Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Convicted Felons and Hunting

I understand how someone who has "paid their debt to society" may feel it's their right to hunt again. Indeed it may be, but be careful. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has posted Florida statute loud and clear in their proclaimation, as follows...  Use of Firearms by Felons - It is illegal in Florida for convicted felons to possess firearms, including muzzleloading guns, unless the convicted felon has had his/her civil rights restored by the state's Clemency Board or the firearm qualifies as an antique firearm under Florida statute 790.001(1). Properly licensed convicted felons may hunt with bows, crossbows or antique firearms per Florida statute 790 during hunting seasons when such devices are legal for taking game.

The 2005 Florida Statutes Title XLVI, Section, 790.001(1) states "Antique firearm means any firearm manufactured in or before 1918 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar early type of ignition system) or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1918, and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1918, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade." The fact that the firearm is an antique firearm is an affirmative defense that the defendant has the burden of alleging and proving. Williams v. State 482 So.2d 1051 (Fla 1986). Convicted felons should be cautious about being in a location where a firearm is present as they may be in constructive possession of that firearm. Constructive possession occurs when the person knows about the firearm and is in a position to exert dominion and control over that firearm. A felon who is riding in a truck with other hunters who have firearms with them may be in constructive possession of those firearms, depending on the circumstances.

In the May 2009 story, Can a Felon Possess a Firearm in Florida?, the author David M. Goldman relates a decision made by Florida's 5th District Court of Appeals (DCA) that the court agreed that he (the defendant) was able to own an antique firearm but disagreed that his firearm was an antique.  The court stated that Florida case law defines replica as a reasonably exact reproduction of the object involved that, when viewed causes the person to see substantially the same object as the original. The DCA found that (the defendant's) gun was not a replica because the original did not have a fiber optic sight that was present on his gun.  The court also stated that merely having an ignition system similar to that found on an antique firearm is not sufficient to render a firearm a "replica..."

If this story relates to you or someone you know, my advice is to check the laws again before you touch or get in the same proximity as a firearm, and (more than likely) plan on learning the great sport of archery.  If you take the Florida Hunter Safety class, be sure to advise your instructor of your situation before you begin the class.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Beauty of the Portuguese Sinnet

For a few extra Christmas dollars I'm making bracelets out of parachute cord and selling them for $5.  They go by the names Paracord, Survival, Cobra Stick and rope bracelets.  The reason for survival bracelet, is when it is disassembled, a large one may have as much as 10 feet of cord you can use. You know I never ever make too much money at these kinds of things, because I teach people how to do it!  That's okay though.

Photo from Knots by Grog
I learned this knot a few years ago from ITS Tactical  (he does some really beautiful stuff) but today I'd like to especially highlight Animated Knots by Grog.

 Search for Cobra Knot or click here.  A great webpage with some neat links and animations.  Also checkout some of the phone apps they highlight.  The reason I'm partial today to Grog, is that he is quick to reference the source of all sources, the Knotter's Bible and my favorite book, The Ashley Book of Knots, written in 1944.  This book is worth a write-up all of its own.  My dad gave me a copy of this $50+ gem when I was 14 and I've loved tying ever since.

Here's another great source, that shows step-by-step how to make a bracelet.  Great job Wilderness Wiki contributors!  So for fun, money or carrying on the tradition of knot tying with your children, grab some rope and learn a new knot!  If you want parachute cord, check out your local Army/Navy store first or google it.  I happen to love the Supply Captain.

Monday, November 19, 2012

From One Kid to Another, "My First Deer Hunt"

