Jetbeam WL20 Flashlight close up picture
Hunting

Flashlight Review: Jetbeam WL20 Hunting Flashlight

The Jetbeam WL20 is marketed as a multicolored hunting flashlight. The purpose of the colors is to help blood droplets become more visible. This helps hunters track wounded game animals, such as deer.

In all honesty, I have never used a hunting flashlight to track deer. Typically, the red blood droplets stand out well on leaves and pine straw. It also helps to understand how animals react when they are injured.

For this review, the Jetbeam WL20 hunting flashlight we will be looking at typical, everyday usage. Which means will the light survive being dropped several times, how easy is the light to use, and how bright is the Jetbeam WL20?

Jetbeam WL20 Specifications

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Jalapeno peppers
Homesteading

Tomatoes, Peppers, and Okra Spring Garden Update

The garden got off to a late start this year. In March we received so much rain the seeds rotted in the ground. It seemed like every couple of days we were getting a cold front.

All of this means the 2018 spring garden is running a month behind. Instead of the peppers producing in May, they are producing in June. Which is no big deal because once the peppers start producing, they will continue until the first frost.

Instead of the okra being planted at the first of May, it was planted at the end of May. I was hoping to get some rain to help the okra germinate, but we did not get rain for a month.

Eventually, I decided to plant the okra and water the seeds with a sump pump that sits in a creek. Everything worked out and the seeds germinated. Once the okra started to come up, it is making solid progress.

Tomatoes and Tomato Cages

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Jetbeam KO-01 Flashlight
Pictures

JETBeam KO-01 1080 Lumens Flashight Review

This is a review of the JETBeam KO-01 flashlight. First impressions is a hefty feeling light that uses a single 18650 battery. It does not feel cheaply made at all.

Double click the on/off switch and it will activate the strobe. While in strobe, click the on/off and it will go to high. Then hold down the on/off to turn the JETBeam KO-01 flashlight off.

Tailcap is flat so it can be stood upright. Turn it on, stand it upright, and it will help light up a room.

Something I found to be unique, the tailcap accepts quick connect swivels. For the video I took a quick connect off one of my AR-15 rifles, and put it on the light. This means the light can be securely hung anywhere.

External USB port for charging. When charging, there is a blue led under the on/off switch that will glow blue. When finished charging, the led will turn off.

No carry case or belt click are included. To me, the belt clip and carry case are subjective. Some people may use them, while others may not.

Lanyard holes are rather small. However, with the quick connect swivel, do you need lanyard holes?

JETBeam KO-01 Specifications

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Southeast Texas alligator
Fishing and Boating

June 2018 Fishing Trip on the Angelina River – A Short Story

The day started a little earlier than others when the alarm went off at 5:00 am. As soon as the alarm went off a war of attrition began in my head. One voice was talking about how comfortable the bed was and to forget about the fishing trip. The other voice was telling me to get up and go because in a few weeks the full brunt of the Texas heat will be here.

Realizing in another three or four weeks the July heat wave will be upon us, I decided to crawl (though reluctantly) out of bed and head to the shower. There is something refreshing about getting a morning shower.

Attire for the day was Levis jeans, green Carhart shirt, and Justin leather work boots. Typically, I wear shorts and sneakers on fishing trips, but this trip was different. Part of this trip was for pictures and videos. Rather than walking through a swampy area with sneakers, to decided to wear boots.

All of the gear had been loaded in either the Toyota T100 truck, or in the Weldbilt aluminum boat the night before. All that needed to be done was take a shower, get dressed, grab my everyday carry gear, and head out the door. I had wanted to leave the house around 5:30, but was able to leave around 5:20 or so.

Driving to the Angelina River

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Texas Wild Plums
Homesteading

Local Wildlife Ate All The Wild Plums

The wild plums here are on the farm were almost ready. So the other day I grabbed a bucket, walked over to the plum patch, and the trees were empty. They had gone from hundreds of wild plums to one in just a couple of days. Chances are the local wildlife feasted on the plums.

How do I know it was the local wildlife? There were no plums on the ground. When the plums ripen they fall off the tree. Since there were no plums on the ground, this means something ate them.

There is a wild plum crop here on the farm that has been left to grow for the past decade. Some of the trees are close to eight feet tall and are nice sized.

Wild plum production can be hit and miss. Some years the trees do very well, while other years they produce almost nothing. The plum production may have something to do with the time spent below freezing, but I am not sure. The winter of 2017 – 2018 was very harsh here in Southeast Texas, and the plum corp in 2018 was wonderful. […]

Bee Tree slough on the Angelina River near Jasper, Texas
Pictures

The Peace and Quiet of Nature Photography

For some people nature photography is going somewhere, taking pictures, and the go back home.

