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Survival Gear

Best of the Best Awards: 2012 Hunting Gear

This is the definitive list of the best hunting gear introduced in 2012, from vehicles to boots.

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Best Reader Tips

Here are the best hunting, fishing and camping tips from readers like you.

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  • January 23, 2014

    A Knife Expert on How to Really Sharpen a Blade

    By T. Edward Nickens

    Photos by Travis Rathbone

    I hold the knife in my right hand, thumb on the blade spine. My left thumb guides the edge along a sharpening stone at as close to a 20-degree angle as possible. The screech of diamond dust biting steel is like a door creaking open in a slasher film. I haven't broken such a nervous sweat since Mrs. Evans made me read a story about tarantulas to the entire third-grade class.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 4, 2013

    Camp Knives: Big Blades For Heavy-Duty Cutting

    By David E. Petzal

    “’At’s not a knoife…’at’s a knoife.” —Mick “Crocodile” Dundee, brandishing a camp knife at a terrified and out-cutlered mugger.

    The definition of a camp knife is a big, heavy knife that can do most of what a hatchet can do and much of what a knife can do. The concept is not new. Mountain men carried heavy butcher knives (and skinners, and patch knives), which would qualify nicely as camp knives. In 1849, the Ames Manufacturing Company in Massachusetts manufactured a Rifleman’s Knife for American soldiers, and today we’d call it a camp knife. In World War II, the Marine Corps issued a Hospital Corpman’s Knife to medical personnel, and a Bowie knife made by Western Cutlery, the W49, to some of its Raider units. (This is the knife that Robert Redford carries in Jeremiah Johnson.) Both would qualify as camp knives, and both are very useful. [ Read Full Post ]

  • August 19, 2013

    Sometimes People Vanish

    By David E. Petzal

    On July 23, a 66-year-old woman from Tennessee, Geraldine Largay, was supposed to meet her husband at a point on the Appalachian Trail in Maine, and when she failed to make the rendezvous, he declared her missing. Largay was an experienced hiker and in good health, but she simply vanished. Despite an intensive search, which has just been scaled back, there is not a trace of her. Heart attack? Bear? Human monster? We don’t know and we may never know.

    The most notable wilderness disappearance was that of Congressman Hale Boggs, whose plane vanished in a remote part of Alaska in 1972, resulting in the most sustained and intensive rescue search in U.S. history. Not a trace was found. The plane, Hale Boggs, and his fellow passengers simply ceased to exist. [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 11, 2013

    Survivorman Les Stroud: A Comic Book Hero?


    By Ben Romans

    For several years, outdoor survival expert Les Stroud has been a one-man camera crew who filmed his multi-day jaunts into remote areas of the world. I’ve tuned in from time to time. The episodes are occasionally entertaining, and I often learn a thing or two.
    But would I go so far as to say Stroud’s skills make him a real-life superhero? Certainly not. However, the folks at Bluewater Productions disagree. So much so they’re willing to pit Stroud’s MacGyver-esque skills against wrongdoers in a new comic book series.
    In a press release, Bluewater said the first edition will follow Stroud in pursuit of an artifact and in the chase, he gets lost at sea, roughs it through the English countryside, and "shows an endless supply of rugged determination in his quest." [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 25, 2013

    TerraLUX Lightstar 80 Flashlight


    by Phil Bourjaily

    Of all the many things we can buy covered in camo that shouldn’t be camo-ed, flashlights rank near the top of the list, along with knives. Several years ago a big game guide showed me his knife. He had dipped the handle in some kind of rubberized bright orange paint. It was easy to hold onto, he said, and easy to find when he set it down somewhere.

    Which brings us to the TerraLux Lightstar 80. I used one last season and found it to be in most ways a basic, serviceable light. It’s a fairly inexpensive ($30 list, sells for less) 80 lumen LED light that runs for five hours on a pair of AA batteries. It has a rubber ring around the end so you can hold it in your mouth comfortably, and the on-off switch can even be operated with tongue pressure. [ Read Full Post ]

  • August 22, 2012

    Survival Skills, Reconsidered

    By David E. Petzal

    In the late 1990s, I attended a class on survival given by Peter Kummerfeldt and was spellbound at how much the guy knew and how well he presented it. Mr. Kummerfeldt, in case you’re not familiar with him, spent 30 years as an Air Force survival instructor and finished his career as head of the survival course at the Air Force Academy. He has taught the subject to other government agencies, is a flyfishing and hunting guide, and has been involved in search and rescue operations as well.

    Peter is not one of the television survivalists who eats wolverine dung for the camera. He is not in show business; he is deadly serious about staying alive in the outdoors because he’s seen, first-hand, what happens when your skills are not up to that job. [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 27, 2012

    The Holy Trinity of Outdoor Blades: Knife, Ax and Saw


    By Keith McCafferty

    The great bushcraftsman Mors Kochanski once told me that a man can survive in wilderness with only a knife—but carry an ax and he lives like a king. To complete the woodsman’s toolbox, I recommend adding a bow saw. By packing all three blades in your canoe duffel (or on your back, as their total weight shouldn’t exceed 4 pounds), you can carve, chop, and saw your way to a wilderness throne faster and without nearly as much chance of injury than if you leave one tool behind. Here are the three blades I carry and what I can do with them. [ Read Full Post ]

  • June 14, 2012

    Rx in the Wilderness: The 5 Medications You Need to Stay Alive

    By Keith McCafferty

    When we talk about survival, it’s the marquee dangers that carry the conversation: snakebite, gunshot, bear attack. Nobody mentions the microscopic bug in your intestines that causes such severe diarrhea that you die from dehydration, or the plaque that dislodges from an arterial wall to stop your heart. Not a word of the bee sting that induces anaphylactic shock, asphyxiating you as mercilessly as the coils of a python.

