Lost Survivors With Myke Hawke And Ruth England Premiers November 12, 2013 At 11pm On The Travel Channel
There is finally a release date for Myke and Ruth?s new show, Lost Survivors. You probably remember Myke and Ruth from their previous survival show, Man, Woman, Wild. Well, their new show premiers Tuesday November 12, 2013 at 11PM on The Travel Channel.
From The Travel Channel: Mykel Hawke and Ruth England-Hawke, the camping gear reigning king and queen of survival, are facing their biggest challenge yet?and they have no way to prepare for it. In LOST SURVIVORS this married couple is blindly dropped in an undisclosed location, and forced to use their survival knowledge to identify where they are, and how to get back to civilization. With minimal supplies and only a few precious clues, the Hawkes put their skills and relationship to the ultimate test as they rely on expertise, instinct and the strength of each other to climb, crawl and claw their survival kits way through forbidding landscapes.
The concept looks interesting, and very similar to Man, Woman, Wild, which I enjoyed a lot. I look forward to seeing both of them back on TV.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/10/lost-survivors-with-myke-hawke-and-ruth.html
Lost Survivors With Myke Hawke And Ruth England Premiers November 12, 2013 At 11pm On The Travel Channel
There is finally a release date for Myke and Ruth?s new show, Lost Survivors. You probably remember Myke and Ruth from their previous survival show, Man, Woman, Wild. Well, their new show camping gear premiers Tuesday November 12, 2013 at 11PM on The Travel Channel.
From The Travel Channel: Mykel Hawke and Ruth England-Hawke, the reigning king and queen of survival, are facing their biggest challenge yet?and they have no way to prepare for it. In LOST SURVIVORS this married couple is blindly dropped in an undisclosed location, and forced to use their survival knowledge to identify where they are, and how to get back to civilization. With minimal supplies and only a few precious clues, the Hawkes put their skills and relationship survival gear to the ultimate test as they rely on expertise, instinct and the strength of each other to climb, crawl and claw their way through forbidding landscapes.
The concept looks interesting, and very similar to Man, Woman, Wild, which I enjoyed a lot. I look forward to seeing both of them back on TV.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/10/lost-survivors-with-myke-hawke-and-ruth.html
How To Make A Tyvek Stuff Sack
A few posts back it was suggested to me that I can survival kits make a tyvek stuff sack from my cook kit using US Postal Service tyvek envelopes. So, I went to the post office, grabbed a bunch, and figured I would give it a try. The only thing is, my tent was in a much bigger need for a stuff sack than my pot. Since I have removed a bunch of elements from my tent, it has been impossible to find a well fitting stuff sack.
For the project I needed a few components. Obviously I needed some tyvek envelopes from the post office. You can also buy tyvek sheets in many hardware stores if you are interested. I also got a spray bottle of 3M Hi-Strength 90 adhesive. That covered the main part of the construction. To finish it off, I also needed some parachord for a drawstring and one of those draw string closure buttons things.
I began by cutting apart the envelopes to get smooth sheets of tyvek. For this stuff sack I needed two envelopes to make the walls because the tent is relatively long. I glued the two together using a one inch overlap.
Then it was time to determine the diameter of the survival kits stuff sack. I rolled up my tent, and tried to fond a round object that would match the diameter of the rolled up tent. A cooking pot was perfect. I used it to trace out a circle on a third envelope and cut it out, leaving about an inch all around that I would fold and glue.
In order to make the walls of the stuff sack, I took the tyvek sheet, and wrapped it around the pot which I used to measure the diameter. I then marked the overlap. I trimmed the tyvek and glued it together using a one inch overlap. When gluing it, I left the side that would eventually be on the outside of the stuff sack, on the inside. That way the seems would not show when I glue the bottom piece on.
Now came the hard part-gluing the bottom portion to the walls. I started by cutting the portion of the bottom piece which I left for gluing into sections, and then folding them up.
Then, I positioned the cylinder/walls within this circle, and one piece at a time, I started gluing the tabs onto the walls. I used a roll of tape on the inside of the cylinder to provide a point against which I could put pressure while the glue set.
The next step was to create the closure. I placed the rolled up tent inside the stuff sack, and measured how high it needed to be. I marked the line, and then trimmed the walls several inches higher. I then folded over the wall all the way around twice, and glued the fold.
Once all the glue was dry, I crumpled the stuff sack. Tyvek feels like plastic, but the more you fold and crumple it, the more it starts to feel like fabric. I then inverted the stuff sack.
The last part of the project, which you also see in the above picture was to insert the draw string. I cut a small opening to the folded up area on top. I did it where the original seem connecting the two pieces is located because that is the strongest area. I then threaded the parachord through.
Above you see the end result. I am happy with the outcome. We?ll see how long it lasts. These are just my crude efforts. With some practice, I?m sure you guys can get a much more refined product.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-to-make-tyvek-stuff-sack.html
Trip Report: Sundown Forest Squirrel Hunt 9/14/13 ? 9/15/13
The weather is starting to get cooler, and the hunting seasons are beginning. Two weeks ago squirrel season opened in NY. It in the warm up season for pheasant and turkey in October and then bear and deer in November. This past weekend my friend Rich and I decided to go squirrel hunting on a mountain where he had noticed a high concentration of mushrooms, which would attract the squirrels. Unfortunately, at the last minute he had to cancel because of work.
I wasn?t too excited about hunting squirrel by myself all weekend, so I figured I would use the opportunity to scout an area I had noticed on the maps, which seemed promising for deer and bear later in the year. I still brought equipment for squirrel hunting, just in case I noticed them along the way-a rare occurrence in the forest.
If you are not interested in hunting, or animal sign, this post will probably be very boring. That being said, my friends always make fun of me for being a ?mushroom and scat photographer?, but when it comes time to try to locate game, who do they call? Yes, the guy with the pictured of the mushrooms and scat. :)
The area I had selected was the southernmost section of Sundown Forest in the Catskill mountains. It caught my eye because of how flat it appeared on the map. That is a rare sight in these mountain, where the slopes vary anywhere from steep to vertical. So, I set out in the morning in the hopes that the terrain would look as good in person as it did on the map.
The are looked promising. It wasn?t clear open fields, but at least it was somewhat flat. There is a snowmobile trail that cuts across the forest from went to east. I followed it for a few dozen feet, and then cut north into the forest.
I was on slightly elevated ground, and unfortunately it did not look like good deer country. The terrain was flatter than most, but the most likely food source this time of year was missing-acorns. There was a lot of maple, beech, hickory, and even some pine, but no oak. On the other hand there was a plentiful variety of mushrooms.
There were a lot more examples with which I will not bore you now. Also, while I didn?t notice any deer sign, there was clearly a bear in the are.
It was a small bear, but there was lots of sign. I am not sure what it had been eating. Its scat contained a lot of these seeds.
The scat was relatively fresh, so I started tracking the bear. For that I used the scat, and the trails which the bear was using. At some choke points the signs were clear, like this log where someone or something had definitely stepped on.
I turned east, and started moving towards the lower ground, which is designated as Balsam Swamp. At that point the bear tracks started becoming less visible, but I started seeing deer sign.
Most of it was doe or young buck scat, but one of them was clearly the work of an older buck.
Eventually I reached an area to the north of Balsam Swamp. To my surprise and delight, it was nice open pine forest. Well, as open as the forests get around here.
In several locations I heard the sound of squirrels chattering. I decided to take my rifle out and see it I could spot any of them.
The hunting tools I had with me were my Savage 93R17 F rifle with a a Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 scope (older model), my Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x25 binoculars, and a squirrel call. I was using CCI 17 grain hollow point bullets because they do less damage to the squirrels than the ballistic tip .17 HMR bullets you usually see sold.
I put my pack down in a locations which seemed promising, and started calling the squirrels. I could hear them, and my hope was that by chattering with them, I would be better able to locate and see them. This continued for quite some time-I would call, listen, and then glass the trees with the binoculars, but to no avail. I couldn?t spot any of then through the thick canopy. I had just moved slightly to get a better view of a tree, when I heard a noise behind me. The following is an exact account of what I did and what went through my mind:
- ?Noise? I turn around.
- ?It?s a deer? why is it black? that?s a strange deer?
- ?That?s not a deer, it?s a dog? and it?s running towards me? that?s a huge dog? what is it doing here??
- ?It?s a bear!!! ? Shoot it!?