My personal feelings on nature photography and nature in general, people and nature have a special connection that has been forgotten. Up until around 10,000 years ago humans were hunter-gatherers. We followed the herds and were in tune with nature. However, all of that changed as the last ice age ended.

As the curtains drew closed on the last ice age, the large animals that supports our ancestors died off. A great number of animals even went extinct. Probably as a result of the mass extinctions, our ancestors turned to farming and gardening. Rather than following herds, our ancestors domesticated various animals, such as the goat, sheep, chicken… etc. Rather than foraging for wild edibles, crops were cultivated.

In the grand scheme of human history, we have a hundreds of thousands of years as hunter-gatherers, and 10,000 years of town and city building. In the grand scheme of human history, cities have been around for the blink of an eye. The rest of our history was sent in sparse communities, and as hunter-gatherers.

Nature Photography, Peace and Quiet

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Igloo Marine Contour Cooler Review
Fishing and Boating

Igloo 25 Qt Marine Contour Review

Review of the Igloo 25 Quart Marine Contour ice chest. A few weeks ago my favorite Igloo ice chest was stolen from Mill Creek Park, Brookeland, Texas. It was a 36 quart Igloo Marine ice chest that was close to a decade old. I was cooking for a fishing tournament, went home to take a nap, went back, and someone had stolen the ice chest. Not only did someone steal the ice chest, it was loaded with uncooked meat.

I got online and started looking at various Igloo Marine ice chest. The 36 quart was a little large for a day trip, so I decided one something just a tad smaller.

Some of the things I was looking for:

  1. Large enough for several bottles of water, and soft drinks.
  2. Big enough for one bag of ice.

The 36 quart would take two bags of ice to cover the drinks. Rather than going larger, I wanted something that was just big enough for one bag of ice.

Eventually the Igloo 25 Quart Marine Contour ice chest was picked.

Igloo Marine Contour First Impressions

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Tomato and pepper plants in a home garden
Homesteading

Transplanted Tomatoes and Planted Okra

The tomatoes that were planted a couple of months ago were root bound and had to be transplanted. While the tomatoes were being transplanted, I went ahead and planted the okra seeds we had germinated

Related article – How to germinate okra.

For those of you who do not know what root bound means; simply put, the pot is too small for the plant. The roots need more room than what the pot provides. The solution is to either transplant the plant into a larger pot, or plant the plant in the ground.

There were other issues:

  • The roots were getting too hot.
  • The pot was not holding enough moisture for the plants to grow.

Transplanting Tomatoes

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Boating on the Angelina River near Jasper, Texas
Fishing and Boating

Been Working on the Boat for Summer Fishing

Something I dearly love about spring, but was skipped this year, and that is going out on the boat. In March and April we had something like six weeks straight where it rained every weekend. It seemed like as soon as the rain stopped, the heat started.

Here it is mid-May, and it seems summer has arrived with a vengeance. Here we are in mid-May and daytime temps are in the low 90s. Where did spring go? I thought we were suppose to ease into the summer heat. It seems like only a few days ago daytime temps were in the 70s. Then again, this is Texas.

For one reason or another I have been putting off working on the boat. Last time it was in the water was two years ago, which is a shame. In all honesty, I love being out on the water. It seems like in only 20 – 30 minutes someone can go back 10,000 years in time.

I usually put the boat in at the Bevil Port boat launch of hwy 63 just north of Jasper, Texas. Once the boat is in the water, I head south on the Angelina River to Bee Tree Slough. Bee Tree Slough seems like time rolls back to the stone age.

Summer Fishing

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Texas Rat Snake
Homesteading

Leaving a Rat Snake in the Chicken House

This may seem counter-productive, but two rat snakes have been allowed to stay in the chicken house. Usually, if a rat snake (aka chicken snake) is caught in the chicken house, it is dealt with with extreme prejudice.

However, awhile back a good size rat was spotted in the chicken house. For those of you who do not know, one of the worst creatures that can be in the chicken house is a rat. Not only will they eat the chicken feed, but the will kill chickens. Yes, a rat will kill and eat part of a chicken.

When it comes to pullets, which are chickens less than one year old, a rat can easily kill and eat one. Then there is the egg issue. Rats will eat whatever eggs they can.

Simply put, a rat in the chicken house can wreck havoc.

A live trap was put in the chicken house to catch the rat, but it kept getting out of the trap. Poison is out of the question. Old style spring loaded rat traps are also out of the question. What’s the next best thing to do? Let nature take its course.

