Upgrading my kids’ wilderness survival skills

posted in: Bushcraft, Knowledge, skills, Survival | 0

3 days of practicing knots, shelter building, axe handling and more.

May is supposed to be fairly warm in Denmark. But the last few years the climate has been really messed up. This year May felt more like autumn than late spring. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go camping bushcraft style of course.

The trip wasn’t well planned. I had thought about going with my two sons aged 6 and 8 but it wasn’t until the day before I decided to actually do it. So I went to a local Silvan (a Danish DIY store) to buy two tarps measuring 2×3 meters. They sell them for only DKK 13,95 (about $2). A few days earlier I had taken both of my kids to a surplus store where we bought a pack of paracord for each of them. I let them choose their own colour which resulted in us walking out of the store with one neon green and one triple coloured blue paracord. Not exactly my favourites but whatever motivates them I guess.

You see I had a little plan in store for the two who are more than used to primitive camping. This time I wanted them to build their own shelter. The younger one just learned how to tie his shoe laces recently, so I wasn’t expecting him to be able to make everything himself. I felt quite confident that the older one could do it though. I wanted to give them an understanding of how simple it is to make a shelter and at the same time boost their self confidence. I wanted them to be able to build a simple structure that would get them out of the wind and the rain.

At about 12 o’clock we got off the bus and after a short hike we arrived at the camp site which was right next to a lake. My kids were more concerned about playing around. I normally let them run free in the forest. They know the rules: Their knife must be in its sheath and they must wear their whistle around their neck. It’s amazing how fast kids become responsible when you show them that you trust them.

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I went straight to work though. I unpacked my knife and my hatchet, put both in my belt and headed out to find some suited material for building my own shelter. After a short while I asked my kids to come and help me. I told them that we needed to collect some branches for our shelters and that they would need to carry their own. They had no objections about that although they did argue a bit about who was to carry the heavier branch of two. I told the older one to take it. After a while we had plenty of material and I was well underway with my shelter which I also wanted to work as a place where we could all sit if it was to rain. My kids were still playing around.

Had it been a little warmer I would have left it to their own sense to get going with their shelters or I would have let them sleep on the ground. But with only 7° C at night, windy conditions and possible rain I wanted to make sure they were safe during the night. So I asked them to get going with their shelters as I started to clear an area for our campfire. I showed them the principles of a standard A frame lean-to and how to lash the branches together. Amazingly what they did afterwards was to work together and help each other build their shelters. The younger one lashed his tarp to the frame using the same knots he just learned to tie his shoelaces with. To me however the most important thing is that now they have an understanding of how to make a basic shelter for themselves should they ever need to. Even if we didn’t make the shelters with all natural materials, we talked about how to do it during the process.

While they were finishing their shelters, I had build a small fire. So now our camp was ready.

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The next day we took a stroll in the forest and on the shore of the lake a few hundred meters away from our camp we found a natural shelter that someone else had built. So again we had a talk about how it was made with no cord, no tarp or anything. All adding to their understanding of how to make it themselves. The big difference is that even though they have seen me build a shelter a thousand times, it is not until you try doing it yourself that you start to learn properly. And with kids the key thing about learning is that it has to be fun at the same time.

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All in all it was a great trip where we also got the chance to do both some foraging, some fishing as well as some hatchet practice. The weather forecast said the last day would be rainy. And although the kids loved sleeping in there own shelters they missed the cosiness of us sleeping together. So I rearranged my shelter to fit all three of us. I then used one of the kids’ shelter for storing some dry firewood.

The next day when I woke up the weather was still dry so I made myself a cup of coffee and enjoyed the silent morning. While I was still finishing my coffee the rain started dripping though. I then moved the shelter I had used to keep the firewood dry with over the campfire to protect it a little from the rain. Often when it rains in Denmark it is just sporadic showers of rain. It was the same this day. After a while the rain paused, and when the kids woke up we roasted a final sausage over the fire before packing up. The only real downside of the rain of course was that we had to pack all our gear in wet conditions. But everything went well and we finally hiked back out as the rain quietly fell.

