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Cooking Grouse, Wild Turkey and Waterfowl

The videos further below are about hunting and cooking Grouse, Wild Turkey and Waterfowl (geese and ducks).

For more about the hunting aspect of this see my previous post on Hunting Grouse, Wild Turkey and Waterfowl.

For best results get a good clean wingshot on the bird, snap the bird's neck to make sure it is dead. Do not use any kind of toxic bullets (or poison tipped arrows) because such substances will foul the meat. (And such things are illegal anyway, so why bother to do something illegal when it will ruin your meal later?)

Grouse, Wild Turkey and Waterfowls all make for great meals and the meat can be preserved in your freezer all year round so you can enjoy wild turkey, goose, duck or grouse for Thanksgiving and Christmas and other events.





Real Life Nomads in North America

What if you could give up your current life and start a new one?

Start completely fresh in a place where instead of going to the supermarket you gather, fish and hunt for your food?

Some people are deciding to leave it all behind - technology, indoor plumbing, toilet paper... Whatever their reasons they have chosen to avoid modern society in favour of living in the natural world as our ancient ancestors did - by becoming nomads.

So long electronic devices. So long rat race. So long consumerism. So long evil corporations trying to rape the planet.

Instead these people are choosing to live a more 'down to earth' existence, getting in touch with mother earth and learning forgotten ways that were perfected by mankind's ancestors.

One such group is a traveling 'tribe' of young wilderness seekers who have donned leather clothes of their own making, bows and arrows, and look like they could have walked off a movie set about early man.

Now to be fair they haven't completely abandoned civilization. They still sometimes trade / sell their finds / creations for money and use those funds to buy needed supplies, especially tools, medicine and on rare occasions food items (see the photo below of the group in a grocery store).

See the video below to learn more.

Hunting Grouse, Wild Turkey and Fowl in Ontario

Every hunter in Ontario knows you can hunt white-tailed deer, elk, moose and black bear - during designated hunting seasons.

But did you know that you can also hunt for grouse, wild turkey and waterfowl in Ontario? (To say nothing of bowfishing which you can do all year long.)

And what is more is that these birds are very tasty to eat!

So get out your ornithology books (bird species books) and learn which ones you can hunt and eat.


Ontario has various types of grouse, from the popular ruffed grouse to the spruce grouse, which live all across Ontario. The ruffed grouse exists in greatest abundance, roosting all over Ontario and makes for a tasty meal whether stuffed and roasted like a chicken, or BBQd over a campfire. The hunting seasons for these birds are also quite long.

Apart from having a sharp wing shot, it is important to carefully consider your choice of ammunition. Under Canadian federal regulation, migratory gamebirds must be hunted with non-toxic shot, although lead shot is still legal for grouse.

For licences and hunting regulations read http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@mnr/@fw/documents/document/239841.pdf

For more hunting season and tag draws visit http://www.huntinginontario.ca/en/planning_your_trip

Wild Turkey

Wild turkeys are some of the most challenging (and arguably fun) birds to hunt. Ontario's provincial population of Wild Turkey now hovers around 80,000 birds in the Southern Ontario region.

During Ontario's spring hunting season a two-bird limit applies. Separate turkey tags must be purchased for each, and each bird must be harvested on a separate day.

Wild turkey licences are only available after the successful completion of a written examination taken after the one-day Wild Turkey Hunter Education Course that covers biology, hunting techniques and safety measures. This course is mandatory for both residents and non-residents.

To hunt wild turkey in Ontario, you require both a small game license and a special wild turkey license.


Ontario is a hotspot in North America for waterfowl hunting. Harvesting limits for both duck and goose are generous, and there are a variety of species available to hunters. They include Canada geese (both native and migratory), Brant geese, Maximas geese. Goldeneye ducks, Pintail ducks, Teal ducks, Ringneck ducks, Mallard ducks, Black ducks, Redheads ducks, Widgeons ducks and Canvasback ducks.

NOTE! It is not illegal to hunt Canadian geese in Canada. Many non hunters believe it is illegal, but the truth is that hunting Canadian geese is perfectly legal and you just need a hunting license, a gun license (if hunting with rifles), and to follow the various hunting laws and by-laws for the region you are hunting in.

With respect to bowhunting, bowhunting of grouse, wild turkey and waterfowl is less common - but not unheard of. The thing to remember is that with birds you want to get a good clean wing shot.

Off The Grid Internet

Living off the grid isn't just for people who have a serious animosity for modern civilization and its faults.

The truth is many people who seek to live off the grid are just tired of paying for electricity and have realized there is a way to have their cake and eat it too.

Thus you don't need a jaded perception of the Grid – the power grid that brings electricity across all of North America – and whatever it represents to you. You just need a desire to stop paying for electricity.

But what about your internet?

If you are like me you probably have difficulty living without it. Computer, tablet, smartphone. It is always there. Unplugging those devices from cable internet, DSL or the phone line (whatever it is you use) is nigh unthinkable.