In other words, let rat snakes do what rat snakes do.

Rat Snake in the Chicken House

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Fig tree
Homesteading

Trying Something New With The Fig Trees

Around 2014 several fig trees were planted in the chicken yard. Some of the fig trees died and had to be replanted. The original ones, and the new ones have barely grown.

One of the original trees has barely put on any growth in four years.

In the past I had tried stuff like Miracle Grow plant spikes, and some Miracle Grow plant food. All that stuff is is a low grade fertilizer. Nothing I tried with Miracle Grow spikes or plant food helped the fig trees.

For 2018 I decided to try something different. I picked up some 6-7-7 fertilizer and put a cup around the base of each tree. This was done right before a rain. To benefit the plants the fertilizer has to be worked, or washed, into the soil.

Fig Tree Fertilizer

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Barbecue pit on a trailer with a smoker
Pictures

Getting the Barbecue Pit Ready for a Cookout

The other day a buddy called and asked if I wanted to bring my barbecue pit to a get-together he was planning. The event will span two days and have around 100 people in attendance.

It had been awhile since I had got to use the barbecue pit to cook for a bunch of people, so of course I said yes.

Decades ago my parents had a camp house that used butane. They eventually swapped the stove and hot water heat out for propane, so the 250 gallon butane tank was pulled out to a field. In the late 2000s I asked dad whatever happened to that butane tank. He told me it had been sitting in a field for the past 25 years. I went out to the field, waded through the chest high grass, found the tank, and brought it home.

Over the course of several months my son and I, and sometimes one of my nephews put the pit together. The flat bar and expanded metal were bought from a steel supply in Beaumont, Texas. The fire box and smoker were made from a 250 gallon air tank.

When my buddy needed someone with a barbecue pit, who do you think he called?

However, there are a few things I want to do to the pit before the cookout.

Cleaning the Cooking Grills

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Thrunite TN12 Flashlight
Pictures

ThruNite TN12 Flashlight Review

Up until just a few days ago I had never heard of ThruNite, much less the ThruNite TN12. Someone on youtube reached out and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the TN12. After looking at the light I said sure, I would love to see it.

Looking at the ThruNite TN12 on amazon, I asked myself how good could a $49 flashlight be?

First impressions are important. I liked the quality of the box and how the flashlight was packaged. It is “just a box” but first impressions are important. I liked the overall packaging, the light was held in place with padding.

Included in the package:

  • ThruNite TN12 2016
  • Belt / pocket clip
  • Replacement on/off cap
  • Two o’rings
  • Lanyard
  • Pouch – the pouch comes with a belt loop and a ring for attaching it to a pack.

Batteries are not included. The ThruNite TN12 2016 uses 1*18650 or 2*CR123 batteries. […]

Outside of chicken house
Homesteading

Update on the New Chicken House

Awhile back I started building a new chicken yard. Now that the yard is pretty much complete (for now), the time has come to build the new chicken house.

The size I decided on was 16 feet by 16 feet. 16 X 16 = 256 square feet. I figured 256 square feet was enough to accommodate roost, laying boxes, storage cabinet, water barrels and batteries for the solar power.

The laying boxes will take up 6 feet on one wall, and the roost takes up around 12 feet on another wall. The laying boxes in the new chicken house will be modeled after the laying boxes of the old chicken house.

An 8 foot wide leanto will be built off one wall. Which is where the solar panels will be installed.

Inside the house is a steel storage cabinet 36 inches wide and 18 inches deep. This is for tools, nails, screws, paint, chicken feeders, waterers, just your usual stuff. […]

Moving chicken house to the farm
Homesteading

Moving The Chicken House To The Farm

What do you do when you have chickens and plan on bugging out? You build the chicken house where it will fit on a trailer, or in the bed of a truck.

When my wife and I built the chicken coop we knew that one day we would be moving. So the chicken coop was built so that it would fit on a dual axle trailer. The inside of the trailer measured 7 feet, so the coop was built 6 foot 3 inches wide.

Today (July 20, 2013) my plans were put to the test. Here is the story of moving the chicken house.

What a day. Started off with breakfast, pulled my boat to the camp, picked up my son, back home, then moved the chicken coop into position to be loaded on a trailer.

Loaded the chicken coop on a trailer, dad pulled the coop and trailer to the camp while I had the run on a trailer attached to my truck.

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Speckled Sussex, Australorp, Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red
Homesteading

Best Chicken Breeds For SHTF

What chicken breeds are best for a long term SHTF survival situation? Most breeds are good foragers, but we want something that would make a good meat chicken, good layer, good breeder, is friendly with other chickens and deals with confinement well.