- ?No! It?s running away? Quick, take the camera out? turn it on! Turn it on!?
- ?Oh, it?s gone? maybe if I follow it it will stop at some point and I will be able to see it again?
- I followed the bear for some time, and was able to pick up some of the tracks, but eventually lost it.
It was gone, and I was disappointed. I returned to my pack, and prepared lunch. The whole time the squirrels were chattering in the trees above me, mocking my failure.
The conclusion that I reached from the encounter with the bear was that the squirrel call was an effective bear call as well. I have a predator call which produces dying rabbit sounds, and the distressed squirrel chatter produced by the squirrel call must have had the same effect. I?ll keep it in mind in November.
After lunch I decided to stay in the area and continue hunting. Before I did that, unpacked, and got a fire going. I didn?t want to have to watch my back the entire time I was looking at the tree tops in search of squirrel.
The weather was getting a bit cold, especially when not moving much, so I put on my Revelcloud jacket. I had no luck the rest of the day, and ended up cooking the fought I had brought with me.
In the morning I set out again. My plan was to travel around the swamp to the eastern side, and then south until I reached the snowmobile trail, which I would follow out of the forest. I promised myself not to take any more pictures, but I couldn?t help myself, so here are a few more:
? and let?s not forget about the scat?
On the east side of the swamp, I was even able to find some acorns, although not enough to comprise a substantial food source.
The return trip was a lot more difficult than that into the forest. For some reason I kept drifting into the swamp, which was covered by very dense vegetation. It made travel impossible. Each time I would have to move further east to get to more open ground, only to drift into the swamp again, repeating the process. I was running very low and water, and sources in the area were not great unless I wanted to go even further east to a river. Luckily though, I ran across a sream where I could fill up. The water was draining from the swamp, and was far from ideal, but it was better than nothing.
It took me a few hours to get into the forest the first day, but it took me the better part of a day to make my way out. Eventually however, I reached the trail.
On my way out, I ran across a large pile of scat. I?m not even sure what it was. If it was a bear, it was much larger than the one I encountered. If I was anywhere else I would have guessed cattle, but there were none in the area.
Travel on the trail was easy, and I was soon out of the forest.
Below is the track recorded by the GPS, as shown both on Google Earth, as well as on to the tope map so you can better see the location.
The area seems very promising both for deer and bear hunting. When the season opens in mid November, I?ll be sure to come back here. I don?t like to hunt on managed property, and am not a fan of trail cameras, so for me this is as good of a scout as I could get. My hope is that for the next two months the deer and bears continue to frequent survival kits the area, so that in I would be able to call them close to me when the season starts and i have my .308 in hand.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/09/trip-report-sundown-forest-squirrel.html
Living Off The Land: Delusions And Misconceptions About Hunting And Gathering
Ah, living off the land. Thriving in the wilderness with the use of your skills. It is the ultimate goal of many bushcrafters and survivalists. Numerous posts have been written on forums about this subject, and as soon as one ends, another is started. Of course, actual evidence is rarely presented. We often fall back on positions such as ?our ancestors did it, so clearly I can do it?, or ?I was out last week and saw a bunch of cattails and barriers, so my food sources are secure?.
The problem is not made any better by so called experts in the field, who fuel the myth that they are feeding themselves in the wilderness. I vividly remember watching Andrew Price, host of A-Z of Bushcraft in one of the episodes, waking up in the morning, walking a few feet next to camp, gathering a few berries, and then turning the the camera and saying ?breakfast is served?. Ray Mears, aside from his excellent series, Wild Foods, has numerous instances where he gathers meager resources and then implies that his food requirement have been met. Of course, none of them ever bother to calculate or present actual caloric values, or discuss the long terms consequences. Similarly, people like Dave Canterbury, who discuss at length hunting in wilderness living conditions, never actually do the math of how much game has to be killed to justify the weight of that shotgun being carried, or whether the numbers would work out at all.
For the past year I have been attempting to gather some actual numbers on the subject, so we can have a more meaningful conversation about what it would take to sustainably feed a person in the wilderness, and consequently, what tools may be suited for the task. I must admit, I have been slacking with the project because of its tedious nature. Last week however, a reader referred me to a source related to the Chris McCandless post, which provided me with some of the information I was searching.
Samuel Thayer, author of the books Forager?s Harvest and Nature?s Garden, wrote an essay related to the starvation of Chris McCandles titles Into the Wild and other Poisonous Plant Fables. While much of the essay focuses on disproving theories of poisonous plants, the last section discusses actual caloric requirements for a person living in the wilderness, and what resources that would require.
So, let?s assume a scenario where a person will be going into the wilderness with the intention of living off the land. He will practice wilderness self reliance, he will thrive in nature, and whatever other cliché you want to insert here. Let?s also assume for the moment that there are no hunting or fishing regulations that we have to comply with, and let?s assume that the person has all necessary equipment, including hunting and fishing tools. What would the person need to procure each day in order to live in a sustainable manner for a prolonged period of time?
Well, the first piece of the puzzle is the required calories. Citing Michele Grodner?s Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition, Thayer calculates that a male who is physically active under wilderness living conditions would need approximately 3,300 calories per day. This number seems consistent with calculations done by long distance backpackers, who usually aim for a bit over 3,000 calories per day. So, to maintain one?s physical condition, and prevent weight loss, the person in question must consume about 3,300 calories each day. Of course, there are other nutritional requirements, but at a very basic level, to prevent death from starvation in the long run, this caloric minimum must be met.
The above caloric requirement for wilderness living should not be confused with accounts of short term survival, where a person stays in the wilderness, slowly losing body weight, until they are rescued. We have plenty examples like this from series like Survivorman, Naked and Afraid, etc. Those are not examples of sustainable hunting and gathering situations, and we should not have any delusions about the long term applications of such a starvation diet.
So, sticking with the 3,300 caloric requirement per day, what would it take to meet these caloric needs?
Sources of Calories
First let?s look at animal products, something to which I will jointly refer to in this post as ?meat?, but should be understood to include both protein and fats. Meat can vary in caloric content anywhere from 40 calories per ounce for lean meat like squirrel and rabbit, all the way to 60 calories per ounce for very fatty meat like salmon. Using these numbers, we can roughly calculate the caloric value of each animal, and how much of it we would need to meet the our daily caloric requirements.
Red Squirrel: as Thayer calculates, at an average of 2.8 ounces of meat per squirrel (Michele Grodner?s Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition), it would take 25 squirrels per day to meet the caloric requirements, or if also eating the internal organs and brain, about 16 squirrels per day.
Rabbit: at about 16 ounces of meat per rabbit (Michele Grodner?s Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition), you would need about 4 of them per day, or 3 if eating all of the organs and brain.
Salmon: assuming you are catching Sockeye salmon, they average 6 pounds (96 ounces) (Kenai Peninsula Borough Commercial Fishing Industry State Records, 2012). Since salmon meat is rich in fat, we can assume 60 calories per ounce (USDA SR-21), which would mean one salmon would give you 5,760 calories, or a little under two days of food.
Clams: clam meat varies in caloric density from about 33 calories per ounce to about 42 calories per ounce. (Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, 2013). To satisfy the required 3,300 calories per day intake, you would need about 5 pounds of clam meat per day (using 40 calories per ounce for the calculation). In order to get 5 pounds of clam meat, you would need about 320 medium size clams. For each ounce of meat, you need about 4 medium size clams. (Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, 2013)
Raccoon: while many people would not eat raccoon meat due to its high content of parasites, it is technically edible. The meat is fatty, averaging about 72 calories per ounce. (USDA SR-21) The weight of raccoons varies widely from 10 to 25 pounds for adults. The average listed size is about 25 pounds for an adult. That should provide approximately 10 pounds of meat once it is gutted, skinned and deboned. At 72 calories per ounce, such a raccoon will provide about 11,520 calories. However, keep in mind that these numbers reflect the calories if the animal is cooked to preserve all of its nutrients. In order to make it more palatable, people usually cook raccoon meat to remove most of the fat. If you do that, the caloric content will drop significantly. Assuming you save all of the fat however, a 25 pound raccoon should provide sufficient calories for 3.5 days.
Turkey: a good size turkey will yield about 10 pounds of meat (160 ounces) when processed. The caloric value of processed turkey meat is about 45 calories per ounce (USDA SR-21). Therefore, a turkey will produce 7,200 calories in total, or a bit more than 2 days worth of caloric requirements.
