Sunday, December 18, 2011

Firewood Rack

I saw a kit in Home Depot for a Firewood Rack from a company called 2x4 Basics. Made of a PVC type plastic. All you provide is the 2x4's and some labor, and you can make it as big or small as you like. It looked like a fun project, and I badly needed a place to store some of my split hardwood. I went with a 4 wide 4 high config so that I could get the most out of eight foot 2x4's. I am very pleased with how it turned out, and how affordable and fun the project was. They have kits for storage shelves and benches as well. I may try another kit real soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Swamp Rat Knives Chopweiler Knife in Green/Black Micarta

I have blogged in previous posts on the Busse Family of Knives. The Scrapper 6 was covered in a previous post, and this week I will talk a bit on the Scrap Yard offering called the Chopweiler. I don't really know where to start on this knife other than to say it's a handful. Made of Swamp Rat's SR101 Steel, Chopweilers  feature a differential heat treat. Differential Heat Treating is an interesting feature not often found in commercially made blades because of the extra time and expense required. In a nutshell the the bottom half of the blade is quenched to a different hardness than the top half of the blade allowing for good edge retention at the bottom with a tougher spine on the top. Blade Width on the knife is 1-3/4" and around 7.5" long with a massive 1" choil included, leaving the usable blade length at 6.5". Overall Blade length is 13.25" with a spine thickness of a quarter inch! I would put the weight of this chopper at over a pound! The Carved  Micarta Handles are curved to fit the hand perfectly for chopping and are right around 5.5" long. I did not have any trouble with hot spots on my hands that I typically get with carved micarta. The handles are striking in appearance, and really add a bunch to the character of the knife. I put the blade through it's paces on pin oak and holly a couple weekends back and was very impressed. The knife really performs more like a hatchet than a blade when chopping heavy brush and limbs. The heat treat on the steel was exceptional and it needed little touch up after several hours of chopping. The over sized choil allowed for me to choke way up on the blade safely for smaller work around the camp when I needed to. This blade could no doubt fill the role of a "1 Blade Only" type camping, hunting or survival scenario. I intend to take it Hog Hunting this fall and will be interested to see how it does on skinning and boning out an entire boar without sharpening. I continue to be impressed by all the Busse Kin Knife Offerings and look forward to doing more short reviews on them in the future.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Salmon Oleander

Finally gave up on my Azaleas and planted Oleander at the homestead today. The Azaleas just could not handle the Texas Heat and required constant water. The Oleander is very drought tolerant and blooms constantly. We had a light breeze today in Leon County and it was a wonderful morning to plant. We dove hunted in the early morning and then I planted these around 10AM. I am looking forward to less watering, and the nice salmon colored blooms throughout the Texas Fall.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grape Vine Cordage

While watching wildlife today I grabbed a very green muskadine vine and peeled the bark off, which came off in very long strips. I proceeded to make an eight inch section of reverse wrap cordage with it as watched the woods around me come to life this morning. I went to pull it apart as I got up to leave, and was amazed that I could not break it between my thumbs and index fingers, even when wrapped! Grape vines do really well in East Texas even during drought (massive root systems), so this will be a good cordage source for me. I have never used green grape vine bark for cordage before, but this thin little piece has made me a believer!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

John Greco MST Knife Review

This will be an attempt at a brief review of the John Greco MST Survival/Tactical Knife. Here are the specs:

Blade Description; 8670 high carbon steel by .200" thick, OAL 10-1/2",
Blade Length 5"
Handle: Black Micarta with SS fittings
Sheath: Black leather with snap around belt loop

The maker was described below at a knife show by poster "Stainz" in a knife forum I am a member of:

"A slight man, with lots of grey hair, he will talk to you... appreciative of good company, I suppose, because of his self described austere cabin life in Kentucky. I like John - and look forward to our talks".

John frequents knife shows and has somewhat of a following on the forums.
You can't help but like John Greco. All the correspondence I had with this fine man during the purchase process started with: "Hope you are having a great day."

When I communicated with John he said that MST stands for "Mid Sized Tactical". He describes the grinds as flat but they do have some saber/compound characteristics to them as they are not full height flat ground. I heard about these knives by accident from a guy I have bought Scrapyard Knives from. He had one listed and it caught my eye.

To me this knife is somewhat of a hybrid, bridging that gap between tactical and bushcraft perfectly. The wonderful website "Zknives" describes 8670 steel as a "War Steel" first concieved to conserve alloy during WWII. I had never heard of 8670 Steel so it got me interested. My research later pointed toward this steel as basically being "L6 Lite" as it mimics L6 but lacks some of it's alloys. Nickel was higher than in many knife steels I've used and this combined with lower carbon around (.75)translated directly into the knife being very,very tough. Heat treat was oustanding. Edge holding after a tough day in the field was very respectable.

see Alloy Level Chart Below from Znives:

The knife is very thick for it's size coming in at 1/5 of an inch, so I had a high comfort level batoning it and beating it into things during the field test. Batoning on Pin Oak Firewood was no problem for the MST. It just blasted through anything. There were no deformations on the blade after batoning, so making fuzz sticks afterward was not a problem.

