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Goldenrod

Goldenrod

by Brian Griffin October 16, 2019

As we move into the cooler time of the year, the subject of fire starting becomes more of an important consideration on woodland outings. Campfires are not only more enjoyable during the autumn and winter seasons, they can actually become a necessity to avoid hypothermia. With that in mind, I am doing this blog post on one of the easiest to use tinder materials I know of.

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Backpacking Wood Stove Tips

Backpacking Wood Stove Tips

by Kevin Estela October 09, 2019

My good friend Patrick Smith of Kifaru and Mountainsmith fame is one of my favorite sources of wilderness knowledge. Having shared a few campfires with him, he has provided me some fantastic insight into the world of long-term and long-range backcountry travel. One topic that comes up frequently is the concept of a stove. Like all stoves, fuel is a serious consideration but with this consideration comes another, resupply. White gas and canister stoves burn efficiency and boil water quickly but where do you find extra fuel when you are miles from home among the mountains and trees? Patrick’s company is known for titanium wood-burning stoves but his heated shelter solutions are top of the line but not for everyone. Still, the idea of using a small stove fueled by wood is compelling and worth examining. I’ve been a fan of the compact Bush Buddy stove for some time now and believe the same logic and rationale for a larger wood-burning stove can be applied to this smaller backpacking model. Here are a handful of tips to help you on your next trip into the backcountry.

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Paying It Forward

Paying It Forward

by Brian Griffin October 02, 2019

A while back I was in a conversation with a friend. Being here in the south, and knowing I am from here as well, she was a little surprised to hear that I had once taken my youngest daughter out in frozen woods in central Michigan in -12F temps at the age of 8 to work on important life lessons. She asked what could possibly make us want to be out in that. I at first, half-jokingly  (but only half), said because we were tired of being stuck in the house. And then told her the rest of the reasons as in fact there were a few. 

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5 Defensive Shotgun Habits You Should Adopt

5 Defensive Shotgun Habits You Should Adopt

by Kevin Estela September 18, 2019

Foreword: Many Fiddleback Forge fans are gun guys as well as knife guys. I’ve spoken to more than a few over the years on the forums and at the Fiddleback Forge User Weekend about shooting sports and defensive use of firearms. Rumor has it, Andy himself is a bit of a gun guy. To change it up a little here, I wanted to present a handful of tips I’ve picked up over the years related to one of the most common firearms used to protect your home, the pump shotgun. Recently, I attended the SIG Sauer Advanced Defensive Shotgun Course and it reinforced some great habits everyone should adopt if they decide to rely on a scattergun to protect their life and the lives of those they love.

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Ins And Outs of Urban Down

Ins And Outs of Urban Down

by Brian Griffin September 04, 2019

The city I live near, and work in, is a lot more calm and peaceful than the larger ones I lived in as a teenager and young adult. Chattanooga Tennessee is quieter, and in my opinion a good bit less dangerous, than cities like; Miami, Dallas, St. Louis, Mobile, and Atlanta were when I was roaming them years ago. I was born in Chattanooga, and it has always been a smaller city than the others.  Yet like any other well-developed and functioning city, it still has its sketchy areas and its bad days as well. So even here, having devoted a lot of my life to the study of various levels of urban survival, I still always leave home at least attempting to be prepared to cope with a number of possible contingencies, some of which we all hope never occur.      

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Flossing Sockeyes

Flossing Sockeyes

by Kevin Estela August 14, 2019 3 Comments

“You’re going to catch fish with no bait on your hook. They’re just going to swim up river and you’ll catch them right when they open their mouth.” I’m paraphrasing what our guide, Jeremy “JAHA” Anderson told us as we set up in the early morning along the Kenai River. This instruction was given to us after cruising upriver in the dark in an aluminum-hulled boat setup for drift fishing and hunting salmon along the turquoise blue waters in Alaska. The idea seemed crazy but flossing for salmon is very common when the runs are thick. The technique really does allow you to catch fish, monster fish, with a combination of luck, technique, and timing. As we would find out, this method would prove exhaustive but rewarding and by the end of the day, we would have fresh sockeye salmon from river to grill in a matter of hours.