Deer: a mature buck typically yields about 70 pounds of meat (1,120 ounces) (University of Wisconsin study 2006). Venison is a lean meat, with about 53 calories per ounce (USDA SR-21). The meat of a mature buck will therefore give you 59,360 calories, which will be sufficient for 18 days of food at the 3,300 calories per day requirement. If you are eating the internal organs as well, that will probably get pushed to about 20-21 days of food.
Black Bear: a large black bear will produce about 100 pounds of meat (1,600 ounces) once processed. Bear meat has about 43 calories per ounce. (USDA SR-21) So, a large black bear will give about 68,800 calories total. That would be sufficient calories to satisfy the caloric intake for 21 days.
The table below gives a general summary of the results. The numbers you see in the last column for animals needed each day to meet the caloric requirement, the number in parenthesis represents what is needed if internal organs are preserved and eaten as well as the meat.
| || || |
| || |
|Type of Animal ||oz of Meat/Animal ||cal/oz of Meat ||Total cal/Animal ||Animals/Day|
|Squirrel ||2.8 ||47 ||132 ||25 (16)|
|Rabbit ||16.8 ||47 ||790 ||4 (3)|
|Salmon ||96 ||60 ||5,760 ||0.57|
|Clams ||0.25 ||40 ||10 ||320|
|Raccoon ||160 ||72 ||11,520 ||0.29|
|Turkey ||160 ||45 ||7,200 ||0.46|
|Deer ||1,120 ||53 ||59,360 ||0.056 (0.05)|
|Black Bear ||1,600 ||43 ||68,800 ||0.047|
Now, let?s move to plant sources.
Cattail Roots: cattail roots, will yield about 8 calories per ounce (USDA SR-21; Revedin, A., et al. Thirty thousand-Year-Old Evidence of Plant Food Processing, 2010). This means that about 413 ounces or 26.5 pounds of cattail flour would be needed to meet that daily caloric requirements.
It should be noted (as pointed out by a reader in one of the comments) that Table 2 of the above study, Thirty thousand-Year-Old Evidence of Plant Food Processing, 2010 provides that cattail (Typha) rhyzome flour contains 266 kcal/100g, or 75 calories per ounce. That is much higher than the 8 cal/oz provided by the USDA and other sources. It appears the difference occurs because that table speaks of the caloric value of already processed and cooked flour. The article specifies that "The flour would have undergone a multistep processing involving root peeling, drying, and finally grinding using specific tools. After this, the flour needed to be cooked to obtain a suitable and digestible food." Cattail rhyzome contains large portions that are inedible, such as the spongy layer covering the rhyzome as well as the fibers from which you have to remove the starch. As such, the numbers don?t appear to be contradictory. You may very well have a caloric value of 25 kcal/100g (8 cal/oz) for cattail root and 266 kcal/100g (75 cal/oz) for processed cattail root flour where the outer casing has been peeled, the fibers have been removed, and the resulting starch cooked. In the table here I have used the number for unprocessed cattail root, and the quantity you would need to get the necessary calories.
Parsnips and Similar Wild Roots: according to Thayer, at approximately 23 calories per ounce (Michele Grodner?s Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition), about 9 pounds would be needed per day to meet the daily caloric requirement of 3,300 calories.
Blueberries: again, according to Thayer, at about 16 calories per ounce (Michele Grodner?s Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition), you would need 13 pounds of blueberries per day to meet your caloric requirements.
Lingonberries: at about 5 calories per ounce (USDA SR-21), you would need about 41 pounds of lingonberries to meet your daily caloric requirement.
Acorns: once processed into a flour, after leaching out the tannic acid acorns will provide about 110 calories per ounce (USDA SR-21). That would mean that 30 ounces, or a little under 2 pounds of acorn flour would be needed per day to satisfy the caloric requirements.
Burdock Root: at about 20 calories per ounce (USDA SR-21), you would need about 165 ounces, or 10 pounds of unprocessed burdock root to meet your daily caloric requirements. If cooked, a large amount of the water removed, the pounds one needs to consume may be significantly reduced, but would still constitute more than what a person can eat in a day.
| || |
|Type of Plant ||cal/oz of Plant Material ||Pounds Per Day Needed|
|Cattail survival gear Root (Unprocessed) ||8 ||26.5|
|Parsnips ||23 camping gear ||9|
|Blueberries ||16 ||13|
|Lingonberries ||5 ||41|
|Acorns (processed) ||110 ||2|
|Burdock Root ||20 ||10*|
The above represent average numbers, both for the calories required per day, and the amount of food which must be consumed to provide those calories. Variations should be expected. Even so, it is evident that a person attempting to live alone off the land in the wilderness has a serious challenge on his hands. The amount of food required seems absurd, but as Thayer explains: ?If this seems like a high volume of food, that?s because it is. We have sought, developed, cultivated, and become accustomed to calorie-dense foods for so long that most of us have never been without them. We?ve never had to eat food in volumes like this. When you realize that a stick of butter has as many calories as two and a half quarts of blueberries or seven pounds of broccoli, you can see why the innate human desire for calorie-rich, low-fiber food developed.?
The gathering of food has become a great area of teaching for survival and bushcraft instructors. Unfortunately, much of the teachings create a false impression of what it actually takes to feed oneself through gathering of food in the wilderness. As Thayer also noted, many such instructors teach, or imply through their representations that a very small amount of food is needed for a person to sustainably live in the wilderness. Whether the misrepresentations are intentional, or due to lack of knowledge is hard to say, but the results are the same-people fail to realize how much food must be gathered to sustain a person long term.
We have to make a clear distinction between ?edible? plants and ?food?. Just because something can be eaten, does not mean that it contributes to your caloric requirements in any meaningful way. Many staples of bushcraft teachings, such as dandelions provide virtually no caloric value. You can easily starve to death with a stomach full of such plants. In fact, it is not unlikely that a person may spend more energy gathering edible plants, than the calories he will get from consuming them. To effectively gather food in the wilderness, one has to know not only what is edible, but also what provides meaningful calories.
From the plants available and listed in the above chart, not surprisingly acorns provide the highest nutrition. I imagine it will be similar for other nuts because of the high oil content. If processed correctly, a person can certainly provide enough food for himself using acorn flour. The other plants that are readily available, including the all too popular cattail and burdock roots, are far less than ideal when it comes to providing sufficient calories for a person attempting long term living. Not only would it be difficult to supply yourself with enough of the plant, but consuming such large quantities would be impossible. We should also keep in mind that the plants I have listed here are the ones with relatively high caloric value.
On that subject, Thayer writes with respect to Chris McCandless, ?If he didn?t get any meat, couldn?t he just eat more lingonberries and get all his calories that way? Absolutely not. He would have needed to eat almost three gallons of lingonberries per day. He?d probably be vomiting before finishing the second quart. No matter how many lingonberries were available to him, his body would have only accepted them for a small portion of his caloric requirement. This doesn?t make lingonberries ?poisonous?; the same is true of virtually every food, although the appropriate proportions vary? The concept that foods can be eaten only in appropriate quantities is taken so much for granted that, to my knowledge, it has never been given a name in the medical literature. I call it themaximum caloric proportion (MCP). Some foods have a very high MCP, such as milk, meat, and potatoes. They are easily digested and contain few antinutrients or toxins, thus they are suitable as dietary staples. Others, such as cabbage, rhubarb, and raspberries, cannot serve as staple foods and are only suitable to supply small portions of the diet. As one travels north, there tends to be fewer plants with a high MCP; this is why hunter-gatherers from northern latitudes ate meat for the great majority of their calories.?
As a result, if you can not find the right plants and gather it on a large enough scale, or have simply missed the gathering season, one typically has to resort to meat for the majority of the required calories. So, let?s look at some of what is required in terms of providing sufficient calories through hunting and fishing.
Opportunity Cost of Hunting and Fishing
Before we look at specific examples, it is important to note that when we speak of hunting and fishing, activities which require that you bring specific equipment into the woods, we have to look not only at what you can successfully hunt, but also at the opportunity cost of that equipment. What I mean by that is that for each pound of equipment which you bring with you, you have to forego a pound of some other resource which you could have brought with you instead. Since we are assuming a person who is otherwise prepared for the wilderness, the most immediate opportunity cost is food. For each pound of gear that you bring, you have to leave behind a pound of food. So, when you bring a 7 pound rifle with you, you could have instead left it behind and brought 7 pounds of food. So, when we look at the equipment one may bring for such hunting, we have to see not only if it can get us any food, but also whether the food we can procure with it is more than the food that we could have brought with us had we not brought the equipment.
