Fire by hand drill

Fire by hand drill

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Making mats from cat tail leaves

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Burning a spoon

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Feather sticks in the dark.

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Tuesday 2 October 2012

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Making an Arapuca bird trap


Here is a great little trap for the live capture of birds from South America. Very easy to make, even without tools. It is handy to have a piece of string but this can also be improvised from natural materials like spruce roots or bark.

The photos below should be easy enough to follow. You can use a variety of triggers. Here I have used a figure of four trigger. A Paiute trigger also works well. There is also a specific trigger for this trap. Images of this trigger which is not too complicated can be found on the Internet easy enough.

The two anchor pieces / bases are tied together with a piece of cord approximately 1.5 times longer than the base sticks. These are then crossed so an X of string is formed. Sticks are then inserted under the string and forced in tight. The sticks are placed in pairs so that top and bottom are done and then the two sides as shown in the photos below. Eventually it will become harder to get sticks under the string and this is what holds the trap together. The top stick will be the hardest to place. The cage can be adjusted so that there are no obvious gaps.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Book review- The Indian Creek Chronicles by Pete Fromm

 Have you ever dreamed of going into the wilderness and liing for 6 months by your wits and minimal equipment? How about over the winter in Montana where the temperature can droip to -40C. I know I have but a winter 7 months long would make me think twice.

This book was an impulse buy and I am so glad i got it. This true story follows Pete as he takes ona  job as a fisheries offier in the wilderness looking after 2.5 million salmon eggs.

He has a romantic vision of being a mountain man but starts as a college drop out with little or no outdoors experience. Through his journey he meets interesting characters learns how to live in a tent in a blizzard and creates bonds that he never thought he would.

The writing is fantastic and drags up all sorts of emotions in the reader. Warning it may make you want to do this kind of thing yourself. The only problem is the suthorities would not let you these days!

I read it in 1 night.

Enjoy it and let me know what you thought.

A link for

Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter Alone in the Wilderness

Sunday 9 September 2012

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Thomas Elpel The Art of Nothing Wilderness Survival Video Series


I recently got the chance to watch the entire series of Tom Elpels The Art of Nothing Wilderness DVD series. Thomas asked me to watch them and put up an honest review so here it is. 
There are 4 videos in the series. 3 Days at the River, Mountain Meadows, Mountain Lakes, Canoe Camping. 
Firstly the production quality in the first few DVDs is not of the most professional quality!
I think this is in part due to the technology of the day and perhaps a little bit to due Mr Elpel being a survival and primitive skills expert and not a film director / cameraman.
  However there is a massive improvement as the series develops and the canoe camping video is the best of all. That is a plain fact but it does not take away from the content of the DVDs.
 All of the DVDs are absolutely packed with very useful information. The information is delivered in a very personable way by the charismatic Thomas Elpel and his family and friends-who find themselves in the wilderness with him.
 The structure of each dvd is different but it follows Thomas as he puts himself in various wilderness areas and how he goes about using his skills and knowledge to provide for his needs. Fire, food, shelter and water. 
It is very plain to see how much skills and knowledge the man has but he teaches the skills in a nearly passive way like a father passing on to a son. You watch the video and enjoy it and realise that you learned something but you also feel that you have been there on the journey with him in some ways too. 
I love the way that the skills are taught in a honest way with no funny editing to make it look easier than it is. One example is a debris shelter in a pine forest with his cousin. After the first night they admit that it was a bit cold because of a lack of time and go about improving it. 
Thomas uses what nature provides and what he finds in nature. Beers bottles and glass are fair game to make knives and boil water. 
These videos are mostly based around the Montana area where Tom lives. This might put people off because they think - live in Scotland, or Ireland or France or where ever.  The thing about survival skills is that they span the world in their usefullness. Cat tails grow everywhere, water has to boiled, shelters have to shelter etc etc. These skills are as relelvent in Northern Ireland as they are in Montana or Sweden. Of course Northern Ireland is a bit smaller and less wild but you get my point. 
I really like the way he brings his daughters on some of the trips. They seems to enjoy it and this gives me hope for when i drag my two girls around the woods when they are a bit older!  
I also like the message that runs across the series with an environmental slant. Building houses iamong other issues in the wild places is a big problem in Northern Ireland too!

Hopefully he will make another one soon. I for one will be getting it in.

You can get the DVDS here

Highly recommended indeed.


Northern ireland Bushcraft Association. A few pics of a day out long ago