This past weekend I attended Dave Canterbury’s Pathfinder Gathering in Ohio. It was only a 3 hour drive from Indiana so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to hang with a bunch of survival junkies for a few days. There were several Survival ALL-STARS at the event and it was a great time to practice some skills with some true veterans and learn from others.
Dave Canterbury was the 1st to greet me upon arrival. You may know Dave from Discovery Chanel’s DUAL SURVIVAL. He also owns and instructs at the PATHFINDER SCHOOL of WILDERNES SELF-RELIANCE in Ohio. He pointed me to a patch of woods to set up camp. I chose to pack a Hammock / Tarp set which work out really well. The 2nd night we had near 45 mile an hour winds and my set worked very well.
One of the first classes was HAND DRILL techniques taught by Alan Halcon – world record holder for shortest time to get an ember with a Hand Drill – < 2 seconds! Being from the mid-west I don’t get a lot of hand drill practice. With the humidity and conditions here it just isn’t practical. My hands are still recouping from the blisters.
Alan brought several sets of SOTOL hearth boards and SEEP WILLOW drills for us to work with and it is amazing the difference that good materials makes. Here’s Dave giving the group a quick demo.
There was also a very interesting session about cooking with bamboo. Again, being from the mid-west I don’t work with bamboo very often – especially green bamboo. We used 6″ diameter pieces of bamboo and cooked chicken and sweet potatoes with rice. It cooked for about 1.5 hours with water and it was absolutely delicious.
Besides cooking pots, there was a demonstration about all of the different things you can do with bamboo. It really is amazing plant. From make-shift fishing lures to cordage to crayfish traps the sky is the limit. Below is a crayfish trap as well as a few utensils.
A survival instructor from Florida brought up some sun dried fish. He cut fresh caught fish into small pieces and let them sun dry for 3 days. He said that putting a lot of pepper on it kept the flies off. It was actually really good. Prepared this way it could last for months.
I brought some Raman noodles to eat for lunch and prepared it in my cooking pot using an esbit pocket stove. I did not use esbit as fuel though, just little twigs and pieces of wood. It takes a little longer to boil water this way but I prefer the natural wood fuel over the esbit tablets.
Another survival all-star and author John McCann from http://www.survivalresources.com did several presentations. I really liked the class on using a clear garbage bag as a Solar Still on a tree.
The one pictured above is set on a willow. He wrapped it around a big bunch of leaves and tied off the end with paracord with a rock weight in the corner. I have never personally done this before and was amazed at the amount of water it produced from condensation in just 1 day – almost a full cup. He did state that this only works with CLEAR bags. He said he had tried black and had little to no production.
They also had several SURVIVAL related challenges throughout the event. One was trying to start a fire 1 handed. It was pretty funny and impressive to watch everyone try different fire starting methods using just 1 hand. Here’s a guy from http://www.kodiakfirestarters.com/ using his foot to hold the fire-striker.
All in all this was a great trip and certainly worth my time. There were several vendors set up at the event. I picked a few new pieces of kit. I bought a canteen cook system from http://www.canteenshop.com/ which was a pretty cool set-up. I’ll probably do a post on that in the future. I also picked a new canvas ruck-sack from Mitch over a http://www.nativesurvival.com/. It was only $40. I’ll get a pic of it on-line.
I also got to meet up with a great Bushcrafter from the UK – Sean Mulhall – a YouTube sensation know to most as Silver Fox. Check him out at: http://www.youtube.com/user/seanmulhall He intends to do a US teaching tour in 2013 and I told him we would put him on the instructor schedule when he is here so look out for those dates in the future.
While at the gathering he contructed a pretty cool debris hut - I took a shot to share with you.
So that’s the update. Never stop learning…
Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,
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