While walking along a creek taking stock pictures for a Thrunite flashlight review I heard leaves rustling behind me. I turned around and saw a snake slithering down the bank and into the creek.
Upon reaching the water the snake stopped and was looking straight at me. I have heard that the water moccasin (cotton mouth) can be aggressive. I do not know if this is true. Most of the cotton mouths I have came across where happy to slither away, or they coiled up and stayed still.
There was a dried vine hanging close to my head. I reached up and snapped off a piece of the vine that was about 2 feet long. The snake started to slither towards me, so I stepped into the middle of the creek where the water was running at a faster pace than close to the bank. The snake continued along the edge of the bank and went into a clump of roots that were in the water.
I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. It appeared that I may have spooked the snake and it just wanted to get back to its home, and I was between the snake and where it wanted to go.
Looking at the snake for a few seconds I realized it was a water snake and not a cotton mouth water moccasin. The head was not that of a water moccasin and the body was much smaller. This snake had a narrow head and slim body. The water moccasin has a well defined triangle shaped head and thick body.
Honestly I do not care what kind of snake it is. It can go on its merry little way and leave me alone.
Our friend Sticks65 over at PlanetBushcraft posted another fire building video. This one talks about using flint and steel along with Crampball Fungi to make a fire. Post your comments in this thread of the wilderness survival forum.
Harder to get the spark to take than char cloth but you don’t have to prepare the crampball like charcloth and can take them strait from nature and use.
East Texas wild grapes, also called Muscadines grow on long vines and usually grow around creeks and streams. Their range extends far past Texas and have been known to grown from Texas all the way to New York. Their native climate is warm humid areas, such as the deep southern part of the USA.
The grapes start off green and turn a dark purple color when their ready to be picked. The taste is sweet, with the husk being a little tough and maybe a little tart. Some types of Muscadines may stay green when they are ready to be picked.
Muscadines have a high Polyphenol content. Which is supposed to promote good health.
The inside of the grape has at least 1 seed that is about 1/8 – 3/16 of an inch long.
The Muscadine grapes can be used to make jelly, juice or preserves.
From a survivalist point of view, this is a good wild plant to have around your camp. If you have any creeks or streams, they may already be growing and you may not even know it.
On July 9 – 10 my son, my son-in-law, a friend of the family and I went camping at Bluff 1 – which is a primitive camping spot along the Angelina River. We got up that morning, and headed down stream to another camping spot that has nice rope swing. While we were going down the river, we saw a gator eating on something. At the time we did not pay any real attention to it and kept driving the boat to the place we wanted to go swimming.
Well, on the way back we saw the gator again – and it saw us. As soon as we came into view, the gator broke of its attack on the dead turtle, and headed into a slew. We were not trying to harass the gator, in fact we kept our distance to about 100 feet, or more.
The gator was swimming at a pretty good rate and instead of following it, we turned around to look at what the gator was eating on. At first we thought it was a hog – because the corpse had a dark spot. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a large fresh water turtle that had been dead for some time.
“which one should I buy, an ALICE Pack or a MOLLE Pack?” – that is one of the questions that I see a lot of on the forum. The answer is not a simple one. Before you can answer a question, sometimes you have to ask a few questions.
How much room do you need
How rugged do you need the frame? – the MOLLE pack has a plastic frame, ALICE has a metal frame
A couple of weeks ago my son, nephew and I went on a boating / camping trip. We loaded up the gear, launched the boat and headed out to a camping spot on the river. While we were there, I decided to put together a video about the packs and do a little comparison.
My first exposure to the ALICE pack was way back in either 1992 or 1993. One of my good buddies had just came back from the first Persian gulf conflict, and one of the first things he did was buy himself a medium ALICE pack to replace the one he had been using in the ARMY. I liked the pack so much, I bought myself one. The difference between my buddies pack and mine – my pack was woodland camo, while my buddies pack was olive drab. After using the medium ALICE for a few years, I found it was a little so, so I bought a large ALICE pack in olive green.
My first exposure to the MOLLE pack was a couple of months ago after I bought 3 packs off ebay.
The three packs that my son, nephew and I brought on the camping included – Large MOLLE with internal sleep system, MOLLE with external sleep system and medium ALICE pack.
