Backcountry

A bit of spring.

Snows almost gone, been 40Fs to 50Fs days, 20Fs nights for a while now; A FAST spring, we’re smack dab in the middle of break-up, otherwise known as mud season.

Upper 50s, low 60s in the sun yesterday, so I blew off the homestead chores and made my yearly spring run up to a favorite river spot. Odd since it’s about exactly one month earlier than usual…

Mom went along, we made a day of it looking at river access roads, seeing what was open what wasn’t, planning a picnic day in the next couple weeks. Fun times, semi-off roading.

Bit icier that it usually is when I’m there, good ice shelf (10″ ish thick) left on the sand bar, and in the river. River much lower than it should be, this low snow year showing itself.

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Categories: Adventures, Alaska-Life, Backcountry, GetOutdoors, Good Times, Outdoors, Spring, weather and seasons, Winter

Ice fishing report, November 24th, 2018

Got out to Birch Lake the first time this season last Saturday, I didn’t get anything but a buddy and his kids did great. I didn’t care I got skunked, I got all the fun I needed watching those kids(7 and 9)catch their first cold fish (and I think first fish ever)!!

Most of those are rainbow trout, a couple small silver salmon. They could have limited out, but put a lot of little ones back.

I had Something about twice that size on the line once, as did my buddy… Bugger got off just shy of the ice both times, stayed just long enough for us to see him each time! Bloody teaser!

Getting ready to hit another favorite spot this coming Saturday. About 13″ of ice according to F&G ice reports, up from the 8″ last week. Usually a lot more by this time of year but we’ve had the mildest fall/winter so far that I can remember in 25 years..

He got a new auger, one of those gear boxed suckers that goes on a cordless drill (works phenomenally! ).

They wanted to give me something as a thanks for helping out with some stuff last month, so they gave me his gas auger. Absolutely floored me!

8″auger, 43cc motor, Eskimo, came with an extension bar too.

I’ve been ice fishing 3 or 4 years now and have Never had an auger, even a hand one or even a ice chisel! Always go with someone that has gear, or use a hole already open that someone’s vacated, ask a favor of someone to drill me one etc.

Big game changer for me, really opens up where and when I can go now!

Sizing up to be a good season. Got a couple gear mods to make posts for soon, and some other new gear too.

Should be back with another trip report in a couple days, hopefully with at least one fish of my own this time!

Categories: Adventures, Alaska-Life, Backcountry, Field gear, Fishing, GetOutdoors, Good Friends, Good Times, Ice Fishing, New Gear, Outdoors, Winter

An Axe Man’s Bucksaw Part 3

The entire build, in order, more or less; 🙂

I could go through everything I did here in long descriptions, and pictures, but it’s not really necessary, and probably not that interesting either. But here is a general run through. 🙂

  • Pick out a piece of 1″x8″ x 5′ oak
  • cut out the pattern
  • trace it on the wood
  • Jig saw one upright
  • Sand the contour
  • Trace #1 to get #2 the same
  • Cut, sand #2
  • Measure and mark for the mortises
  • Round the edges with a router
  • Cut pilot groove on blade end to guide cutting the blade slots
  • Locate blade mount holes, drill
  • Cut blade slots
  • Cut the mortise on #1
  • Rip the cross bar from the board
  • Square and measure it all for proper cross bar length vs blade length mounted (crucial for proper end angles when blade under tension, and good looks)
  • Cut and fit the tenon on #1 end
  • Cut #2 mortise and tenon
  • Test assemble
  • Find cord for windlass(I was out of 550! Finally found some heavy clothes line cord..)
  • Trim scrap to use as temporary windlass bar
  • Tighten it all up and do a test cut(worked!)
  • Cut thinning profile on cross bar
  • Sand cross bar, and route edges
  • Re-assemble
  • Discover binding in tenon joints, trim
  • Re-trim/fine tune joints
  • Assemble and do a test cut again
  • Find that I over trimmed the joints, it will now start to slip from a H to a parallelogram-ed H under tension. (Rounded the wrong corners too much; you need the Top corners of the bar end and tenon tips rounded for slip, but the bottom corners left square for rigid support, so the can only pivot in at the top, but not out at the top!)
  • Discover that if it slips, the windlass slips down the bars, loses tension and it falls apart.
  • Discover, by clamping the cord in place under tension, that, thankfully, If the windlass doesn’t slip down when it flexes out of H shape, it doesn’t collapse!
  • Locate for windlass cord supports
  • Cut pins from 1/4″ copper rod,
  • Drill and press fit copper as cord supports.
  • Re-assemble, tighten, test cut 7″ birch log.
  • Success! (With one about 1/8″ of flex at the joints out of square- good enough)
  • Decide the scrap your using as a windlass bar works great, no use to make another one
  • Trim, round, sand the windlass bar.
  • Disassemble, wood burn the saws name, and my product line name on the side.(not selling it, but figured, meh, why not? )
  • Also burn in witness marks to identify/match mortise and tenon joints in their matched pairs for proper future assembly.
  • 2 day break to get stain and oil finish.
  • Counterbore for recessed T nuts
  • Install T nuts, pin in place with tiny Brad nails
  • Install keeper ring on windlass bar
  • Turn down bolt heads, and threads to fit in wingnuts, making wing bolts.
  • Test the stain, find it won’t penetrate the oak dark enough, skip using it.

