After watching someone swing an axe a few times I can tell if they're an expert or a beginner. My friend Don Merchant is as good with an axe as anyone I've ever seen. He grew up on a rural farm and has been using an axe since he was seven. He wields it like [...]
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I recently typed-up an old handout about the 27 laws of ecology (collated by Pierre Dansereau) and posted it on the web. It's a .pdf file located here, and is also linked through our Online Articles page under the Recommended Resources heading. Below is a list of the laws. For their definitions and explanations, read [...]
Yesterday at dusk I took my wife and son out in the canoe for the first time this year. We paddled along the edge of the pond and watched the smallmouth bass who are up the beds this time of year. We paddled into the lagoon at the end of the lake and spooked a [...]
The Maine Wilderness Guides Organization 2nd annual rendezvous is taking place on June 16-17 at The Birches in Rockwood. On the 16th there will be a series of free workshops put on by the membership. I'll be running two bushcraft and survival workshops: from 9:45 to 11:00 and from 11:15 to 12:30. There will be [...]
Making edged tools with steel is a specialized skill with which I have little experience. In order to learn more about this process I'll be taking a knife making class next month with my friend Duane Hanson, the owner of Moose River Handcrafts. In the five-day class we'll start with raw materials and make a [...]
Thursday 5/10 I'll have an information table at MUB at the University of New Hampshire from 10-3. I'll have information and will be able to answer questions about our programs. If you're in the area come down and say hello!
I spoke with a travel writer from the Boston Globe yesterday who was writing a story about the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), a water route from Old Forge, New York in the western Adirondacks to Fort Kent, Maine on the St. John river. I've never traveled the sections in New York or Vermont, but [...]
Yesterday I finished building the 20-foot canoe mold I've been working on since late December. Everyone I talked to said that building a canoe mold is a lot of work, and I didn't doubt them. After building one, I can say that they were all correct - it was a lot of work. It's the [...]
Following up on Paul Sveum's paper about the ethics of modern camping and the reality of leaving no trace, I typed up an essay I had in an old book titled "The Myth of the Non-Consumptive User". Many modern recreational groups see hikers and photographers, amongst others, as having no impact on the natural world [...]
We've added a new way to stay current with our programs; The Jack Mountain E-News. It has current events, coming attractions and last-minute specials. It's available both as a feed and as an email newsletter to make it as easy as possible to keep up with what we're doing. The feed is here and email [...]
Although the leaves have yet to show themselves, the maples are budding out and the peepers are singing each night. At dusk last night I heard the hermit thrush's song coming from the woods, and this morning I watched a beaver as it swam by. Life has returned to this part of New Hampshire that [...]
This morning I posted information on our video intern position on our site. Here's the info: Video Intern - Plan, Shoot And Edit Documentary-Style Films Dates and Positions Available: We're currently seeking one person for the fall semester. The deadline for applications is June 1st. There will be future opportunities for the winter, spring and [...]
We had quite a wind last night and the fish are reaping its benefits. Dissolved oxygen levels in ice-covered lakes get lower over time because there is limited mixing of air and water. On smaller lakes and ponds this depletion of oxygen occasionally causes fish kills, when the level of dissolved oxygen gets so low [...]
This Friday and Saturday, April 27-28th, we're going to be braintanning the deer hides I've stored over the winter. We'll get the hides scraped on Friday, and, weather permitting, pull them on Saturday. For more on braintanning, check out this link.
The ice went out on the pond yesterday. After the torrential rains, we're having a stretch of nice weather. Today is supposed to be around 80 degrees, which will melt some of pile of snow that slid off the roof of the barn. I've got some blueberry bushes, strawberries, grapes and asparagus to get in [...]
Something we discuss in great detail in our courses is the difference between minimum impact camping and displaced impact camping. Modern camping practices are far from minimum impact; things such as rare metals and petroleum products put a huge burden on our planet. But since the effects of their processing and production aren't usually visible [...]
I've added a bushcraft day camp to our summer schedule after rearranging a private workshop to create the time. The camp is for 4th-6th graders and takes place August 6-10. More information is available on our web site.
I spent yesterday re-canvassing one of our 20' wooden canoes with the help of Ray Reitze. We had to put tacks into three new ribs and make sure they were clinched before stretching the canvas. I had hoped to have some warm weather in order to move the boat outside and apply the filler, but [...]
Spring is in the air, and with it is a strong desire to finish the canoe mold I've been working on all winter. I was over working on it yesterday, attaching the metal bands to the mold. The metal bands serve two roles in the canoe building process. First, they're the same width as the [...]
