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#114548 - 12/02/07 11:28 PM Humbled by nature, part 1
Taurus Offline
Addict

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 458
Loc: Northern Canada
This weekend was a great opportunity to throw my trusty Mossberg and my Backpack into my truck, crank up the Johnny Cash tunes and head out into the wild in the hopes of killing some fuzzy bunnies for the old freezer. As always it is a great opportunity to brush up on the old outdoor survival skills as well. I suppose I could lie about the experience and no one on any forum could prove me wrong, but I prefer the truth, It usually is more entertaining. After walking for some time and hoping to introduce a few hundred steel pellets to an unsuspecting rabbit I decided to hold up a while, as I had not seen anything but tracks. I decided on a nice Canadian issued IMP for lunch, but for added training value I wanted to make it interesting. In my made up scenario I had to start a fire with only my sparking tools and any natural tinder I could find. and then boil the IMP using only snow and tin foil for a pot. First of all. I carry plenty of tools to make a fire including 2 BIC lighters, Wind/waterproof matches, a sparklite in my mini psk, and a Blastmatch in my backpack, as well as a whole slew of tinder such as wetfire, and Coughlin's wax tinder. In Alberta this time of year it is dammed cold, and it gets colder every day till around Feb. Come hell or high water, one way or another I will have fire in the woods. Today however, I wanted to prove that I could make a fire with ONLY my blast match, and what I could find around me. The temp of the day was around -25 deg cel(colder with the wind-chill), with a light snow falling.

I cleared an area of snow and collected my tinder,kindling and fuel. The only tinder available was dry grass and leaves which had a nice layer of frost and snow. After defrosting the tinder inside my jacket as best I could I set about making my fire. Let me just say that most any fool can get a fire going with a BIC or with store bought tinder, but it is a very humiliating experience trying with out all those pleasures. The blast match releases a huge amount of sparks, but as best as I could try, the falling snow just kept putting them out before they could catch the grass. I was under a fair amount of cover, but the wind would shake the trees and drop more snow on my pathetic attempt to cook my lunch. Now since I am no longer walking or collecting wood I am starting to freeze, and operating any device with frozen hands is a pure nightmare. After gathering lint from the bottom of all my pockets, and the little fuzz balls off of my thermal underwear, I try again. After 15 solid minutes of lying on the frozen ground, arse in the air and nose down trying to gently blow a spark to life, I ALMOST succeed and for a brief 10 seconds the lint smolders but will not catch. By now I am getting hungry, and near frozen to the point of quitting and never speaking of my inability to get this stupid fire going to anyone. In a last ditch attempt to find something better to burn(and besides frozen grass, there really was nothing) I take my knife a cut a bit of hair from my bangs to use as tinder. I figured why the hell not? its may very well be the best thing going. Believe it or not the closest I actually get to starting my fire is with the hair, mixed with the pocket lint. For a few brief seconds I see a flame and think all is well but alas, the flame dies out way too fast and I am left with the wonderful smell of burning human hair, no fire, and the feeling that I may very well be the only person on earth stupid enough to be attempting this just to prove a point. Buy this time, short of cutting off the rest of my hair out of pure spite in order to start a fire, I admit defeat(for now) down and break out a wetfire tinder from my pack. In less than five minutes I have a nice fire, and after another 30 minutes I have melted and boiled enough water to heat my ration. After eating my lunch I decide to sulk back to my truck in the hopes of at least killing some rabbits. About an hour and a half later I arrive at my rig, no rabbit(took a shot at one but missed) frozen stiff, and missing a patch of hair. and determined to redeem myself on my next trip.

Some other lessons well learned this weekend:
1. Even the best insulated hydration packs will Freeze solid in a backpack.
2. A GPS can, and will freeze up, even in a chest pocket (store it on a inside pocket)
3. I would kiss the person who invented Sorrel boots
4. My cold steel kurkri machete cuts like nothing I have ever owned, but even the sharpest machete will bounce on frozen wood if you are not careful.
Even the most expensive scope will fog when the temp drops this low
5. lighting a fire with just a sparking tool and natural tinder in bad weather is one hell of a lot harder than the books would have you believe.
6. It is very difficult explaining a gap in your hair to your wife without her pointing and laughing to the point of tears.
7. Training is paramount, practice makes perfect, and so long as you learn a valuable lesson then the trip is always worth something.