My First Deer Hunt
By Harley P., age 12, Titusville, FL

  October 11th:  840 miles and 36 hours before the start of the 2012 Kentucky Youth season and with my license and two youth deer tags in hand my dad and I are finally on the road. The butterflies in my stomach feel like a swarm. Dad said if I passed the Hunter Safety Course we would go to Kentucky and could hunt on a couple of farms owned by family and friends.
     We arrived at my uncle’s house Friday morning and after a quick breakfast I got to practice shooting an inline 50 caliber, a percussion cap 50 cal black powder, a lever action .22, and a scoped single shot .243. My uncle said that I had great shooting skills and that made me very happy to hear that because I have not gotten to shoot a lot. The first time I shot the inline, I shot 100 grains instead of 80 because my dad tricked me. But 100 grains was still very fun to shoot. The Rossi .243 single shot had no kick but it was loud and we decided that was the gun I would use since we were going to be hunting open fields and shots over 100 yards were possible. After shooting, my uncle gave me some hunting clothes that my cousins had outgrown.  I packed the inline 50 caliber, the .243, the hunting clothes my uncle let me borrow, and my dad’s first bb gun into the car and then we had to leave and go to my dad’s friend, Mr. Frank’s house.
       When we got to Mr. Frank’s, we took a ride down to his hunting stand and saw several deer out feeding. After a dinner of pork roast and baked beans cooked by Mr. Frank, I finally went to sleep thinking about tomorrow and my first deer hunt.
        I woke up early the next morning and immediately got my hunting clothes on and got all the things I needed for the hunt. When dad and I were ready, we headed to the deer stand at about 6:00 A.M.  The trail getting there was very steep and it was really dark at the time so we had to watch our step. It was still dark when we got to the deer stand and we had to wait for legal shooting hours to start hunting but we still had to be very quiet. At about 7:00 I saw two deer, a doe and a little button buck. I waited a while thinking if I wanted to shoot the doe because I wanted my first deer to be a buck. While I was trying to decide, she walked 50 yards from us and stood broadside, offering a perfect shot. After watching her for several minutes I said “Dad I’m going to shoot this one.” When I was about to shoot she started to get nervous, blew, and ran.  I got really frustrated because my finger was on the trigger before she started to run. I never had butterflies in my stomach like that before.
         About twenty minutes later, a small eight pointer showed up but I had to pass on him. Mr. Frank’s rule was “the antlers had to wider than the ears”. We watched him feed for awhile and I wanted to shoot it so badly but I couldn’t. After the 8 pointer left, a small spike came into the field that I could not shoot.
           After the morning hunt I went to my cousin Levi’s house because he wanted us to hunt with him and his dad at his dad’s friend, Mr. John’s farm. It was early afternoon when we got to the farm and we headed straight to the stand. It was very hard to stay quiet because my dad and I both had a very bad cough. But I waited and waited, watching the soybean field, trying to be quiet.  Finally we saw a deer and it was a big doe. I was ready to shoot that deer even though it was not a buck. I got my gun up, focused my cross hairs on the spot where I wanted to hit the deer, put my finger on the trigger and “CLICK!”- I forgot to take the safety off! She left the field very fast. About 20 or 30 minutes later we see a really good sized doe so I picked up the .243, cocked it, took the safety off, aimed, and pulled the trigger. The deer fell right in her tracks and that made me the happiest person ever.  I went to get my cousin so he could help me load her up but we couldn’t put it on the 4-wheeler by ourselves so I got my uncle to help and we still couldn’t pick her up so we ended up pulling her with the ATV.
     We put her on the trailer and took it to my cousin’s house to skin and butcher her. We put her on the scales and she weighed 170 pounds live weight and after taking pictures and I had to eat part of its heart raw and I did because of tradition. After we cut the deer up and packaged her, I had to go to bed because the next day I was going to try to get another deer.
     Sunday morning we woke up and it was raining very hard. After the rain stopped we went back to Mr. John’s farm. It was still cloudy and looked like it was going to rain again. We went to the same stand and about 30 minutes later it started to rain so I put the rifle under a rain jacket and then I put a rain jacket on. It stopped raining about an hour before dark.  Thirty minutes later, I see a 4 pointer standing near the same spot were the doe had stood. I took the .243, cocked it, took the safety off, and shot.  When I shot him, he fell, got back up and RAN.  Then it really got hard because I had to track it through some very thick bushes in the dark. Levi brought flashlights and I had to find the blood spots and Levi stood at the last place I found blood. After 60 yards I found my first buck and that buck made me even happier than the doe that I got. Levi got his dad and Mr. John to help us and we finally got it to the 4-wheeler. It was hard work to cut it up and get the meat but it was fun and I got to fill out 2 tags in 2 days which made me happy.
     Deer hunting in Kentucky was amazing and I want to thank God for the 2 deer that I got during that weekend. Deer hunting in Kentucky made me so happy I will never forget everything I did there.  Deer hunting in Kentucky was really fun and I hope to hunt there again someday.

End Note by Mr. Gus...
I'm really proud of Harley, not only for this story he submitted and his successful deer harvest, but also for his completion of his Hunter Safety course where we met.  He and his Dad are also strong supporters in our 4-H club, the Mosquito Lagoon Muzzleloaders.  Stories submitted by guest writers are not edited for content, punctuation or length, because it is their story!  If you have a story you would like to have us share with the world, please let us know.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My First Product Review, the NIV Outdoorsman Bible by Zondervan

I find it a little ironic that my first commercial product review is the Holy Bible.  It is also a little daunting and strange - but I am honored. I think my next product review will be a gun - the other most favorite possession of many (of us) in the south!

I'm not just reviewing any old Bible off the coffee table, but a recent gem of publishing, the NIV Outdoorsmans Bible by Zondervan. This is a review that should be read by both men and women. Men because it may relate to you, and women - to you who love God, and Camo, or love the men in your life that do.

Published in 2012, this Bible is in the New International Version, red letter edition. The words Jesus spoke are written in red and the cover is in Mossy Oak. This is my first red letter edition of the Good Book, and I really love it. In my opinion, this is for every outdoors type person who wants to get a Bible. Honestly.

What makes this Bible unique, is that throughout the new and old testament, christian author, pastor and speaker Jason Cruise from Tennessee shares his outdoor stories as a hunter, father, man and how they relate to walking a christian life.

Pastor Jason is an expert on drawing parallels to a person's spiritual life from a woods point of view. He talks about chasing the elusive gobbler through the woods, fine tuning the sights of a bow and my favorite - hearing the boom of his black powder rifle aimed at a big buck!  Then he connects his woods scenario to walking daily with God, and what one has to do with another. These are real, moving short stories that can cause any person to pause and reflect.

When reviewing a product, every writer needs to take into consideration the perspective of the reader. For the person looking for instructions on how to build a fire or set up their tent, this is not the book for you. You need an outdoors guide or a similar "how to" book for skill building. But for the outdoor person (of either gender) who is a Christian young or old, or is seeking to know more about God or how the Bible relates to you, this is definitely something you should acquire.