Large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system compartment – digital camo, internal sleep system compartment, plastic frame, no external pouches or internal pouches, map case in top flap, no radio pouch inside of pack, no hydration pocket for water bladder. The shoulder straps and waist belt are desert camo because I bought 2 desert camo packs off ebay, and used one set of straps and waist belt on my large molle. I would really like to replace the desert camo stuff with woodland green, but woodland green MOLLE stuff is a little difficult to find on ebay. Also, the military is supposed to be releasing its new camo to the troops pretty soon. This might cause the price of digital camo items to drop.
One of the things that I really liked about the large MOLLE is how much webbing it has. The pack also has webbing on the bottom of the pack to strap a sleeping bag, tent, tarp or anything else.
One of the things that I did not like about the large MOLLE – it did not have a radio pouch inside the pack like the alice pack does. Nor does the pack have pouches on the outside of the pack. The plastic frame is also a draw back. Nor do I like having to use the pack with a frame – if the frame breaks your just out of luck.
Large ALICE VS Large MOLLE – If I had to pick between the Large ALICE and the Large MOLLE, to me there is no real comparison – Large MOLLE all the way.
When the Large ALICE is loaded, it seems to “fat”, and sticks too far off my back. The makes me have to lean forward to off set the weight sticking off my back.
The Large ALICE does not have any compression straps around the pack – this might be one reason why it seems too fat. Once th pack is loaded up, there is no way to take the slack out, because there are no compression straps. With the Large MOLLE pack on the other hand, it has a couple of straps where you can cinch it down nice and tight. So if your carrying a large load, it can be cinched up so that its close to your body.
The Large ALICE pack has 6 external pouches – 3 large and 3 small, while the Large MOLLE has none. This has its pros and cons. The small pouches on the Large ALICE are almost to small to store anything but small items. The larger pouches are big enough to store rain gear, and a 1 pound propane bottle will fit just right.
The Large ALICE pack has a radio pouch inside the pack, the Large MOLLE Pack does not. This may not seem like a big deal – but I like a place to store my smaller items, like bug spray, small flashlight, small muti-tool, bible, FM-2176, personal hygiene kit, camera and camera case along with spare batteries,,,,,, stuff like that.
MOLLE with external sleep system – lets just call this one the Medium MOLLE pack – desert camo, external sleep system compartment, claymore pouch on outside, no internal pouches or compartments, plastic frame, map case in top flap – but has plastic on one side of the map case so you can see the map without having to take the map out.
Overall, I view this pack as the least flexible – it has only a few webbing around the pack, none that wrap around the entire pack, and no webbing on the bottom of the pack. has very little webbing on it, no pouch on the inside and only one pouch on the outside of the pack.
Without the external sleep system compartment attached, and with something in it – the pack would not stand up on its own. It had to be leaned against a tree or something else in order for it to stand up. Its nice when you can drop and pack, and it stands up so you can dig through it.
Medium MOLLE VS Medium ALICE – If I had to pick between the Medium ALICE and the Medium MOLLE, I would have to pick the Medium ALICE.
The Medium MOLLE does not have enough webbing – this makes attaching extra pouches nice and easy. So if you need a place to keep a canteen, just attach a canteen. If you need a first aid kit on the outside of you pack, just attach a first aid kit.
The Medium MOLLE does not even webbing on the bottom of the pack for lashing a tent, sleeping bag, tarp,,,, or anything else to it.
The Medium ALICE pack has 3 outside pouches – which are just the right size for storing rain gear and a 1 pound bottle of propane for a stove. There is also webbing that runs the circumference of the pack, which makes attaching more pouches easy. The Medium MOLLE does not have any external pouches, and with a lack of webbing, there is no way to attach extra pouches.
Neither the Medium ALICE nor the Medium MOLLE has a place for a hydration bladder. As long as you can carry plenty of canteens, this should not be a big deal. But one more thing but that webbing – or rather the lack of it on the Medium MOLLE- if you dont have the webbing, your no going to be able to attach canteens to the outside of the pack.
When the canteens were put in the top flap (map case) the pack became top heavy. On the camping trip my son used the Medium MOLLE, and noted that it was top heavy because of where we had to put the canteens.
If I had to re-buy any or all of the packs in this article, it would be in this order:
1. Large Molle – Well designed pack, the few things I do not like about this pack can be easily fixed with a few add-on pouches. I still wish it had a metal frame instead of that junk plastic.