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Bushcraft weekend in Sweden: Building a natural shelter

posted in: Bushcraft, Knowledge, skills, Survival | 0

Last weekend I went to Sweden to test a few of my bushcraft skills.

Weather forecast said rain and snow with temperatures near the freezing point. I didn’t bring any sleeping bag, tarp, tent or rain gear.

Inside my backpack I had my Swedish Officer’s Wool Blanket along with my axe, my knife and a few other items such as a headlamp, some paracord, and some dry tinder. See my complete gear and clothing list here. For food supplies I brought some water and my homemade beef jerky as well as two small Snickers bars.

After leaving Denmark and Kronborg Castle behind, my friend and I headed towards the small town of Perstorp in Scania. Or rather the lakes on the outskirts of Perstorp.

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It was already raining when we left the car and started heading into the forest. Everything was wet and on top of that we had to be really careful not to get our feet wet in the numerous waterholes and small streams we had to pass. It wasn’t really a hike. More like a short walk before we found a suitable spot to build our camp: A mix between young birch forest and spruce forest. Right next to the lake “Store Damm” which translates from Swedish into “Big lake”.

I immediately started building my lean-to as I was depending on some shelter from the rain. Underneath my M-65 Austrian Mountain Jacket I was wearing a lot of wool layers so even though I got very wet, I was still keeping warm. If not from the wool I guess from my level of activity.

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Making the shelter:

I picked a spot between two trees with a deadfall lying right next to one of them. I decided to use the deadfall as support for my elevated bed in one end. The other end I supported by tying three thinner logs together.

After that I started collecting logs for my bedding. bringing them back to camp and cleaning them there so I could later use the left over material for sealing off my roof.

I put up the crossbar that was going to hold my roof up. Had I been completely true to my natural shelter I should have used spruce roots for lashing I guess. But being wet and with only little gear I used my paracord for this. At first I rested the crossbar on a branch to one side but I had to raise it further up in order to get a steeper angle on my roof.

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The rest of the work was more simple. Not much thinking needed. Just hard work. I went back and forth in the rain so many times in order to find enough branches for weaving my roof together.

Then I started working on the roofing. I didn’t have enough fresh branches, so once again I had to go back into the forest and find some more materials. I supplemented with some dead spruce branches until I wasn’t able to see the sky through the roof. (Please note that you need to add a very thick layer of branches to your roof in order to properly seal it off.)

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That was it. My lean-to was done and I was able to get out of the rain and allow myself to relax a bit. At that point it stopped raining of course.

It was still a good thing though. Being all wet it gave me a chance to dry up a bit by the fire. My pants were steaming.

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Look out for part 2

 

My backpack: http://www.fjallraven.com/kajka-65

Made in America

posted in: Equipment, Gear, Prepping, SHTF, Survival, Uncategorized | 0

Test shooting the Ruger American rifle 30-06.

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On Sunday I was lucky to be invited to the local shooting range by my friend Martin. He was going to zero his rifle for some big game hunting ammo. The Springfield 12.0 g / 185 gr MEGA. But before he did I got the chance to test his rifle. The Ruger American 30-06 with a 22” barrel and a 4 round rotary magazine.

I had seen a photo of this rifle before but when I saw it in real life it looked even better. Simplistic and to the point. No unnecessary details and with a matte black finish both on the barrel and the stock this rifle looks like one that gets the job done.

Let me start by saying I’m far from a gun expert and this is not a scientific test in any way. These are just my thoughts on this rifle. I value having the best tools for any job. Like with my knife and my axe. I’m not a collector. I expect my tools to work and I buy them to use them. Sometimes you pay a lot to get the best tool for a specific job and it will last you a lifetime. Other times you pay a lot and it just doesn’t work for you. Other times again you pay very little and get a great tool that over delivers. This gun I guess is one of those tools. The best comparison I can think of is one of the Mora knives you can buy for as little as $16. You don’t get any knife that will serve you better than one of these unless you pay unproportionally much money to get that extra performance or the security of a full tang. And don’t worry the Mora won’t break by the way.

