Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Raccoon Pelt

I finally got around to finishing the raccoon pelt I scavenged in Virginia. I used the method described on here. This is my first pelt that I actually brain tanned, as opposed to simply buffing it until its soft.

The bare spots are where the fur pulled out when I was fleshing it. It's not as soft as I would have liked, but it will do the job. Overall, it has a somewhat oily feel to it, I cant figure out if thats because of the brains or the pelt itself. Compared to other pelts I've done, and hides too, this one seems a little more oily than the others.

Here is the underside of the pelt. I still need to trim the edges, and smoke it to protect it from insects.
To apply the brains, I mixed it into a paste, then painted it onto the pelt, then folded it up and left it somewhere out of the sun and where animals couldn't get to it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Glass-tipped Spear

Spears are some of the oldest weapons used by by humans, both for hunting and warfare. They are also what comes to mind when most people think of when they hear "primitive", "paleo", or "tribal". Though not necessarily the easiest of weapons to use, both on a day to day basis, or in an immediate survival situation, they are nonetheless a very versatile tool in the paleo arsenal.

This is really the meat of it. Without a good point, your lance or spear is just a pole. When is comes to putting the business end on your spear you can go two ways, either a stone/glass point (or some scavenged metal if your knapping skills leave something to be desired), or fire hardened tip. I find fire hardening to be a skill I have no yet mastered, as it takes a certain amount of intuition on my part to tell whether I am indeed fire hardening it, or simply burning it into charcoal. So being halfway decent with a rock and some glass, I settled on using knapped points for my spears. The points above are as follows: (left to right)

-Large glass point, I believe from an old window from an abandoned hospital I visited
-Obsidian point, Idaho, no notching
-Notched Obsidian point, very thin
-Raw Texas Chert point, small enough that it might be better suited for an arrow
-Bottle glass point, I really like this one, I was able to flute it on one side
-Raw Texas Chert point, the overall form of this one is very nice, quite a robust point. I used it as an atlatl dart point for awhile

I used pitch to hold the point in place, then wrapped it with sinew I had soaked in the nearby creek. I finished that off with a strip of rawhide to secure everything and protect the hafting. I used a beech sapling for the shaft.

The finished product. It's not as long as some spears can be, but I feel it's size suits the sometimes dense woodlands of the east coast.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I honour you Storm

Storm of Stoneage Skills has passed on from this world. It's hard to write anything here that can truly honour him to the fullest extent, I feel like the right words simply don't exist.
And so I would like to recognize him in this blog as a great teacher and as a true human.

May there always be good water, dry wood, and good food wherever you are.

You can view his blog here:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blog Recommendation: The Daily Coyote

I was recently shown a blog by a good friend of mine that I thought deserves a recommendation to anyone reading my blog. It's called The Daily Coyote and it is maintained by a woman living in Wyoming. I feel like I couldn't possibly do it justice in any explanation, so heres the link:

Spring is on the way

Yesterday we had amazing weather here in Maryland, you can feel spring on its way (not to mention hearing it, birds seem more active and I've heard frogs at the nearby pond). On days like yesterday there are a few local spots I like to go, so here are a few pictures of one of my favorite places. I've been coming to these woods for a number of years now, and I know it very well.

Some of the more prevalent trees in the area are Beech, Sycamore, and Tulip Poplar. When I make Poplar Bark buckets, this is the place I come to for the bark. Though it is bordered on all sides by housing developments, its remarkably clean of too much trash. Hawks, Owls, Box turtles, as well as very large deer herds can be found here. This is also where I harvested Japanese Wineberries in July.

I really like this particular bend in the creek (this is sort of behind and to the right of the previous picture). It seems these woods are almost characterized (especialy so as you head downstream) by steep sided valleys. I have picked up several deer trails in the area of these pictures where deer have been walking along these steep hills, almost like the Big Horn sheep in Montana.

Even on warm days I enjoy a nice fire. In fact it seems there are few times I don't enjoy having a fire around. The set I used for this one was Basswood on Boxelder, and I used local Tulip Poplar bark for tinder.

The creek can raise several feet when it rains heavily (evident from errosion along the banks as well as debris) and the ground was covered in Tulip Poplar seeds. On a warm, dry day these can ignite, so I brushed them away from the fireside. This also helped when it came time to leave, so once the coals and ash had been removed I could cover the spot. Something I've noticed is when you build a fire somewhere, and someone else comes along and sees the coals, they get the same idea, and suddenly it becomes the place to have bonfires.