Alloy Level was good as my Firesteel threw all nature and color of beautiful sparks off the jimping at the spine.........

The only place I could track manufacture of 8670 was to Germany. Germany is very picky about it's steel making process so the presence of high and stable alloy made sense.

Jimping on the spine was adequate, but I am going to have to extend the jimping down the spine an inch or so, as the jimping is too short and too close to the handle. The Micarta Scales were getting scorched by the firesteel. Not a dealbreaker really for me, but over time it will cause embrittlement in the scale. They do however provide good "Choke Up" traction for camp work just as they are, which was most likely the intent.

Overall I am very impressed with the MST. John has put a great deal of thought and outdoor experience into the design, balance, type of steel, thickness, size, grinds, and features of this knife. Stainless Steel Hardware is a nice plus to work with. I have yet to remove the scales and cord wrap it, but most likely will at some point as John has well thought out placement of a hole at the ricasso and and a glassbreaker style tip to facilitate cord wrapping, spear use, or whatever you can think up. John runs an Ebay Summer Customer Appreciation Sale that I lucked into. I think he closes up shop and travels some during the summer, so this clears out his stock. I lucked into my MST for around $60.00 bucks, but they frequently sell for well North of that at shows and on forums. Communication from the maker was outstanding , and he sent a hand written thank you note with the knife, saying to call anytime with questions or concerns. The knives can be purchased at any time on John's Website where he has an impressive line of his other designs including Bowies and Folders in 8670, some in mirror finish!
The MST sells for $125.00 on the website, and includes a nice, full welt leather sheath! Wow!

I have read on the forums that John's Folders are basically bomb proof and I intend to get one and review it here before the summer sale ends. If it's built anything like this MST my great grand kids will still be carrying it one day. Thanks John for the great knife and you have made me customer.

Daddy, your knife reviews are silly...Let's go to the woods now!

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Review of Men's Newmarket 9-Eye Moc Toe

Originally submitted at Timberland

Rugged, durable and hard-wearing: the Men's Newmarket 9-Eye Moc Toe. Inspired by the simple lines of our heritage, this relaxed, casual style really gets back to basics.

Newmarket Old Style Moc Toe Boot

By FHM615 from East Texas on 6/17/2011


5out of 5

Sizing: Feels half size too big

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Comfortable

Describe Yourself: Outdoorsman

I have a narrow foot and these Moc Toes don't slip at all. I also love the Old World Style.


Friend in the Garden!

This little guy was hanging 10 in the garden today on one of my plant barrels. He looks like he could take out some plant pests if he wanted to! Probably looking for a drink however as water is the top priority of most creatures here right now.... The drought here in East Texas has been a challenge. We really need some rain!

Dragonfly Lake Day Trip with my sons (Leon County Texas)

Took the boys to Dragonfly Lake yesterday to fish, hunt dragonflys, play with the knives, and just cut loose. Even in the midst of the East Texas Drought, nature endures, adapts, and thrives. It was a great recharger from the work week to just enjoy the scenery with the boys. Hope everyone enjoys.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Robertson County WMA Day Hike

I visited the Robertson County WMA Type II Area today. It was a great day to be in the woods. I took the Canon Rebel Camera with the 55-250MM (IS) Lens. The creeks were very dry, but a big storm was pushing it's way through East Texas. This was my first trip to this park. The Badlands Diablo Back Pack was perfect for the day trip. I packed it with some food bars. 2 canteens, firesteel, compass, tarp, bed roll, 550 paracord, the Rebel Camera, Scrapyard 6 Knife, P38 can opener, and a small flashlight. The pack distrubutes weight so well I hardly knew it was all back there. The Diablo also has the Hypervent system which keeps airflow between your back and the aluminum frame of the pack to keep you cool. It worked like a champ in the 90 degree late spring heat. This pack is very durable and I expect I'll be packing it for many years to come. I plan to order the 3L Hydration Bladder for it this week, because the canteens get a little cumbersome on the trail. All in all a very fun day trip and I intend to go back soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I dusted off my old arrowhead collection today for a post on outdoor forum I’m a member of. I was flooded with dozens of memories from walking the Savannah River Basin as a child in Edgefield, S.C.  Sunsets, Whitetail Deer, turkeys, okra fields, caretakers, red clay, dusty roads...... Searching for arrowheads as young boy was a thrilling time! All the wonder of the woods was at my feet in that red clay!
The connection to the craftsman was unmistakable then, and it still is now as I hold them in my hand and think about how incredible it was that their very livelihood depended on the craftsmanship of those small points. It humbles me as I hunt, fish, and camp with all my modern tools. It does me well to keep one of these points in my pocket to keep my head right about how good we have it out there these days!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Scrap Yard Scrapper 6!