Now tell me how much rifle do you get for $635 / €536? And yes this is the price for it in Denmark. You can probably get it way cheaper in the US. Well you get quite a lot if you buy this rifle I think.

I was really surprised by how light weight and easy this rifle is to handle. And everything just works. From the bolt with a 70° throw that ensures an easy cocking to the trigger which has a perfect release in my opinion. And if you don’t like it, it is adjustable between 3 and 5 pounds by the way.

I was testing the rifle with pointed FMJs and it was really easy to shoot. It has quite a heavy recoil I think but I guess it is because the gun is so light weight in it self. It wasn’t something that bothered me  in any way though.

I understand that it’s called American because it is made 100% in America. But they might as well have called it American because it was made for the people. It’s like the Volkswagen of guns; Tough, simple and great value for the money. And I think it looks great too.

Website: http://www.ruger.com

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You thought making your own beef jerky was difficult?

posted in: Bushcraft, Knowledge, Prepping, SHTF, skills, Survival | 0

Here’s a simple recipe on how to do it

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A few weeks ago I tried making beef jerky for the first time. I ended up with 350 g of beef jerky from the 1.1 kg raw meat I bought. And it was much easier than I thought, so I just want to share with you how I made it and which recipe I followed:

Just starting out I had a lot of questions coming to mind. Do you need a special type of meat? Do you need special remedies? Will a regular oven do? And how long does it take to dry the meat? First of all I read a little bit about it. One of the things I found is that you need meat with only little or no fat at all. I didn’t know if you could only use certain types of meat or if anything goes that doesn’t have fat on it. So I went to our local grocery store and talked to the butcher. He didn’t know about making beef jerky either, but he suggested a cut for roast beef. 1.1 kg. to be exact.

It seems that any meat without fat will do. And I guess you don’t have to follow the recipe below unless you’re looking to add some flavour to the meat. Actually I think I will try a regular brine next time or maybe try to leave out this part of the process all together, since I love the pure taste of meat. I have a regular oven with a hot air oven functionality which I believe is recommended since it generates dry heat instead of moist heat. Anyway here is what I did:

I googled “Beef Jerky Recipe” and found this Danish recipe that I followed:

For the marinade you will need the following ingredients:

0,5 liters of ale beer
1 spoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of honey
1/4 teaspoon of dijon mustard or the like
2-3 spoons of soya sauce

Procedure:

Slice your meat into about 5 mm. thick slices.

Pour the ale into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and stir it all together. After that you add the meat to the marinade and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours. When you take your meat out the day after you turn on your oven to about 70-75° C. Then drain off the marinade for about 10 minutes and place the meat on the oven rack. Let it cook for about 3 hours. You may need to turn the rack around half way through. Also remeber to put a baking pan underneath the rack as a lot of moist will drip down from the meat. The recipe here suggests you check your meat every 15 minutes after one hour. I didn’t do that though. I started checking it after 2,5 hours. And 3 hours was perfect for my meat. Maybe I was just lucky.

Your beef jerky is done when it is crust enough to tear apart without breaking (It should maintain a certain elasticity otherwise you overcooked it).

After you take out your beeff jerky from the oven, you place it spread out on a piece of parchment paper and leave it to dry another 3-5 hours before you can pack it up. To do so you can use either plastic bags or jars. Try to store them with as little air as possible.

Storing beef jerky:
You can store your beef jerky for different lengths of time under different circumstances:

Outside in normal temperatues you should always use your senses to judge if it is contaminated.
In the fridge it will last about 6 months.
In the freezer it will last up to a year.

Good luck.

Predicting thunder by looking into the water at the beach?

posted in: Bushcraft, Knowledge, skills, Survival | 0

– a story from my childhood

It was a clear sunny day when my mom took me to the beach many years ago. I was about 8 years old I believe and all I thought about, was playing in the sand and swimming.

