22 December 2018

Pine Tree Resources

Dried Pine Sap: can be picked off and chewed to help with a sore throat or cold. It is also nicely flammable; so once lit can extend your initial fire starting time and can be used to get damp'ish tinder/kindling dried and properly burning.
Mattress Building Or Shelter Building: because of their flat, wide-spreading shape, pine boughs make a fantastic and quick to build mattress or walls on your debris shelter. Their springy texture can nicely build your mattress/bed well up off the ground. Especially useful on snow covered ground or damp ground. A small hatchet is best for lopping these boughs. You obviously have major environmental and leave no trace issues here to consider. Least impactful is to gather boughs from a fallen pine tree; however the boughs still need to be green and living/semi-living - you do not want brown dead needles shedding all night into your gear/clothes/hair!

Inner Bark: the next five photos show the process for gathering the edible inner white bark; which can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, or dried and ground into flour. Only one small bark section from each pine tree as this is obviously impactful on the tree. The outer bark cannot be eaten.

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Photo 5
Pine Tree Root: one of the best natural cordages you will ever find. Quick and simple.

Pine roots are shallow and spread out in a circular pattern, so scrabble in the soil with your hands around a pine trunk until you find a root. Carefully expose the root until you have as much as you need. It needs to be exposed and carefully dug out, as if you pull it will break.

To be environmentally conscious two roots per tree max is all you should take; then cover back up any of your diggings.

A clove hitch is a good knot for pine root.

Experiment with your cordage roots; roots too slim and they will snap, roots too chunky will not be flexible enough.

Soft Pine Sap: is antiseptic, astringent (slows bleeding), anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Apply pine sap to wounds/cuts, once you have cleaned them with clean/boiled/sterilised water. Apply generously. Also good to use on eczema and skin rashes.
Pine Tea: tasty and full of vitamin c, in fact has four to five times the vitamin c of a freshly squeezed orange. Also high in vitamin a (vision, immune system, reproduction). Acts as a decongestant, and when cooled - an antiseptic wash. For the full taste and health benefits have your water just below boiling temperature when adding the needles.

Here Is Another Good Blog On The Pine Tree

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14 December 2018

Gift Vouchers For Christmas

Don't forget we have Christmas Gift Vouchers available, for either guided kayaking tours or any of our training courses... For more details please contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com. 
Thanks & Happy Christmas!

10 December 2018

Take Your Time Starting Your Fire

When it comes to lighting a fire, people often have a tendency to get a spark/flame going, then urgently start seeking for kindling and firewood; building their fire while it is actually burning. Running around and often running short of kindling, so their fire peters out!

You are much better off spending one to three hours carefully preparing your fire. All your tinder, kindling and firewood built up into a pyramid-lay.

If you spend three hours preparing your fire pit, tinder, fuel and fire-lay it is highly unlikely to fail.

Remember, especially in our dampish climate, you can never have enough tinder and kindling to begin with.

Having your fire amply built before a spark goes into it means there is no frantic running around, no putting down and loosing your fire striker, no wet knees and blowing into the fire, no burnt fingers, no red eyes and no stress!

Also with inherent dampness in your fuel, the outer fuel will begin to dry out from the heat of the inner fire.

6 December 2018

What To Look For When Setting Up Camp

What To Look For When Setting Up Camp

I get asked this question on bushcraft courses. Whether you are surviving, bushcrafting or camping - most of the same points apply.

1. Shelter:

Self explanatory but important. Do you need shelter from the wind, from the rain, from the sun? Even if conditions are calm and settled when you build your shelter think about what that night, or the following day, may bring. Sometimes as simple as building your shelter behind a bush, tree trunk or boulder.

2. Not Too Sheltered:
Sometimes a breeze on a midge/mosquito laden day, or a wind on a blazing hot day, blowing past your shelter can be really useful.

