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Wednesday 25 May 2016

Practising what Paul Kirtley Preaches.

I was watching the Ask Paul Kirtley vids on youtube and as happens every once in a while the pros and cons of bowdrill seems to be coming up a lot lately. I'm not a great proponent of it, I believe it's over rated and there's too much time and emphasis placed on it when it's simply one more arrow in the bushcraft quiver. Even Ray Mears says on one of his Walkabout programs that in a genuine survival situation you lose energy very quickly and it's therefore difficult to achieve fire with this method.. in a genuine situation get out your lighter!!
 So if it's not a genuine survival situation why even bother with it as any sensible bushcrafter will have a means to make fire on them. Also not only do you lose energy quickly but what happens if you're injured, if you can't bend down, or if your leg or arm is broken?, bowdrill won't be possible... I can see the purpose of it for demonstration or fun but in a genuine situation it's surely going to be a last resort, but Paul said something that got me thinking and really struck a cord with me, that the bowdrill method gives you a greater understanding of fire, it makes you think about achieving this element and with that thought and that greater understanding comes a more skilled individual, one who, if he can get an ember regularly with a bowdrill, then his entire fire making capabilities would be sharpened and made more acute, now that is something that makes sense to me, bowdrill is not just a means of making fire.. it's a teaching tool! Now this I can relate to as a deeper understanding is what I've always strived to achieve, so with this in mind I had a hoke to see what wood I had lying around, I found some elder, sycamore, willow and lime so out into the back garden for a go.

I haven't used the firebow in quite a while and muscle memory is important with this technique, you can certainly feel it after a few goes.....willow on sycamore

willow on lime

sycamore on sycamore, the dust was quite coarse and this usually denies me an ember though I got it this time, understanding the colour and texture of the dust is a lesson in itself..

I tried two types of bow, a stiff one and a flexible one and I without a doubt prefer the flexible one as it allows a bit of leeway with string length and spindle width..
I don't think it will ever be my favourite method of lighting fire as I can do without friction in my life..!!

Monday 23 May 2016

Lundin and Teti law suit

Seems like the dual survival fallout legacy continues with Teti facing quite serious allegations once again, this time from Cody who alleges that Teti threatened him with an ice axe.. seems there's no smoke without fire.

Sunday 8 May 2016

Cattail and Yellow Iris, I got it wrong.

I know the difference between these plants, I also know HOW to tell the difference between these plants. I eat cattail and I make things from yellow iris... but I got complacent...and I got it wrong and ended up with a blistered mouth and throat due to my complacency.

I often nibble on new growth cattail but recently when out I wasn't thinking and I grabbed a new growth 'cattail', I quickly peeled it and started eating it, but I knew right away that the texture was wrong, I quickly spat it out and checked to see that the plant I was holding was actually Yellow flag iris and not cattail, but the damage was done, my mouth and throat were burning, like I'd eaten very hot chillies and it stayed that way for 8 hours and I ended up with lots of little blisters on the inside of my mouth and throat, all due to the fact that I didn't take care or pay attention.. There's no excuse for it, I was stupid and I paid the price, but I will learn from it and I won't make the mistake again, sometimes we need a swift boot in the rear to bring us back to reality and make us realise we are getting too cocky, I will learn from it. 
so to help you guys avoid making the same mistakes I made here is how to tell the difference between the two.

The first ID is leaf colour and shape, Iris has an emerald green colour and a very pointed tip, cattail is blue green and a rounded or bullet tip leaf (Iris left, cattail right).

In cross-section at the base of the plant, iris is elliptical and cattatil is rounded..note the purple colour on the iris, this would be a dead give away if the colour were always present but it isn't so don't use that as your only method of ID.(Iris left, cattail right)

leaf shape of each leaf..iris is diamond and cattail a crescent.(Iris left, cattail right)

a slice along the plants, note the iris seems more solid in texture and is definitely noticeable when you bite into it !!! (Iris left, cattail right)

This is the structure of each leaf and this is my main method of ID but again I got cocky and didn't examine the leaves, note the very vertical lineage in the structure of the leaf..this is Iris

Not the crosshatched or honeycomed structure of this leaf, this is cattail and if you hold the leaf to the light and you see this structure you can be sure it's cattail.

and next to each other, Iris above cattail below.

I'm the first to admit I got it wrong and I'm not too proud to say I make mistakes, but show me a man who says he doesn't make mistakes and I'll show you a liar. Every day is a learning process and some days are re-learning processes but in the words of George Bernard Shaw..
"success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time"

So don't do what I did when you are in the bush, take your time, examine your wild foods and make sure you know what you're eating, don't get complacent.. complacency can kill.