Enter satellite internet - the most portable way to stay connected anywhere in the world.

The truth is we've had satellite internet for decades now (since the late 80s), but it was very expensive in the beginning. Now it is becoming really cheap and affordable for the average person.

You won't get huge download speeds - we haven't reached that point yet - so don't expect to be downloading movies over the internet via Netflix, etc.

Why satellite internet works off the grid

Satellite internet (also known as Internet over Satellite or IoS) refers to an internet connection service that relies upon a satellite to transmit data back and forth. It's a type of connection that is naturally suited for living off-grid for several reasons.

First, satellite internet allows for relatively fast and efficient connectivity. It is quite capable of handling common uses such as sending and receiving e-mails and attached files, downloading and uploading data, quick viewing of websites, chatting, online gaming – basically every good thing that a high speed broadband internet connection has to offer - but you won't get huge speeds like you would on cable or DSL.

Second, satellite internet allows for uninterrupted speeds. Other types of connectivity such as DSL and cable can be slowed down by faulty cabling or bogged down by the number of neighbours on the same system.

Third, off-the-grid locations are generally off-limits in terms of connectivity. The lack of facilities in remote locations can also present a problem. With satellite internet, anyone choosing an off the grid lifestyle can still enjoy efficient communications via the Internet and even VOIP.

Currently, satellite internet is the only type of internet connection that can be used efficiently in remote areas, generally where off-the-grid living happens. Since access to the internet is obtained via satellite, anywhere a satellite dish may be placed with an unobstructed line of the sky can initiate the use of the service. For the majority of people living off-the-grid, that's virtually anywhere.

Except in caves or underground.

In which case you will need to run a cable up to the satellite from your underground bunker / whathaveyou, just so you can enjoy wasting time on Facebook from the comfort of your wee home in the ground.

What is more you can even get handheld satellite transmitters now too. The device below costs $250 + $10 per month for internet service.

Zero Energy Home

The rather simple looking home above is designed to be "zero energy" - which in this case means it is off the grid, uses super efficient electrical devices within the home, and gets all of its energy from solar and wind power.

The south facing windows help keeps the home warm in the winter, and cool in the summer by using exterior blinds to shut out the sun.

How to make a Homemade Wind Turbine

While the video below is in reference to Iowa, in Ontario we are blessed with lots of wind and its pretty regular. That means that Ontario has a "wealth" of untapped wind energy that homeowners and farmers could easily harness to help power their homes.

So if you are looking to tap into that source just Google "open source windmill design" and browse all the websites out there showing you how to build your own windmills and wind turbines.

They're so easy to build a teenager can build one.

Extend Your Bow Season: Try Bowfishing

I found this article on Ontario Outdoor Magazine and thought it was worth sharing.

By Steve Galea - March 24th, 2013

[Source http://www.oodmag.com/fishing/extend-your-bow-season-try-bowfishing/]

When you think about it, our bow season is relatively short. Deer, bear, moose, small game, and turkey hunting opportunities are all compressed into a few short weeks — and few of us can hunt them all. The remainder of the bowhunter’s year is spent shooting at targets and waiting for the next season…or is it?

For the serious bowhunter, there’s too much time between traditional hunting seasons, however, that gap can be closed by another archery season that, depending on the species and location, runs from March 1 to July 31.

Most of us know it as bowfishing. But Greg Shieman, one of Ontario’s most experienced practitioners of the sport, says most of us don’t know it nearly well enough.

“Though it hasn’t really caught on in Ontario like it has in the U.S., bowfishing is just about the most fun you can have,” said Shieman.

He should know. The 56-year-old Thamesville resident has bowfished extensively throughout the province and the U.S. for the last 40 years. He held the Mississippi state bowfishing record for white amur carp in 1998 and 1999, with 49.5- and 57-pound fish, respectively. He regularly fishes tournaments in the U.S. and he’s one of two Canadian representatives of the Bowfishing Association of America.

“It’s a thrilling sport,” he said. “Imagine that you are in a field with 500 cottontail rabbits constantly running around you, so that every time you draw your bow you have another challenging shot opportunity. That’s what bowfishing can be like. It’s face-paced, exciting, and you shoot a lot of arrows.”

Kevin Wheeler, 52, of Meaford, doesn’t need convincing. Though he has only been at it for three seasons, he has become a self-appointed ambassador for bowfishing and has introduced several people to the sport. Like Shieman, his enthusiasm is contagious. Even he’s surprised at how much he enjoys it.

“When I first got into it, I thought that this would just be another reason to get outside by the water and shoot my bow between big-game seasons. But now, if I could only choose one bowhunting sport, this would be it. It’s non-stop action. It happens at a great time of year.”

Getting Started

Compared to other bowhunting sports, getting into bowfishing is relatively inexpensive. In fact, Shieman says the perfect carp bow is that old longbow you no longer use, or “a junker” picked up for a few dollars at a garage sale. “You want a bow you don’t mind beating up or getting wet.”