My mom was standing in the edge of the water when this old lady comes up to us. “It’s going to be thunder” she tells my mom. “Look into the water” she continued. “When the bottom swirls up like this, and the water becomes turbid, it’s going to be thunder”.

We looked into the water and it was indeed turbid, as if someone had just walked through it and swirled up the sand from the bottom. Except no one had.

I don’t know how the lady saw us, but I remember talking to my mom about her like she was a bit crazy. It was a clear blue sky, there wasn’t a wind and the sun was shining. Nothing, and I mean nothing indicated that the weather was about to change. We swept it away as an indifference and stayed at the beach for a little less than an hour or so.

Thunder
We drove back to our house which was about 5 minutes away from the beach. My mom went to make us some late lunch, when the impossible happened; a thunder in the distance! We looked at each other with disbelief. And then there was another one. The lady was right. Our view on the her had put us to shame. And since then we talked about her with admiration instead.

Since then I have actually experienced it myself. One time swallows were also flying low and it was much more obvious, looking at the sky, that the weather was about to change. And the water was turbid.

Have you heard of this?
I wonder however, has anyone else heard of this? Please comment or email me if you have. I have looked, but I haven’t been able to find anything about it on the internet yet. Maybe it’s a local thing? Or maybe I’m seeing something that isn’t there? In that case the lady was crazy, and it was all a lucky strike. If I’m right however, maybe you should try looking into the water the next time you’re on a sandy beach.

 

Sailing the fjord of Viking king Harald Bluetooth

posted in: Bushcraft, Fishing, Knowledge, Survival, Wild food | 0

Some pics from our fyke net fishing trip at Roskilde fjord this weekend.

Roskilde fjord is probably best known for it’s association with the Vikings. From here the longships took off on trips to distant parts of the world in order to both trade and plunder. This weekend was less dramatic. I took my sons to visit my uncle who is a fyke net fisher. He was going to haul the nets, so we arranged to go with him. A great experience for the kids and a nostalgic trip for me, since I used to do this with my grandfather when I was young. In spite of a very rainy day, the weather was great. 16° C and hardly any wind. The catch wasn’t impressive. A few flunders, some European eelpouts and a couple of fine eels – oh and tons of crabs. You can eat them but there’s hardly any meat on them. Some people use them to cook soup on however. It was a great day

 

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Mushrooms, snakes and cattails

posted in: Bushcraft, Knowledge, skills, Survival, Wild food | 0

Just another day in the woods. No camping out for once.

This Sunday we had a great, sunny autumn day in the local wood foraging for mushrooms and, as you can see, some cattails. Although we only collected a few seed heads to use later for fire lighting. We didn’t harvest any of them for eating.

We also came across two non-poisonous Grass Snakes. The first one escaped into a hole in the ground really fast. The second one however kept it’s ground and allowed me to take a few pics of it. No, we didn’t attempt to hunt and eat it :) It’s also a protected species here btw.

Common puffball / Warted puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum).
Common puffball / Warted puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum).
Red Cracking Bolete (Boletus Chrysenteron).
Red Cracking Bolete (Boletus Chrysenteron).
Laccaria amethystina
Laccaria amethystina
Laccaria amethystina
Laccaria amethystina
Common puffball / Warted puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum).
Common puffball / Warted puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum).
Common puffball / Warted puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum).
Common puffball / Warted puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum).
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False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca).
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False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca).
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Bay bolete (Boletus badius).
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Non-venomous Grass Snake / Ringed Snake / Water Snake (Natrix natrix).
Non-venomous Grass Snake / Ringed Snake / Water Snake (Natrix natrix).
Non-venomous Grass Snake / Ringed Snake / Water Snake (Natrix natrix).
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Non-venomous Grass Snake / Ringed Snake / Water Snake (Natrix natrix).

