Friday, January 30, 2015

Photo Friday 01/30/15

Sepia Leaves by Bill Howard

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Innovation can be a wonderful thing. It takes ingenuity, wisdom, and often a little luck for something to change the status quo though.
My grandfather was a brilliant man. He was one of the first to develop magazines for military rifles by using plastic instead of metal. I remember watching him whittling a clay bar and sliding it in and out of the rifle until the fit was perfect. He would then take a micrometer and jot down the measurements onto a piece of paper.
From there he would turn the measurements over to a mold maker and later use plastic injection molds to make the usable prototypes. It was more than just designing the shapes though. He had to use the right compounds in the plastics at the right temperatures in order to make them better than the traditional metal magazines that were in use since the military started using repeating weapons.
It is not often that something comes along that truly changes everything about the way you think of things. I can imagine if my grandfather had the knowledge and use of the current 3d printers his engineering would have come along a lot quicker than carving into a block of clay with a small Old Timer knife. 3d printers are one of these innovations that can change things drastically for years to come.
When you think of a bow nowadays, a compound is usually the vision that comes to mind. Yet, it was not until 1966 when Holless Wilber Allen, Jr. first thought of putting pulleys on the limbs of a bow that the compound was born. The pulleys, or cams as they are properly called, helped make the bow easier to pull, easier to aim, and more effective in taking down game animals.
The bow and arrow has been in use for an estimated 64,000 years according to fossil records and excavations. It took 64,000 years before Allen changed the game. Other inventors and innovators such as Fred Bear and Ben Pearson mass marketed the compound bow and things have never been the same since.
For over 4,000 years kayaks have been used by people such as the Inuit, Yun’ik, and Aleut of the artic regions for both hunting and fishing. They were fast, somewhat stable, and protected the kayaker from the frigid waters.
Roy Grabenauer started the design of the first sit-on-top kayak during the end of World War II while stationed in Burma. Later, in the 1970’s, Roy made a prototype that was originally used for diving. He wanted something he could paddle out in the ocean with his dive gear, and then get back on top of it and paddle back to shore later.
During one of his trips the anchor line broke and when Roy came back up to the surface his prototype was gone. As legend has it, nearly 2 years later the first sit-on-top kayak was found floating by a Mexican fisherman with his diving equipment and soft drink can still on it.
During and prior to this time, canoes and small boats such as john boats were the primary paddling vessels used in both recreation and angling. It is arguable that the sit-on-top kayak is now the go-to vessel if you wish to fish and paddle at this time.
Just this last year, Old Town Canoes and Kayaks won the iCast Best of Show award for the sit-on-top Predator MK kayak. The iCast show is nationally recognized as the place where companies introduce their fishing products to the world. It was the first time a kayak had won the best in show in the angling community.
Other innovations are constantly changing our world and have happened over just the past few decades. Computers and cell phones are two the biggest that we can relate to immediately. However, innovation is happening everywhere, even in the outdoors.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Photo Friday 01/23/15