Contrary to what some believe, crossbow use for bowfishing is not allowed in the province at the present time. “Crossbows are not legal for bowfishing,” said Provincial Enforcement Specialist David Critchlow.

Bill Embury, owner of Saugeen Shafts in Peterborough, says that once you have the bow, all you need is a bowfishing starter kit. These include a heavy barbed fishing arrow, a reel or spool, and line from 100- to 400-pound test. Most kits can be purchased for less than $50.

“You need a threaded stabilizer bushing on your bow on which to screw a bowfishing reel. If your bow doesn’t have a bushing, you can buy reels or spools that you can strap or tape on,” he added.

George Wagner of the Bow Shop in Waterloo sells a few starter kits each spring. So too does Dave Landsborough, owner of Triggers and Bows, out of Brantford.

“Once a person really gets into it, they buy dedicated bows, higher-quality reels and better arrows and points,” said Wagner. “But, initially, these kits are all you need.”

While any compound or traditional bow will do, it’s important to note that short-limbed bows are easier to handle when wading or in tight cover.

The bow’s draw weight should be influenced by several factors. Bows set to 40 to 50 pounds are best suited to bigger fish, shots taken at fish deep in the water column, or at longer ranges. If you are wading creeks or marshes or fishing from a boat and taking shots at closer range, a bow drawing 20 to 30 pounds is more than adequate says Schieman.

“A heavy bow can put arrows right through the fish, which is something you don’t want. Arrows that sail right through can get caught or stuck in something beyond the fish or hook onto something on the retrieve,” he said.

Lighter bows are also less fatiguing, which is important since you can shoot lots of arrows on a good day.

Typically, shots are within 15 feet when wading, shooting from creek banks, or a boat. When targeting cruising fish from a dock or pier, as Wheeler often does, shots rarely exceed 50 feet.

“You really have a hard time shooting much farther because the arrows are heavy, they’re dragging line, and they have terrible, terrible trajectories,” said Shieman.

As far as other gear goes, you don’t need much. Sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat are always a good idea when on the water, and don’t leave home without polarized fishing glasses. A bow fisher relies on them to see fish. If you choose to fish sandy bays or rivers or creeks, you might need waders to get close. Many shooters prefer to draw using bare fingers or no-glove finger savers (rubber attachments to your string make this more comfortable) rather than tabs, gloves or releases. Since most shooting is close and fast, sights provide no real advantage.

Tips and Tactics

Bowfishing is not complicated, but there are things you can do for greater success.

First, you need to remember that refraction occurs when light rays meet water. Those bent light rays make a fish appear higher than it actually is — and that means your first instinct is to aim higher than required.

“The biggest mistake all beginners make is not aiming low enough,” said Wheeler.

He says newcomers need to be patient. In fact, though he is a skilled archer, it took him 60 shots before he hit his first fish. “But don’t get frustrated. Keep shooting and you’ll eventually get that first one and then you are off and running.”

Ideally, you should try to get as close as you can and hit the fish just behind the gill plate. The ideal day for bowfishing is sunny with no wind, so that fish are easier to see. On those days, you need to move slowly and try not to throw your shadow across your quarry, he says.

One other tactic Wagner says is effective is positioning bowfishers to cover adjacent pools in rivers or creeks to move fish back and forth. Otherwise, the biggest challenge is spotting and hitting the fish.

Fish in Prime Time

In Ontario, bowfishers can take carp and bowfin from May 1 to July 31 and white suckers from March 1 to May 31, depending on the fisheries zone, so check your local regulations. Prime time for each is during their spawning periods, when they come into shallower waters.

Late spring, therefore, is prime time to bowfish for carp. “They are far less cautious during the spawn and the shots tend to be close,” said Shieman.

Typically, they will cruise near the surface in shallower water at that time. White suckers make their spawning runs even earlier in the spring, and those runs might last for a month. Bowfins spawn later when water temperature hits 19°C. You can get them at other times, but during this period shooting is fast and furious.

“After the spawn, carp get spooky again,” mentioned Wheeler. “They go deeper, and I look for them near stumps and structure. I watch for darker shadow, splashes, and swirls.”

A Matter of Law

Wheeler has learned the value of knowing applicable laws because, often, enforcement agencies don’t have any experience with bowfishing.

“At one point, I was approached by four police officers who weren’t aware of bowfishing or that it was legal,” he recounts. “They had received complaints about me because I was fishing off the town docks and it was stopping traffic. Some people assumed I was hunting Canada geese illegally…”

Fortunately, Wheeler had already made phone calls to the local Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) office and the local Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment to confirm that he was allowed to fish there. This is a practice he still follows and recommends the following “Whenever I fish a new spot, I phone the local police first, and the MNR, if I need clarification on regulations or opportunities in certain locations. If it’s within municipal limits, I call the local bylaw officer, too,” he adds. “That way, I’m sure that I’m not doing anything wrong. And the agencies are aware of me too, in case they get calls.”