To complicate things further, we have to look not only at the weight of the food, but more importantly at the caloric content of that food. So, a pound of squirrel meat will give us 752 calories. On the other hand a pound of instant mashed potatoes will give us 1,664 calories. For this post, I will use mashed potatoes as a base line for calorie dense food that could have been brought into the woods.
First, let?s look at fishing. Fishing is a good way to procure calories because the equipment required is not heavy, and is relatively reusable. A large net, fishing rod, reel, lures, and a sizable spool of line will only add up to a few pounds. You guys have seen my lightweight fishing kit, which came in under one pound. A more robust and complete kit can be estimated to around 3 pounds. 3 pounds of gear has the opportunity cost (using the above base line numbers) of 4,983 calories, or about day and a half of food at the required 3,300 calories per day. From a simple numbers standpoint, this means that the first day and a half worth of food that you catch will go to offset the weight of the gear (which you brought rather than bringing food). Everything you catch after that is surplus.
The downside of fishing of course is the limited availability of resource reach areas. For example if you are lucky, and are in an area and the right time for a salmon run, as we saw from the above numbers, a single sockeye salmon will give you about two days worth of food. That means that the first salmon would offset the opportunity cost of the fishing gear, and every subsequent one will be pure food value. If you can catch one every two days, you will be able to meet your caloric requirements. The problem of course is that you may be a week late, and not find a single salmon because the run has ended; or, you may be in an area where no such fish is available; or you may be in an area where there is no body of water which carries any sizable fish at all.
Remember, it takes about 3.5 pounds of salmon per day to meet a person?s caloric requirements. If instead of a 7 pounds salmon, you were pulling out 3 ounce sunfish out of the water, the calculations would be very different. At approximately 50 calories per ounce of fish meat, you can do your own math to see how much fish you would need. I remember an episode of Ray Mears Extreme Survival where he caught a small fish while he was in the Rockies, and prepared it with some plants. It may seem like he has prepared a good dinner, but the reality is that the meal probably contains less that 300 calories, about a tenth of what is needed for the day if we are facing a long terms sustainability situation.
Even with all those considerations however, if you have selected an area close to a sizable body of water for your long term wilderness living situation, fishing is a good way to procure food because of the low weight and reusable nature of the gear, as well as the low amount of energy expenditure required.
Now, let?s look at hunting as means of procuring food. Obviously, a hunter needs his tools. There are a lot of misconception from people who do not hunt that you can use primitive weapons, constructed in the woods, to effectively hunt. The difficulty of such a task is nearly always underestimated. Thinking that a person can construct a stick bow, or carve a longbow in the woods from an unseasoned piece of wood, and then go hunting with it in an effective manner is wishful thinking. Keep in mind that a hunter with a modern state of the art bow, with modern optics and range finder, will rarely take a shot at over 50 yards. If you are hunting with an improvised bow, lower that range to about 25 yards. Now, go measure out 25 yards and try to think of what it would actually take for you to get to within 25 yards of a deer. Then, think of what accuracy would be needed to hit a squirrel at 10 yards with that same bow. You will quickly gain a healthy appreciation for modern weapons.
Most people who are contemplating long term wilderness living will use some type of firearm, much like Chris McCandless did during his attempt. In recent years, Dave Canterbury, former co-host of Dual Survival, has popularized the single show 12 gauge shotgun as a weapon for long term wilderness living. In this post I will not address any issues regarding whether I believe that to be the best choice, but I will simply use it as a base line for purposes of discussion. A single shot 12 gauge shotgun weighs approximately 6 pounds (H&R Topper Deluxe with synthetic stock). Using the number we previously calculated for calories per pound of food which we could have brought into the woods (1,664 cal/lb), we can calculate that a 6 pound shotgun has the opportunity cost in terms of food of 9,984 calories, or about 3 days worth of caloric intake. That would mean that the first three days worth of food which you kill will go to offset the weight of the gun (keeping ammunition weight aside for now). So, if your trip is less that three days, even best case scenario (you being able to successfully kill enough game each day to meet the 3,300 calories per day requirement), you would be better off simply bringing your food with you. That way the availability of food is guaranteed.
For trips longer than three days, the gun would theoretically be the better bet, assuming you can secure enough food with it. So, let?s look at what that would entail. Let?s assume that you are now hunting small game with lightweight shotgun shells (2 3/4 shells with 1 oz load). Each such shell weighs 1.4 oz. So, for each shell fired, we have to add that weight to the opportunity cost, meaning, for each box of shells, we could have simply brought food with us. We than have to see if the numbers work out.
As I was saying, let?s assume you are hunting small game. As we established earlier, it would take 25 squirrels to provide enough meat for a day?s worth of calories (3,300 cal). Killing 25 squirrels with the above ammunition would require 35 ounces of shotgun shells. Using our caloric value for instant mashed potatoes from above at 104 calories per ounce, the same 35 ounces if brought in the form of mashed potatoes instead of shotgun shells would give us 3,640 calories, more than what you would get from the squirrel meat. That means that if you are hunting squirrel with shotgun shells, you will never procure enough meat to offset the weight of the gear that you have to bring. You will be better off bringing food with you rather than the equivalent weight of ammunition. That is not to mention the weight of the shotgun itself, for which you could have brought an additional 3 days worth of food.
The numbers of course look much better when we consider larger game. If we are hunting rabbit, 4 of them would give us the caloric requirement for a day. That would mean we would have the expand 4 shotgun shells, at a total weight of 5.6 ounces. The equivalent weight of mashed potatoes will only give us 582 calories. In that instance, again, assuming perfect accuracy and availability of sufficient targets, the shotgun will be the better bet. The numbers of course look even better when hunting large game like deer.
A possible way to address the problem with small game hunting is to use different ammunition. While a shotgun shell weighs 1.4 oz, a .22LR cartridge weighs 0.1 oz. 25 squirrels will require only 2.5 ounces worth of .22LR cartridges, making it a viable option. The solution proposed by Dave Canterbury is to carry an adaptor, which inserts in the shotgun, allowing you to fire .22LR bullets. While the approach is viable in theory, if that is the route you chose to take, keep in mind that this is quite possible the least accurate way to fire a .22LR bullet. A non properly bedded, 10 inch rifled insert will give only marginal accuracy, made even more difficult by aiming only with the aid of a bead sight. You should adjust your ammunition count accordingly. After all, the goal here is to kill game, not to just fire ammunition.
Lastly, all of the numbers provided in this post assume 100% accuracy and unlimited availability of any particular resource. Obviously that is not the result in reality, but here I am assuming best case scenario. Success rates for hunting, or hunting strategies are beyond the scope of this post. The only thing I will say on the subject is to be careful when extrapolating success rates for a wilderness living situation based on anyone's success rate when hunting closer to home. A lot of hunting these days is done on people?s personal property and close to civilization. That has a huge impact on game centralization. Food plots, open terrain of farms, fields, and roads are a great attractant to animals, which in turn become familiarized with people. Hunting in such an area is very different from going deep into the woods and attempting the same thing. One way is not necessarily better than the other, but there is a danger in trying to extrapolate your possible success rate when hunting in a wilderness living situation based on success rates in the woods behind the house.
I have added a trapping section to the post since I first published due to several comments requesting information on the subject. The reason why I didn?t originally include a section on trapping is that an animal caught through trapping has the exact same caloric value as an animal caught through hunting. The ease of hunting, trapping, or gathering is beyond the scope of this post. For all of the numbers I have presented here, I have assumed 100% success rate and infinite availability of the particular resource.
I will discuss a few of the legal issue involved with trapping, but I will mention a few things here.
First, it is very hard to get data on trapping in the wilderness. The reason is that most trap lines are run close to home for reasons I will explain in the section on legal considerations. As a result, it is hard to find data from an actual wilderness trap line, so some of the aspects of trapping during long term wilderness living are hard to address.
Also, just like with hunting, be careful when extrapolating success rates for wilderness trapping conditions based on trap lines run close to home. Around where I live, there are large numbers of raccoons. I saw five of them walking through the parking lot two weeks ago. It is a different story when you are actually in the forests.