When I review a product, I put it to the test. I carried this NIV Outdoorsman Bible with me for a week straight. You wouldn't believe how many positive comments I received!  Be aware that its not bullet or waterproof, it could get damaged in foul weather.  It is handy though, and is in a convenient size.

This week I taught in the high school. I'm around young people all day long, and I carried the book with me from class to class and left it on my desk while I taught. For the person who chooses to be less conspicuous about their faith, this is a good way to do it. However during the week, six teenage boys asked me, "Where did you get that Bible?" Its not obvious, but they saw the words Holy Bible embossed in the spine.  "That's really cool", several of them said. T
he cover alone helps me feel more comfortable carrying a Bible in public.  I'm always trying to be a better man, and the camo allows me to carry God's Word and not feel "preachy".

This book would be a great gift for yourself or others. I hope to buy several copies for my boys and friends.

NIV Outdoorsman Bible, eBook 
Here are some technical aspects of the book you may like to know, and it also comes in an eBook for you techie folks....

NIV Outdoorsman Bible

Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: 05/22/2012
Price: $29.99
Format: Italian Duo-Tone™, Lost Camo Woods Print
Language: English
ISBN 13: 9780310441694
UPC: 025986441692
Weight: 1.41 lb
Size: 8.75 × 5.81 × 0 in
Length: 1152 Pages

Zondervan Synopsis: This Lost Camo woods print pattern Italian Duo-Tone™ Bible, graphically designed for the sportsman’s eye, is a one-stop destination for the person who is serious about both the outdoors as well as the Word of God. With the clear, accessible NIV translation and special devotions, the NIV Outdoorsman Bible is a great resource for you, and it also makes the perfect gift.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Teach Outdoor Education?

Here it is 2012 and it seems like there's an abundance of outdoor programs to choose from.  There are more than there was ten years ago.  That's probably because of the educational studies that have come out in response to what's now known as Nature Deficit Disorder.  Are more individuals and families participating in these programs because of this child malnutrition of outdoor experiences?  It doesn't appear to be the case.

Something is still keeping the kids inside, and parents don't really seem to care - for the most part. The result is a host of youth not having a thorough knowledge and appreciation of wildlife, living in the outdoors or how crucial it is to preserve our nation's natural resources.

When I was a boy I loved being outside, mostly because there was nothing to do inside! In 1967 when I was eight we didn't have home computers, video games or more than six channels on the black and white TV set. Even the channels we did have came in fuzzy. Occasionally I did go down to the creek and catch crawdads. Photo credit

In order to keep me from driving my parents completely nuts, they enrolled me in Scouts. Of course I didn't have any real opinion about it, I'd just did as I was told because I was eight, but I did have fun. In Cub Scouts we did mostly crafts with the occasional outdoor event. When I became a Webelos Scout (age 10), we started to camp, but then as a full-fledged BoyScout we were outdoors most of the time, especially in summer.  Out of the 20 some-odd merit badges I received, a good portion of them were in skill areas of hiking, camping, canoeing and similar.  Through the merit badge program, I learned real outdoor skills some of which I can still call up and use even to this day!
When I was 19 I attended the Brigham Young University, YouthLeadership 480 course (now managed by B.O.S.S).  That was my one and only BYU class.  YL480 was an evolved course originally designed by the great survivalist Larry Dean Olsen, to help reform troubled youth offenders.  In the class we spent 30 days in the southern Utah desert living off a pocket full of minor supplies and gathering the rest from a less than abundant supply of plants and an occasional aquatic critter from a creek bed.  On one segment of the survival excursion, we were granted 1 red shiny apple, and to this day I still eat ALL of the apple but the stem.  I am also still known to eat a bug now and again.  I digress.

In my later associations with 4-H, we  had a good share of outdoor activities, but no hard-core outdoor programs in "roughing it" type camping in that sense, at least in my geographic region. 4-H environmental and camping programs such as fishing, shooting sports and kayaking were (again, in my experience) are mostly day activities with cabin lodging or going back home in the evening.  In that job, I was a paid Youth Development Agent and we did teach some really neat skills, but the focus was more on developing well rounded leaders and citizens, and less on the skills.
I think people trying to answer the question about why teach outdoor education will mostly come from a philosophical perspective like, "giving an appreciation of the outdoors, or of what it’s like to…”, etc.  In my honest opinion, the value of learning ONE outdoor skill really well, will give a child something they can use later, perhaps as a necessity.  For example, if a child learns to start an outdoor fire with natural (local) materials, and just one match (or no matches!), that skill may come in handy later in life.  Now add to that skill another, like building a woods shelter, or purifying water, a child will begin to gain a sense of self-reliance, and confidence that they will carry on for the rest of their lives and probably build upon themselves.  In the meantime, while learning these specific skills; they will see deer and other wild animals, and unspoiled land and appreciate the setting.  They’ll remember and know why our forests, wild lands and waters are important and will naturally grow an attitude of ecological stewardship that they hopefully will try to pass on.  So I guess, the bottom line for me to teach outdoor education, is to impart new skills primitive to them, to teach self-reliance and connect kids to our ancestors by stories,  people who did this out of necessity, while building self-confidence and esteem.