Remember that you need a fishing licence to bowfish, but you can only do so during daylight hours. In most other jurisdictions you are able to fish at night, so bowfishing videos shot outside of Ontario can be misleading.

Another issue that bowfishers encounter is that OPP marine units stop them under the assumption they’re hunting from a motorized boat, when an electric motor is in use. Bowfishers should respond that they’re not hunting but fishing, says MNR Senior Media Relations Officer Yolanta Kowalski. “That provision does not apply to fishing.”


Bowfishing is a fast-paced and rough-and-tumble sport that’s not exactly for the faint of heart. When you’re reeling in a 20-pound carp that’s splashing and thrashing, this will immediately become apparent.

Combine the thrill of the catch with the fact that you don’t have to travel far for a chance at arrowing fish, and you will understand why this sport is experiencing slow but steady growth.

This spring, when you get bored with shooting at targets or you’re done chasing turkeys, consider taking your bow to the water. You’ll be glad you did.

Being Prepared does not mean you have to be ridiculous

While I admit the photo on the right looks pretty awesome I also think that it is wholly unnecessary for survivalists to prepare for that level of event wherein you are walking around with a compound bow, wearing a gas mask and presumably shooting everything that moves.

If it gets that bad where society has fallen apart, nuclear fallout zones are killing everything, scarcity of animal and plant life - well then you really don't need to prepare for that possibility because on the list of disasters that can befall people and the planet, nuclear war is further down the list in terms of which is more likely to happen.

What is far more likely to happen is...

Ice storms that knock out the electricity
Avalanches / Mud slides
Wild fires
Train derailments
Gas pipeline explosions
Flu pandemics killing a percentage of the population

My basic point is that the threat of natural disasters are far more likely any man made nuclear apocalypse. I am not saying it cannot happen, but I am saying that you are more likely to die in a flood than you are to die from nuclear fallout.

Floods alone kill more people than tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

So if you want to be prepared, be prepared for natural disasters first and foremost. Be realistic about it.

72 Hour Emergency Kit

I found this product online.

It is a "72 Hour 1-Person Emergency Kit" which has a 20 year shelf life and contains a variety of food and water preserved for future emergencies.

If you are into survivalism you could (and should) make these kits yourself, but the concept of a pre-made store bought emergency kit certainly is not a bad thing.

I imagine some people would even stock up on these by the dozen.

12 one-person kits that are good for 3 days each would be 36 days in which people could try and find other sources of food and water.

The food inside a kit like this would best be described as "nuclear bunker food" since it is supposed to be good for 20 years, but you could also stock up other things that are good for a long time so that you have more variety.

Just be sure to tightly seal whatever it is you are stocking up on to avoid moisture, rodents get in there, etc - and to store the containers in a place where they are highly unlikely to be damaged.

After all, if you need them during an emergency it won't do to discover your food supply has been vandalized and eaten by racoons, flooded and gone rotten, or any number of other things that could destroy them somehow.

Off The Grid groups on Facebook

Ah Facebook...

I admit it seems like an oxymoron to talk about Off The Grid groups on Facebook, but they are a great way to share information with other people who are into off the grid homes and lifestyle. What Facebook does then - despite its on grid face - is bring together a community of Off The Grid people so they can share, compare and dare others to do the same. :)

Oh and share photos of things they have done or built. Like this "Off The Grid Bathtub".

The Off The Grid Global Community Group

Which has over 17,000 members. Wowzers. It has some rules for posting:

1. No off-topic posts.
2. No product or service ads.
3. No motivational posts.
4. Talk to others with respect, love and truth.

Off Grid Friends

Which has over 650 members - again, no posting advertising.

Affordable Off The Grid Community Canada

A Canadian group with 120+ members.

Off The Grid - Eastern Canada

A Canadian group with over 50 members in Eastern Canada.

Clout Shooting in Toronto

Clout shooting is an archery sport where your goal is to shoot for distance, but still manage to hit within a radius of a flagpole. It is a bit like lawn darts for distance shooters. For men the clout distance is 180 yards, for women 140 yards. (These rules sometimes vary by country. The distances mentioned here are British GNAS.)

Scoring for clout shooting is as follows:

18 inches 5
3 feet 4
6 feet 3
9 feet 2
12 feet 1
> 12 feet (3.7 m) 0

Clout Archery traditionally used rope to mark the boundaries of each radius.

Off Grid Power Systems plus other websites worth investigating

If you are looking to invest in some solar, wind or alternative energy to power your off the grid home then here is some useful resources for you.

Wholesale Solar - a website which deals in discount solar panels and battery systems, whether you just want something small or a complete system for your home. Located in California.

Apex Solar - Apex sells both components and fully integrated commercial / residential energy systems powered by solar, wind, hydro, backup generators, and batteries specifically designed to work together.

Solid Solar - A company from India which offers large scale commercial solar systems - built cheaply but with solid technology.

Ontario Solar Provider - A local Ontario company that builds and installs solar panels for homes.

