23 June 2013

Angry Mothers, Dead Wolves & Punk Wood Fire

It's been raining for five or six days now and no relief in the forecast. I needed some woods time so donned the rubber boots, Filson's chaps, and hit the trail for some much required peace in the woods. Though our spring was late coming it is now here in full green regalia, nothing is blooming yet  and it's nearly July! Our winter ran excessively long, the last of our snow didn't melt until late May and then storm after storm and unseasonably mild temperatures. None the less my legs needed moving and by bowarm needed action, stump thumpin was on the menu.
The State Bird of Minnesota, the mosquito, fly in formation as squadron after squadron attempt to penetrate whatever defenses you muster, between lemon eucalyptus and a Thermacell I attempt to hold them at bay. Those that brave the chemical wall find no joy as they attempt to get through my clothing. Doesn't help them or me, that I inadvertantly eat a few of them as I walk.
As I turned a corner in the trail one angry, wet, screaming grouse hen went ballistic.  I could see her chicks dashing for cover to either side of the trail behind her but I lost sight of them as she went into full 'You Shall Not Pass' mode.

 Cackles up she charged me in a rush of angry wet feathers, it was tough to get the camera to focus she was moving so fast. One mad mama whose chicks you don't mess with! I slipped laterally out of that confrontation and rejoined the trail a couple hundred yards further down.

The clouds were in the trees though not as bad the the pea soup from the past couple days.

Absolutely everything is soaked, standing water everywhere, nothing is dry.

I wish I knew how old this paper birch is, it is one of the largest ones I've come across.

Today's trail companions, thermacell which emitted a skeeter wall all day, faithfully. One of my favorite bows, this one is a 68" 70#  Leon Stewart, the stumps around here call it Foe Hammer. Bison Gear Lost River pack, and a mildly modified Fieldcraft knife.

 As I said, our winter was long, deep snow came early and stayed through mid may. It was tough on every one and every animal. As I coursed the far wood I came across the remains of this wolf, I can't say when  it died but I'm guessing in late winter, probably late February when the worst of it was on us. Temps fell well below zero, stayed there for several weeks and the snow just kept coming. I'll never know if the death was from starvation or otherwise.

I found myself close to last years deer camp so I stopped for lunch and a coffee, if I could get a fire going.

Kettle, knife, fire kit and an empty soup bowl egging me on.

Using one of the reflector logs I had put in place last year I swung it hard and busted it across the table top rock exposing the dry punky inner sections.

Popping the fire kit out, my plan was to get a small coal fire going inside the punk wood.

Using the tender from the fire kit I got a ember and blew it to flame inside the old chunk of wood.

Water's on!

As the water for a quick soup and coffee came to a boil our missing in action Sun broke the clouds and a dappled the forest floor emerged.

After lunch smoke from a hand made pipe, today's blend 'Ruins of Isengard'.

All in all a fine day to be out and about the backwoods regardless of the weather.


  1. Glad to see you bummin around again Jim. Wet days out are still days out. That's neat and too bad about the wolf.

  2. I'd love to know more about the pipe. Looks great. How dod you make the stem?

    1. You know Randy, I am not sure how the stem was made. The pipe was hand made for me by a friend of mine. He doesn't do production, just off pipes now and again. Here's a link to the fella.


      Hope that helps.

  3. The kettle's on the boil. How civilized!

  4. Good to see you out there again, brother! Despite wetness and mosquitos... Have you tried natural repellents instead of chemical ones? But given the circumstances I guess nother deters them but netting and cloth.
    Love that Hudson Bay tinderbox.

    1. I have, the best one is a lemon eucalyptus spray. It certainly works but need to reapply frequently but it is the best deterrent I've found. Spraying the inner brim of a wide brimmed hat gives you some relief around the face.

      The thermacell works to an extent, best when stationary as it creates a bit of a sphere, a no fly zone for skeeters, but doesn't work so well when mobile.

      Glad to be back in the dirt indeed!

  5. As always, great pics & text depicting the beauty of God's creation with sensitivty and flair, complmented by your creativity an endless varity of unique kit.The material that your fire kit is constructed of has me curious.
    could you please divulge its source and availibility.
    From Toad Hall

    1. Toad,

      Thanks for the kind words, appreciate that.

      The fire kit material is a waxed canvas, this one I received from a company called Luck 1-2 Sutlery, they make custom canvas products. The fire kit and the tobacco pouch were both procured from them. Here is a link that will take you to their vendor forum, you can learn more there, including how to order.


      Thanks again!

  6. Clarification of wording:Rather than material i should have said fabric.

  7. Glad to see you got out AG- although it seems the grouse was not!

    Nothing like a dry fire on a wet day.

  8. Great post, buddy. I almost thought we were going to lose you to "death by turkey" for a minute there. ;) Nice knife and pipe you have there!