Fishing Derbies – Hooked on Fishing!

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It’s a special opportunity to help kids catch their first fish. Fishing may seem like an easy task to those who fish often but for those who haven’t ever before a little help goes a very long way. Creating a successful first experience is key to creating a nature connection that lasts a lifetime.

Some Quick Tips for Newbies:

  1. Learn to Tie a Clinch Knot – you don’t want to lose your first fish because you made a sloppy knot.
  2. Use around a size 8 or 10 fishing hook – small hooks catch small and big fish! Too many kids try for the biggest fish in the pond with some wacky lure they found.
  3. Keep it Simple – Start with worms.

This summer we teamed up with NJ Fish and Wildlife’s Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs program and had a great experience.

Smoking Lake Trout in the Little Chief

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After my first few visits to New Jersey’s Round Valley Recreation Area I came home with an empty creel.  Finally, a friend helped show me the skills and we were able to set a few hooks in Lake Trout. The fish were biting around 80 to 90 feet deep on a mix of jigs and baitfish.  Turned out their stomachs were mostly full with scuds and the scud clouds could even be seen on the fish finder.



After the catch, I put some of the trout into The Little Chief Smoker with a pan or two of alder wood chips and it came out awesome! Both plain and marinated in a mix of soy sauce, sugar, garlic power and chili powder.

Making Oyster Mushroom Jerky

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If you follow my blog you may recall that I made some  Hen of the Woods Jerky that came out delicious.  Well, I tried the same recipe with Oyster mushrooms and it did come out tasty but Hen wins easy for texture and flavor.

To make the mushroom jerky, I boiled pieces for 10 minutes, strained and placed them in a marinade overnight.  The marinade was a mix of honey, chili powder and soy sauce.  The jerky went in the dehydrator the next day at a low temperature for about 8 hours until it felt right.



Spring Trout & Wild Edible Outing


Had a great weekend camping for the opener of trout season in NJ.  It’s become tradition to catch some rainbows and make a meal with some mixed wild edibles including wintergeen, wintercress, watercress, chickweed, dandelion, leeks, trout lily and partridge berry.  Hope you enjoy the video!

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it.” -Nessmuk

Orienteering to Vernal Pools in Allamuchy State Park – NJ

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As part of Iz Turley’s Hardwoodsman challenge, I went out to practice my map & compass navigation skills. My destination was a few wetland habitats within Allamuchy State Park. The wetlands on the map appeared to be perfect locations  for vernal pools and the diversity of species that call them home.

Along the way I found Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs, Spotted Salamanders, Eastern Newts, Fairy Shrimp, Pileated Woodpecker, Wood ducks and much much more including a BEAR SKULL!!!


David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

Wilderness First Aid – Case Study

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This past weekend some bushcraft and outdoor skills came together when an evacuation of a friend at a backwoods campsite became necessary. He had an accident with a Trail Hawk Axe while processing firewood when a glancing swing come back and hit him in the shin.

He explained, “Why it happened is easy. I was dumb. I broke the rules and paid for it. After we arrived at camp and said our greetings, I started to collect fire wood. Since doing a day trip, I only brought my Trail Hawk and an Opinel folding saw, not a buck saw, which was what was needed. The major mistake was that I was using the hawk in an unsafe manner. I was cutting a branch about chest high with axe. If the hawk missed, there was no safe backstop like the ground or another log to stop it. Just me. I’ve done it a hundred times with no problems, but this time I didn’t get away with it. That’s my stupidity.”

We benefited well from having multiple people with EMT and Wilderness First Aid Responder training including the patient himself who stayed calm and expertly directed his own care with our observation and questioning. Each of us had packed medical kits should we have to deal with such a situation and we had a mix of bandages and wraps to apply on and compress the injury.

It became clear quickly that he would not be able to hobble the mile long rough uphill terrain out of the forest so we reassembled a bushcraft campchair into a stretcher using cordage and lashings.

Luckily we had 5 guys on scene to assist with the evacuation as our best exit was an uphill route that began in a dense forest of saplings. At this stage it was easiest to carry our patient at waist height to best navigate the brush.  As we made it onto an old logging road and the forest began to open it became far easier to carry at shoulder height and rotate positions to alleviate stress.

It took us almost two hours from the incident to get to the cars before travel to a hospital.

Time to reevaluate the first aid kit for the next trauma and to remember that complacency can be the most deadly environment we find ourselves in.

White Cedar Puukko Knife Handle


I’ve been participating in a Bushcraft Box Pass Around Challenge and one of the items that came to me was a Puukko. After taking the knife into the forest to split some wood for a fire the handle cracked while batoning. For those who don’t know, batoning is technique of safely splitting wood by using a branch to strike the spine of a sturdy knife in order to drive it through wood. This exposes smaller dried pieces for easier fire starting. Maybe it’s best I baton with a full tang knife…

Puukko Re Handle (2) Puukko Re Handle (1)

Well the split turned into an an offer and opportunity by a friend to learn how to re-handle the blade. He had a piece of beaver chewed cedar drift wood just waiting for a project.

Puukko (3)

The old cracked handle and butt plate were knocked and sanded off. The tang was heated with a torch and lengthened with a few hammer blows. The new wood handle was cut to size, drilled, epoxied and capped with a brass plate using a ball peen hammer.

Puukko (4)

Puukko (6)

Puukko (5)

After it was sanded and the grip felt right the knife received an initial coat of Boiled Linseed Oil.

Puukko (2)

I’ll continue to apply the boiled linseed oil once a day for a week and once a month for a year.

Puukko (10)

Puukko (9)

Puukko (8)


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