Paid 4 Power DIY Solar Kits - An Ontario company that makes DIY kits so you can more easily assemble your own solar panels.

Or you could just build your own. Although it is easier (and sometimes necessary) to buy some of the components.

Hunting Tip - use a deer target as a decoy

After a lot of use, a full-body deer archery target will get rather chewed up and won't be as lifelike. Foam targets can be a bit heavier to move around a field or forest - but the good news is that when the rut is on, the deer don’t seem to be overly concerned with all of the fine details of a decoy and will come right up to a deer target just like they would a decoy.

If there is damage to your deer target try to repair it as best you can before using it as a decoy.

If you are going to do this, using human scent elimination is also important. Plus you should also spray the area around the target with some synthetic buck or doe scent to it, depending on whether your target has antlers or not. Don't spray the synthetic scent on the target itself as the human scent eliminator you are using might counteract the synthetic scent too. By spraying it around the decoy the deer will still come closer to inspect it, and they won't notice that the deer itself smells differently until too late.

Homemade Aluminum Crossbow

Obviously the crossbow in the video further below is a more sophisticated / modern design than my homemade crossbow.

But hey, I can still give credit where credit is due.

This particular design works using a lever mechanism in which the person pulls back on the read of the stock and uses the leverage to pull the bowstring back into the cocked position.

It also uses a more modern trigger mechanism - whereas my homemade crossbow uses a traditional design that was commonly used during the middle ages.

And then there is the obviously differences, wood (oak) vs cast aluminum and PVC.

Regardless of the method or materials used, make certain the poundage of the crossbow is legal for hunting if you are intending to hunt with your homemade crossbow.

Making a Homemade Crossbow

My woodworking project this winter has been an experiment in how to make a homemade crossbow. Below are some photos of the project as it is progressing.

Stage 1 was to make the basic crossbow shape, including the handle / stock, the bow limbs, and the bowstring which I made out of braided sisal. (Sisal is stronger than cotton or jute, but not as strong as silk or dacron. Sisal is more readily available which is why I chose it. It also doesn't stretch and if it does snap, it is cheap to replace.)

The wood used is oak.

Stage 2 was to make a working trigger and stirrup (to pull and cock it faster). As you can see below I have completed part 2A of Stage 2, but have yet to make the stirrup (part 2B). The trigger mechanism is pretty simple and follows a centuries old crossbow design.

The wooden dowels used for making the trigger is poplar.

While testing the trigger I shot a pencil (for lack of a crossbow bolt being handy) several times at a cardboard box. It was surprisingly accurate and powerful. (It takes two hands to draw the bowstring back to the trigger position so I guess I should not be so surprised it is so powerful.)

Safety Note - Due to the trigger design you cannot set it on a table while cocked, the trigger will be pushed upwards and set off the string. I did not discover this the hard way, I was smart enough to realize it before setting it down.

Stage 3 will be to "beautify the crossbow" - namely sandpaper, fine sandpaper and eventually shellac.

Stage 4 will be to create several small wooden crossbow bolts, complete with feather fletching and steel arrowheads. I may decide to shellac and beautify the crossbow bolts too.

Stage 5 will be to make a wall rack so it can sit on the wall as an objet d'art. Because frankly I am not planning to do anything with this beyond testing it out and maybe shooting at cardboard boxes. (See my notes below about making a larger version.)


Band Saw
Drill (various bit sizes)
Draw Knife
Carving Knife
Hand Chisels
Hand Saw
Philips Screwdriver


I have not used any formal designs made by someone else. I have relied entirely on photographs of older style crossbows and then designed it as I saw fit.

Seeing how well it is working I am already planning to make a larger / more powerful version. In which case my biggest question will be "how big" because obviously I still need to be able to draw it back and cock it. Building one with a crank or lever would require significantly more research on my part in order to make a working prototype.

Thus I consider the above crossbow to be a smaller scale prototype of my future crossbow, one that will still be hand drawn and cocked, but more powerful. I am not sure if I will use oak for the bow next time. I might use maple or something more flexible instead.


With respect to hunting with a crossbow you need to be using a minimum poundage to hunt with a crossbow. My crossbow above would not be legal for hunting because it is obviously not powerful enough. However that doesn't mean a person could not make a more powerful homemade crossbow, one that fulfills the minimum poundage requirements, and then use it for hunting.

Build it, practice with it so you become really good with it, get your hunting license, and you can legally hunt with a homemade crossbow as long as it fulfills all the requirements.

The Joys of Bowcamping

I found this article in "Bowhunter" magazine. I thought it was awesome that their true joy of bowhunting wasn't actually the hunting part, but the camping and relaxing parts. I have included the source citation at the bottom.

By Ernie Birney

YOU won't find "bowcamping" in the dictionary. The word was actually invented by my buddy and fellow bowcamper Denim Dan. If it were in the dictionary, the description might read something like this: "The act of enjoying oneself during archery hunting season in which the actual harvesting of the game animal pales in significance and in order of importance to the enjoyment of the experience as a whole while spending weeks on end with good friends in a wilderness environment."