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Part 4 coming soo. 🙂

Categories: Adventure Metal Works, Backcountry, custom-made-tools, Field gear, New Gear, Outdoors, Saws, wood processing, Woods tools, Woodshop, Woodwork

An Axe Man’s Bucksaw part 2

I’m proud of two big things on this project;

One being design and execution. The basic mechanics of the saws are really, well, basic. Two uprights, a center cross bar, blade at the bottom, and a Spanish windlass at the top.

And the cross bar being mortise and tenon jointed to the uprights, to provide up/down pivot so that the windlass can tension the blade, but have no twist of pivot in any other plane or axis.

Simple.
I looked around the Web for ideas, since there are a LOT of these out there, for sale, and home built designs.

But I basically still had to design, engineer and build it from scratch.

Lots of time with measuring, squaring, offseting, re-squaring, and making sure both ends matched.. Etc.

The other thing I’m really proud of, is the fact that I’d Never, Ever cut a mortise and tenon joint before. I did one test mortise on scrap(which sucked!) before I cut on the first saw bar I’d just spent 3 hours making. Yeah, fun. 😉

Cut by hand, chisel and saw. Turned out exceptionally well, if I do say so myself!

The second one even press fit at first cuttings, no trimming needed!! (The first one took 10 minutes of fit/test/shave/test/carve/test/whittle, to get to work, then it was a touch loose…)

Now I know why my Dad hated doing them, and always wanted a power tool for it! I was never taught to cut these, not that I remember. He never got the tool till late in life– he just avoided the joint style.

I actually got him one that attaches to a drill press a couple years before he passed away. It didn’t exactly fit his drill, and he never got to use it before he went. I have them both here, but ironically, I preferred to learn to hand cut them. I’ll get the tool setup at some point soon, but so far, I like doing them by hand!

I Was a bit ambitious in part of my joint design; I copied ones I saw a guy on YouTube do, where the end of the bar is rounded, and the face of the mortise is curved to match. So that when it tensions, and the end bars angle, it simply rotates the two curves on each other. A cleaner look than with straight bars, where the angling would leave gaps.

THAT was fun to figure out the geometry on, and then cut in… Oi.

I didn’t get them perfect, but they’re pretty dang good, if I do say so myself.

Categories: Adventure Metal Works, Axes, Backcountry, Camping gear, custom-made-tools, Field gear, GetOutdoors, New Gear, Outdoors, Saws, wood processing, Woods tools, Woodshop, Woodwork

An Axe Man’s Bucksaw Part 1

This obe is otherwise known as The Moon Saw. That name to be explained later though. 🙂

I’ve been wanting to do this project for a couple months now. Took a while to get other things out of the way… Pressing household maintenance like broken water tanks, and no running water kept cropping up! (Among other little things that Eat time).

I knew I wanted to do a 24″ saw, so I went and picked up a blade early last month. I actually got a whole swede saw. A blade was $8. A Fiskars saw with the blade was $11. Yeah, might as well buy the $3 saw with it, and have it!

Then it took a month for me to get time, and some shop space made to do it.

I neded some large paper for patterning another project, so I sat down and started drawing designs. I could have gone with dead simple straight side/handle bars, and been a LOT simpler and easier…

Bug I figured if I was going to do it, I might as well do what I liked.

The one I built is actually the second design I had drawn, and while the other was thought out over 3 days, this one I drew and finalized in 10 minutes. And liked it more!

(Original design on left, axe style on right)

You can see where the name comes from, if you notice the fawns foot handle ends, and “S” shapes. I had my hatchet handle on the bench at the time, and was holding it, such a nice grip; So I traced it, reversed it, traced again, and blended the contours some.

Simple!

More to be seen soon.

Categories: Adventure Metal Works, Axes, Backcountry, Camping gear, Field gear, GetOutdoors, Hunting, New Gear, Outdoors, wood processing, Woods tools, Woodshop, Woodwork

Chest holster re-strapping V1.0. 