As I will explain below, trapping, just like hunting, requires gear. You will have to bring your traps with you. What traps you use and their size will vary greatly depending on what animal you are trapping and where you are doing it. Factor that weight into your calculations and determine the opportunity cost to see if the numbers work out under the specific conditions.
Lastly, we have to get back to that issue which we put to the side earlier, the law. Assuming we do not wish to be poachers, and are actually contemplating living in the wilderness within the real world rather than some imaginary scenario, we have to comply with regulations. Hunting seasons will vary trough different areas, but for most species, especially large species, it will be quite limited. For example, in the State of New York (southern region), deer and bear seasons are from Nov 16 ? Dec 8; turkey season is from Oct 1 ? Nov 15 in the fall and May 1 ? May 31 in the spring; cottontail rabbit is from Oct 1 ? Feb 28; gray and fox squirrel is from Sept 1 ? Feb 28; grouse is from Oct 1 ? Feb 28, etc. There are a few species that can be hunted year round, such as red squirrel, porcupine, rock pigeon, and woodchuck. As you can see however, the limitations are severe.
Above we calculated that a mature white tail buck will give us about 21 days worth of calories if properly processed and preserved. Let?s assume that you can supplement it with other sources of food, and extend that time to a month. If you are hunting deer lawfully, that would mean that to provide sufficient calories for the full year, between the dates of Nov 16 ? Dec 8, you will have to kill 12 mature deer in that 3 week period. You have to average 4 deer per week. The practical difficulty with such a task is not the only problem. Most states have restrictions on the number of deer that can be harvested. In NY it is usually 1 or 2 per year.
Now, using New York State as an example, let?s see if the necessary calories for a person for a period of one year can be legally acquired through hunting. The generally available large game would be deer, bear, and turkey. In certain areas, the hunting of other large game like elk, moose, duck and geese may be legal and available. In NY we have good access to duck and goose hunting, but no elk or moose hunting. So, let?s look at the generally available game. Let?s assume that you have two buck tags, one bear tag and four turkey tags (two spring and two fall).
One black bear gives us 68,800 calories. Two bucks, at 59,360 each will give us 118,720 calories. Four turkeys at 7,200 calories each gives us 28,800 calories total. Combined, the bear, deer, and turkey give us 216,320 calories for the annual hunting season.
The caloric requirements for one person for one year based on the 3,300 daily requirement we used above, would give us 365 days times 3,300 calories per day, for a total of 1,204,500 required calories per year.
So, assuming you are a skillful hunter, and luck was on your side, and you managed to fill all of your tags (one black bear, two deer, and four turkey), that will still leave you at a caloric deficiency for the year of 988,180 calories. In other words, you will have no food for 299 days out of the year. If available in your area, you may be able to decrease the deficit by hunting other large game if available, like elk, moose, and duck, although, it appears that a large deficit will remain.
Just to give some perspective, assuming that a duck or goose provides the same amount of calories as a turkey, it would require 137 ducks or geese to satisfy the above caloric deficit (assuming no legal limit on the number you can harvest). Assuming you are hunting those ducks with a 3 inch shotgun shell with a 1 3/4 load, which weigh 2.2 oz each, and assuming perfect accuracy, that would require about 19 pounds of ammunition.
On the other hand, you will have to kill or trap a whole lot of squirrels to make up for the deficiency, approximately 7,486 squirrels, which if hunted with .22LR ammunition, and assuming perfect accuracy, would require about 47 pounds of ammunition.
Trapping is also an option, but you have to keep a few things in mind. First, trapping, just like hunting is regulated and only allowed during certain seasons. Second, the way you can trap is heavily regulated. Deadfalls, snares, hooks on trees, and virtually all DIY traps are not allowed. The regulations are very specific as to exactly what trap you must use for each animal. Third, trapping is generally only allowed for furbearers. In most areas you are not allowed to trap game animals. Some furbearers like beaver are edible, others not so much. Last but not least, regulations typically require that you check all of your traps every 24 or 48 hours. For most people that places serous restrictions on where traps can be placed and limits the size of the trap line. The result is that most trap lines are run close to home with the few exceptions for people who travel deep into the woods and then live there for the trapping season.
The alternative is that you need to systematically exploit another abundant resource such as large scale gathering and processing of acorns when in season, or moving to take advantage of large scale fish migrations and then catching them with nets, fishing wheels, etc. where the law allows.
Do the numbers work out? You do the math. I think we get a better appreciation for why high calories foods such as pemmican and corn meal were so highly valued and commonly carried by woodsmen in the past.
I don?t write this to discourage anyone from attempting the challenge, nor do I believe it to be impossible. In this post I am simply attempting to provide some more solid data that can be used to make a realistic evaluation of exactly what it would take to thrive alone in the wilderness. As Thayer writes: ?In a long-term subsistence situation, food is the priority. In former times, the native people of the Far North planned each move according to food availability... In a short-term survival situation, food is of minor importance. However, in long-term survival or ?living off the land,? it is of paramount importance.?
There was a time when men who ventured into the wilderness knew what resources were required, and how much of them had to be brought along. Their accounts often refer to base camps, cabins, and food stocks being carried on horse back, mule train, or by dog sled teams. Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost the realistic grasp on those requirements, and were left with nothing more than romantic musings and conjecture.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/09/living-off-land-delusions-and.html
The Gear Of E.h. (elmer Harry) Kreps
In two previous posts I have gone through the books of Geaorge Washington Sears a.k.a Nessmuk and Horace Kephart and tried to create of list of the equipment and gear they used and recommended. You can see the gear of Geaorge Washington Sears here, and that of Horace Kephart here.
In this post I want to go over the gear of a much less known author from the early 1900s, and similarly try to outline the gear and equipment he used. The author is E.H. Kreps. His book Woodcraft is one of the best I have read on the subject and is what I will use in this post to try to outline his gear. My preference from Kreps? writings stems from the fact that unlike Nessmuk and Kephart, who were recreational outdoorsmen, Kreps spent significant time as a trapper in Canada, so a lot of his writing focuses on more serious wilderness travel than that of the above authors.
I encountered several problems when trying to compile a list of the gear of E.H. Kreps. The first is that he focuses very little on non essential gear. He goes in debt on certain subject that he sees important, but spends no time on items where the choice is not important. For example, while he has a full chapter devoted to the axe, he does not address knives at all. The other problem is that he writes in a passive tense. He speaks generally of ?the woodsman?, and rarely recounts any personal stories. Even so, I?ve compiled a list of equipment I have seen in his writings. The gaps would have to be filled by our imagination. It should also be noted that he often writes about two different sets of gear. One is the equipment that is brought to a long term base camp, usually by packhorse, and the other is the gear a woodsman would carry when traveling alone. I?ll focus on the gear he discusses for travel alone and without the use of horses as it most closely resembles what most of us do. If interested, he has full chapters dedicated to building and furnishing a cabin for more permanent base camp.
Just like the other authors of the time, Kreps recommends all woolen clothing. He states that it should be of medium weight, and not too bulky. He advises against long coats as they impede travel, and prefers those made of Mackinaw. He states that he prefers wool shirts and that vests are rarely used by woodsmen. For pants he recommends any that are made out of wool and are relatively well fitted. Kreps prefers to wear a belt, but writes that it is not important. As a hat, he prefers a woolen toque, and recommends woolen mittens for the hands, covered by cotton ones. He readily acknowledges that the wool clothing will hold snow, which will then melt, but states that wool will stay reasonably warm when wet, and does not offer a solution to the problem.
For footwear, in the colder climates, he recommends buckskin moccasins. For climates where the snow might be wet, or for that matter anything other than completely dry, he recommends pac boots.
Tarp/Tent: Kreps makes only one mention that I could find of a tarp or tent used during travel on foot. He simply states that ?since the entire camp outfit and food supply must be carried on these journeys, the outfit taken must of necessity be meager. Only a ?.small, light canvas shelter can be taken?? He goes on to specify that such a shelter, along with the blanket which I will discuss below, can not be used without a fire. Presumably the canvas shelter he has in mind closely resembles a small tarp, which can be used together with a fire.