I was out the other night and snapped this photo of the crescent moon low on the western horizon. The colors were amazing, as you can see. The weather here is warming up today, so there won't be many more nights I can walk out on the ice without going for an unplanned swim. As [...]
There's an interesting article out today on how nuthatches pay attention to the calls of chickadees, specifically the alarm calls. The token naysayer at the end of the article has concerns that it isn't the specific call other birds react to, but rather the intensity of whatever call is made. Read the whole article here.
I shut down the comments on the Moose Dung Gazette a while back. I realize this can be frustrating to our readers, and that comments often make a blog more readable and entertaining, but this is the second installment of the Moose Dung Gazette. The first MDG was up for several years but was hacked [...]
After spending another week in New Brunswick, this time running a winter bushcraft course with some of the troops from the Canadian infantry school at Gagetown, I made it home just in time for the St. Patrick's day storm. We got another 8 inches of snow and ice, but storms this time of year don't [...]
I'm back from my trip to New Brunswick and had a great time. In addition to running several bushcraft and winter survival courses I was able to see a semester student from two years ago and explore the bush with my good friend Jeff Butler of Northwoods Survival, who was my host for the entire [...]
I'm headed out first thing in the morning to New Brunswick for 12 days, where I'll be running several winter bushcraft and survival courses with Jeff Butler at Northwoods Survival. My departure was put back a day due to the blizzard we had yesterday, but I'm told the highways are clear so the truck is [...]
I was tracking some coyotes and deer on the other side of the snowmobile trail today when I heard the crows give an agitated call that was different from their usual conversations. I was trying to tell if the track in front of me was a turkey that had been snowed on or something else [...]
Last week I put together a slideshow from some of our photos taken during courses and on trips over the years. It uses the cool, Ken Burns style of having the picture move on the screen. Yesterday I put it on the web. Check it out here. It's a 32 MB Quicktime file.
Our outdoor cooking workshop yesterday went well and I ate the best lunch I've had in a long time. We made sourdough biscuits in the reflector oven and pan fried some fish. We also covered hanging a pot over a fire versus propping it up from below and the related benefits and negatives of each [...]
I'm running a small outdoor cooking workshop today for some friends who are fishing guides in the area. We're just going to cook lunch and bake some sourdough biscuits in front of the campfire, but it will be enjoyable as all such meals are. We've had a stretch of cold weather which has been wonderful, [...]
I've posted our 2007 schedule, both on the web and as a .pdf file. It includes those sections of our semester programs that are open enrollment. If you have any questions let me know.
It's been a long break from the Moose Dung Gazette but I'm finally back. I had planned on starting back up last week, but suffered technical difficulties in the form of computer failure. Thankfully I had all my files backed up on an external hard drive. That being said, if you've emailed me in the [...]
I picked up a copy of the newly-published "New Hampshire Gardener's Companion" last week at our local bookstore, The Country Bookseller. I'd heard about the book a few months ago and have been looking forward to reading it. It's part of a series of state-specific gardening books written with the climate, soil and general conditions [...]
A friend sent me this article on the human sense of smell. It discusses the results of a study from the University of California, Berkeley where a group of undergraduates crawled through a field following a scent trail while blindfolded and wearing sound-muffling headphones. Read it here. It turns out our sense of smell is [...]
Yesterday I started working on the canoe mold I've been thinking and talking about for years under the expert tutelage and in the shop of Don Merchant of Pole and Paddle Canoe. When canoe builders switched to using canvas to cover their boats instead of birch bark, and as the process became industrialized, people started [...]
By now many people have heard the sad story of James Kim, who became snowbound in his vehicle with his family in southwest Oregon after taking a wrong turn. After being stranded for days, Mr. Kim set out on foot to find the nearest town. While his family was eventually rescued, he was not. His [...]
Even though it has warmed up a little since last week's cold spell there's a thin layer of ice on the pond this morning. The forecast is for it to be a warm week, but the water is still cooling off as the nights have been cold and days are short. Today I'll be working [...]
We had our first snow of the year last night, a dusting of about an inch to brighten things up. The front came through late, and as a result the winds are high and blowing the snow around. I'm busy getting prepared for our Winter Survival Weekend Course which begins tomorrow. My preparations include cutting [...]
I just posted an annotated bushcraft and Earth skills education bibliography on our web site. It's a 19 page .pdf file and includes my picks for the twenty most important books. Give it a read here.
We're introducing some new projects along with our yearlong bushcraft and Earth skills program, most notably building a twenty-foot wood canvas canoe and making crooked knives with our new coal forge. In December I'm getting together with Don Merchant of Pole and Paddle Canoe to build a mold for a 20-foot wood canvas canoe. The [...]