Thought I’d post an update. Been wearing the new holster I got a couple months ago off and on for some work, and short hikes.


Have some setup issues.

They have it, as set for left hand draw,
Holster sits basically horizontal, grip left, muzzle right.

Shoulder strap run from top of holster (by hammer) up over RIGHT shoulder, down across back, under Left arm to bottom of holster(behind grip/by trigger).

The the chest strap runs around you, through a loop on the back of the holster.

Holster free floats on the chest strap, held up by shoulder strap.

When you go to draw, to keep holster from sliding left, you have to grip with the off side hand. 

Also while walking/working, it naturally drifts left, rotating the shoulder stap on your torso, sliding on chest strap, till under the left arm. (To where you cant grip the gun to draw without sliding it back to center chest with the off side hand.)

Because of shoulder strap placement/tension it can’t slide to the right.

Basically, the tension is backwards.

While hiking with it like this, every time I repositioned it (about every 150 yards!) I thought about strap direction and buckle placement, being pretty sure I could reverse it to the left shoulder, but still be left hand draw.

It actually was as simple as I thought. (Amazing)

I now have the shoulder strap run from top of holster(by hammer) over my LEFT shoulder, across back, under Right arm.

Now it gets different.. that bottom right end of the shoulder strap I connect to the end of the CHEST strap.

Chest strap goes Left, and Down through the loop on the back of the holster, then BACK to the Right, and around my back, to the Left bottom of the holster. 

So the pull to the left is now resisted by the tail of the shoulder strap, and the chest tension. If it slides, it will be down to the right. So even if it does move, it could go a ways before I couldn’t draw.

Muzzle end is also held by the chest strap. And because the chest strap and shoulder straps tension each other, once set, it can’t really drift very far either way.

So far as I can tell anyway. Will walk a couple miles with it and see.

Still needs work, but it’s better!


It even ended up with the tension right so the lower end of the shoulder strap is lower away from my arm and arm pit, more comfortable and crowds my arm less when moving. On the other side it tended to pinch and pull at my underarm. 

The only problems I see, are if it does move around, the gun/holster is semi fixed in line with it all, and it tensions through one end of it… As it moves one strap will tighten as the other loosens. So it’s going to chinch/tighten around me in one place or the other, and be crushing… 

And there is the other problem. With this set so it works, the chest strap is pretty tight… and rather crushingly uncomfortable already. 

I know I should be able to set this up so the weight and tension is all on the shoulder strap, and the chest strap can just center/position the gun on me and hold it semi loosesly..

What I’d like to try is;
The chest strap run from muzzle end of the holster, or the loop on the back, but a fixed atachment, not slidding, and around to the lower left corner of the holster as I gave it now. And the shoulder strap as I have it now for top of holster run over my left shoulder. 

But then attached to the center back of the chest strap.

Either floating or fixed at that joint. I think fixed would get the effect I want.

Will have to play with it some more, and see… need to find the 2 or 3 Big safety pins I have so I can pin this up how I want it before I cut/sew/ add/modify anything.

But as it is, it’s a lot better!

Pics to follow in another post if I can find someone to take them while I’m wearing it..

Categories: Alaska-Life, ATVing, Backcountry, Customized, EDC, Field gear, Fishing, GetOutdoors, Guns, Holsters, Modifications, New Gear, Outdoors, Theory/Thoughts

For warm dry knees! 

Got a new item recently. Well, 3 items actually. 

After my moose hunting trip this fall, a sleeping pad I’d borrowed to take was misplaced. Wasn’t in my gear, and when the boat was unpacked, it wasn’t found. We figured it blew out of the boat on the long drive back, and hoped someone found it on that winding mountain road– If I lose something, I at least hope someone gets some use fromy it, that it’s not wasted.

And I’d just obviously get a new one for the guy I borrowed it from. 

I did go buy a new one. 
Couple weeks went by before I got to take stuff back to him. 

In that time, my buddy cleaned Everything out of the boat. 

He found the padd, said literally it was stuffed so far up under the front deck a hurricane wouldn’t have budged it! 

None the worse for wear, I returned that pad to my friend, intending to return the new one, get my much needed $45 back. I did think about trying to still give my friend the new one, but he wouldn’t have accepted it if the old one wasn’t lost.. 

After using the first padd in an emergency, sleeping on it on Cold front deck on the boat on the river one night, I was sold on it, figured I’d get myself one like it before next season. 

Just didn’t really want to spend the money now… Didn’t get around to trying to return it till after the return period had ended. Oops.