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Urban Foraging

Urban Foraging

by Brian Griffin August 07, 2019

I imagine the phrase “urban wild edibles” will conjure up different images in the minds of different people. These images are, as always, based on our own individual experiences in life. Admittedly, there was a time in my youth when this phrase would have brought to mind dinner at the most risque bar and grill I had been to in the local circuit so far, somewhere out along the fringe of civility.

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Lights-2, Keeping Them Lit

Lights-2, Keeping Them Lit

by Brian Griffin July 24, 2019

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on portable lights. In it I talked about some of their common uses, or at least some of my uses for them, but mostly I talked about a few characteristics and attributes that are good to have in them. In the middle of writing that one, I realized there was more to the “Lights” story than I could fit into one article. I knew then that and there would need to be a series of articles inorder to address the subject well. Having gone into a few of the important reasons for having a light handy in that piece, I thought it would be good to say a little more about the various types of lights, the times they can be extremely handy to have around, and ways of keeping them powered in this one. Because, as everyone knows, a dead light is even less useful than a dull knife.

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White Mountains Hiking

White Mountains Hiking

by Kevin Estela July 17, 2019 1 Comment

Summer New England Hiking is truly a sensory experience. The warm air you breathe in feels thick and rich. Sunlight shining through the trees turns the leaves in the forest a brilliant green. The sound of running water seems to be all around you with song birds occasionally providing an accent to the calming white noise. One of the most iconic hikes in the region is found in the White Mountains near Franconia Notch. Mt. Lafayette sits at 5,260’ elevation and an incredible ridgeline connects it to Mt. Lincoln and Little Haystack Mountain. The views from the trail are breathtaking but if you are not careful, faulty planning, the exposure, and over-exertion can be too. I recently traveled to the White Mountains to hike Lafayette again and brought my camera and notepad with me to document the trip.

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Nessmuk-ish In A Modern World

Nessmuk-ish In A Modern World

by Brian Griffin July 03, 2019

Yes, there are many differences between the concrete jungles and the woodland forests, but there are also some similarities. Both have their own unique attributes that draw us to them, and both can have their negatives that repel us. Many of us are drawn to the practice of bushcraft and enjoy the study of primitive living. Some of us find the the primal nature of it compelling and therapeutic, while for others it is a form of escapism used as a mechanism for coping with the over-stimulation of city life. None the less, the reality is that more of us live in cities and towns than in the woods these days, and there are a lot of good skills to know in urbancraft as well. We just have to bear in mind that the chaotic and synthetic nature of many of the available resources in a city call for a different type of tooling than those in a forest. Case in point, unless you're in need of being rescued at the time, a smart phone will likely be much more handy for you in an urbanized environment than a forest. That is unless you're like me, want to document your whole life, and have a tendency to take pictures no matter where you go.

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Alternative Land Navigation

Alternative Land Navigation

by Brian Griffin June 19, 2019 2 Comments

I think most of us who have spent time in the out of doors are pretty familiar with the concept of a compass. The liquid-dampened versions came along in the mid 1930s when Suunto founder Tuomas Vohlonen found a way to fill his compass capsules with liquid in mass production. So most of us have grown up seeing that type. However the very first primitive compasses, made of load stones, date back a couple of thousand years to the Han Dynasty in China, and the first dry compasses predate the Dark Ages of Europe. For the most part all compasses – old school and newfangled – perform one primary function, they point to magnetic north.  

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Fiddleback Forge Interview with Desert Survival Instructor Tony Nester

Fiddleback Forge Interview with Desert Survival Instructor Tony Nester

by Kevin Estela June 12, 2019 1 Comment

When you grow up in the Northeastern United States, you experience the full range of seasons with hot summers and frigid winters. In New England, you can find nasty swamps to navigate and an ocean to explore. One environment not found in New England is the desert and if there is ever a weak point for me to train, the desert has my attention. Since my experience with the desert is limited, I wanted to reach out to someone who is no stranger to it. Tony Nester, Owner and Chief Instructor of Ancient Pathways is my go-to desert survival expert. Recently, while visiting Arizona, I had the opportunity to pick his brain about the state, the terrain, and the history of the area. We discussed survival and the great outdoors over breakfast and Tony answered some questions for us.

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