I think I’ll sleep outside sometime this week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Gentle Reminder of the Classic Books for at Home or the Woods

Last night I was surfing for free books to read in iBooks, and there are tons of them available!  Most of the older classics are at places like Gutenberg eBooks, but there are many outlets.  From an iPhone, the best way to hunt for them is install the free iBooks app, and then search the library.  They separate the books by author and whether it is free or to buy.

I was in kind of a hurry, so I was looking for small files sizes for a quick download.  That's when I ran into Aesop's Fables!  I knew they were on the web, not not available as an ebook.  Here is one of my favorites...

The Lion and the Mouse
Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him.  "Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but what I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?"  The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he lifted up his paw and let him go.  Some time after the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a waggon to carry him on.  Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts.  "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse.

The Moral is - Little friends may prove great friends.

I just can't wait to read the rest of the stories again, to myself and my grandchildren!  Here is where I found this story. About Aesop the author.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Maintaining Equipment in a Youth Shooting Sports Club

I speak here specifically about archery, but the same is true of all similar youth shooting sports programs, so shotgunners and muzzle loaders, please read on...

As a youth archery instructor, one of the greatest challenges is to make sure the young people always have ready quality, safe equipment.  On the surface it doesn't seem like it would be that hard, but when you consider all the things used in archery, it gets to be quite a challenge.  One archer alone will use a bow, that has a string, multiple arrows that will have a quiver, the safety equipment of an arm guard, finger tab or glove, and will shoot at a target that has paper held on by pins, at a fixed distance that is laid out on a range with safety lines, perimeter rope and signs.  Right there I named about seven items, now multiply that by 10 to 20 shooters in a club.  It takes a virtual warehouse to store all these things, and each of them are wearing out, if only just a little bit, one practice after another.

It can be justified to have a youth shooter and a dedicated parent to take charge of all the equipment, because if not, it soon becomes more than a club leader can handle under the job description of a volunteer archery club leader.  Let's for a minute talk about cost.

Is your 4-H, Scout or JOAD program free of charge to the children?  It better not be.  A free program cannot survive, plus children must learn to pay to play.  Where in your adult life can you have a free hobby? It is sending the wrong message of value when we run a program that is free of charge.  It says to the participant that some sugar-daddy person or organization is providing a charity program, which gives an unjustified sense of entitlement, or it says that your program is not worth much.  A quality program can have maintained equipment if even a token amount is charged, say $3.00 to $4.00 per shoot.  One quality archery target is about $70.  Nowadays virtually every family can come up with that fee, which is about the same cost as candy or two bottled sodas.  When I was managing a youth archery program a few years ago, I did have some kids that couldn't afford that.  I worked out a deal with them to bring in aluminium cans at every shoot, and provided a barrel to put them in. Did that pay for the wear and tear on the equipment they were using?  No, but it helped, and gave the children a sense of ownership in the activity, and that even by collecting aluminum cans they were paying their own way for the enjoyment of shooting.

If you are leading a youth shooting sports program, God bless you and thank you for your service.  Every kid needs something like this to learn and reinforce safety, leadership, responsibility and build their self worth.  Please remember though that keeping equipment ready, properly cared for and safe will make the program run smooth and will indirectly teach and remind us all to be good stewards over the things we have.

In researching this topic, I ran into a Hunt Chat forum post by a fellow archer and Dad, in Wisconsin with the username Rancid Crabtree.  In his very detailed July 2008 post My Latest Longbow, he shows how to make a longbow bow, bow stringer, inset medallion and tip guard (see photo), in a way that is very easy to understand.  Check it out!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Honoring a Hero, Malala Yousufzai

I just cannot help but depart from my regular outdoor stories to honor a hero among young people and fellow blogger, Malala Yousufzai.  Malala is the 14 year old girl who was shot in Pakistan earlier in the week because of her cries, to among other things support a woman's right to an education.  I work with young people daily and admire the tenacity they sometimes have, to stand up for what they know is right, like a dog on a bone.  May our thoughts and prayers be with her - but more than that, let us all take a stand in our own way to support the rights of others.  Photo Credit © 2012 Associated Newspapers Limited (Picture: Reuters)

From Metro UK - They fired on Malala Yousufzai on her school bus in the volatile Swat valley.  Doctors were  struggling to save Malala, who suffered head and neck injuries. Two other girls were also wounded. 

Her classmates told police the gunmen had arrived at school and asked for her by name. They attacked her on the bus after she came out of class. 

Malala was known for speaking out against the Pakistani Taliban and had a blog published by the BBC when she was 11. 

The Islamist group called her work ‘an obscenity’ and claimed responsibility for the shooting. A spokesman said: ‘She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and she was calling president Barack Obama her ideal leader.’ 

The attack in the city of Mingora followed a number of threats against Malala for her activism. She is also famous for her work promoting the schooling of girls – something the Taliban strongly opposes – and was nominated last year for an international children’s peace prize award. Read the October 9, 2012 story here.

Malalal is expected to survive, and if she does, she'll have a long road to recovery.  For the latest news (as of 10/15/12) see, "As teen recovers from Taliban hit, Pakistanis demand answers" by By Shaan Khan, CNN.  This article also has links to petitions to arrest her attackers and other worldwide outcrys for justice.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Are you a Safe Hunter for life?