3. Easy Access To Water:
Self explanatory but important. You want to cut down the trips, time, energy back and forth, to your water source. You don't want to get lazy about washing, cleaning, collecting water and keeping a constant supply of sterilized water on hand. Also at night, in the dark and possibly without a torch, you don't want a tricky stumbling route to and from the stream/river, and you do not want to be slipping into the river in the dark!

4. No Flooding Possibility:
Being close to water is important, but camped right on top of it and you will be in a cooler zone at night as the air above the water cools more than the air above the land. Midges/mosquitoes love water/swampy areas and most of all you do not want to be awoken in the middle of the night with a flooding stream/river spreading into your shelter. It happens more often and easier than you think. It is very easy to be complacent and think 'there is no way my shelter will be flooded by that stream'. This also applies to camping down in a dip or hollow where water can gather or air cools more.

5. Easy Access To Shelter Building Resources:
If you are building a shelter - that can be up to three or four hours work, gathering and carrying spars/ribs/debris/vegetation, so make your life easy - don't be having to carry each armful of debris/vegetation twenty mins back to your campsite - unless you have no other choice. Of all your shelter building resources debris/vegetation/leaf mold/bracken (all used to wall and roof your shelter) is probably the one that needs to be considered most.

6. Easy Access To Fire Wood:
Keeping your fire going is often a big part of being at camp, so therefore constantly collecting fire wood can be a big part of being at camp. Keep this in mind. The closer your fire wood source the less work you will have. Good to build up a fire wood depot so, especially at night time, there is no gathering work involved. Every time you return to camp have fire wood in any empty hands. As they say in the restaurant industry to waiters 'never do empty runs'.

7. Easy Access To Any Other Resources:

Self explanatory. Generally the biggest resources you will need are shelter building materials, water, fire wood and food; and these are the main considerations. However you may have other resources you need and it's worth considering this in advance.

8. Off Any Predator Nest:
Not just snakes or killer ants! A normal red ant nest, a wasp nest, an old stump full of mice or a damp area full of midges by day/slugs by night can be a nuisance.

9. Off Any Predator Trail:
You obviously don't want tigers or elephants following their regular water trail through your camp to their watering hole. In the UK and further afield a snake-run needs to watched for. In Ireland sheep, deer and especially cows can damage your camp; even just their droppings all over your clean seating area or cooking area.

10. Beside A Landmark:
Ireland, UK or further afield; if you are somewhere unknown; it is good to have a prominent landmark at your camp. This allows you to leave camp with confidence knowing if you became misplaced or totally lost, you can simply head for your camp landmark. Examples would be a prominent dip, a prominent height, a noisy river cascade, a prominent stream junction, a rocky outcrop, or an especially tall tree rising above all other trees.

11. Consider Climatic Weather:
However fantastic the weather when you are choosing camp - think about your general climate. Is the wind generally from the south west? Does it rain most days? Are there lightning storms most afternoons? When it comes to natural bushcraft navigation it is also invaluable to know your general climatic weather, such as prevailing wind direction.

12. Consider Incoming Weather:
As well as your general climatic weather think about specific local weather. Get this in advance from a forecasting website and on the ground from paying attention to what is happening around you, especially the sky and clouds. For example what can accidentally happen is you build your shelter facing away from a gently daytime south-westerly breeze but end up facing into a strong nighttime north-easterly wind, perhaps with driving rain or snow.

13. Build Shelter/Tent On Clean/Dry/Sleepable Ground:
It is easy to quickly glance at a piece of ground and decide it is dry enough or comfortable enough to sleep on. Or to ignore a jutting knob in the ground and think it wont particularly effect your night's sleep - only to regret your location choice at 1am in the morning! Really check and feel the ground you intend to build your shelter on. Expect the ground to be a little damp (that is why you build a mattress), but is the ground holding pools of hidden water? Are there definitely no small jutting knobs? Is there a funny sloping angle to the floor that will have you sliding around all night?

14. Face Shelter/Tent Away From Wind Direction:
Facing shelter/tent away from wind direction makes sense. You will face the back of the shelter/tent into the wind direction. This wedge or spearhead shape is nicely aerodynamic and allows the wind to separate around your shelter without tearing it to pieces. I have already mentioned being aware of different wind directions in point 12.