Chickens are an excellent livestock choice for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI. Eggs are a good source of protein, fats and essential amino acids. Chicken meat is a good source of protein. Chickens can be let out out of the chicken coop during the day, and they will return to the coop at night. Which is unlike other livestock that will wonder off if let out of their pen.

There are more chicken breeds than someone can shake a stick at. For the sake of this discussion, let’s look at heritage chicken breeds that have been established for more than 100 years. This gives the breed a century to prove itself. If a chicken breed is going to work out, then this gives it a century to succeed or fail

My suggestions are the Barred Rock (which is part of the Plymouth Rock family), Rhode Island Red and the Australorp.

Barred Rock

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AK-47 ERGO Grip SUREGRIP
Pictures

AK-47 ERGO Grip SUREGRIP Review

If there is one thing about the AK-47 that sucks, it has to be the factory pistol grip. The AK-47 is a great rifle, but lets face the facts, most of the factory pistol grips suck, big time.

Thank goodness Falcon Industries has come to the rescue with the Ergo Grip Suregrip.

AK-47 ERGO Grip SUREGRIP

The Ergo Grip Suregrip is a quick and easy replacement to the factory AK-47 grip. The model I had the opportunity to review was the ERGO AK Classic Grip, model number 4139-BK.

Some specs from the Ergo Grip website:

  • Ambidextrous design with smooth finger grooves
  • Superior design and textured finishes for enhanced weapon control compared to smaller factory grips
  • Bottom storage compartment with tethered rubber plug
  • Installs with 6mm bots (included)

Installation […]

Crabbing on Baileys Road in Bridge City, Texas
Fishing and Boating

Crabbing Baileys Road Bridge City Texas

As the people who live in Bridge City, Groves and Orangefield Texas already know, crabbing on Baileys road is a local tradition.

Before the Rainbow Bridge was built there was a ferry that ran between Bridge City and Port Arthur.

Baileys road was constructed through the middle of a marsh. As you are driving down the road, there is a canal that runs parallel to the road on the right hand side, and marsh grass on the left hand side.

When the road intersects Sabine Lake, the road makes a 90 degree turn to the left.

From the 90 degree turn, Baileys road winds along the edge of Sabine Lake for maybe 1/2 a mile or so until the road crosses over a bridge and dead ends.

After the Rainbow Bridge was built, people no longer needed the ferry so it was decommissioned. Even though the ferry was gone, Baileys has remained a popular icon.

Baileys Road

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Water bottle, Vargo stove and MSR pot
Hiking and Camping

Camping Trip Load Out

To get ready for an upcoming camping trip I decided to do a load out list. List like this help you see what your pack contains, and hopefully spot missing items.

For those of you looking at this list and wondering how I am going to pack off of this gear, the easy answer is “I am not going to pack it”. The camping trip is going to be on the banks of the Angelina River. This means the boat is going to be carrying the gear for me; all I have to do is load the boat up and go.

Backpack – Large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system, 2 sustainment pouches on the MOLLE pack. I was going to take my large ALICE pack, but my sleeping bag, food, fleece liner and poncho liner filled up the pack. This means I am having to store a lot of my gear in the sustainment pouches on the MOLLE.

Tent – Wenzel Lone Tree Hiker Tent, this item is hit and miss and might be difficult to find

Tarp – 6×8 foot for tent ground cloth.

Sleeping bag – Coleman Exponent Tasman X 32-Degree Hybrid Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bag liner – GI poncho liner and fleece sleeping bag

Sleeping pad – Coleman Max

Camping Trip Food

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Long term food storage
Disaster Preparedness

Long Term Survival Food Preps For SHTF

When someone says “survival food preps” or “stockpiling survival food”, what do you think of? Do you think of tons of dried rice and beans stored in mylar bags? How about a basement full of #10 cans, does that come to mind? Or is it a combination of several things?

When I was thinking of writing an article about survival food preps, the first thing that popped into my head was – MREs, canned goods and garden seeds. But where does perishable goods fit into that narrow picture?

For the first week or so people are going to be eating stuff out of their freezer. For the sake of discussion, lets move past that first week post SHTF. Something bad has happened, the food in the grocery stores has dried up, people have gone through their immediate perishable food items,,,, now what?

A book about the Roman military I just finished reading contained a quote from an ancient historian – “nothing caused as much stress within the troops as the lack of supplies.” Just like it says, when the supplies started to run low, the stress level went up. 2,000 years later, and nothing has changed. […]