Posts Tagged ‘camping’

Well, I said I wanted to get out more, and this year I did, though it was a modest improvement instead of the ‘leaps and bounds’ I wanted to accomplish.  I’ll still treat it as a win though, several good hikes, bowhunted a new area over a dozen times (for me, that’s quite good, between shifting work schedules and taking care of the petting zoo around here) and even getting a couple of shots at a small buck.


One of the quick photos I took from my stand in Camp Creek VPA Wildlife Management Area.

We managed to get a night of bowfishing in with TreeTop, and had a lot of fun at West Point that night.


We lost Brody this year, which still hurts enough that I haven’t been able to go back and edit the post for typos and grammatical errors.  I don’t know if I ever will, every time I try to scroll back through the posts to link something for somebody, I try very hard to scroll past that post quickly.  He meant a lot to me.

I’m in the early ‘kind of’ planning stages to go backpacking while it’s still cold weather here in Georgia: I’m from the frozen north, I like thirty degree weather a heck of lot better than ninety degree weather, and I want to make some use of it while I can.  I haven’t been on a backpacking trip since Minister Creek Trail in Pennsylvania around 1990, so it’s been quite a long time. I dug an old frame pack I have been toting around for decades out of the garage and after really looking at it for a few minutes, scratched my head and told my wife “I don’t think I’ve every used this pack. The last time I did a backpacking trip, I used my pack with a metal frame. This is a polymer framed pack.”  And I honestly think that at some point in the mid 1990’s, I purchased this pack for a trip that never happened, but I’m stymied as to when or where I purchased it.  It’s nice, so I might as well put it to use.  I’m not sure where I’ll go at this point, I was looking at the Chattahoochee National Forest, but the parts of it I’m really familiar with are not really the ‘walk into the woods and camp’ part, unless you like nearly vertical hiking, however there is part of the Appalachian Trail up there that has a good reputation for being a hike and camp area, so I might try that.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year.

In April, I ordered a Etekcity backpacker sized stove with self-ignition in the hopes that I could use it to make a hot beverage or heat water to use with a dehydrated meal on the trail sometime during the year.  I didn’t end up hiking as much as I wanted to (my work schedule was changed multiple times, making it difficult to tie in with my wife’s days off, so when our days off coincided we would use the time to catch up on housework etc.) so I hadn’t used it.


Etekcity Ultralight Portable stove with piezo ignition – this image is from

Recently, I watched quite a few bushcraft videos, mostly Joe Robinet and McQ Bushcraft, and remembered that I’d bought this tiny stove, but hadn’t used or tested it yet.

The stove takes butane-propane mix canisters, so on a recent shopping trip, I picked one up at REI for under $5 to test the stove out.  Be careful when buying this kind of stuff, my first stop for most gear is Amazon, but always, always double check prices with other sites and/or physical stores.  REI doesn’t even list this item on their website, and Amazon has it listed for $18.99, but it was $4.95 at the REI near Kennesaw, GA.  (In the past, I’ve found quite a few items listed by third party sellers that was outrageously priced.  One item was $8 per can at Academy Sports, and $49.00 from a third party seller on Amazon.)


To test this, I used a tin cup I picked up in Afghanistan about ten years ago, two cups of cold tap water, and put the stove on the railing of my back porch.  I wanted to see how long it would take to bring the water to a rolling boil.  According to our outdoor thermometer, it was 34′ outside,  and shows a 10-15 mph NW wind.  I don’t have a lid for the cup, and for the first seven minutes of the test, I didn’t block the wind.

The little stove heated the water very quickly, but it wouldn’t come to a boil until I stood blocking the wind, at which point roughly one minute later I had a rolling boil.  If I had a lid for the cup, and had blocked the wind from the beginning, I have no doubt that this tiny stove would have had the water boiling quite fast.