Black Crappie by Bill Howard

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Recently a 7 year old girl and her family were involved in a plane crash in Kentucky. He parents, sister and cousin were all killed in the accident. Little Sailor Gutzler survived.
The crash occurred at night and Sailor was basically alone in the dark in the middle of the woods. She initially tried to light a glow stick from the fire of the plane so that she may have light to find her way to help, but it would not ignite.
In the cold with only a short sleeve shirt, shorts, and one sock, she traveled approximately a mile towards a house which had lights on. Forty minutes after air traffic control lost contact with the plane, the homeowners contacted emergency services due to Sailor explaining what had just happened.
Survival skills are a valuable resource, as you may not know when you have to use them. These skills may be needed to stay alive for a week or just long enough to keep a clear head in order to find help.
A clear head is the very first thing you must have. The late comedian George Carlin once stated we need to teach people to panic, because that is what they will do every time. How true that comment is. With practice at different survival skills, we learn how to control our panic so we can make clear decisions.
One word can set into motion a bad day instead of a last day; stop. Actually it is an acronym, S.T.O.P.
Actually (s)top when faced in an emergency situation. Stopping will allow you to gather your emotions and your mind. Deep breaths will calm you down and prevent hyperventilation which decreases the amount of oxygen getting to the brain, resulting in irrational decisions.
Next you need to (t)hink. Think about where you are and what is going on around you. Are you hurt? Are there others hurt and in need of immediate medical help?
(O)bserve your surroundings to find what can be used. What landmarks are nearby? Do you recognize anything to know your location?
(P)lan on what to do next. If darkness is coming soon, you need to find necessities quickly such as shelter and warmth. If it is cold, like the spell we are having now, you want to get a fire started and shelter up before you start losing manual dexterity due to frigid temperatures. You need to figure out what you can use for shelter and where you can place it.
A fire is an excellent signal if someone knows you are in danger. The lost communication from the plane would have caused authorities to send help to look for the plane. Without noticing the light from the house, Sailor may have been better off to stay near the crash site. However, one getting lost in the woods while hunting with no one knowing where you were hunting may require you to seek open areas in which you could signal and get noticed.
Three of anything is a signal of help. Three blasts from a firearm, three flashing signals from a flashlight, and three blows from a whistle are all common emergency signals.
But nothing beats a clear mind.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gear Review: Survival Slingshot

Several decades ago my fellow scouts and I seemed to stand a little taller and hold our head a little prouder during school days in which we had a scout meeting. We were allowed to where our scouting uniforms to school. One of those days, we all were just a little more excited than normal.
We knew that evening we were going to build slingshots.
They were fairly simple designs, as you would expect from a cheap bulk kit. It consisted of a wishbone shaped wood handle and frame with two slits cut into the two extending arms. There were two rubber hoses a few inches long and a section of leather about a half inch tall by an inch or two long. We tied a knot in each of the hoses and slid them threw the slits and then tied the piece of leather on the other ends of the hoses. Just like that, we began shooting balled up paper, rocks, pieces of sticks or anything else we could find. If I were to interview our scout master she would probably say that was one of the most unruly meetings we ever had.
Some of us garnered our allowances and ended up purchasing higher end slingshots made out of metal with foam padded arm supports and longer stretch bands, although we used them more for fun for very short lengths of time than for anything serious.
But the very concept of the slingshot has mostly been forgotten. It is a simple weapon that allows the use of almost anything as a projectile. This makes it an ideal survival tool.
The Survival Slingshot takes it a step further. Built with the survivalist and prepper in mind, it is made right. The slingshot itself is made of steel and aluminum alloy so that it can take any abuse given.
Once you get by the build, the innovations stand out. The handle is hollow and has a waterproof seal on the screw on bottom. Embedded in the bottom is a simple compass. Yes, we have all seen things with small compasses added to them to make them seem ‘outdoorsy’.
Inside the handle, Survival Slingshot was thoughtful enough to stash steel ball bearings as initial projectiles, and a good length of fishing line with hooks, weights and swivels. In a survival situation, a true survival situation, just that would be enough to keep a positive attitude in an otherwise desperate moment.
The innovations still do not stop there. The yoke is interchangeable. Used as a slingshot, the yoke has 25 pounds of pull. A quick tap on the top and the yoke can be interchanged for one with a D-loop designed for shooting arrows. The archery yoke has 45 pounds of draw weight.
Also, when used with arrows, a whisker biscuit rest (and other rests of the same style) is used. Being an avid archery guy myself, I certainly had to test this part out.
While I love, live and breathe archery, I am the first to admit traditional archery is not my skill set. Using the Survival Slingshot as a sling bow falls in line more so in this manner than the compound bows I use and favor as there is no sight, just judgement. That being said, after only three shots, I was hitting an area the size of a tennis ball from 30 feet. Using an arrow with a broadhead, this could easily take out a squirrel or rabbit.
The Survival Slingshot also comes with a tactical light and mount for night shooting.
It is not legal to hunt with a slingshot in many states including our own, but in a true survival situation you would not worry about whether the fish you just caught is of legal size either. You can check it out at