Great Sources of Outback Skills Knowledge
Like most people that spend time in the outdoors we have accumulated a few good books filled with great information over the years. If you ask you friends, or search the internet, for recommendations about which Hiking, Camping or Survival books you should have in your home library I’m sure that you’ll come up with a vast array of references. Actually - probably too many. So how do you separate the good ones from the bad?
Although there can be overlap between the types, in our opinion, the knowledge that you need for the outback is contained in three categories of books:
1) Visual and skill reference books
2) Mindset and attitude books
3) Pure reference books
We have a couple of each type. Based on our experience the “go to” books that we keep with our gear so that we can easily find and reference them are:
1) The Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure by DK Publishing and Colin Towell
2) Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere – Alive by Les Stroud
3) SAS Survival Guide 2E (Collins Gem): For any climate, for any situation by John "Lofty" Wiseman
4) Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury
5) Pocket Ref 4th Edition – by Thomas Glover
You can read a little about each book and why we like it on the Camping/Maps and Books page.
So that’s our short list of great outdoor reference books. What books do you find critical to your activities? What books do you love? What books disappointed you? Let us know.
Bought New MagLULA CZ EVO 3 9mm Magazine Loader and Unloader
Finally got around to buying a MagLULA magazine loader for our CZ Scorpion to go with all our other MagLULA loaders. Like our other loaders this loader/unloader is simple to use in either mode and eliminates thumb pain, injury, and wear on the feed lips.
You can find the details about the CZ Scorpion loader on the Shooting/Loaders page.
Bought New Council Tool Woodcraft Pack Axe w/24" Handle and Blade Mask
Although we normally carry our hatchet (a small Schrade Hand Axe) when we camp, sometimes you need more power than a hatchet can deliver. Because of this, after looking at the many types and styles of axes on the market we purchased the Council Tool Wood-Craft Pack Axe with 24″ curved handle.
You can find the details about the Woodcraft Pack Axe on the Camping/Tools page.
Having a Little Information Might Save You in an Emergency Situation
Every year you read about someone lost in the outback without the knowledge to rescue themselves or live through the experience. In many cases these unfortunate people don’t have the proper gear, but sometimes they do have the right gear to help them out of their emergency situation. So what don’t they have? The survival knowledge that they need. Either they forgot it in the crisis situation, or they never knew it. Regardless of how carefully gear is chosen it’s of no use if you don’t know what to do with it.
Because it’s hard to remember everything that you might need to know, having the critical information written down can be extremely helpful. But books are heavy and apps on electronic devices can become inaccessible if your battery dies. Consequently, one set of “cheat sheets” that we have found helpful are Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST’s) “Learn & Live” cards. These laminated cards measure 3.5” x 2.25” inches, weigh less than an ounce and cover a variety of topics. The 5 sets that we have are: Knots, Clouds, Star Gazing, Way Finding and Paracord.
You can read more detailed descriptions of the Survival Cards on the Hiking/Emergency Supplies page.
How to Prepare, What to Pack, and Campsite Safety for a Fun Outdoor Adventure with Your Dog
If you’re someone that’s read our blog or Facebook page for the past couple of years, then you know that we think Hiking and Camping with your dog is a great idea – as long as you and your furry companion are properly prepared for the adventure.
Recently the folks at Redfin wrote a great article on this topic and reached out to us to add it here so that more people were aware of the steps that they need to take before heading into the outback. Since the article and information links in it were spot on we agreed – so here it is:
"At Redfin, we know that sometimes your home away from home is a tent hidden in the woods. And it wouldn't feel like your second home without your dog by your side. With summer in full swing, Redfin has compiled the ultimate safety guide for camping with your dog! Camping with your dogs requires a bit of preparation and safety precautions to ensure that you and your dogs can enjoy a safe and fun outdoor adventure - but we're here to help! We've covered important health and safety precautions as well as how to pack the right safety and comfort essentials for your beloved furry family members, and will arm you with important safety tips and information to keep your dogs safe at and around your campsite.
What You’ll Find in This Guide:
Before You Go: Health Checkups and Safety Supplies - This section covers all the know-before-you-go information that you should take care of before planning a camping trip with your dog, preventative veterinary care tips, and more.
First things first: schedule a visit to the veterinarian for a health checkup. If your dog’s health isn’t optimal, ordinary camping hazards can quickly become serious dangers, so you should discuss your camping plans with your veterinarian. If you plan to take your dog backpacking, you’ll want to make sure that your dog is up to the task physically. Aging or chronically ill dogs may not be physically able to keep up with a daunting trek, so it might be wise to leave Fido with a trusted caregiver in such a scenario.