Blanket: ?Woolen blankets are good, in fact the best thing made, for camping in spring, summer and fall?It has always been my belief that wool loosely woven, so that it forms a soft, thick cloth, is better heat retainer than the same quantity of wool tightly woven?? According to Kreps, two Hudson Bay wool blankets will be sufficient for three season camping as long as a fire can be maintained during the night. It seems that Kreps? shelter system was largely dependant on the ability to maintain a fire through the night. The components mentioned here should be viewed in that light. ?Since the entire camp outfit and food supply must be carried on these journeys, the outfit taken must of necessity be meager. Only a single blanket and a small, light canvas shelter can be taken and to sleep without a fire under such conditions is out of the question. A good hot fire must be kept going and such a fire will consume nearly half a cord of wood during the long northern night.?
Blankets for winter use are a different story. ?Now, it is not difficult to get together a quantity of blankets that will keep a man warm in the coldest night, but the trouble will come when he wants to transport them. No, you can?t carry with you enough woolen blankets to keep you comfortably warm when traveling the northern trails in midwinter.? Kreps? statements seem consistent with those of Kephart, who also stated in his writings that wool blankets do not offer sufficient insulation for the weight to make them practical in winter. Kephart?s solution was a sleeping bag, but Kreps offers what he believes to be a better option-the rabbit fur blanket. ?But when zero weather is to be contended with woolen blankets must take a back seat for the Indian?s kind, woven from strips of rabbit fur.? Kreps estimates that such a blanket would weigh between 8 to10 lb and rolls up into a package of about 10 inches in diameter and 20 inches in length.
Kreps doesn?t spend much time on his cook kit. When operating from a stationary camp he speaks of different pots and pans, but when traveling, he makes only the following statement: ?The bushman always carries a small tea pail with him, if only a tin can fitted with a wire bail.? The primary use appears to be not to cook food, but rather just to make tea.
Again, it should be noted that Kreps discusses two different types of gear. One is the items one may bring when establishing a camp, where the equipment will be carried by horses, and the second, the one which interests me, is that carried by a woodsman, traveling alone and carrying the equipment on his back.
Knife: Thanks to one of my readers, who directed me to another book by E.H. Kreps, Camp and Trail Methods, I was able to get a description of the type of knife preferred by Kreps. The one he carries is made by Joseph Rogers & Son of England. It is 9 inches long overall, has a 4 /1/2 inch blade with a 4 inch cutting surface, 5/32 thickness, survival gear and with what he calls a ?straight bevel?. The sheath is one which covers not only the blade, but also most of the handle. Another knife he recommends, which is similar to the one he uses is the Expert model by Marble Safety Axe Co.
Axe: Kreps considers the axe of primary importance, and dedicates significant portions of his book to describing it in detail. Above all tools required for traveling through the woods, Kreps values the axe the most. That is probably the result of his shelter arrangements discussed above, which necessitated the use of a fire during the night. ?When making a hard trip he (the woodsman) may leave his gun in camp, and may even travel and camp without blankets, shelter or cooking utensils, but the ax must go with him on every trip.?
Kreps goes on to give a description of his ideal axe. ?Perhaps the most useful pattern for the wilderness trapper is that having a long narrow blade, but this should not be carried to the extreme? The butt of the ax ?would be more convenient for the trapper is it had a claw for drawing trap staples. For the northern forest and the western mountain districts the ax that I would recommend would weigh only about two pounds, handle not included in the weight? To make a light axe effective, however, it must have a long handle. An ax like this should have a handle of from thirty to thirty0four inches over all? The handle should be fastened into the ax with a wedge, which in turn is held in place by a screw.?
There are also some interesting statements about axes and axe use that Kreps makes in his writings, which seem to contradict what some modern writers have asserted based on alleged conversations with ?old timers?. For one, he asserts that the S-shaped handle is superior when it comes to performance than the straight handle. ?It is made to fit the hands of the user without strain on the arms or wrists, and this curved shape enables him to hold the ax more solidly when striking a blow that could be done with a straight handle.? He also recommends that ?when splitting wood strike straight and don?t try to spring the split open by prying with the ax, for that is the easiest way I know to break an ax handle.? This piece of advise seems contrary to assertions by people such as Ray Mears who recommend that you impart a twist to the axe when it contacts the wood, to pry it apart more easily.
Fire Lighting Tools:
Kreps strongly recommends the use of strike anywhere matches for fire lighting. He recommends that a small amount be carried carried in a bottle or other waterproof container at all time. He warns against reliance on friction fire making. ?This way of making fire (friction fire) has been exploited by writers on woodcraft subjects; but the reader should not be deceived into the belief that if he becomes lost in the woods and night coming on finds himself without matches, he can build a fire by this means. While any boy scout can demonstrate the method and can produce fire in a very few minutes, he can do so only by having prepared the necessary materials long in advance.?
Kreps offers an in debt discussion of the food that should be carried when traveling through the wilderness. He seems to take a very systematic and scientific approach to the subject, very similar to what a modern backpacker would do. ?Not only does the woodsman have to consider cooking and eating in camp but he must think as well of the many days that he will spend on the trail and there his food must be of the most condensed, light, nutritious and otherwise perfect form?
He begins by stating that one should bring appropriate food for the duration of time he expects to be in the woods, and not rely on hunting alone. ?A man can depend to some extent on game and fish, but if he is going far back into the wilderness where he cannot retreat in a day or two to civilization and a source of food supply he survival gear should be very sure that the game and fish are actually found in the place where he is going, that such game and fish will be available at all seasons, and that, and that there will be no uncommon difficulty in securing it? Moreover, the man who elects to live on game and fish alone must necessarily go hungry for long periods, in fact may be forced to face starvation when game is scarce and for one reason or another difficult to secure. Therefore the woodsman should not attempt to live wholly on fresh meat or to make so much allowance for game that he will suffer from hunger if the game is not procurable.?
Kreps provides several food lists which he believes would be sufficient for one man for one month in the wilderness. I will quote one of them here: ?Eighteen pounds of wheat flour and five pounds cornmeal; two pounds crackers or soda biscuits; one pound of best baking powder; three pounds table salt; six pounds bacon and four pounds salt pork; three and a half pounds creamery or canned butter; seven pounds beans; three pounds split peas; five pounds evaporated fruits, assorted as desired; four pounds prunes; eight pounds sugar; two pounds tea or three pounds coffee, grounds and in airtight tins; two-pound bottle sour pickles; five pounds evaporated milk in small tins; four pounds rice; one pound seeded raisins; two ounces cinnamon; one ounce black pepper; two pounds cheese; five pounds Bermuda onions.? The total weight is about 90 lb. The weight is about a third heavier than what a normal backpacker would carry. Usually when traveling under normal conditions, two pounds of food per day is considered more than adequate. The figures provided above would make the weight carried by Kreps about three pounds per day.
That being said, Kreps specifies that the above food list is for when he expects to make a stationary camp in the woods. Otherwise, the food he recommends when traveling on foot is much more simple: ?When making long tramps away from my cabin and camping out by the side of a fire, I like to travel lightly equipped? This necessitates the use of very simple, easily prepared dishes. Ordinarily I carry only the following foods: Flour mixed with the proper amount of baking powder and salt; bacon; sliced and with the rind removed; oatmeal, sugar, butter, tea, and a small sack containing a few ounces of salt.?
There are some other items worth mentioning, some of them precisely because they are not mentioned in the book.
Kreps speaks of the need for a map and compass, and the skill necessary to use them. He states that while travel is possible without them if you are familiar with your local woods, they are necessary for travel in unknown areas.
He also spends significant amount of time discussing snowshoes and their construction methods, as travel through the winter in the north is almost impossible without them. You can refer to the book for more details.
Like most other authors of the time, he doe snot mention the use of any water storage device. I?m not sure that is because it was so common that it was not worth mentioning, or because one was not carried.
I have certainly missed material from the book, but this has been my attempt to summarize his gear choices and their use. In my opinion his advice and evaluation is some of the most valuable I have been able to find. His statements speak of experience in the actual backwoods, and they resonate with me much more than the writings of Nessmuk and Kephart, who I see more as recreational campers in their time. Again, I encourage everyone to read the book for themselves. If interested, E.H. Kreps is also the author of Science of Trapping.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-gear-of-eh-elmer-harry-kreps.html
Trip Report: Conklin Cemetery And Pine Meadow Lake Ruins 8/17/13 ? 8/18/13
For some time now, during my research of different mountains here in NY, I?ve been seeing some sporadic pictures of ruins surrounding Pine Meadow Lake in Harriman State Park. Through some reading, I pieced together that there were two sets of ruins in those mountains. The first was what people refer to as the Conklin Cemetery, and the second, the Pine Meadow Lake Pump House Ruins.
