Backcountry Bread

Backcountry Bread

by Kevin Estela June 02, 2016 2 Comments

Imagine this scenario. You’ve just paddled your canoe into the backcountry. The air is sweltering and the water is just warm enough for a refreshing dip. You swim until your fingers and toes prune and as you tiptoe over the rocks at the shore avoiding exposed roots and scramble to the fire others in your party have been tending to during your aquatic antics. Awaiting you, space to sit on a log, an oversized towel to drape over your back and shoulders and fresh bread just as the sun is setting. Wait, what?! How can this be? Bread in the backcountry? Not just any bread either; warm bread that hits the spot after a cooling swim.

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Creating a Bow Saw with your Fiddleback Blade

Creating a Bow Saw with your Fiddleback Blade

by Kevin Estela May 17, 2016

One of the most rewarding camp crafts you can make with very few materials and some basic knife skill is a wooden bow saw frame. There are many variations of this basic design and as long as you find a version that works for you, you’ll never have an argument with me. For this tutorial, I’ll present the very basic version made by my students in my Budget Bushcraft Course. With this saw, you’ll be able to process rounds of wood neatly for other camp crafts or for firewood preparation.

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Traveling with Knives

Traveling with Knives

by Kevin Estela May 09, 2016 1 Comment

It’s that time of year again. School's almost out, the summer is just about here, around the country there are going to be countless kids begging to be let out of the way way back of the Griswold mobile, inconsiderate passengers pacing the aisles of airlines and crowded lines at seasonal tourist traps. That’s right, it’s going to be travel season very soon.At the beginning of next month, all sorts of knife enthusiasts will descend upon Atlanta, GA for BLADE Show too. If you’re like me, you don’t travel without a knife. It’s bad enough traveling to places where I can’t carry a handgun, I really don’t want to be without one of my blades. What amazes me is speaking to people, in my travels and around many campfires, who are under the impression you cannot fly with knives or the idea flying with knives is a major inconvenience. For them, I present the following guide to traveling bladed. It’s easier than you think.

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Spring Awareness

Spring Awareness

by Brian Griffin May 01, 2016

In the northern hemisphere we are one month into the warmer of the two intermediate seasons, the one we call spring, and the wild world around us is coming back to life. The earth is tilting back in the other direction and the sun's path around the globe is climbing further north each day warming the earth. From the drab browns, tans, and grays of winter new colors appear, and the air is once again alive with the buzz of insects and the calls of birds. As you venture back into the forest for those day hikes and pre-summer-vacation camping trips, here are a few tips that may help your time in the woods be more enjoyable.

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Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward

by Brian Griffin April 05, 2016

Those of us who have spent a great deal of time in the outdoors, who are older and wiser now, we are in the present and of the past. Our children however they are for the future, they are the hope of times to come. As parents and mentors I think we have an obligation to pay our wisdom forward, not only to make their outdoor adventures safer, but to also take a personal interest in preparing them to meet many of the various challenges of the that future.

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Binocular Use 101.5

Binocular Use 101.5

by Kevin Estela March 21, 2016

Earlier this month, I presented some of the basic features of binoculars and what you should know about the numbers relating to magnification and objective lens size. I hinted at some basic techniques for using binoculars and in this edition of the Fiddleback Forge blog some of the more advance skills will be presented. If you haven’t gone out and purchased a set of binos by now, what are you waiting for? Grab and try these tactics out next time you venture afield.  Don’t forget your KE Bushie before you head out the door.

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Fire Right Now!

Fire Right Now!

by Brian Griffin March 12, 2016

There are a lot of different techniques for starting camp fires in the wilderness, from primitive methods like bow drills and flint and steel to ferro rods with chemical tinder and wind-proof butane torches. My favorite option for quickly making fire are the UCO Stormproof Matches™. These matches are longer than standard matches and have a larger head. They go off somewhat like small road flares, they flare very hot for 8 to 10 seconds, and they will burn for around 10 more seconds afterward if protected from wind.