Check your dog’s records or double-check with your regular veterinarian to ensure that you’re on top of all preventative care, such as core vaccinations like the Rabies vaccine, as it’s possible that your dog may encounter a wild animal with the disease in the great outdoors.
Pests such as fleas and ticks are often common in the wooded areas many people favor for camping. Consider having your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease and make sure that he’s been treated with flea and tick prevention. Additionally, heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites, so make sure your dog’s preventative heartworm treatment is current for optimal protection.
Pack a first-aid kit with essentials. A few must-have supplies for dogs include:
Finally, make sure that your dog’s microchip registration is up to date and that your pet has a tag with complete and accurate information so that finders can easily locate you should your dog get lost. If you know ahead of time that you may not have reliable wireless service, you might also consider adding your veterinarian’s phone number or the contact information for a trusted friend or relative.
Packing for Your Dog - This section covers the essential packing list for camping with your dog, including supplies for nutrition, water safety, and just plain fun.
You’ll need more than first-aid supplies for a camping trip with your furry friend, of course. You’ll want to pack your dog’s food and water dishes, as well as enough fresh water to last the duration of your trip plus a few extra days, unless you’re camping at a site with a readily-available supply of fresh water. If it’s going to be warm, keep in mind that your dog may need to drink more water than usual. Take an ample supply of your dog’s regular food and treats, as well. Your dog will have to do his or her business as usual, so you’ll need a good supply of dog waste bags to keep your campsite free of waste and avoid disgruntled fellow campers.
You’ll also want to pack a leash or two, as well as whatever supplies you’ll need to tether your dog while outdoors. Pack your dog’s bed so that he or she can get a comfortable night’s rest. Some dogs prefer to sleep in their crate, but it’s a good idea to take a dog crate or carrier regardless in the event that you need to confine your pup. If the weather will be cooler in the evenings, pack blankets or a dog jacket to keep your furry friend warm in the elements. If you’re heading to a destination near water, a dog life preserver is a good idea, as well as plenty of extra towels to dry your dog off after a swim.
Don’t forget about enrichment. Does your dog have a favorite toy? Take a few trinkets such as balls, frisbees, and squeaky toys to keep your dog entertained. The other items you’ll need to pack for your dog depend on your plans. If you plan on going hiking, for instance, you’ll want a portable water dish that you can easily store in your backpack to keep your dog hydrated throughout the day.
Dog-Safe Best Practices at the Campsite - This section provides helpful tips for monitoring your dog’s health and maintaining a safe environment for your dog and other campers.
Many campgrounds require that dogs be leashed at all times. Make sure you know and understand the rules if you’re heading for a managed campground; some even specify the maximum lead length permitted. Some campgrounds prohibit dogs altogether, while others place limits on the size or number of dogs permitted. Researching before you go is a must.
Keep an eye on your dog’s well-being throughout your trip. If the weather is hot and humid, you can bet your dog is feeling the heat, too. Watch for signs of heat stroke, such as excessive panting, excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, or seizures. If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, wrap your dog in a towel soaked in cool water and get her to a veterinarian immediately.
Ideally, you’ve already spent time training your dog, but if your dog isn’t the most well-trained pup in the pack, it’s a good idea to start slowly, taking a few short trips to see how your dog fares when exposed to the many new experiences he’ll have during a camping trip. The many sights, sounds, people, and scents can send even well-trained dogs into a flurry of excitement, so testing the waters and learning how to work with your dog to manage behavior will ensure not only his or her safety, but the safety of fellow campers and animals, both domestic and wild.
At minimum, your dog should obey a few essential commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it.” If you don’t know how your dog will react to strangers, particularly excited children, use extreme caution until you’re comfortable with your dog’s temperament in new situations. These commands will come in handy for situations such as encountering poisonous plants or other hazardous substances; a dog who obeys the “leave it!” command will be much more easily redirected than a dog who can think of nothing else but devouring those delicious-looking leaves or berries. You should do your research to know which plants your dog must steer clear of and how to identify them in order to be proactive about keeping your dog away from these dangerous plants.
Above all, have fun! A camping trip is a great opportunity to kick back and relax. When you take the proper precautions and keep safety top-of-mind, a camping trip is an enjoyable bonding experience for humans and dogs alike.