The history of the area that I was able to find goes a bit like this: In 1779 the Conklin family came to this area in the mountain. At the time there was no lake there, but was rather a valley. They built a house, farm, survival gear etc. What has come to be known as the Conklin cemetery was the burial site for members of the family. Over the years the land gets transferred several times. In 1935 the Civilian Conservation Corps floods the valley, creating Pine Meadow Lake. Several structures are constructed for the task, and abandoned after the lake is created. In 1963 the land is acquired by the park.
So, I decided to go to the lake and see what I could find. I would mostly follow trails, except for when I reached the lake. My plan was to travel along the southern side of the lake, where the Conklin cemetery was supposed be located. After passing the lake, I would camp in the vicinity of a lean-to shelter. The next day I would return along the northern side of the lake where the pump house ruins are located. The southern section of the lake would require bushwhacking.
The trip started out following along a river, which would take me a good part of the way to the lake. Just like last time, I had with me my trekking poles, which have been proving to be very useful.
There were some mushrooms along the trail.
? and a frog?
For those of you who may be interested in repeating the trip, I started from the parking are on Seven Lakes drive. I then followed the Red trail to the White trail, to the Black trail over Raccoon Mountain, and then a short piece of Yellow trail, which got me almost next to the southern section of the lake.
There was some good climbing up Raccoon Mountain. I am still getting used to doing it with the trekking poles. It?s actually not bad, offering good balance points.
After reaching the summit, I descended down the Block trail until I reached a short section marked as Yellow. I followed it briefly until it ended in an unmarked path that seemed to follow along side the lake. I started following it, but it soon started moving away from the lake. From what I knew, the cemetery was right next to the lake, so I decided to bushwhack along the coast. That was easier said than done. The are was so overgrown with dense vegetation that moving was impossible in most areas. I zigzagged through the bushes, following whatever game trails I could find. On the upside, some of the huckleberry bushes had started to produce fruit.
After spending quite some time in the area, I gave up on trying to find the cemetery. I figured the undergrowth was too thick and everything would have been covered up. I could be ten feet from a monument and I wouldn?t know it. I just pushed ahead along the lake in an effort to intersect a trail and follow it up the mountain where I would camp.
However, just as I was getting frustrated that I couldn?t locate the site, I emerged into a small clearing in the brush. It was the Conklin cemetery.
It was a small area, that had clearly been maintained. At first I wasn?t sure how anyone had reached it at all, but that I noticed that there was a small trail leading out the other end. Eventually it proved to lead out to the unmarked path on the side of the lake.
The older head stone I was able to find was of Ezekial Conklin, who served in the Orange County Militia during the Revolutionary War. He died November 29, 1811.
I followed the small path out of the cemetery heading due east. I soon reached another opening in the woods under a group of large pine trees. A bit to the side, I noticed the remnants of an old shed of some sort. I assume it was used as part of the pump station.
I decided to stop at this spot and have lunch. I noticed that on all of the pine trees were remnants of the exoskeletons of what appeared to be cicadas.
I figured I would stay away from the upright pines and found a nice rock to sit on.
I?ve been experimenting with different foods, so today for lunch I had some tortillas with pepperoni and a mixture of bacon, dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese. I also brought some ketchup in a small hand sanitizer bottle. Very happy with the results.
When I was done with lunch, I decided to spend some time by the lake. I was making good progress, and since I had brought my fishing kit with me, I decided to try my luck. After looking around for a bit, I found one location where I was able to reach the water through the bushes. I set up, tied a roostertail to my line, and on the first cast I hooked something.
It was an eight inch Blue Gill. They are not particularly good eating, and have a lot of bones, but will do for dinner in the woods.
Since luck was on my side, I figured I would try for a few more. On the second and third cast I ended up hooking the lilies and losing the lures. I decided to cut my losses. I gutted the fish and stored it in a plastic bag from lunch. I then set out again.
At first my plan was to follow along the lake. I was about half way along it by this point. Unfortunately the same old problem popped up. The brush was too thick to move through. I again started following small unmarked paths, until I reached a decent size one. Along it there were several ruins, which appeared to be from the pump house complex.
Unfortunately, all of this following of unmarked paths and looking for ruins, got me completely turned around. I had lost sight of the lake, and without realizing it had completed a good size semicircle, actually moving back west from where I had come. At this point I decided that it would be too difficult to try to follow the lake. I decided to backtrack to the north side of the lake and follow a path that ran there. This turned what was supposed to be five miles of backpacking on the first day into about seven miles. There was no time to waste. I just pushed along until I got to the area where I had intended to camp for the night. I only stopped for a bit near a small stream to fill up with water.
The area where I wanted to camp for the night was over the other side of a mountain. When I passed over the peak, it was one of the first good views I was able to get that day.
I set up camp, and got the fish cooking.
I also made my usual instant mashed potatoes, and finished a few snacks I had left over from earlier that day.
When the sun went down, I went to sleep. The next morning I fired up the stove and made some oatmeal. I didn?t want to start the fire back up again because I didn?t want to waste water putting it out when I was done.
After breakfast I headed back. As I was leaving, I noticed an unmarked path that was cutting across in the direction I intended to go-the north side of the lake. I decided to follow it instead of the trail. I figured worse case scenario, I would have to bushwhack until I reached the trail along the lake. I was in luck however, and eventually this path intersected the Red trail, which I needed to reach the lake. It appears that a bear had the same idea.
? and some more frogs?
Eventually I reached the north side of the lake. This time i was able to slow down and look around. There were much better fishing locations here, and the coast was easily accessible.
By the side of the trail you could see the ruins of the actual pump house, along with some other structures.
After that it was just a matter of making my way out. The overall trip ended up being twelve miles.
I was using a new GPS unit on this trip, the Garmin eTrex 20. I?m still trying to learn how to use it. I was able to record the track, but wasn?t able to get a picture of the full elevation profile.
The trip was great. Other than getting turned around a few times, there were no difficulties. There were however some interesting gear developments. Recently I have cut down the weight and size of some of my gear, most notably my cooking kit and my sleeping bad (I?m using the NeoAir XTherm now). As a result, my 62L backpack now sits almost a third empty, without me even using any of the pockets. For this trip I ended up taking my REI Revelcloud puffy jacket just so I can fill up some of the room. The extra space will be welcomed during winter when I have crampons and other gear to fit in, but right now, the pack seems to large. I?ll have to think of something.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/08/trip-report-conklin-cemetery-and-pine.html
Photograph Of A Prospector Camp, 1887
The photograph was taken in 1887 in survival kits Deadwood. It shows two prospectors.
Clearly it has been a successful hunt.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/07/photograph-of-prospector-camp-1887.html
Happy Independence Day!
I hope everyone had a good 4th of July. May we never forget this amazing act of defiance and camping gear the sacrifices of those who made it possible.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/07/happy-independence-day.html
Ultralight Fishing Kit ? Spinning Rod Set Up
Some time ago I decided to get somewhat more serious about fishing and started looking for a good ultralight fishing kit. Now, for years I have had an ultralight fishing kit that comprised of a line spooled survival gear around a plastic bottle with some lures inside. My goal this time, in order to go with my ?getting serious about it? theme was to find an ultralight fishing set up that was an actual full fishing kit, complete with a full size rod, reel, tackle, etc.
After some searching, I found equipment that was to my liking. I figured I would share it with you here. For this post I will be focusing on my spin fishing kit. Also, it should be mentioned that this fishing kit is designed for fresh water fishing in small bodies of water. My primary fishing is in streams or small lakes I encounter when backpacking. If you are going after large fish, you will need something more robust.
The rod is St Croix Triumph TRS60LF4 Travel Spinning Rod. It is 6 feet in length, and I opted for the fast action graphite version. It comes apart into 4 pieces for easy transport. When disassembled, it is 18 inches in length. The full rod weighs 3.2 oz as measured (even though it is listed as 3.5 oz). The rod is designed for up to 8 lb test line and cost me $100.00. Honestly, I didn?t look too much. 3.2 oz seemed very reasonable to me for a rod. I am sure you can find lighter products out there if you looked more.
The rod case is one that I made myself. It weighs 1.5 oz, and you can see the tutorial here.