After about a 2 year search I finally found and purchased a Scrapper 6. Made of SR77 Jack Hammer Steel, these blades are legendary among knife collectors and outdoorsman, and I feel very privileged to have found one as they are no longer being made. Dan Busse started the Scrapyard Knife Company after working in his brother Jerry's knife shop (Busse Combat) in the eighties. Literally making blades from the scraps (left over steel and handle material) of his brothers operation, he has bulit a knife company with a world wide following. The Scrapper 6 has come to be known in many circles as one of the toughest knives ever made."Non-hygroscopic Resiprene C handles (Chemical Resistent) have been proven in the harshest combat conditions around the globe. With an overall length of 11 1/2" the Scrapper 6 is the perfect sized blade for day campers, combat professionals, and those who choose to venture into the uncharted wilderness." The knife features full length tang construction, which basically means the knife is strong and thick all the way through the handle, unlike many fixed blades that have a cheaper "Stick or Hidden" tang. The knife is over a quarter inch thick at the spine to allow for a great deal of abuse. Grind Type is full height flat grind bevel with convex edge. Here are some specs and a website below. I can't wait to get this thing into the woods!

Steel: SR77
Rockwell Hardness: 58-60
Spine Thickness: .275
Blade Length: 6.5"
Overall Length: 11.5"
Handle Material: Resiprene C

Friday, February 18, 2011

Early Spring Bass

Snuck off to the fishing hole this evening to chase after Black Bass on ultra-light tackle. The fish were very active in 4 to 6 foot water. The temp this evening was a balmy 65 in East Texas. I was fishing a 1/16 ounce green and black tube jig on 4lb line and the bass were just hammering it. Had several get off and then snapped a pic of this bruiser. He was a bunch of fun on that light line! I am going to do a post of a shore lunch with the boys soon. Spring  in Texas is quickly approaching!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I am amazed at how fast Rita is growing. I have her on Sportmix Feed by Midwestern Pet Foods out of Evansville, Indiana,  and I am very pleased with it. She loves the stuff! She is over 40 pounds now! I can now say that I have actually vaccinated one of my own dogs. I gave her a 7-Way Dog Vaccine here a few months back that is available at Tractor Supply. They have one of the best pet and livestock supply inventories around.YouTube provided the guidance on how to get it done. Michelle snapped this pic of Rita surveying her yard this past week. Her first hog hunt is soon, we will be hunting with Calvin Brown Guide Service. I will post updates as time allows. I am very excited about the hunt!

Friday, January 28, 2011

When Squirrels Fly!

Wednesday night of this week we heard a terrible commotion outside. We opened the garage door to find this little dude in Blackie's (Our Outside Kitty) Mouth. I grabbed a welding glove to protect my arm and attempted to break things up. I finally managed to rescue the little bugger from certain and painful death, and Hudson snapped this pic. We placed it on a nearby Pin Oak and then it soared into the cool night air, and away from danger. Hudson now believes me that squirrels indeed can fly! Blackie however, may never forgive me for stealing her prize catch and releasing it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Carolina Chickadee

Finally got a picture of this little fellow. He had been very camera shy. On the Cornell University Website it shows that the middle of Texas is about the end of the range of the Carolina Chickadee. It has a less brown in it's coloration than the Black Capped Chickadee which it can be confused with. Arrowolf at helped me with the ID. It is said that the Carolina Chickadee is often the first bird in it's range to find a new feeder, and that was the case with this one. I just could not get his picture! The Carolina Chickadee was named by John James Audubon during his travels in the Carolinas.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The birds on my property for the most part have been very wary of the new feeder. I am learning that it can be a slow process to establish a feeder in a new area. The birds have slowy started to migrate in the morning time to the large Oak that it hangs from. This morning what I would assume is a breeding pair of Cardinals broke the ice. The female must have been famished because she had no issues feeding as I took pictures with the Canon Rebel. The male was too shy and never came all the way into the feeder. I used a 250MM Canon IS lens for these pics shooting from about 35 yds. I am rapidly learning that I will have to buy a bigger lens to really enjoy birding. It was fun watching the male sneek peeks at the feeder as he debated coming into it. I will post more updates with different species as time allows. For the amount invested this is a very enjoyable pursuit. As I work in the yard it's fun to look over and see what birds have dropped by. I hear some singing out there right now I have never heard before, so I am off to investigate!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fish Freedom Day!

After 3+ years of hard labor Daniel's Goldfish won their freedom today into Lake Swan. It was a festive occasion as they finned their way to freedom in their new digs. Hudson had squirreled a few small Black Bass into Daniel's tank that he caught with a cast net and they were released as well. Slim was our only casualty over the years, and he now resides in our septic tank. We acclimated the fish to the new water temps by letting them spend the night outside. When we got up this morning they were all frisky, and ready for their big adventure. We put the tank in the back of the pick up and headed to the lake. Enjoy the pics!