The water started to steam in the cold air in under a minute

I really like it – the package lists the output as 6,666 BTU, which I think is really good for something under $12 that can fit in a shirt pocket.  I don’t know if I would rely on this kind of thing for long-term survival, but as a short term, light weight option for camping trips and backpacking trips, it would certainly be much faster than cutting firewood and starting a full campfire when all you want is to re-hydrate a meal and have a cup of tea before moving on. It cools down very quickly, by the time you have the meal ready to eat, it should be cool enough to put back in the carrying case.

The stove comes with an orange plastic two piece carrying case.


This shows the stove when out of the case, in the case, and when the case is closed – Image is from

Sorry for the delay, I’ve been trying to retrieve the photographs from my camera, which was accidentally sacrificed in the line of duty during my week at Joe Kurz this November.

We (Clay, Kevin the Elder, Kevin the Younger, Jesus, and a whole bunch o’ other folks) had a great time, though we actually didn’t see many deer this year.  We found some good sign, not great, but decent, and Clay did harvest a deer at the end of the week, but after the firearm quota hunt, the deer were definately moving more at night.

Sadly, with the demise of my camera on day three, I have very few photos to share compared to a normal, week long trip, but here they are.

We had a great time, hanging out with Jesus (hunting buddy we met last year at camp) and a bunch of other folks, but only Clay and Jesus managed to get any action: The deer I saw driving in on Saturday in somebody’s front yard, and some deer at dusk that night as Jesus and I drove around looking for critters, were almost the only deer I saw the entire week.   I did see a deer Sunday evening when I was in the stand – I managed to draw my bow three times on a small doe, and just couldn’t get a good, clear shot.

It was cold again this year mid-week, very cold in fact, though not into the teens like last year.  My Zippo Outdoor 4-in-1 came in very handy, since Kevin (Clay’s step-son) loves cutting up firewood. I brought a chainsaw, and we never had to use it, Kevin just used the saw feature on the Zippo axe and we were all set for a bonfire every night.

One thing is for sure, if you love to hunt coyotes, you need to head to Joe Kurz WMA and take some out, they are all over the place. I don’t think I saw a single patch of dirt that didn’t have a paw print in it the whole week.

Ok – I’m winging this recipe.  The goal is to make a nice, shredded beef stuffing, top it with the white cheddar, slap ciabatta on either side with some horseradish sauce and eat hearty.  (Resisting temptation to quote ‘300’ at this point.)

Onions, peppers and garlic simmering in merlot and beef drippings

Onions, peppers and garlic simmering in merlot and beef drippings



I’ve already browned this cut up chuck roast in canola oil with salt and pepper. The roast was marinated in Brisket Sauce and Liquid Smoke for an hour.


No explanation needed.

The recipe is pretty basic: marinate a cut of beef, in this case a cut up chuck roast.  Brown it fast in canola oil, with salt and pepper, then deglaze the pan with red wine, add onions, peppers and garlic, more salt and pepper, and when the vegetables soften, return the beef to the pan and pour Coca Cola over top until level with the meat.  I also added (roughly) one teaspoon of thyme, four cloves, and one teaspoon of basil.  I’ll cook the beef in my heavy Dutch oven at 315 for 6-7 hours, then shred, and the wife and I can add whatever sauce we prefer (she prefers none) to the meat before making our sandwiches.


Beef roast (or flank steak, it can be a cheap cut really)

1 onion

1 bell pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp basil

1-2 tsp salt and pepper (to taste)

2-4 cloves

1 cup red wine

1 cup water

1/2  to 1 can of Coca Cola (or soda of choice, I like Coke for the acidity)

Dash of canola oil

heavy pot or Dutch oven

Just after Christmas, I posted that I was going to start juicing.  I have been, somewhat, however when I see the amount of material I was adding to the compost heap, I kept thinking “but those bits are yummy too…” and really, I’ve just been eating more vegetables and fruit, and juicing now and then.  My wife, not a fresh-fruit or vegetable enthusiast, has discovered that she LOVES fresh apple and orange juice.