In that time period I’d been also looking at small foam pads, after seeing someone at BCUSA carrying a sitting pad in their day bag. Found something I never knew anyone made; kneeling pads! Some for camping, some for gardening, work etc. 

My dad used to cut sections from the old 1/4″ closed cell foam sleep pads for kneeling to work, but I’d never seen anything sold for that. 

I’d started carrying chunks of cardboard in my truck box for roadside, job site etc kneeling, sitting, laying etc on cold or wet ground. Realized I should have had a foam one like dad used to make in the truck years ago, just never thought of it! 


You can see where this is headed, right? 

Since I have it, but don’t need the padd for sleeping till next summer, and can pick up another one then if I need it (I actually use a Klymit V-luxe air pad the most); In the mean time I can save myself the cost of keeler pads. 

I’d also found another great use for that pad on the hunting trip, as a chair pad. Took my folding canvas camp chair along, and it was great. But as id found before, sitting too long in one of those in cool wet weather, especially with a breeze can freeze your back and butt; its just cold canvas your sitting on, stays cool and bleeds heat fast.. I laid the pad in the chair and with a light sleeping bag over my legs was very comfy for early and late river vigils waiting for bulwinkle. :)

I did this last week a few days before ice fishing… I use the same chair for that activity, and sitting in that chair even with winter gear on can royally freeze your ass in a wind on a lake @ 10F or colder… 

So 30 seconds laying the new one in a chair to measure length needed for seat and back, then another 30 seconds with a pocket knife, cutting along the thin fold line. One chair pad made! 

Then what was left I cut into two equal sections, also cutting on the folds. Go two kneeling/sitting pads, one for my hunting/camping/hiking gear, and one for the truck. 

It was so warm last week for ice fishing I didn’t bother to take the big chair pad along, just took a small one. Never needed it, it was so warm, and the fishing was so good I spent a lot of time standing anyway. 

Anyway, it was still in the cab of my truck last night, got home late, 40F out (!) light wind, clear sky, stars out and Lots of northern lights. 

I killed the yard lights, grabbed the pad and sat on the tailgate of my truck to watch the show. 40F ambient is great, but a metal tailgate will still be 0F or colder after a week if that and freeze yer ass off! But with the pad I was dry and toasty. Size was good too, enough to sit on comfortably, but not huge to store. 

Gonna need two more pads now… One to keep as a sleep pad, and another to make more kneelers, for other uses/places/vehicles. 

It is/was a Therm-a-rest Z-Lite pad BTW. 

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Thermarest does make a sitting pad, shorter than the sleep pads, and cheaper at $15. Same design, same materials. It would have been too small for the chair pad I wanted, but I might get a couple of those for making more kneelers. Think I can get two of this size kneeler from one of those. 2 for about $15 ain’t bad!

As it is now, two sit/kneel pads and a chair pad that could be used as a short sleep pad isn’t bad at all for $45! 🙂 

Categories: Backcountry, Camping gear, Custom, Customized, Field gear, GetOutdoors, Ice Fishing, Modifications, New Gear, Outdoors, Preparedness, Truck gear

Field Holster; chest carry. 

I’d decided that I need a new holster for my .357. (Vintage Ruger Security Six, 4″). Field holster I guess you’d say… I don’t concealed carry often anymore, just open carry for hunting/hiking. 


Until recently I’ve done belt carry, have a great pancake holster from Simply Rugged that works phenominally. 

But I can’t do belt carry anymore;
Problem #1, it kills my screwed up hips, and #2 at current weight loss level/clothing sizing, keeping my pants up is impossible with the weight of a gun…Hell, it’s hard enough without the gun. Lol. (belt tight enough to hold it all up, cuts into back/hips too much, back to problem #1)

I’ve tried regular shoulder holsters. No go. Got a leather Galco “miami classic” style for a full size auto, have had it a decade, worn it a total of maybe ten times. 

Borrowed a buddies Uncle Mikes vertical nylon job for hunting last month. Wore it once. Rode ok once adjusted, but where it was secure and somewhat comfortable, I couldn’t reach the gun to draw it! 

I’ve had nylon ones twice in the past before. Got a great vintage Bianchi leather job that a good friend gave me, but it’s too big for this gun(actually hoping to convert it to chest or bandoleer carry for my .41 mag Blackhawk ). 