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#114552 - 12/02/07 11:43 PM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: Taurus]
JustinC Offline
Newbie

Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 48
Loc: New England
I sympathize with you. I continue to be humbled when building a fire with only spark-producing devices and natural tinder. For the past couple of weeks I've been building a small fire each evening for practice and to refesh my memory on what natural tinders work best in my AO, and increase proficiency with my chosen tools (in order of preference: Spark-Lite, FireSteel, Magnesium Block, "Sparky"). Admittedly, though, I wasn't doing it in sub-zero temps with wind and snow. It's certainly not as easy as Bear Grylls makes it look.

A couple of quick questions:
Do you have a scope on your shotgun?, and do Canadian regs mandate steel shot for small game? Just curious.


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#114555 - 12/02/07 11:51 PM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: Taurus]
CityBoyGoneCountry Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: Canadian_Soldier
The blast match releases a huge amount of sparks, but as best as I could try, the falling snow just kept putting them out before they could catch the grass. I was under a fair amount of cover, but the wind would shake the trees and drop more snow on my pathetic attempt to cook my lunch.


Make a tipi out of sticks like this: http://www.e-scoutcraft.com/activities/wild_survival8.gif

Cover it with grass or whatever, and put your tinder inside. That will shelter it from the snow long enough to get burning.

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#114558 - 12/02/07 11:57 PM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: Taurus]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
Interesting story, thanks for sharing. Next time, cut some hair from the back of your head (must be nice to have enough hair to cut in the first place), since one should never turn ones back on a spouse anyway...
_________________________
OBG

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#114559 - 12/02/07 11:59 PM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: JustinC]
Taurus Offline
Addict

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 458
Loc: Northern Canada
I used a Bushnell "Trophy" scope mounted to the reciever of my Mossberg 500 combo which never comes off. Smooth barrel for rabbit and non-flying Grouse, and rifled barrel for deer where rifle hunting is not permitted. Canadian regs mandate that steel be used for all waterfoul hunting, so I can technically use lead for Rabbit. Since I reload my own ammo, I find it easier to stick to one or the other for this purpose. It eliminates confusion. The only lead I reload is Buckshot for brush hunting and home defence.

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#114561 - 12/03/07 12:01 AM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: CityBoyGoneCountry]
Taurus Offline
Addict

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 458
Loc: Northern Canada
Trust me, I tried every configuration known to man, but the snow kept getting the best of me. I was going to pull my jacket off and use it for cover over the fire, but it was too Dammed cold.

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#114576 - 12/03/07 02:03 AM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: Taurus]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2764
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Good story. Been there, sort of.

Toughest fires I've ever built were after a thick fog and after a thick hoar frost. Everything, even spruce twigs and grasses that would normally have been dry, were saturated with moisture. Couldn't even get these going with a Bic. I can't imagine trying with only a flint.

From that point on, I made a point of always carrying half a candle or one of those Coghlans fire starter sticks. Both work, consistently.

If you have any luck, you can pick up a couple of cattail heads for tinder. And there's always the cordite from a shotgun shell ...

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#114582 - 12/03/07 02:33 AM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: Taurus]
raydarkhorse Offline
Addict

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 510
Loc: on the road 10-11 months out o...
I have learned the following lessons after a lot of stupid mistakes, and days like the one you so humbly related to us.
1. in the winter I carry at least on bota bag for water and I cerry it under my coat, I guess a camel back would work too.
2. My compass has never frozen up
3. Sorrel boots are great.
4. put your scoped weapons in your truck the day before or at least several hours before you go hunting and when you transport it keep it in the back of your truck that way it's already a the air temp.
4. dry grass is easier to light if you roll it between your hands, and use your plastic garbage bag to shelter your fire pit while you start it.
5. tell your wife that you were wet and it got so cold that when you brushed somthing out of yor hair it broke off.
6. even with lots of training and practice you will still have days like this one.
Just remember that as humbling as the day was, a bad day in the woods hunting is better than a good day at work


_________________________
Depend on yourself, help those who are not able, and teach those that are.

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#114585 - 12/03/07 02:48 AM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: JustinC]
UTAlumnus Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/08/03
Posts: 999
Loc: East Tennessee near Bristol
What's "Sparky"?

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#114586 - 12/03/07 02:49 AM Re: Humbled by nature, part 1 [Re: raydarkhorse]
CityBoyGoneCountry Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: raydarkhorse
a bad day in the woods hunting is better than a good day at work


LOL!

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