15. Consider Fire/Cooking/Seating Area:
Your sleeping, fire, cooking, seating and working areas are collectively your home. It makes sense to have them nicely gelled together and fairly close to each other. For example at home when the kettle boils to make tea, you don't then want to be walking up two flights of stairs to get your cup and tea bag, followed by walking through four rooms to sit down and enjoy your cup of tea. Flip side of this is you don't want your shelter smoked out by the fire being too close, or all your ground turned to mud on a damp day because all your different areas are far too close together.

16. Consider Toilet Area:
Convenient but definitely not too close to your camp. Simple access to it at night, so you don't end up wandering around in the dark looking for your bed, after having used the toilet. If the access to it is confusing you can mark a trail with stone 'bread-crumbs' or timber wands. Toilet, for either number ones or number twos, should be three hundred meters from any watercourse and downhill of any watercourse. Number twos should be in a latrine, dug three to six inches deep. With a longer term camp one single big latrine is more efficient than many small single-use toilet holes. Sprinkle a decent handful of soil/vegetation/sand into latrine after each use. Wood ash from your fire also works really well. Avoid doing number ones/pees randomly around your camp area as where you pee today someone else in your party may be sitting, lying, collecting fuel or picking wood sorrel the following day - so for number ones it is also important to have a designated area or two.

17. Designate Four Water Access Points:
Ideally have four easily defined and easily accessed water points. Beginning with the most upstream point - this is where you collect your pans of water for sterilising, then drinking or cooking with. Second point downstream is where you wash your hands/face/teeth/blow your nose/etc. Your tooth brush water is actually always taken from sterilised water to avoid water poisoning. Third point downstream is where you wash your pots and pans. Dirty washing-up water, full of food debris/etc is sprinkled onto the ground, not poured back into watercourse. Once pots and pans are thoroughly washed they are then also rinsed in sterilised water. Fourth point downstream is where you wash your hands after going to the toilet, or wash your hands/face after vomiting. Vomiting should be done into your latrine or worst case away from any watercourse and covered with wood ash and vegetation afterwards.

18. Designate Natural Hooks/Shelves For Food/Cups/Gear:
This way things don't get stood on and damaged, lost, dirtied or slugs crawling into. It will also tell you what is clean and what needs to be washed. Keep gear up off the ground, especially food. Food wrapped (wrapped in moss can be good) and free-hanging from a branch is a deterrent to pests such as mice/rats.

19. Keep Your Camp Clean/Tidy/Organised:
Stick to a simple, fairly rigid, routine, so a clean pan always gets put in the same spot, food always gets hung in the same spot, a pan of sterilised water is put in one area and a pan of un-sterilised water is put in another area, and so on.

20. Have A Decent Firewood Depot, Close To The Fire:
Have it organised into five grades; tinder/kindling, matchstick thickness, finger thickness, wrist thickness; plus some major heavy branches for a long term fire lay, such as a star lay.
One handy thing to look for when initially choosing your camp is a naturally formed fire wood shelter, such as a small cave or overhanging bank to keep your fire wood dry.
21. Do You Want Your Camp Visible Or Discreet?
Perhaps you are in trouble, or have arranged to meet others, so want your camp and campfire reasonably visible? Perhaps you are bird watching or stalking, so want your camp and campfire reasonably discreet? Siting your campfire carefully and building a mix of fuel depots and fire reflectors around your fire will significantly drop it's visibility. The four main things that give away a camp are fire light, wood smoke, you talking or making noise, or being on a trail that an animal or person stumbles across you.

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4 December 2018

Making A Quick Knife

If you are ever stuck for a sharp blade; take a rock and place it in your camp fire until it cracks/shatters. Two out of three times you will end up with these beautifully sharp edges on the shattered rock, suitable for use.

If the edge of the rock you are holding is cutting into your hand - take a handful of moss/bracken/leaves to protect and pad out your hand.