high-calorie foods. Suppose you need 12,000 calories for a weekend trip. This could weigh from fifteen pounds down to four pounds, depending on the foods you select. Mixed nuts have twice as many calories per pound as bread. Plan for some variety, and balance the weight savings with decent nutritional choices.

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  • Use gaiters while tracking in tall bush. It keeps moisture away from your clothes as well as nasty insects from attaching themselves on you. They are also lightweight.

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Ultralight backpacking can still be healthy and fun.

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Beef Ribs: aka Dino Ribs

In my area they are not easy to find unless you know the local butcher. I check supermarkets weekly and ask the butcher there if they have any in full or half rack. Luckily, my areas supermarket does put them out once in a while, and when they do, I buy a few. My freezer has a good supply, for when the weather is nice.

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Here is what they look like vacuum packed in the local stores.

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Vacuum packed

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I look for ribs that are one inch thick with a good amount of fat, because fat is flavor. Cooking them is the same as brisket except for the shorter cook time. It takes the same spice rub and cooking temperature. The use of a simple 50% salt and pepper blend is all that I use, with a liberal dusting. I wrap in plastic film, then place in the fridge for a few hours, while I start the BBQ.

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When the BBQ smoker reaches a temperature of 250 degrees, I place the ribs on one side with a pan underneath to catch the grease. You can add water in the pan if you want, to act as a steamer, but I don’t. It’s like boiling your ribs, frowned upon by the BBQ community.
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Here is a picture of the ribs in the Weber.

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Ribs in the smoker

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After about 3-4 hours you should see the meat shrink from the bones. I then check the internal temperature with my thermopen. When it reaches an internal temperature of 185 degrees, I add a thin layer of BBQ sauce and let it rest in foil off the BBQ.

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After 30 minutes of rest I slice the ribs and plate. You should see a good smoke ring and the taste is like brisket. I use the spice rub and BBQ sauce liberally. The beef flavor should be the first thing you taste, and not hidden by a spice rub or BBQ sauce.

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Plated Ribs

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Spring is almost here, and it’s time to get the BBQ smoker cleaned and ready for a full year of BBQ goodness.

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How to Build a Survival Fire

The average back-country explorer today has fewer occasions to practice the art of fire-making than in years past. Our modern focus on “Green living” wilderness experience and the light efficient backpacking stoves has helped to make the campfire a thing of the past. But knowing how to start a fire in a survival situation is a skill that could save your life.

Successfully building a fire in wet, windy conditions is not easy, and requires a bit of knowledge, practice, and experience – as well as a few critical tools and hints.

Understanding the properties of fire will help you be a better fire-maker. The Fire has four elements that must be present for any fire to start or continue to burn.

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Fuel

Without a continuous supply of fuel (wood, alcohol, gasoline, coal, paper, etc.) a fire will go out.

Heat

Without enough heat a fire cannot start. Remove the heat from a fire and it cannot continue.

Oxygen

A fire requires a constant supply of oxygen to keep up the chemical reaction.

combustion

The combustion process feeds more heat to the fire allowing the chemical reaction to continue. Remove any one of these four key elements and the fire will not start or – if already burning – it will go out.

The Fire-building process to build a wood-fueled fire you need an ignition source and three types of fuel. From smallest to largest, they are tinder, kindling, and fuel wood.
The Ignition Source can be anything that will supply enough heat to ignite the tinder.

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Possible ignition sources include:

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  • even  two sticks rubbed together

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Survival experts recommend carrying at least three different ignition sources. Tinder is used to catch the first spark or flame generated by the ignition source and transfer it to the kindling.

Tinder should be dry so that it catches fire easily, and burn long enough to dry wet kindling and allow it to catch fire.

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Some good sources of tinder are dry tree bark, wood shavings, dry grasses and plant material, paper, pitch, dry pine needles, or char cloth. You can make tinder at home by dipping rolled cardboard “Fire Sticks” in melted wax, or coating cotton balls with petroleum jelly. These homemade fire starting aids burn hot and long, perfect for igniting wet kindling. There are also many versions of commercial fire starter tinder products available.

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The Kindling is added to the burning tinder. Good kindling is small and very dry, so that it catches the flame from the tinder and burns hot. Use dry twigs, cardboard, or small wood pieces. Make a “fuzz stick” by shaving a dry stick with a sharp knife to leave curls of thin dry shavings clustered at the end of the stick.

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Fuel wood, larger sticks, branches and small logs, are added over the hot flame of the burning kindling. The fuel wood burns more slowly and creates a bed of coals that continually release heat, igniting added fuel as it is placed on the fire. Once the fire is established, simply add fuel to keep the fire. Besides wood, you can use peat, dried animal dung, twisted grasses, or coal as fuel for your fire.

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Although dry fuel is best, even wet or green wood will burn once the fire is well established. Before you start building your fire you should gather a generous supply of materials. Your fire will consume a lot of fuel, so gather 3 – 4 time what you think you will need, and more if you will be spending the night.

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Choose a place for your fire that is near a good source of fuel, but keep safety in mind to prevent wildfire. Clear the area around your fire site of all combustibles to a radius of 4 – 6 feet. Contain the fire in a ring of stones or in a pit dug several inches into the ground. Try to find a place protected from the wind to avoid spreading sparks or embers – starting a wildfire could endanger lives and cause damage that you may be liable for. In bad weather, seek a sheltered site as heavy rain will put out even the best built fire.

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Getting your fire started is a three-step process:

  1. Arrange your tinder in a generous pile of loosely spaced kindling.

  2. The kindling needs to allow airflow to the fire, but be close enough to catch fire from the burning tinder. Use your ignition source to light the tinder so that the flame rises up through the kindling. Add more kindling to the flame, making sure to keep plenty of air space. Continue to strengthen the fire with more kindling, then start adding pieces of larger fuel wood until the fire is well established.

  3. As you feed the fire, arrange the wood in a way that maintains the airflow:

  • In the Teepee method the fuel wood is arranged like a teepee with the tinder and kindling inside. As you add extra fuel it is leaned up against the side of the burning teepee structure.

  • In the Log Cabin method the fuel wood is stacked in layers that alternate direction over the burning kindling, creating a sturdy structure that is less susceptible to premature collapse. Unfortunately, this method allows the least amount of air to enter the fire.

  • In the Cross-ditch method the fire is built at a small x-shaped trench dug 3-4 inches into the ground. The intersecting trenches allow air to flow underneath the fire, feeding the fire’s center with essential oxygen. Practice Makes Perfect

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Be sure to practice your fire-making skills before you actually need them. Learn how to use a fire-steel by practicing in your backyard fireplace or at the campsite. Learn how to make a fuzz stick, experiment with some easy to make fuzz sticks and challenge yourself to build a fire with wet materials in bad conditions.

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Practice provides a valuable experience that could save your life in an emergency. These two essentials – matches and fire starter are the most important. I always carry an extra lighter and fire starter (a film canister full of lint from the dryer) in my first aid kit.

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