That pretty much sums it up. I feel that a vital ingredient required for one to be satisfied and successful at bowcamping is that of age, namely old age. You know, the "golden years." That season of life when you have the time to do all those things you no longer have the energy to do. Yes, my friend, growing old ain't for sissies! But listen up, and you too may discover the "joy of bowcamping."

Back in the early days, when we thought we'd never grow old, our numbers were double what they are now. We hunted with the fierce intensity of a bunch of Army Rangers on a forced march behind enemy lines, intent only on successfully filling our elk tags! As the years took their toll and we gradually slowed down, several of our group fell away and now only show up sporadically. There are but three of us remaining who faithfully spend every day of the season in camp. We may have set aside some of that intensity, but not the thrill. The job of keeping the tradition alive has fallen to us. We are the diehards. As for the cast of characters, let me introduce to you the participants in our annual trek to the place we lovingly call "Elk Camp."

I've mentioned Denim Dan previously. Dan is the elder of our "tribe" by a couple of years. My kids gave Dan this nickname because of the mellow, laid-back attitude he has always shown toward life in general. Dan was actually practicing bowcamping long before we saw the value of it. I might also add that he took a fair amount of ribbing because of it. (Not to mention that he has filled more elk tags than any of us. Go figure!) Then there is a buddy whose name is actually Dave, but we've always called him Fred. Fred has been a friend for many years but has only recently joined us in camp the last four years or so. Fred has yet to fill an elk tag with archery gear. It doesn't seem to diminish his enjoyment one bit, while at the same time it gives us the opportunity to rub it in, good na-turedly of course. That leaves me. I don't seem to have acquired a nickname. Dale, Jack, and Chuck show up once in a while and maybe hunt a day or two. We'd love to have them back in the "fold." Then there's Brian, but more on him later.

As for a typical bowcamping day, the first thing that you'll need is an alarm clock with a snooze button. This is mandatory. Usually the alarm goes off around 4 a.m., when it's still very dark and cold outside the old trailers. At this time of morning, the sleeping bag has a special charm that invites you to stay put. Hit the snooze (after lighting the burner under the coffee pot Of course), and smile as you drift back off to dream land awaiting the next reminder to rise and shine, and with it, another opportunity to hit the snooze yet again. Usually we do all tend to rise early enough to be hunting at first light, but if one chooses to, sleeping in is perfectly acceptable behavior and carries with it no guilt. In addition, an unwritten rule we bowcampers have come to embrace is that the sound of rain hitting the trailer roof when the alarm starts its irksome clamor is the cue to snuggle deeply in your bag and sleep until the rain ceases. Yes, I guess we have become fair-weather bowhunters.

In determining where to hunt in the morning, a set of objectives is analyzed. First on the list is fairly level ground as arthritis, rheumatism, and worn-out joints dictate. Secondly, in the unlikely event that one of us actually puts an elk down, the job of packing the meat out precludes hunting too far from where your vehicle is parked. This is also helpful in making sure that one is back in his favorite camp chair drinking coffee by around 10 a.m.

Upon arrival in camp, the first order of business is comparing notes with the others. When it has been discovered after those very tense first moments that no one has filled a tag, a sigh of relief is breathed and the coffee drinking and story telling can commence. It is helpful at this time if one or more of us has been "into" elk, and even better if perhaps someone has almost gotten a shot. Stories of the "one that got away" make for new material. If not, we always have the tales we've all told a dozen times or more. These stories never lose their luster, and after as many hunting seasons as we've racked up, are in never-ending supply. Then comes snack time and perhaps a midday shower, always followed by a nap. As I've inferred previously, having to pack out an elk would severely interfere with this schedule.

Upon waking from naptime, preparations ensue for the main meal of the day. After this feast, we all retire to those comfy camp chairs and still more stories and jokes fill the afternoon hours. Eventually the time to prepare for the evening hunt draws near. Each bowcamper will determine where he will hunt for the evening, bearing in mind the same requirements as for the morning hunt--namely level ground in close proximity to one's vehicle. These elements become especially important now as one will be returning in the dark, and the biggest fear that a bowcamper has is to get lost and spend a cold and lonely night in the woods, away from what is the very best part of each day, campfire time.

Straggling back into camp, our eyes are drawn to the glow of the fire, which is usually going nicely due to the fact that Denim Dan rarely stays out till dark, ordinarily arriving before Fred and me Gotta love that guy! Now the fun begins in earnest--more camp chair time!

Customarily, peanuts, jerky, and beer (did I mention Jameson Irish whiskey?) accompany this most revered of all the segments of the standard bowcamping day. Once again stories are told, jokes abound, and laughter is heard. If someone tells a tale or a joke that has been told before (a common occurrence), bowcamping etiquette dictates listening as though this is the first time you've ever heard it. Heck, at our age it's hard to tell.