2. Medium ALICE – Battle proven through military use for around 40 years. Metal frame, lots of webbing,,,. The only draw back is that its a little heavy.
3. Large ALICE – Lots of room, but when fully loaded can be un-comfortable to carry. The lack of compression straps makes this pack too fat.
4. Medium Molle – I dont know if I would even buy this pack again. For something that supposed to be used by the military, I’am really disappointed in it.
Until just a few days ago, I had never heard of the Vargo hexagon wood stove. It all started with Mark, the owner of Ready Pro.org sent me an email and asked if I would like to do a review. Since I like to test out new gear, I said “sure”.
Right off the bat I was impressed with this stove – it looks like it can go anywhere and cook just about anything. Its versatile enough to be able to use wood, sterno, or an alcohol stove inside of it. The first thing that I notices as I took the stove out of the box is how thin it is.
Here are some dimensions:
Folded – about 3/4 inch tall
Folded – the widest part across the base is about 5 5/8 inches
Un-folded – about 4 inches tall
Un-folded – top – about 3 inches across
Un-folded – base – about 4 3/4 – 4 7/8 across
The bottom of the stove has 19 hexagon holes stamped in it, which as about 3/8 across.
The way your “supposed” to use this stove, is you find some small pieces of wood and build a fire inside of the stove. But while looking at the stove, and doing some thinking, I found that a sterno / methanol gel fits perfectly into the stove. I know the Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove is not designed to be used like this, but oh well, it works.
Self Defense: This is an active, hands on course, wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes. We will receive some basic training from a local martial arts club. Be involved and practice these moves as a group, and 1 on 1. Let this course increase your confidence and give you a chance to learn more about protecting yourself. Learn some basic moves to help keep you safe in the woods, at the mall, or anywhere else!
Archery: Learn bow safety, equipment identification, selection and shooting stance. The bows have a very easy draw length and weight so don’t worry about having enough strength.
Geotracking: This is a useful skill and can be a lot of fun. Whether you are new to a GPS unit or already have experience come sharpen your skills. If you have a GPS unit, you are encouraged to bring it, however you can still participate if you don’t have one. Learn how to use these units to navigate more effectively, and to help you find great new places to explore!
Bee Basics: Meet a local beekeeper! Learn what it takes to get started in that endeavor: equipment, space, cost, & time. Also learn about bee behavior, likes, & dislikes. Find out about local bee resources!
Outdoor Photography: Learn how to get the best shots from a real pro! Explore & discuss equipment options, settings, the joy of photography, and digital verses film options. Bring along your favorite camera &/or one you might have a question about!
Call of the Wild: An introduction to some of the more common animal calls, when and how is the best use for them.
If you have a call, bring it with you, or there will also be some available as part of a morning raffle! Our experienced instructor can help you make sure you get the most out of it!
Leather: $5.00 Class Materials Fee. See & feel samples of different types of leather. There will be a presentation on how these types develop & what their best use is. Also care & repair tips will be demonstrated. Learn about stitching, stamping, & tooling!
This is a Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy that is used for a warm weather pack. Its just big enough for a day long hike, or a light weight overnight camping pack.
One of the questions I have been asked, “what makes a pack a warm weather pack?” In my opinion, its the packs size – its so small you can not carry spare clothing. In a cold weather camping or hiking situation, you will probably want to bring extra clothing, maybe a hat gloves, extra socks,,,, the usual stuff that hikers and campers my need in cold weather.
In hot weather you can take clothing off, in cold weather you have to have extra clothing to put it on. If the extra clothing is not in the pack, there is nothing to put on.
Lets say that your hiking along, you dont see this snake on the trail, step on it and your bitten – what do you do? Your a couple of miles from the trail head, your out of cell phone range, what should you do in this type of situation?
This picture and video were tank in East Texas, just a few miles north of Beaumont, and during the month of September, 2009. The snake was left unharmed and was not injured in anyway.
My son, step son, and I were hiking along a nice clear stream that flows year round. When we stopped for a break, I walked up on top on a sand bar only to see this snake coiled up.
After filming a video and taking some pictures, we loaded up our packs and moved on down the stream.