Last weekend I helped teach Florida Hunter Safety at the Titusville Rifle and Pistol Club in Mims, FL, my local gun club.  It was a great class as usual, with about 38 students.  We spend time in the classroom reviewing the different parts of the course such as Safe Gun Handling, Ammunition Types and Wildlife Conservation.  We also get to hear about the Florida Hunting Regulations from a real-live Game Officer.  That part is pretty cool. Finally before the students get their card, they have to show their safety skills with a firearm.  Last weekend we shot .22 rifles and shotguns.  Sometimes we shoot muzzle loaders and bows.  If the students can shoot safely and score 80 out of 100 on the exam, they pass.

It dawned on me a little while back that the Florida Hunter Safety Certification cards have no expiration date!  That means that if I certify a young person, the youngest I've had is age 8, that certification will be good FOREVER.  All my other certifications including those I possess as an instructor, and even a Drivers License all expire within three to five years.  When that time rolls around, I have to take a written or practical exam and sometimes both!

After I calmed down from the shock of a person never having to show their hunting safety skills ever again, I felt a very heavy burden as an instructor.  I realized that every word out of my mouth should be carefully chosen, and I should pay close attention as an educator to make sure the students realize the great responsibility they have.  I also have started to encourage the students to participate in other courses and programs to sharpen their skills, and reinforce the safety knowledge they possess.  I urge parents to take their kids out regularly and practice safe skills.

In my last class, I called up a 12 year old young man and told him, "Bud in 50 years you'll be 62 and still have the same hunter safety certification that you get today, and I'll be long gone.  Make a decision now to be a safe hunter for the rest of your life."  He gulped and said okay.

If you're an instructor, keep this all in mind next time you teach.  If you're a parent, always always always be an example of a safe, ethical hunter to your children and fellow hunters.  If you're a kid or a teen, make a commitment while you're young to be safe forever, and encourage others to do the same.  Be safe, and take the time to enjoy the incredible privilege of hunting we've been given.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ash Cakes. An easy way to make bread

I made these on my 30 outdoor survival class, and again a minute ago. Ash Cakes have been an outdoor staple from the eighteenth century. Try them!

I'll never forget the month I spent in the southern Utah desert with my friends in the BYU Youth Leadership 480 class.  Our class number was D12, and it was from the first part of September of '79 until the first part of October.   The course is now owned and operated by B.O.S.S. or Boulder Outdoor Survival School and it has maintained the rigor and integrity that Larry Dean Olsen first used when he designed it. There were 30 of us on that 30 day trip, and we hiked about 450 miles in all kinds of terrain.  The food we had (besides finding it) along the way was a little bit of wheat or corn seeds and some honey.  About the only thing we could make was Ash Cakes.  

I found this recipe, but to this day I do not use baking powder or any additives, even salt.  I like to savor the memory of a plain ash cake...This super simple recipe is the Traditional “Mountain-man” breakfast food, no utensils, pots or pans required. Ash Cakes consist of equally simple ingredients… make sure you use ‘Baking Powder’ though (rather than Baking Soda). You can also jazz them up by adding toppings or fillings of other things you have handy that are in abundance, see ideas below.

You will also want to use hardwoods any time you cook directly in or on a fire. Hardwoods do not contain resin like your softwoods do, such as pine. Softwoods can impart their resinous flavor into food, which may not be desirable.
You will need:

3 TBSP. Flour, from any type of wheat or grain
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Salt (optional)

Mix all ingredients together, then kneed into a smooth dough.
Tip: add a touch more water if the dough is too dry, or add a touch more flour if the dough is too sticky.

Press the dough into a flat pancake, the thinner the better!
Place the dough pancake on ‘hot’ white ashes in your fire.

Here is a similar story of BYU YL480 from an other participant. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Outdoors in the classroom!

For the past three weeks I have been substitute teaching in the art classroom at Astronaut High School, and have been having so much fun! NOT being an art teacher has been the greatest challenge. I was trained in education yes, but Agriculture and Natural Resources, not Art. So what do you do in that situation? A good teacher improvises and goes with existing plans and curriculum as much as possible. The lessons cannot just be about anything, they must tie in to what the students already know, and then built upon that.

One of the first things I taught the 9th and 10th graders is to appreciate other, less obvious or popular forms of art. We discussed outdoor topics, and I led the kids into knot tying. We watched the movie Master and Commander, and I led in from there. Tying knots has been part of our culture for the last 5000 years or so, but knot (lol) so much in our modern, urban situations.

I brought in some rope, and we learned a few knots like the overhand and figure-eight and then gave a sketching assignment. The one in this story was done by one of my best female students named Chase, but there were many that were just fantastic! I'll scan a few more and try to include them. After the sketching, my 3-D art class learned to make para-cord bracelets which are very popular among the outdoor kids now. For a great website that teaches the para-cord bracelet, be sure to visit ITS Tactical, and their SkillCom/Knot section.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mr. Gus Outdoors Proudly Supports FOWA

Recently I had the honor of hosting the Florida Outdoor Writer's Association (FOWA) on a day shooting experience at the Titusville Rifle and Pistol Club in Mims, FL.  They were right in the middle of hosting their annual conference in Titusville, Florida and one of their conference favorites is getting in a little "trigger time".