Frequently we will entertain visitors during this time of revelry. One of those is the aforementioned Brian. Brian is quite a bit younger than us, and as such, doesn't qualify for full status as a bowcamper even though we regard him as family and thoroughly look forward to his visits. Brian still has full use of his legs hunts with a passion, covers a huge amount of ground. and has consistently filled his tags going on 14 years now, some years in multiple states! He typically passes up shots on all but big bulls, and has won elk-calling contests while being the consummate bowhunter. You can begin to see why he doesn't qualify for full membership. When Brian is hunting near us, we can't fully relax into our routines until we are sure tie hasn't downed a huge bull in some remote canyon or on some formidable mountaintops requiring our assistance in the pack job. Please pass the Excedrin!

Eventually, the time arrives when the eyelids begin to droop and the sleeping bags commence to sing their siren songs. A good night is wished to all as we disperse toward our respective trailers, signifying the end of another satisfying day in the wonderful life of a bowcamper. Snuggled warm and secure in the comfy Coleman, the good Lord may hear the words of the bowcampers prayer: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. ibuprofen dulls the pain, set the alarm and let 'er rain."

Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)

Birney, Ernie. "The joy of bowcamping: the best part about hunting elk isn't always actually hunting elk." Bowhunter Jan.-Feb. 2014: 60+.

Trying traditional: tips on choosing and shooting a traditional bow

I found the article below particularly useful and interesting to read in "Deer and Deer Hunting" magazine. I have included the citation at the bottom if you are interested.

By Patrick Meitin

Traditional archery has experienced a renaissance of late, with seasoned archers seeking an added challenge that turns even does into a big reward and others simply looking for a simpler bowhunting experience free of technological clutter.

Companies such as the venerable Hoyt, Howatt/Martin and Bear Archery Products, and myriad custom makers, are selling traditional bows in numbers not witnessed since before the late 1970s "Compound Revolution." If you've caught the traditional bug, here are some pointers.

Buying Single String

Traditional bows gain 3 to 4 pounds per inch of draw and have no let-off. Draw weights are stated at a 28-inch IBO standard. When beginning, choose a bow pulling 45 to 50 pounds (even if you pull 70-pound compounds); a take-down model allows buying heavier limbs later if you wish to pull more.

Buy a bow that fits your draw length. Lengths of 56 to 58 inches are ideal for draw lengths less than 28 inches, 60 inches for 28- to 29-inch draws, and 62- to 64-inch for those with 30-inch-plus draw lengths. This assures a shooting experience free of finger pinch and limbs working within maximum performance parameters.

Traditionally Shafted

Less stored energy makes momentum most important to traditional performance, pointing to heavier arrows (10 to 12 gpi) with higher front of center (12 to 20 percent).

Carbon arrows with .500 (with 125-to 150-grain heads) to .400 (with heads up to 250 grains) deflection are deadly traditional projectiles. Check out Carbon Express' Heritage (150 or 250), Easton's Axis Traditional (500 or 400), Alaska Bowhunting Supply's tapered Grizzly Stik Alaskan or Quest Products tapered Ironwood Lite.

Shooting arrows directly off the shelf (across something like Bear Archery's Hair Rest) provides maximum point-ability while shooting instinctive and makes 5-inch feather fletchings a traditional standard.

Choose heavier cut-on-contact broadheads--Steel Force, Zwickey or Simmon's Sharks are names to remember--which slip through hide and muscle more efficiently.

Tuning Traditional

Tuning traditional bows is just as important as tuning compounds. Much of this is accomplished by discovering the perfect arrow/point combination. Perfectly tuned traditional arrows display clean flight but also center where instincts naturally direct the shot.

Trial-and-error fine-tuning is accomplished by manipulating the brace height (distance between handle and string, and changed by twisting or untwisting the string to vary overall length) and the nocking-point location (up/down serving, %-inch above zero a standard starting point). Both of these affect vertical and horizontal impact.

Some fine-tuning also can be achieved by varying strike plate thickness (padding against the riser, typically leather).

Start by bare-shaft tuning; shooting a featherless arrow--with enough duct tape applied to the rear to compensate for missing fletching weight--into a backstop from 10 feet away and noting the arrow attitude.

Nocks pointing away from the riser indicate an arrow that's not stiff enough (underspined), a point that's too heavy or a strike plate that's too thick.

Nocks cocked into the riser show an arrow that's too stiff (overspined), point that's too light or strike plate that's too thin.

Upward-pointing nocks show the nocking point's too high; downward the opposite.

Traditional Shooting

Traditional bows involve shooting with your fingers. Split-finger shooting's (index finger over, middle and ring fingers under the nock) is the best for true instructive shooting with lower anchor points (corner of mouth or jawline); Apache (three fingers under the nock) is best for gap shooting (using arrow tip as aiming reference) while anchoring higher (cheek bone or just below eye). Grip the bowstring like you carry a bucket of paint, hooking fingers around the serving (bucket handle) while letting the remainder of the hand relax while drawing and anchoring.

