Two afternoons.....

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Apr 12, 2014
middle earth
As we move into spring, I decided to give my gear a little TLC. I regularly get out, walking the dog, practising bushcraft skills on a weekly basis. The majority of my wanderings happen over a three to five hour bimble with the hound, so I like to fit a lot in! Because Im out so often, my kit is regularly maintained to a good standard, so a deep clean is only required once in a blue moon. i do find it strangely theraputic honing cutting tools, or polishing sheaths etc so I spend a decent amount of time doing so. Once everything was done, I got to thinking that I should also refresh some skills.....

Off I went, with a day sack with the normal essentials in. Waterbottle, metal mug, tarp, zebra, inflatable roll mat, an american poncho liner, knife, saw and sharpening tools and some food. I keep a small cuts kit in my trouser pocket, along with a hank of paracord, some sweets and other bits and bobs. The day was cold but bright, with a strong wind slapping the bare branches in the canopy together. The forest floor was quiet, with a deep carpet of beech leaves. As I moved through the odd pheasant took flight, calling loudly as they escaped awkwardly deeper into the trees. I took my time, pausing to look at deer sign, or to collect materials for the fire, later in the day. After a while I came across an area suitable for a rest. When I stop I like to have two things; a shelter and a brew. My first priority is to find a good enough area for my tarp. Soon enough, two trees looked like they woyld fit the bill, close to a small rise in the ground, affording me protection from the wind and surrounded by dead wood of all sizes. I set up my auscam tarp then set about collecting fire wood for a small brew fire. Nearby was a fallen birch so I harvested some sheets of the bark for tinder and a bundle of her perfectly fine, dry branches for kindling. Sitting under my tarp, I prepared a site for the fire, laying down thumb thick sticks for the fire base and getting two bundles of kindling layed. I used my knife to scrape the birch bark sheets until there was a pile of very fine shavings in the middle and using a ferro rod I dropped a shower of sparks onto it. Quickly the flames burst upwards, spreading along the bark, causing it to curl inwards. I picked up the blackening sheet and placed it under the kindling bundles. Sitting back on my knees I watched as the long flames licked through the kindling, feeling the heat on my palms as I warmed my hands. After putting away my knife and ferro rod I placed some small fuel on fire. The smoked darkend and grew rhick as rhe new branches caught. Wirhin just a few minutes the fire was roaring so I left it to settle down with more fuel and moved away, looking for the right materials to make an adjustable pot hanger.

It took a little while to find what I was looking for but eventually I had a forked, waist high branch, another as tall as my shoulder hight and another as long as my arm. Sitting under my tarp again, out of the wind I fashioned the adjustable pot hanger, taking my time, doing it right first time. Once it was ready, I set it up and half filled my new 12cm zebra with water, ready for a brew. Hanging the zebra, I built up the fire to get the water boiling and poured a 3 in 1 coffee into my trusty metal mug. I always smile to myself when I use my mug. Its been everywhere with me, holding the scent of woodsmoke, giving me comfort on cold nights, filling my head with memories.

Once my brew was drank I let the fire burn down and packed away my tarp. I collapsed the pot hanger and returned the parts to the forest. Once that was all done, I delt with the remains of my fire, dowsing the coals and spreading them wide, covering the fire scar, leaving only foot prints. I had practiced a few skills and I was content. Whistling my dog to heel, I headed home.

Later in the week, today in fact, I headed out for a short walk. I had decided on setting myself the task of fire by friction. I collected a pocket full of white and red birch bark peelings, for use as a coal extender. For tinder I made a head sized ball of dry, dead bracken fronds, found clinging to an old rock wall. Being in a birch covered area I collected the array of branches for kindling and small fuel. For the bow drill I had a single piece of dead, dry willow, about half a foot long and about two fingers thick. I had cut this with care, choosing a branch off a wind blown willow near a river. The bark had all but peeled off over the winter, leaving the wood for me to snap off. With my materials collected I whittled a bow and used a length of paracord which is always wrapped round my knife sheath for the cordage. For the bearing block I picked up a dead branch off the wood floor and prepared a nook for the drill. I stood as I cut the willow, taking my time. With the drill and hearth ready, I took the usual position and seated the drill in the bow. Taking the bearing block I set myself ready and began moving the bow with a slow, steady rhythme, feeling for right pressure. Within just a few seconds I saw the tell tale whisp of smoke curl up from the hearth board. Increasing speed in the bow and downward pressure on the drill I kept everything in place as I burned in the set. As my nose filled with the thick grey smoke I stopped and put everything down. I cut the notch into the hearth and used a piece of plastic litter as the ember pan. Setting everything up again I took a breath and began to work the bow and drill, forming a fine dust pile in the notch. As I got the feel for the set I watched the smoke form again. As before I increased speed and pressure until I was shrouded in thick smoke. After a very short time, I set the bow and drill down and let the coal set. Easing the hearth board away, I watched the black dust begin to glow. I picked up the bracken bundle and gently placed in my hot little coal. Squeezing it tight I blew gently on the coal. Right away the bracken took and I was happily surprised at just how quickly the bracken burst into flame. I set the lit bracken down on my fire base and covered it with birch twigs. These took to flame quickly and i sat back and placed more finger thick fuel on top.

I warmed my hands by the flames and was quite chuffed. After three or so months since I last set fire by friction, I managed it first time, a lot quicker than I thought I would! I will carry on practising the skills that allow me to travel through this country in comfort and I urge you all to get out, tomorrow and renew your skills.

Hultafors Outdoor knife for Sale

We have a a number of Hultafors Outdoor Knives with Firesteels for sale.

You can see more details here in this thread OUTDOOR KNIVES The price is £27 posted to the UK. Pay via the paypal button below.