    Such little things can kill you, but other little things can save your life. In a wilderness emergency, the five pharmaceuticals in the chart at right can be very big medicine. Use it as a guide, and consult with your doctor. [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 17, 2012

    The Total Outdoorsman: Hunt Better, Fish Smarter, Master the Wild


    By T. Edward Nickens

    A little bit here and a little bit there. You keep your eyes open. That’s how you learn. You pick up a new knot from a new fishing buddy, or try a decoy trick you saw in a magazine. You make mistakes. And if you’re lucky, like I was, there will be a mentor along the way. An unselfish someone who cares enough about you that he wants you to know everything he’s ever learned.

    That’s the good thing about hunting and fishing and camping: You can never know it all, and you’re never as good as you could be.

    Over the years, I’ve learned from the best—mentors, buddies, guides, story subjects, and some of the most dedicated outdoor-skills competitors this world has ever seen. Put them together, and they’ve got a half dozen different ways to shoot a double or cast a fly rod. Here’s the best of what I’ve learned from them, and on my own, in 35 years of hunting and fishing. And this is what all sportsmen should do with such knowledge: Pass it on. [ Read Full Post ]

  • May 4, 2012

    More on Preppers

    by David E. Petzal

    If you’d really like to depress yourself some evening, watch “Doomsday Preppers” on the National Geographic Channel. The show details the plans of normal, well adjusted people to cope with the aftermath of fiscal collapse, nuclear holocaust, the eruption of Yellowstone, solar flares, and so on.

    The New York Times noted with outrage that many of these people were accumulating guns and ammunition in order to defend their 1,500 pounds of MREs and dried brown rice, but stockpiling guns is fine with me. My concern is that most of them seem pretty inexpert with guns. One prepper was counting on a Ruger Number One single-shot which, despite its many splendid qualities, is not what you’d pick to blast the mob at your door. Another managed to shoot off several fingers during a practice session. Yet a third, a resident of the Oligarchy of Bloomberg, took lessons in knife fighting because he was unable to get a gun, ignoring the fact that everyone in the Oligarchy of Bloomberg who wants a gun has one, or several, and when the pistol-waving mob comes to this fellow’s apartment I don’t think that he and his knife will last long. [ Read Full Post ]

  • 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. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 8, 2011

    Lost Newfoundland Couple Uses Fresh Moose Hide To Fight Cold


    By Chad Love

    --Chad Love

    Remember that scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are trapped on Hoth, so Han uses Luke's lightsaber to cut open a dead Tauntaun and hollow out the body cavity to use as an overnight shelter from the freezing temperatures? If not, see below...and since it's kind of a sin to have never seen Empire, you get the dubbed version.

    In recent news, a pair of Canadian moose hunters trapped overnight in the freezing wilderness didn't follow the script to the letter, but they came pretty darn close.

    From this story on
    A western Newfoundland couple used the hide of a freshly killed moose overnight Tuesday to keep warm after getting lost in the woods during a hunting trip near Gros Morne National Park. Stephen and Sheila Joyce said they lost their way after wounding a young moose and began following the trail of its blood. Shivering and soaking wet, they eventually caught up with the wounded animal.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • October 7, 2011

    Two Knives to Get for 12/20/12

    By David E. Petzal

    I’ll spare you the usual litany of reasons why the world as we know it is coming unglued. Needless to say, you should be shopping for the occasion, and if you’re looking for a good fixed-blade knife, here are two that are so similar in purpose and construction that I decided to review them together.

    The Ranger Puuko is made in Finland, where it was designed as a survival knife by a Finnish officer named J.P. Peltonen. The original Ranger has a 6-inch blade, but people noticed that if you lopped an inch off that, it would make a dandy hunting knife. And so the Ranger Puuko you see here has a 5-inch drop-point blade made of forged tool steel hardened to Rc 58 and coated with Teflon, a 5-inch handle of hardened rubber, and a totally cool leather sheath with a safety liner and an internal rubber keeper that snaps down on the handle and holds it firmly in place.

    It’s not a pretty knife, or a finely finished one. It’s meant to be used very hard. The blade is thick and strong, sharpens very easily to a blood-curdling edge, and holds that edge reasonably well. The price for the either the 5-inch-blade Ranger or the 6-inch is $169.50 from

    The second knife is a brand new one from Cold Steel, and can best be described as a Ka-Bar on steroids (pictured below). It’s called the Leatherneck SF (for “Semper Fi”) and follows the general lines of the Ka-Bar, but with improvements. The 6 ¾-inch blade is made of a steel called SK-5, which is the Japanese equivalent of American 1080, a high-carbon tool steel. It’s hardened to Rc57-58 and came to me with an appallingly sharp edge and kept it extremely well. As with the Ranger, this blade will rust, and so it, too, is coated. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 6, 2011

    Jim Baird’s Arctic Adventure: Calculating Weight vs. Mileage


    By Jim Baird

    It’s the Big Question: How much gas do we need? Too much gas is definitely better than to little gas—to a point. If you carry way too much, you will stress your machine and you are more likely to run into mechanical problems. Good jerry cans are key, or you may have to deal with spillages and leaks, which will definitely knock back the miles you travel. At the end of the day you will have to narrow it down as much as possible until you have to make an educated guess.

    [ Read Full Post ]

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