Then, in January, my daughter told me about an app for my phone called “My Fitness Pal.”   I am NOT a big cell phone app user – I have the WordPress app, Amazon Kindle App, FaceBook and Twitter apps, Angry Birds Star Wars, and now My Fitness Pal.

And I like it.

imgres-1 imgres

Simply put, when you set the app up, you tell it what you weigh, and how much you want to lose per week, and it generates a caloric goal per day.  After that you enter the food you eat in the daily ‘diary,’ which is connected to a decent database of foods including nutritional information for some of the foods (it depends on what’s entered already) or you can enter the nutritional information yourself, from the back of the package.   There is also a bar code scanner, for pre-packaged foods.  As an example of the scanner, I usually take microwavable dinners to work on our midnight shifts, Lean Cuisine or other ‘healthy’ offerings depending on whats on sale that week.  Scanning the bar code on those meals has, so far, accurately brought up all the nutritional information: I cross checked several of the results from the back of the package.

You also enter exercise into the app, which offsets your calorie count for the day.  I have a treadmill with a 32″ flat screen TV/DVD combo in front of it, so I tend to watch NetFlix or DVDs while on the treadmill.  Yesterday I watched “Thor” again while on the treadmill, with a result of 4.6 miles over the one hour forty-eight minutes of the movie, incline 4-6, for 1,326 calories burned.

The app makes an interesting game out of what you eat and how you exercise.  Now, every time I open my mouth to put something in it, I think about that calorie count, along with if I’ll be able to hit the treadmill that day to offset the difference.

It’s working, too.  I lost 8 pounds in the first ten days.  It’s also changing how I think about foods, since the app tracks the nutritional content (if it’s provided when you enter your intake) of everything. For example, people might skip a Coke Zero because it has no calories.  Wrong. It has NUTRIENTS in it, so you should track it. Again, the bar code scanner works on every soft drink I’ve tried it on, and you’d be shocked how much SODIUM you end up taking in with diet drinks.  Sodium in moderation is necessary, but at the end of a week, if you look at your sodium intake on this app (if you’ve been honest about adding foods) it’s HUGE, way above what is needed.

Yesterday, I had me a bit of a weak moment and stopped at a local BBQ place for lunch. I had the beef plate with deep fried green beans and jalapeno poppers.  Not good, I felt like I swallowed half a bottle of deef frier fat all day.  One month ago, I WOULDN’T HAVE NOTICED.  Instead, after I got home, I hit the treadmill to make up the calorie difference.

I won’t be doing that again anytime soon.

You learn, with this app, what’s filling without being high-calorie. You also start noticing exactly how many THOUSAND calories you can give up with fast food.

I want to see 250# again – and I want to see it soon, but in a way that I can SUSTAIN.  No yo-yo dieting for me, I like to do things in such a way that I don’t have to do them over and over again, so changing what I eat, how I track it, and how I pay for it with exercise is exactly the right way to do it.

Losing this weight will help with, well, everything. Better hunting, less cost (tree stands rated for Sasquatchoids are more expensive) in my equipment choices, CLOTHES WILL FIT AGAIN without having to ask folks “that come in man size?” (I messed with Scentlok at the ATA Show when the nice lady tried to sell me on their new jacket. “That come in man size?” I asked… she said “What size are you?”  “XXXL…”  “No, sorry, XXL is the largest…”)  Of course, losing weight isn’t going to make my SHOULDERS smaller, and I don’t quite fit through normal doors because of the width of my shoulders, but hey, less weight is still better.


I’ve had a package of Bear Creek Minestrone in my cupboard for about a year.  I don’t remember if I picked it up because it was on sale, I wanted something different in the cupboard, or if an evil spider monkey threw it in my cart and I didn’t notice.

It doesn’t matter.

Until Sunday, I hadn’t even LOOKED at the instructions on the package, I’d just shuffled it around digging for Progresso or Campbell’s soup cans over the year.   Sunday, I made some Johnsonville bratwurst patties with caramelized onions and cheese, and wanted a soup to serve with the sandwiches, something different.