For people that do not get into the woods very much, getting a copperhead and a water moccasin mixed up might be an easy thing to do. So what this article is going to do is give a basic run down on both types of snakes.
The examples that ae going to be covered are from my own personal experiences from being in the wilderness and not from scientific studies. So take this information as opinion and not as fact.
The snake in the picture is a medium sized cottonmouth, I have seen them a lot larger then that. One cottonmouth my buddies and I killed and measured – it was close to 4 feet long and as big around as a mans wrist.
Cotton mouths have a head big enough to grab onto your leg, your arm,,, just about anywhere.
The Cottonmouth Water Moccasin can be easily confused with a water snake. They have almost the same exact color pattern. One has a round head and the other has a diamond shaped head.
If your in a wilderness survival situation, keep in mind that everything in the world needs water. So if you come across a creek, stream, pool of water, pond, lake or river, chances are your gonna be able to find some kind of food source.
immature muscadine grape
A couple of days ago my kids and I (Kevin) went on a fishing trip on local creek. While we were there I noticed some Muscadine grapes hanging over the creek. Its been awhile since I have seen these grapes – I see the vines all the time but you have to catch the grapes at just the right time of year. When the grapes are ready to eat they will turn a bright purple color.
When the grape is a bright green colors, its no ready to eat and will have an unpleasant bitter taste to eat. As the grape turns a purple color, the bitterness will slowly go away. So if the grape is mostly purple and a little green, the bitter taste will not be too bad. But its best to eat the grapes when they are a deep purple color.
Warning about eating food you find in the wilderness: Unless you are 100% sure what it is – DO NOT EAT IT! There is no need in risking your health or even your life on eating something. Some plants are poisonous and can make you very sick. So ff there is any doubt of what it is – DO NOT EAT IT! Its not worth it.
The only reason why I ate the grapes in the video, is because I was raised in the area and have known what Muscadine grapes are since I was a child.
This should be a pretty simple question, even for a 5 year old. This picture and the video was filmed on a rock flat where the overflow from a stream goes. Meaning, when the stream overflows, the water runs over this rock flat. When the water recedes there are these pools of water.
Inside one of these pools of water are some things that were swimming around. They were about 1/2 inch long, had a head and a tail. For the most part they were just sitting still, but when I moved around, they started swimming. Maybe I scared them?
To help out, here is some geographical information.
Location: East Texas
Date: July 18, 2009
What are the things in the water, what can you do with them, are they edible,,, just post whatever you want in the forums.
The question is, how do you find water in the wilderness? In the following video example there is a dried up creek bed with evidence that water had been there – such as small pools and discolored sand.
The video was taken in East Texas, just north of Jasper. Over the past month the lack of rain fall has pushed the area into drought conditions. Creeks and streams that normally flow all year long have dried up. Hikers and campers that were depending on those creeks as a water source are going to be sorely surprised to find them dried up.
Post your comments in the finding water in dried up creek beds thread of the survivalist forum.
A new wilderness survival books section has been added to online store lineup. These are the kinds of books that every hiker, camping or even day hikers should include in their pack. Whether your trip is 1 day or a week long excursion – its always good to have a book on wilderness survival in your pack. Some people may say “why do I need one of those books for?” Besides covering topics such as first aid, navigation, wild foods, and shelter building, these books also discuss a wide range of other topics.
I (Kevin) personally recommend the SAS Survival Guide and the US Army Survival Manual. Both of those survival books are an excellent source of information.
Vibrio vulnificus: Every year millions of Americans consume raw molluscan shellfish, especially oysters and clams. For some people, however, eating raw or undercooked molluscan shellfish can cause serious illness or death from Vibrio vulnificus.
Vibrio vulnificus is a gram-negative bacterium and is considered the most lethal of the vibrios inhabiting brackish and salt water. This bacterium is not the result of bacteriological or chemical pollution of marine waters, but occurs naturally in warm, coastal areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico. V. vulnificus is found in higher concentrations from April through October when coastal waters are warm.
AT-RISK POPULATION: Most healthy individuals are not at risk for V. vulnificus infection. Persons at high-risk include those with liver disorders, including hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer; hemochromatosis; diabetes mellitus; and those with immunocompromising conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, or undergoing their treatments. Individuals who take prescribed medication to decrease stomach acid levels or who have had gastric surgery are also at risk.