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  • April 3, 2014

    Outdoor Survival: First-Aid Kits

    By David E. Petzal

    I was asked what’s in my first-aid kit. Since I don’t remember, and I’m too lazy to dig it out, I’ll give you some general rules about first-aid kits that will be more useful than an item-by-item rundown.

    Don’t think about a first-aid kit as a fixed and immutable object. The kit should expand and contract, depending on where you’re going, what you’re likely to encounter, and how long will it take to get to a doctor, or have a doctor get to you. I have two first-aid kits, one for hunts, which are in close proximity to civilization, and the other for places like Alaska, where you may be left to your own devices if something happens. This saves me the trouble of re-building a single first-aid kit over and over.  Whatever you take, it should be small enough that you can keep it with you. My small kit is a little bigger than a fist and fits in a fanny pack with no trouble. The larger one is the size of maybe two fists. Package it in something waterproof, like a Ziplock bag, or better, the rollup Velcro-seal plastic bags sold in camping-supply stores.

  • January 28, 2014

    The Southerner’s Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life

    By David E. Petzal

    Garden & Gun, a bimonthly magazine which is published in Charleston, South Carolina, is the unlikeliest magazine ever to become successful, win awards, and achieve a national circulation of 700,000. In fact, it is the oddest concept to take root since the British comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore invented a restaurant called “The Frog and Peach” (“You never know when you’re going to want a bloody great frog and a really smashing peach”) and goddamn if it didn’t take off in the real world. But I digress.

    Garden & Gun is a lifestyle magazine which, in its words, covers “the best of the South, including the sporting culture, the food, the music, the art, the literature, the people and their ideas.” One reason it has succeeded is that it employs only first-rate talent. Its previous Editor in Chief was Sid Evans, who was head honcho at Field & Stream, and its current Main Man is David DiBenedetto, who was a Features Editor at F&S. Eddie Nickens is a regular contributor, and I get in a lick once in a while.

  • September 30, 2013

    Naked, But Not Afraid Enough

    By David E. Petzal

    "Naked and Afraid," which ran on the Discovery Channel this summer, was a major ratings success. If you're one of the 8 adult men in the U.S. who didn't watch at least one episode, the format was this: The show stranded a naked man and a naked woman in a remote s**thole for 21 days to see if they could tough it out with only one tool apiece (tool as in knife, or machete). Both people were previously screened for survival skills and given a rating on a scale of 1 to 10.

    The real attraction of the show was, of course, not to see whether somebody could light a fire in a rainstorm in the jungle with a bow drill, but whether you could see nasty bits. The answer was no. Discovery Channel pixeled out the nasty bits. You didn't see much more than you would on any public beach.

  • June 26, 2013

    The Blades of Maine Knifesmith Lamont Coombs

    By David E. Petzal

    So I needed a knife reground, and I asked Chris Kravitt, the sheathmaking swami of Waltham, Maine, who might do such a job. “Lamont Coombs,” said Mr. Kravitt, “he’s as good as any knifemaker in the United States.” So I went to see Lamont Coombs, who lives in the town of Bucksport, and damned if he isn’t just that.

    Coombs, who is 43, got his start as a machinist, turned to knifemaking as a hobby in 1988, and began as a full-time smith a decade later. He has been busy. In the quarter-century since he made his first knife, more than 3,000 have emerged from his shop.

  • November 12, 2012

    Carhartt: An American Classic and Great Women's Apparel

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Rather than run yet another picture of me holding a gun or dead thing in this space, today we have Field & Stream’s Kristyn Brady modeling a Carhartt Women’s Work-Dry Base Layer Quarter Zip Shirt and a live trout.

    Kristyn and I, along with millions of others since 1889, love our Carhartts. I wear the basic brown dungarees in the field all the time because they are tough and comfortable, and because I hope they make people mistake me for somebody who actually works for a living. Besides, brown duck is a great camo pattern if you sit still--just ask your father and grandfather.

    In a world where almost every garment you wear is made offshore it was a surprise to read “Made in the USA” on a pair of new brown duck bibs I picked up recently. (I was also happy to discover that sometime since I bought my last set of Carhartt bibs the button fly has been replaced by a zipper, which is progress if you drink a lot of coffee.)

  • September 18, 2012

    An Outdoor Philosophy

    By David E. Petzal

    As a rule, I try to avoid philosophy as strenuously as I avoid honest work. I would as soon read Hegel or Kant or Nietzsche as I would pound a darning needle up my nose. But sometimes one is forced to think about something more all encompassing than Ms. Mila Kunis (pictured here).

    While hunting in New Zealand this past spring, I ran into a South African hunter of vast experience who said, in the course of our conversation, “The purpose of hunting isn’t to kill some stupid animal. It’s to give yourself a chance to stand alone in the wilderness and realize how insignificant you are.”

  • August 16, 2012

    Crown Royal Bags Are Very Useful, Even as Weapons and Sandbag Rests

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Crown Royal bags have a cult following.

    There are contests and websites dedicated to the things people keep in Crown Royal bags, and they are very handy for us hunters and shooters, too. You can use them to keep the removable trigger of your high-end shotgun, use them as sandbag rests and muzzleloading possibles bags, and I have heard of people storing pistols in them. I can only imagine they are perfect for fishing reels and other pieces of outdoor gear as well.

    Until recently, I had never heard of anyone weaponizing a Crown Royal bag.

  • August 3, 2012

    On the Road: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

    By Phil Bourjaily

    I was in North Carolina on vacation last week. Halfway between Southport and Supply I saw the famous “Worms and Coffee” sign. While I didn’t really need gas, I couldn’t resist stopping in for $20 worth just so I could snap a picture with my smartphone.

    The “Worms and Coffee” sign has been there since 1997, and has become a local landmark and attraction. Photos of the sign have appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and the "Late Show With David Letterman." And really, early in the morning if you’re on your way to go fishing, what more do you need than worms and coffee?

  • March 5, 2012

    Pro Tool's J.Wayne Fears Series Knives

    By David E. Petzal

    Pro Tool, which makes the Woodman’s Pal combination tool, and master outdoorsman and writer J. Wayne Fears have designed three new knives that bear his name (top to bottom): the Ultimate Survival Knife, the Ultimate Outdoor Cook Knife, and the Ultimate Deer Hunter’s Knife. J. Wayne knows about everything there is to know about hunting and staying alive in the wilderness, and the knives show the input of someone who knows what the hell he is doing.

    All three are made of 1095 cutlery steel, tempered to Rc 54-56. This steel makes a blade that sharpens easily and takes an edge like a razor, but usually requires a fair amount of resharpening. However, these hold their edges like Grim Death itself. Out of curiosity, I cut the top out of a steel acetone can with the Survival Knife. Its edge needed a little retouching, but otherwise it didn’t seem to mind.

    Because tool steel rusts, the Deer Hunter’s Knife and the Survival Knife have their blades and tangs epoxy-powder coated. The Cook Knife does not, and if you leave it in your kitchen knife drawer you must stress to all who may use it that if they put it in the washing machine, they will be stabbed with it. Repeatedly.

  • January 25, 2012

    The Wildlife Pins of George G. Harris

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Twenty-seven years ago, George Harris of Englishtown, New Jersey was a truck driver with a degree in biology. He made a pewter trout pin for a local Trout Unlimited chapter and once he got started, he couldn't stop. Now he offers 500 different wildlife pins from popular gamebirds like the pheasant pin that I wear to bison and opossums.

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