Resources on Safe Camping with Dogs - This section provides valuable resources on dog health, camping safety, and other essential information for a safe and enjoyable camping trip with your furry friend.
Camping with Dogs offers a wide range of articles about camping safely with your dog.
Ruffwear's Blog provides advice on all types of outdoor activities with your dog and products to keep them save.
IHeartDogs.com provides 12 important safety tips for camping with your dog.
The ASPCA offers a comprehensive guide to vaccinations for your dog, including information on core and non-core vaccines, regulations and risks associated with vaccination, and how to determine the proper vaccination schedule for your dog.
GearJunkie is an excellent resource for discovering the essential outdoor gear your dog needs for a fun outdoor adventure.
Dogster.com also covers some common outdoor risks for dogs, including helpful tips for helping your dog cope with anxiety from thunderstorms, preventing poisoning, and other helpful advice.
Even in the warmer months, when the sun goes down, the chill can set in. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers helpful cold weather safety tips for dogs and other pets.
CampTrip provides a useful guide for first-time camping with your dog, including tips for getting your dog in tip-top physical shape before your trip, acclimating your dog to tents, and more.
Mother Nature Network offers helpful advice for camping with your four-legged friends, including an informative discussion on determining whether your dog’s temperament is well-suited for camping.
The Humane Society provides a comprehensive list of what to include in a first-aid kit for your dog.
BarkPost names 10 ideal, dog-friendly camping destinations that are surely on every dog’s bucket list.
The Pet Poison Helpline provides a handy list of 10 plants poisonous to pets. Knowing how to identify the plants that your dog must avoid is essential for a safe and enjoyable camping experience."
Taking a Shot in the Dark
Earlier this week I attended a Low Light Shooting class. Since 80% of all shootings occur in low light, with the deadliest time between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM, knowing how to shoot in this environment is fairly important. Needless to say this was a new experience. The class focused on how to shoot your every day carry handgun in either very low light or in total darkness, with the assistance of a flashlight. The class covered lots of topics to include:
The majority of the activity was related to learning, trying out and then using various flashlight techniques:
Different techniques worked better for each person – depending on their specific handgun, preferred shooting stance, level of expertise, etc. Personally I preferred the Harries technique since it provided flexibility when pointing the flashlight while allowing the hand holding the flashlight to support the dominant shooting hand. It also allowed me to easily turn the flashlight on (when locating the target) and off (when shooting at the target or moving).
Here are some pictures of what the shooting looked like.
Yet Another Good Reason to Go Out at Night
This week we had the first full moon of the year, the “Wolf Moon”, named after the howling wolves that would often be heard outside Native American villages.
As luck would have it this moon was also a Supermoon; a full moon that occurs when the Moon is near its closest orbital approach to Earth. Because it's so close to Earth, a Supermoon looks ~16% brighter than an average full moon.
Although nighttime temperatures have been below zero here in New England, I took the opportunity to get out in the local woods and take some photos of the moon on a very cold, clear, crisp night.
Beautiful Photos – Cold Hike
Well Winter definitely arrived here in New England this week. We’ve had a variety of sleet, freezing rain, and 8” of snow over the past few days. The Winter weather gives you a chance to take some gorgeous pictures of the woods – as long as you have the right gear to trek out into the cold to see all of Nature’s beauty.
Here are some photos that we have captured as we roamed the forest after the weather cleared.
Items to Take Care of Before a Major Trip
Who is going on the hike?
What’s a summary of your overall plan?
When are you going on your trip?
Where do you specifically plan to be on a day-by-day basis?
How are you going to ensure that your trip is a success?
Now that you know the things that you need to think about, take care of, and/or inform a friend/family member about before you embark on a major hike - what’s a “major trip”?
In our opinion it’s a hike that is more complicated than a couple of hours on a known trail in your local area. So if it’s an overnight trip – this list applies. If it’s a hike that is in an area new to you – this list applies. If it’s a hike in a treacherous area – this list applies. If you are hiking in adverse weather – this list applies. In short, if you have any concerns about the trip you are about to take – this list applies. Obviously, the more significant and complicated the trip is - the more detailed the information you need to give a friend or family member.
Of course, when hiking you also need to take the right gear for the trip. You can download PDFs of our recommended gear lists here:
1) Hiking Gear Checklist
2) Camping Gear Checklist
We've All Seen These Types of Behavior at the Range
Here's a humorous video from Colion Noir about what we all see at the gun range almost every day from the people around us.
Of course if you look closely enough you might see yourself characterized by some of these actions too……...
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