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False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca).
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False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca).
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A small forest pond with dead wood and cattails.
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Cattail (Typha). You can use most parts of this plant. The roots can be cooked like potatoes, the young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. And the seed heads are great for tinder.
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Cattail (Typha). You can use most parts of this plant. The roots can be cooked like potatoes, the young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. And the seed heads are great for tinder.

Why I’m not a prepper – and 6 reasons why I might become one

posted in: Prepping, SHTF, Survival | 0

Why would you bother preparing for a SHTF situation in Scandinavia?

Let’s face it, Scandinavia is not exactly the most dangerous place on earth. Surely we have natural disasters, thunder storms, flooding and snow storms, but we don’t have hurricanes, tsunamis volcanoes and people in general don’t carry guns – or even knives for that matter. Earth quakes are extremely rare, so a real shtf scenario is not really in near sight if you ask me.

Power outage? Okay but we don’t have an arms culture like the US, so I don’t believe that a riot scenario like we saw during Hurricane Katrina is likely either. Another aspect that reduces risk during a shtf situation is that population density is very low. Even the cities are quite small compared to the rest of the world. Also people here are normally quite accustomed to both the climate and nature in general. And poverty is also not as extreme as it is in other places. Okay I bring warm clothes for whenever I drive my car long distance during winter and stuff like that, but other than that I don’t see the need for prepping.

So why would you prepare anyway?
Well first of all; the world is changing – fast! And the life we have come to take for granted, is not laid out for us anymore. So here are a few scenarios that I could think of as likely enough to maybe prepare for. Please comment if you can think of others.

1. War / Terrorist Attack:
Russia is rattling the saber again, the prospect of a new cold war is lurking. And the nuclear threat is all time present. Scandinavia’s growing military presence throughout the world has also led to several terrorist attacks being attempted on Scandinavian ground. These attempts are very likely to grow.

2. Government break down.
Scandinavians have become so accustomed to living in peace that they can’t even imagine that their societies could fall apart. They take democracy and peace for granted. But many extremists are waiting to get a shot at it. Both left and right wing extremists, religious extremists, but even more likely, it could be inequality in society leading to a breakdown. Although the Scandinavian countries have a fairly equal distribution of wealth, the gap between rich and poor is growing and so is the gap between the politicians and the population. People’s freedom is continuingly being limited with new laws and technology.

3. Disease outbreak
The possibility of virus outbreak like we are seeing in Africa these days is likely. The Ebola outbreak has the potential to spread throughout Europe actually. But other outbreaks are lurking, such as the antibiotic resistant bacteria MRSA that is growing in numbers in Denmark.

4. Solar flare – EMP
This is a subject that is being discussed vigorously in prepper forums around the world, and one that Scandinavians can’t consider themselves free from.

5. Asteroid collision
Like the solar flare – this is also something Scandinavians can’t consider themselves free from. However if it happened I’m wondering, could you really prepare for it?

6. Climate change
The recent 3 years have shown that the climate is changing fast in Scandinavia (too). We are seeing way more cloudbursts, flooding and more.

With all this in mind, here is my conclusion:
The likeliness of any of these scenarios becoming a threat to me is much lower than the risk of me being run down by a car on my way to work, the risk of our house being struck by a lightening or me being struck by an illness. And I don’t prepare for these scenarios either because it wouldn’t matter if I did. Just like I don’t believe I can really increase my odss of surviving by preparing for any of the 6 scenarios above. Half of them (1, 4 and 5) would be pointless preparing for. Atomic bombs today are much more powerful than they were years back, and 4 and especially 5 are likely to wipe out all life forever on planet Earth anyway. The other half (2, 3 and 6) are scenarios that are developing over time. So you don’t need to be stockpiling food and drinking water for those scenarios. You just need to know when to g.t.f.o.o.d.

Let me know your thoughts – until then I will stick with bushcrafting and survival skills :)

Bushcraft camping with my sons

posted in: Bushcraft, Knowledge, skills, Survival | 0
Had a great weekend camping bushcraft style and foraging the autumn forest with my two sons aged 5 and 7.