This fire lay was done on wet ground, the day after an all night rain. There was very little prep work involved. First I made a base for the fire from branches collected off the ground that were roughly one inch in diameter. Then I placed small dry twigs, also collected off the ground, on the base. I started with twigs just a little larger in diameter than tooth picks and match stems, and worked up to ones roughly the diameter of a pencil and a little larger. After that I gathered as much fuel as I could from as far off the ground as I could find it. That was the extent of the prep work.

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In Praise of the Birch

In Praise of the Birch

by Kevin Estela August 07, 2015

How many times have you seen or heard, “birch bark is great for firestarting”? I know of a dozen books on just one shelf of my bookcase that reference it and know this advice appears in magazines, online, on television and in the sage advice of seasoned outdoorsmen and women. It really is a great natural tinder with a high oil content (explaining the black smoke when it burns) and when you come across it, you should take it as you never know when you’ll need it or if you’ll find more further along in your journey. That being said, I want to discuss a few other uses of birch not commonly referred to. Many of you know the birch is great for fire starting but did you know it can be eaten, drank, made into containers and carved? Trust me, there are more uses but I’m only given so much space here. Let’s dive in and look at this tree BEYOND fire starting.

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First Aid In The Field

First Aid In The Field

by Brian Griffin August 05, 2015

An image very similar to this one, seen in a previous blog post, sparked an in-depth conversation on first aid in the field. I was asked how we handled the situation by one of the guys at Fiddleback Forge. Indeed we were very fortunate the nicks to the arteries weren't any deeper than they were, and the loss of blood was minimal. Also, because of years of study and experiences in the woods, we were very much prepared for just such a situation. My assistant is a former EMT, and we had everything we needed to stabilize the situation in our first aid kits.

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Environmental Awareness

Environmental Awareness

by Brian Griffin July 06, 2015

It's summer time and lots of folks are hitting the trails again for the long summer day hikes and back packing trips in to the deeper bush to get away from it all. I have been really impressed with the number of couples and groups I have met on the trails here recently, for whom hiking and camping are new experiences. Back in the early spring I was given the opportunity to teach a couple from South Florida how to start a fire under very wet conditions, here in the southern end of the East Appalachian Temperate Rain Forest where I live. A few weeks ago, on a very hot day in June, a group of young girls made their way back to the parking area of a Cumberland trail access point with two complaining of leg cramps and muscle spasms. They had meant to go for a short walk, but then ended up hiking for hours. The only thing they had taken with them was a new found enthusiasm for the outdoors. Luckily I keep plenty of water in my truck, and I had a few bottles of gatorade in a cooler. Last week I had to explain to a group of young men from Nevada that the ledge they were walking towards was not a ledge at all, but just leaf covered dead-fall spanning a gap between two stone outcrops, and that the absence of vegetation in that spot was the first clue. In their defense, the light was low, and they were wanting to get near the edge to see the sunset over the Tennessee River Valley. Luckily for them it is an area I know very well. It is in this spirit of looking out for those who have discovered a new found love in the outdoors, that I thought I would post a few bits of knowledge that could come in handy somewhere along the trail.

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Why Baton

Why Baton

by Brian Griffin March 18, 2015 1 Comment

Depending on where and with whom you have it, a conversation on the subject of batonning can be quite controversial. It can quickly lead to some heated debates, with both sides passionately presenting supporting arguments. The usual arguments against it are: “knives are made for cutting, axes are made for splitting”, “a knife is not a froe”, “knives are not made for striking in this way”. It is true enough of course, knives are indeed not froes, most knives are far more versatile. Truthfully, only splitting axes are made for splitting, much like felling axes are made for felling. As for what a knife is made for, well that is determined by the designer and the maker. Knives can easily be purposed-designed for all sorts of uses, and they should be chosen based on realistic expectations.

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