Anyway, I can Never get any slight semblance of comfortable, or secure, at the same time, and never an easy draw either way… 

Add to that the layers of straps you get with the holster, a backpack, and a rifle sling while out and about in the woods… Just no. There’s too much of the world sitting on my shoulders anyway, don’t need to add more! ;)

I’ve thought about a bandoleer setup, but that ends up on the hip cross draw… hard to reach (yes, I still have a bit of a spare tire to reach around, and add a heavy jacket, forget it!) and in a place that would interfere with backpacks, pack frames, and I think a slung rifle.. 

So, my last ditch idea is to attempt to try a chest rig… 

They’re actually extremely popular up here in AK for bear country fishing, and some hunting. 

Yes it hangs on shoulder straps, at least one..but the weight sits on the chest, not under the armpits. And it should pull on the back more than straight down on the shoulders.. I think. I’m thinking it will be more secure feeling and more accessible. And probably more comfortable, leave me some range of arm movement without under arm binding. (Hopefully!)  

So, a couple weeks digging around, and some fantastic suggestions from friends on a forum, and I made a choice. 

I ordered a holster last week. I’d seen these before, and looked at them off and on, but wasn’t sure.

But I decided for the cost –About $40– I couldn’t really go wrong.. If nothing else I could modify the snot out of it. ;)

But really, I decided I needed something low cost to try, to see if chest carry was even the answer, without dropping $70 to $150 depending. Expensive risk, if it turned out chest carry wasn’t my thing.

So, the make is Skyball Mountain Holsters. Amazingly, made in USA. Only places I can find them are Facebook and Ebay, apparently it’s a small business, no dedicated website.

I dug around and found out that the current Ruger GP100 is super close in size to a Security Six, so I ordered the one for a 4″ barrel GP100.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/262234099076

It fits the gun perfectly! 
(Being a open non formed holster, it actually fits All of my mid frame ~4″ hand guns almost perfectly!)

These are built a little different than the average chest harness. The average seems to be an around the body horizontal strap, then the holster sits on that or straps down to it. Then the shoulder strap goes over and attaches to the horizontal strap on your back.

This one is the horizontal strap, and then the shoulder strap goes around from the holster, and BACK TO the holster…

It works. But it adds another strap crossing under your arm, and for me it’s a bit uncomfortable crossing that high under my arm. (I’ve a bit of fat there and it presses in anoyingly)

But even having said that, this thing is SUPER comfortable!! 

I threw it on with the 357 over a light hoodie a few nights ago, and went out and split a days worth of firewood. 45 minutes swinging a splitting maul, lifting, moving logs, etc. and I only had to reposition it a few times. That’s pretty upper body active, more so than any average time I’d normally be wearing a gun.


My only little problem is the way it sits, all the tension is pulling to the left side… The straps don’t hold it to the right if it’s pulled left. But it’s a left hand draw. So it drifts left during draw. Grabbing it with the right hand durring draw fixes it obviously. But I might not always have that hand free, so it needs a hold down strap on the right.

There is a loop on the barrel end of the holster (probably for a hold down), so adding a short cord, I’m thinking shock cord for a little movement, should be easy, run down to my belt.

One other thing, not really a problem, is the chest strap, on me, is extended almost all the way out. Not a design flaw, I’m just a big guy. So I’ll have to get an extension strap for wearing it over a heavy coat. It’s all 1″ strap, and all ends are held with SRBs, so it’ll be easy/cheap to add/remove as needed. The shoulder strap on the other hand, oddly has like another 10″ of outward adjustment, it’ll be fine.

Overall, I really like it. It works, and is verry comfortable. 


As to mods, I’m trying to find the site I saw a T shaped side release buckle on recently… 

It was simple the male or female side of the buckle, but the strap side had the slots on it at a 90 to the buckle… So you can slide it to any place on a strap and have the buckle T off. It was for camping/hiking packs, like to add a sternum strap or similar. Just can’t find it again! 

Anyway, was thinking one of those or similar on the around the chest strap, put it in the back, and clip the shoulder strap into it, doing away with the under arm strap. 

I’ll wear it/use it a while as is and if I don’t get used to that strap there, I’ll look into moddling it. But for now it’s fine!

Fat guy in a holster;

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My view;

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And the bonus, I can pick and chose what I want to carry;

4-5/8″ Blackhawk;

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Ruger MK2;

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Beretta Stamped SAA;
(3.5″ barrel us a little short in there, but I think it’ll balance ok/hang ok)

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Browning BDM 9mm;
(Which is great for now since this is my usual winter woods carry gun. No bears then so I don’t need the .357 etc.)

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:)

Categories: Adventures, Alaska-Life, ATV, ATV Accessories, ATVing, Backcountry, Clothes, GetOutdoors, Guns, Hunting, Life-Philosophy, New Gear, Outdoors, Woods tools

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