We had a great day at the range, practicing a little clay bird practice off the trap machine then finishing up at the pistol range. We all had a safe fun day, thanks in part to the gun club, and Diamondback Firearms who provided some of the pistols for our evaluation and recreation.

FOWA is a great organization! FOWA’s mission, "Through ever-improving our communication skills . . . to heighten the education of all outdoor participants in the areas of conservation, safety, participation and environmental issues” is as important today as it was over 50 years ago when they began.  Students need to realize that FOWA provides scholarships to young writers, as well as memberships.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is prayer your last resort?

"I've been driven to my knees many times, because of the conviction of I had no where else to go." Quote by Abraham Lincoln, re-quoted by Barak Obama, DCN 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A day on the water celebrating family and freedom.

I think yesterday was one of the most enjoyable 4th of July holidays I've ever had!

Prepping the Hobie Wave
on the shores of the Indian River.
We got to spend a day on the water with our kids, with the excitement of an afternoon thunderstorm, followed by the opportunity to see my daughter and granddaughter Maddie who's been in China for the last year, and ending the evening with the Titusville hometown fireworks show with our good friends Jeff and Julie Holton.

After having the boat sit in the yard since 2009, it took a little bit of work, but we finally got our Hobie Wave up and running. We worked all the previous weekend getting it ready, and Tuesday after work got it out onto the water for a test sail. We had a little trouble getting into the groove of putting up the 20 foot mast, but we did it. We made it to the banks of the Indian River (Intercoastal Waterway) in Titusville about 7:30pm, and managed to sail around a nearby island and get back right as it was getting dark. The temperature was in the 80's I think, and winds were about 7 mph.

Sailing is such a wonderful sport and skill to learn. When ever I go out, I always think of the early explorers who navigated the seas and tamed the elements to survive and discover new lands, being away from home for years at a time. My Dad taught me to sail before the age of ten on an El Toro dingy, and with a little practice I was able to master the skill enough to go out by myself by the age of 14 or so. I've loved it ever since, and it has prompted me to learn other associated skills such as knot tying, the mechanics of ropes and pulleys, navigation, and reading the weather. Similar to the other sport of archery that I love, a complete novice can have a lot of fun but to master the sport can take a lifetime of learning the different aspects.

On the morning of the 4th after sleeping in a bit and getting our gear, food and drinks ready Sandy and I headed out to the river again with the boat and found a good spot to launch. One of the great things about any Hobie Cat, is that you don't need to put in at a boat ramp. In fact, it it much easier to leave the rest of the boating crowd, set up and launch from any sandy shoreline. This time the winds had to be only about 3-5 miles per hour, and the sailing was pretty slow. Sitting still on any sailboat can tax your patience, so that's when good company is nice to have. An up-side of the slow moving is that we were able to see Indian River Redfish tailing, dolphins porpoising, and alligators watching all the action. We were supposed to meet our kids on another one of the barrier islands. After about an hour of moving slow as a turtle, we called our kids and had them come tow us with their motor boat. That was a little jarring to my Sailor's ego, but it was fun.

Headed out after lunch.
Right when we got to the island a storm started coming in with lightning bolts in the distance. That's when we decided we were going to be there for a while, so we tied everything down real good and enjoyed a good lunch with all the kids, while the grandkids looked for shells, snakes and bears on the tiny island. They only found shells, and the snakes and bears just turned out to be rumors.

The storm finally passed, and we were able to catch a few good breezes on the Wave again for a little while and then we headed in for good. That's when my daughter Melissa stopped by with her daughter Maddie, fresh from the airport, home from Shenzhen China for a visit. Melissa is a teacher there.

The Finale of the day was enjoying the small-town fireworks show with patriotic music in the background with our friends the Holtons, their friend Rusty and his hound pup Duke. They too have a son in the Marine Corps, so of course we talked about our boys, and all the kids, just enjoyed each others company and the spectacular fireworks show.

Monday, June 25, 2012

4-H Summer Camp 2012, Final Comments

A knot bracelet Eli made.
I am so glad to be home, and I think the kids are too. I took an informal poll from about a dozen kids, and they were very glad they came to Camp Cloverleaf this summer, but they were ready to go home. Some of the comments about their favorite activities were, "kayaking - I made it tip over", "having fun with my cabin friends" and "shaving cream wars". Some of the less-than-favorite activities included, "going last in the lunch line" and "getting homesick". I can understand that, I got a little homesick too.

Rhianna after telling her I was going
to sleep on the way home.
Before we left camp, we all completed an evaluation, cleaned up EVERYTHING, and said our goodbyes. Camp is more than just a leisure activity for youth. Statewide evaluations conducted by 4-H staff across Florida show that camp develops essential life skills in youth. In these studies, the specific life skills evaluated are teamwork, self-responsibility, learning by doing and social skills. Parents and youth agree that 4-H camp is a valuable educational experience.

Hanging out for the last time.
Summer camp is one of the most valuable learning experiences a child can have!  Young people need strong relationships and emotional skills to meet today's challenges.  Through camping, young people learn independence, responsibility, how to get along with others, and how to make the right decisions.  Camp promotes cooperation, teamwork, and respect for other people and our natural environment.  There are still more state sponsored camps this summer, and I hope you will consider it for yourself or your child.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

4-H Summer Camp 2012, day 4

What a day? Is it almost over yet?