Then I read the instructions. “Bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil, whisk in soup, reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Serve.”

Ah! Dummy-proof!

Bear_Creek_minestroneNo surprise, it actually took about 25 minutes for the carrots to properly rehydrate.  The soup was very tasty, and if I’d had some beef or fresh tomato to add in, I’d have given it some zing, but I didn’t, and I was curious enough to just leave it exactly as it came from the package.

Now, of course this isn’t proper ‘cooking’ for the house, and normally I’d rather make food from scratch, but now I have another fantastic CAMPING and HUNTING product to toss in the tote for trips.  It doesn’t GET much easier than this for 1/2 gallon of soup, enough to feed up four people.  You can carry cans, but they get HEAVY, particularly if you’re going to backpack in or carry the tote over and over again.  This, you still need to have the water, but I carry CASES of water in my truck usually.

I had half of a fresh-baked garlic loaf left over from the day before (steak and chipotle-chili-lime shrimp that night) so I reheated it in the oven, sliced it into decent sized chunks and put butter on it to serve with the soup.

Watch where you buy it from though – I can’t remember the price at Kroger’s, but Wal-Mart advertises this soup at $3.18, which is the cheapest I’ve found it.

This is a great product to have in your pack or camping gear. Depending on how you’re boiling the water, half an hour from start to finish for very tasty soup.

I’m planning on hunting hogs on a very tight budget later this year – so I plan on camping at various Wildlife Management Areas in August and September.  While the nights can cool off a bit during those months in Georgia, there are nights where the temperature just doesn’t cool off nearly enough for comfort.  Based on that, I’ve been looking at ways to keep the tent cool during these hunts.

I have seen some common sense advice at , such as ‘bring a battery powered fan,”  and I’ve seen some people who prefer to answer that question with inane responses such as ‘how do you keep a tent cool in 100′ heat? Don’t camp in that kind of heat.’  Hmmm… let’s see, I think if I was the one who asked the question, I would have had a few sharp responses to that non-answer.

S0… common sense stuff.  Pitch the tent in the shade, yeah, that does help a bit, mainly by putting you on ground that is hopefully somewhat cooler than the baked clay out in the open.   The battery powered fan idea is pretty good too.  A couple of other ideas I’ve come up with involve possibly using a cheap spray bottle to coat the tent’s fly sheet in a fine mist before bedding down, since evaporation would help cool the tent, however I’ll be in GEORGIA, where the humidity at that time of year ranges from 60% to ‘you feel like you’re ten feet underwater.’

The website eHow added a few bits of useful information, like selecting a tent with a large screen area to make better use of any breezes, which is fine, my tent is almost all mesh with an external rain fly that goes overtop.  eHow also pointed out, just as Always Outdoors did, that drinking a lot helps prevent dehydration, which is always a good safety tip, but not what I asked of either site.    Another good tip involved using a small bag of ice against the back of the neck, which leads me to perhaps look into finding some affordable sports-medicine ‘break to freeze’ style cold packs. I can get 48 of these through for just over $100, however that’s probably about 30 more than I need.

I’ll keep looking and thinking about it, and update as needed.


If you couldn’t tell from my Sausage post earlier in the week – I love to cook, and my hunting buddies love to eat.  Last year (2010-2011 season) one of them, Jason I think, mentioned that somebody who used to come to camp made a ‘Ro Tel and Greens’ mix that everybody loved. Or, in Jason-speak “It was smack-your-mama good!”

So I thought, ‘how hard can it be?’  It turns out, you open two cans and heat!  The only thing I threw in on my own was the bacon.


1 can Ro*Tel Original (you can use whichever one you like. Seriously, I won’t check.)

1 can Glory Seasoned Mixed Greens

Call it two slices of bacon, cut into 1″ pieces.


Mix. Heat. Eat. It’s awesome. Just make sure you cook it long enough for the bacon to have cooked through, and you’re all set.