The reel is an Okuma Ultralight UL-10 spinning reel. It was the lightest reel I was able to find, and when I purchased survival gear it online I was worried that it would be a toy, but I was pleasantly surprised. It really feels like an actual reel. It has three ball bearings, and can handle line from 2 to 6 lb. I spooled some 4 lb line on it, of which the reel can hold 115 yards. The reel weighs 5.4 oz, and 5.8 oz with the line spooled on. It cost me only $18.00.
The tackle is limited, not in number of pieces, but in that it is focused on small freshwater fish. Depending on what you are after, and how blessed you have been with luck, your tackle will vary. Mine is contained in a small box. It is comprised of several hooks, split shot, swivels, snaps, and a decent assortment of lures. I also have several floats and flies for some different techniques with which I am not good at all. The total weight of the tackle is 2.8 oz. The cost will depend on what pieces you have.
In all honesty, I am a horrible fisherman, so any advise I give you here will most likely be wrong. That being said, the lures I use the most are spinners and plugs.
That?s the entirety of my ultralight spin fishing kit. The tackle and reel are stored in a small bag and are kept in my pack. The rod in the case is strapped to the side of my pack.
The total weight of my ultralight spin fishing kit is 13.6 oz with the bag which holds the tackle and reel.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/07/ultralight-fishing-kit-spinning-rod-set.html
Get Out Alive ? Bear Grylls Returns to Television in a New Survival Competition
If you were saddened when Discovery canceled their contract with Bear Grylls, there is cause for celebration. NBC is bringing him back to television in a new survival competition show called Get Out Alive.
Here is what NBC has to say about the show:
?Grylls leads this non-stop extreme survival journey that tests 10 teams of two beyond their wildest imaginations as they venture into the unforgiving and dramatic landscape of New Zealand's South Island. Their mission is threefold: survive the wild, journey as a group and avoid elimination. Each week, Bear will send home another team. In the end, only one duo will remain - the team that he believes has shown the most heart, courage, initiative and resolve in their quest to "get out alive" and claim a life-changing grand prize of $500,000.
From dense forests and sheer mountain drop-offs, to freezing cold rivers and unforgiving glacier crevasses, the landscapes tackled will be harsh, remote and physically and emotionally draining. Having to navigate the worst that the wild can throw at them every step of the way, the contestants will be battling to survive like never before.
Every team is assigned a task to take charge of throughout each leg of the journey - including food, fire shelter and obstacles. This is not a race, but is a life-changing adventure to reveal the raw survival spirit needed to "get out alive."
All along the way, Bear, the ultimate adventure survival expert, will be watching, either from vantage points or while traveling with the group. He is looking for that survival spirit, resourceful skill and heart-led determination that he knows the wild demands. If the situation requires, Bear will step in, but all the time, the duos must work together to overcome the cold, fatigue and hardships. And at the end of each leg of the journey, there are difficult and emotional decisions to be made by Bear as he chooses who should leave the expedition.
As the stakes get higher, the obstacles become more unyielding. As civilization gets closer, the journeys get harder, until ultimately only one duo remains. That team will have endured and survived the ultimate test of character and fortitude - walking away with the grand prize, along with the scars and pride that they proved themselves capable to "Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls."? camping gear
The show seems set up like a Man vs. Wild ? Competition Edition. I imagine similar stunts being camping gear performed by the contestant. It could possibly be more like an adventure race competition. We will see.
The show premiers on July 8, 2013 at 9:00PM on NBC.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/06/get-out-alive-bear-grylls-returns-to.html
Traditional Finish Log House Construction
This is a video showing the construction of a log cabin using traditional Finnish techniques. While survival gear it is not in English, it is well worth watching as it demonstrates numerous techniques.
The skill level of the builders is survival gear amazing. It is also interesting to see them use axes with traditional Finnish design.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/07/traditional-finish-log-house.html
Trip Report: Cook Forest State Park, PA 5/25/13 ? 5/27/13
This past weekend my girlfriend and I went to an early 1900s lodge in Cook Forest State Park, near the Clarion River. While being in the woods is not her idea of a good time, she picked this particular vacation because she knows I like it. As it turned out, this area seems to have quite a few old cabins where people stay.
It wasn?t the camping gear type of trip where we would do any serious travel through the woods. We mostly hung out in the area and by the river.
We lucked out with the weather. While I understand it was raining in NY, we had sunshine the whole weekend. I took some pictures along the river for you guys.
It was good to spend some time in the woods without any particular goal in mind and without returning exhausted.
Anyway, that?s it. Not one of the usual trip reports, but it was a good bit of fun in the woods, camping gear so I figured I would share it with you guys.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/05/trip-report-cook-forest-state-park-pa.html
Wilderness Navigation: Obtaining Free Topographic Maps Part 2
A while back I did a post about how I obtain free topographic maps. You can see the post here. At that time a few of my readers made me aware of another source of free topo maps called Gmap4. Since that time I have been using the Gmap4 site to plan my trips, but I have never posted about it because until recently I was not able to figure out how to print maps from it. While I was able to locate the maps that I want, whenever I tried to print them out, I would just get a blank page. Unfortunately, the site does not have its own print function, so you have to use the browser?s print option. I?ve tried several browsers, but they have all printed out nothing but blank pages survival gear for me.
A few months ago I figured out a way around the problem. Last week Section Hiker did a post about Gmap4, where he went into great detail about the site and the different functions. Since I am not a big GPS user, most of those functions do not matter to me, but it did remind me to write this post and explain how I print out the maps in case anyone else is having the same issue as me.
To use the site just go to Gmap4 at http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html Once you are on the main page, click on ?Start Gmap4?.
This will take you to the world map page. Once there you can use the map two different ways. You can either zoom and move it around until you find your desired location, or you can just use the search function from the ?Menu?.
This will open a search bar where survival gear you can type in your desired location. It doesn?t have to be an actual address. You can type in the name of a mountain, a lake, etc. In this case I will search for ?Friday Mountain, NY?.
Click any of the options next to the search bar such as ?List? or ?Search?. and you will be taken to your location, or the site will display a list of available matches.
Once you have found your location, there are many different things you can do, such as creating a plotting a route, creating a .gpx file for your GPS unit, or you can change the type of map being displayed. The one you see above is the ?t1? map, but you can also use the ?t2? map which will give you the same ?My Topo? maps I talked about in the last first map tutorial on finding free maps. For more details on the options as they relate to GPS use, you can look at the Section Hiker post.
Another feature which I have found very useful is the ability to obtain directions to any location on the map. Let?s say that you have found the location on Friday Mountain, and you want to get directions to a particular location on a nearby road, in this case ?Denning Road?. All you have to do is move the pointer near the location to which you want directions and right click on it. A window showing the GPS coordinates will appear, and on the bottom it will have an option to get direction to or from that location.
Now that you have found your desired area of the map, and have found directions to the location, it is time to print out your map. This is where I originally had a problem with the website. The way i got around it is the same way I was able to obtain the pictures for this post.
To print, look at your keyboard. Above the arrows, near your right hand, at the very top of the keyboard (or someplace else depending on your keyboard configurations) there is a ?Print Screen? button. With the window featuring the map opened, press the button. This will create a copy of the full screen image. Then, open the Paint program on your computer. Select ?Paste?. The map image will now appear in your image software. You can now save or print the map using that software.
Well, that is as far as my knowledge of technology has taken me, and these are the features that I use. It is a great site an it is free to use. Much thanks to the developer.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/07/wilderness-navigation-obtaining-free.html
Mykel Hawke and Ruth England Are Coming Back to TV in a New Survival Show, Get Lost
Remember the survival show Man, Woman, Wild, where Myke and his wife had to survive together in different locations around the world? Well, it seems like the show is coming back under a different title, Get Lost.
There is no clear release date, but it will start airing sometime in 2013 on the Travel Channel. Very few details have been survival kits released about the show, but it is definitely camping gear in the works. Here is what Myke Hawke released on his Facebook page:
?OK, it is Officially announced, The New Show for Travel Channel is called Get Lost with Ruth England Hawke & Mykel Hawke. Can't say more just now other than it is good stuff and the next level! Thanks to Travel & Bill, Tremendous & Colleen and Jeff & Crew! And of course to the Sergeant Major for being so brave and our lad for being so strong.?
I know people have different opinions about survival shows, but I have to admit, this was one of my favorites. I look forward to the release of the new one.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/2013/05/mykel-hawke-and-ruth-england-are-coming.html
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