Camp has been so much fun this week, not just for me but I think the kids had a great time too! We only had one child go home early due to homesickness I think. No one went home due to behavioral issues, as sometimes happens. In my 7 years as a 4-H Agent, including about 15 summer camps, about 10 kids have had to have their parent pick them up early. Not a bad average, but 1 is too many.

At 4-H camp we hold very high standards for respect to others. When children have to go home due to disrespect, they've had multiple chances to correct their attitude. Enough of that!

Geocaching Class
Finding a geocache!
The day started out again early with a few kids out and about about 6:45. At 8:00 am everyone is at the flag pole for Colors and by 8:30 we're eating and at 9:30 we've all begun on fun activities for the day. Today we had the same general activities as I mentioned earlier, but with the addition of geocaching, and a muzzle loading rifle demonstration after dinner. The kids who got to try it include Josh B., Ethan L., Janoah, Eli and parent volunteer Ms. Sheryl. Sheryl's son Fabian didn't get to shoot because he was too young. We all felt bad. Mr. Cooper the Camp Director was there, as well as Joe Menendez one of the camp staff. Poor Joe didn't get to shoot, because he had to go, but Joe and his brother Jake went to the National 4-H Invitational with me a few years ago.

ALL THE KIDS HAD TO LEAVE at 6:45 pm sharp, because we had a dance tonight. Camp smelled soooo good, and the kids all cleaned up very nice! Left is Josh shooting a Missouri Trade Rifle, a 50 caliber black powder gun at the camp gun range.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

4-H Summer Camp 2012, day 3

7:00 am. Last night the kids were so much better, in spite of doing the old cabin switch-a-roo again with some of them. The County Agents are in charge of the cabin assignments. We do so based primarily on age, but also on group size and personality mix. I think we've got it this time. Sometimes it can take a day or two.

9:30 pm.  What a blast we had today! We were anticipating bad weather, but it only sprinkled.   We had swimming, kayaking, geocaching, archery, fishing, Mr. and Ms. Outrageous, knot tying, line dancing and the most fun was shaving cream wars!  Some of us even had time for a service project!  Below are a couple of pics that show some of the fun.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

4-H Summer Camp 2012, day 2

7:30 am. Camp is starting to hum with a little bit of activity. I'm outside my cabin reading a thought for the day, enjoying the birds make their different sounds. Some of the kids are up and about. I see two or three just moseying about, three shooting hoops and another small group on the soccer field.

9:00 pm. What a great day we had! I am so glad programs such as 4-H still teach patriotism and respect for our country and leaders. Cabin 11 started us out with our flag ceremony including the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4-H pledge.

After breakfast we cleaned up and then went to our classes. We have two classes in the morning before lunch. After lunch we have one more class, free swim, canteen and an hour rest time. It was a beautiful day, not too hot with a gentle breeze most of the time. Too breezy and it will make our kayakers blow away, and we don't want that!

For dinner tonight we had hamburgers. After dinner more group games and as I am writing this the kids are at the campfire ring making smores. I think they'll sleep better tonight.

Monday, June 18, 2012

4-H Summer Camp 2012, day 1

What a wonderful opportunity I have this week to accompany the kids of Brevard County to 4-H Camp Cloverleaf!

We arrived at camp safe and sound right at 10:30am and the highlight of the trip over was spotting a little bitty Armadillo around Yeehaw Junction. After arriving at camp, we checked in, got to our cabins, unpacked and had a lunch of chicken tenders and french fries. It is so much fun to meet new people! All of the kids are happy and making new friends of their fellow campers and the staff.

The afternoon was filled with swim tests, recreation time and canteen. For dinner we had spagetti, garlic bread, salad and a brownie with whipped cream. This evening we're playing "get to know you games", have our flag lowering and and we can't wait for the campfire with "magic dust"!

The magic dust was really cool. Each person got to throw it into the fire after making a wish, then watch the fire flare up.

It's about 10:30pm now, and I'm making sure all are going to sleep, while sitting at a table out of view to the campers. Tonight is an exciting night and they usually sleep better tomorrow. Goodnight.

11:30. A young man threw up a little while ago (not from my county). Said he was homesick. Think it was chicken nuggets. A thousand of them.

A young lady's bed fell apart (also not Brevard County). Fixed. Goodnight again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Which NRA Basic Pistol class is for you?

Are you looking to purchase a new pistol? Would you like to learn about how to safely use, store, and clean a pistol? Are you interested in getting a concealed carry permit?  Perhaps you are the spouse of a gun enthusiast, or a parent and just want to make sure you can safely handle a firearm while others are gone.  The latter makes up the majority of my students.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider taking an NRA Basic Pistol or FIRST (Firearms Instruction, Responsibility, and Safety Training) Steps Pistol course, taught by an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor.

Follow are the similarities and differences between the two courses to help you decide which is the best choice for you.

Both the Basic Pistol and the FIRST Steps courses are introductory in nature and present the same type of material. In each class, instructors cover the NRA’s gun safety rules, pistol nomenclature and operation, ammunition, shooting fundamentals, cleaning, range rules, and continued opportunities for skill development. The format of the classes is very similar, beginning with a classroom portion before heading to the range for live-fire shooting exercises.