Traditional and compound draw lengths should remain equal. At full draw, "push" the riser away with your shooting arm, holding the string at full draw using back muscles (back tension). Canting the bow opens the sight window, letting you get your eyes directly over the arrow for more positive instinctive shooting. This also provides more comfortable grip.

Aim small, miss small. Picking a finite small spot or visually creating one mentally while aiming is much more important in traditional shooting, as it gives you something to concentrate on.

Follow through. Traditional bows are slower than compounds, meaning any movement of the bow arm during release has more potential to negatively affect arrow impact.

Traditional bows take nothing away from compounds. They're just another facet of our sport.

Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)

Meitin, Patrick. "Trying traditional: tips on choosing and shooting a traditional bow." Deer & Deer Hunting Mar. 2014: 71.

Winter Archery in Toronto

Earlier today I went to the Toronto Public Archery Range and also made some videos and photos. Twas nice weather outside.

The bow I was using was a 45 lb Bear Grizzly - which is legal weight for hunting deer, but not for hunting moose, elk or black bear.

Found rabbit tracks at the archery range and posed with a broadhead arrow for a photo. No rabbits were injured however. My videos are embedded further below.

Buying a Compound Bow

Now I normally favour traditional bows when it comes to archery, but increasingly I have been wanting to get a new compound bow.

The compound bow I am looking at purchasing is a Diamond Infinite Edge bow, which has the following specs.

Draw Weight:
Adjustable 5 to 70 lbs.

Axle-To-Axle Length:

Brace Height (in):

Draw Length:

Effective Let Off

3.1 lbs.

Product Color:
Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinty

Arrow Speed (fps) + Kinetic Energy):
310 feet per second with 74.7 foot-pounds of kinetic energy)


So what you have here basically is a bow that anyone can adjust its draw length / draw weight, which makes it easier to fine tune it to the user since you don't need a bow press. It also is a great bow for beginners because it allows a great range of flexibility / adjustability.

The only downside is that the let off is 75% instead of 80% or better. But oh well. Not too big of a deal.

When browsing the customer reviews on the Bass Pro website it has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars - which is to say, really nice reviews. Out of 23 reviews the lowest review was 4 out of 5 stars.

So I am thinking sometime around March or April I will plunk down $500 for this bow, a case and a dozen arrows.

I still have all my other bows - traditional recurve, recurve, pyramid bow, longbow, shortbow and more... and I will continue to be shooting with those. But when it comes to bowfishing and/or bowhunting I intend to use the compound.

Earlier today I was outside doing some winter archery and found some rabbit tracks so for fun took some photos.

No rabbits were hurt in the making of these photos.

I have to go back and take more winter archery photos again sometime because a bunch got deleted by accident. :(

5 Examples of Cordwood Homes

How to Build an Off The Grid Cabin for $2500

Want to build your own cabin and do it on a budget?

Take some tips from the video below, made by Paul Wheaton.

The video explores a tiny, 7 feet by 12 feet "portable house" which was built as a DIY project.

The cabin is made of cordwood and designed as an off-the-grid roundhouse - and the video contains some detailed tips and ideas on both the drawbacks and strengths of this particular approach to building a small structure this way.

The builder "found" a lot of his internal materials from abandoned cabins - cough cough probably stole it - but it does show you how you could build a structure with very little effort.

Note - I am not calling the builder a thief, but I do think he "found" way too many things in what he described as "abandoned cabins"... I am certain the owners of those cabins might not appreciate people pilfering their stuff.

He also mentions several things he wished he had not done - like making it a round home, because it is so annoying to furnish it. So if you want to make a structure this way try and make it more square or rectangular, just so you can have an easier time furnishing it.

One of the common complaints about cordwood buildings however is that they are drafty. I therefore offer a solution - add wood studs and insulate the inside of the structure and then add wood panels over the studs and insulation. It will cost more and requires the building be made a bit bigger to have extra space inside, but it solves the problem of drafts and makes the place warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

How to Catch, Clean and Cook Carp - Fishing and Cooking

Regarding of whether you use fly fishing or bowfishing, carp is a great way to have some fun and eat it too.

On the right and below is two different kinds of carp archery targets. One is a paper target you can use for practicing for bowfishing, the other is a 3D foam target of a carp.

Regardless of whether you use a paper target or a foam target for practice, it is very important to practice your bowfishing skills before actually going bowfishing.

Hence why having a target is so handy.

And with respect to fly fishing, well then it is best you know your equipment really well and how to use it properly.

The video below will show you how to catch, clean and cook carp - the catching part is fly fishing - and they also show the "ethical way to kill carp", which is to freeze kill it in a bucket of ice. The cooking part is more gentile - myself I would probably put it on a stick and roast the fish meat over a campfire - but to each their own.

10 Photos of Off The Grid Homes

Below are 10 photos of off the grid homes (both exterior and interior shots) that I felt were worth sharing.

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