Basic Pistol is a 10-hour course where students learn about both semi-automatic pistols and revolvers. FIRST Steps is only 3-4 hours long, and focuses on only one pistol action type (semi-automatic OR revolver, not both) and model (Beretta 96, etc). When choosing a course, make sure you take several factors into consideration – such as the action type of the gun you own or plan to purchase and your experience handling and shooting pistols.  If you are looking to learn about handling both semi-automatic pistols and revolvers, you may want to take the Basic Pistol course. If you already own a semi-automatic and want to learn more about your gun, then the FIRST Steps Pistol course may be right for you.

If you are still unsure about what class to take, ask the NRA Certified Instructor teaching the course to help you decide, or contact me.   Most instructors are very knowledgeable and eager to assist you. To get started, find a course in your area or learn more about NRA’s firearms training courses!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Back to basics: Cane pole fishing

Image by Cindy Baer Webster
I love to fish, and most of my friends feel the same way. More than likely, if you're reading this you like to fish too. I hope by the end of this article, you'll appreciate and try cane pole fishing.

Now a days you just can't grab your pole and go without stopping at the local bait shop, sporting goods store or mega-mart and picking up your fishing license. That alone can cost you well over $20, and if you're not a frequent fisherman the permit you have in your wallet is probably expired and you have to go get another. That could make for a costly trip. Perhaps your an avid fisherman, always keep a current license and you're always ready to go all the time. Cane pole fishing may be for you too.

There was a time for all of us when we could just grab our fishing pole, tackle box and go. In modern times, and by that I mean the last 40 or so years, the fish populations have dwindled due mostly to loss of habitat, and the problem has been compounded by less-than-ethical fisherman. The result is that game commissions all over our nation have put tighter restrictions on fishing, and even now in Florida, a resident needs a license or special permit to fish anywhere beyond their own property. See the FL Freshwater Regulations for example.

Recently I discovered Florida's "cane pole exemption" which states you do not need a license if "you are a resident who is fishing with live or natural bait, using poles or lines that are not equipped with a fishing-line-retrieval mechanism, and you are fishing for noncommercial purposes in your home county." (this could actually mean a pole make of any material)

I kind of fall into both categories mentioned above. My license seems to be expired every time I look at it and even though I have quality fishing tackle out in the shed, I appreciate old-school methods. We don't see cane pole fishing that frequently now, but it is still popular in some areas.

This morning I went to our other office where we have a marvelous stand of various bamboo varieties. I was looking for a straight piece about 8 to 10 feet long, but could find the right one. What I did find was a culm (stalk) of bamboo about 25 feet tall which I fell and cut off the last 10 feet. I plan on using it all. I suppose I could fish with the tip immediately, but my plan is to let it dry slowly, cut and sand the rough edges and put a finish coat of varnish on it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I hope some of you will try this! If so, please send me your comments. If you're doing it to save money, or just to get back to basics, both are good reasons. I also have to admit I hate giving the government money to utilize our fishing resources, paying another fee beyond the taxes I'm already paying!

In researching this topic I found the marvelous work of Cindy Baer Webster, an artist and educator based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She owns the company smART Decor and travels all over the mid-west painting murals. I hope you'll visit her site.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Outdoors Essay Contest sponsored by Coleman

You know, I don't normally promote commercial groups on this site, being a government employee and all - but this is different!

I found this on the Outdoor Bloggers Network, and Coleman the outdoor equipment company is sponsoring an essay contest.  The winner gets a fabulous package of camping gear.  Here is the link to the contest.  If any of you submit an essay, send a copy to me as well and I might just post it here.  My email address is or  The deadline for this contest is midnight. May 28, Mountain Standard Time.

If I hear of another outdoor writing contest sponsored by anyone, I'll be sure and post it here.  Parents and teachers, be sure to notify kids and students you know to submit an entry.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How young is too young to take a child shooting?

In the Florida 4-H Shooting Sports program, which is part of the National 4-H Shooting Sports program, a committee had determined that shooting sports begins for a child at 8 years old.  They have set the following guidelines, which most states have adopted:
  • Age 8-10 (4-H Juniors) are allowed to learn archery and air rifle (pellet).
  • Age 11-13 (4-H Intermediates) are allowed to learn virtually all of the rest of the shooting sports, including rifle (small bore or .22 rimfire), black powder rifles and shotguns (muzzle loading) and shotgun.
  • Age 14-18 are reserved some special privileges such as air pistol (not in Florida), but in other states they can learn high power rifle, high power pistol and crossbow.
There is a reason these guidelines have been put in place.  They weren't just concocted by some non-shooters who are trying to hold kids back.  On the contrary, the National 4-H Shooting Sports Committee who set this standard is made up of some of the finest Educator/Shooters in the country, with representation on the committee from the NRA and industry.

This past weekend I had a great time teaching my 8 year old grandson Gavin how to shoot a black powder rifle, and since it was not a 4-H program, I was okay with the laws and liabilities of the situation.  Prior to going, I was not quite sure how he would handle it.  Once or twice before I taught him the basics or air rifle handling in the backyard, so this was quite a few steps up in complexity and power.  He did very well to make a long story short, but that is because his Papa Gus helped him every step of the way, quizzing him on safety, parts and procedure the whole time.  Was I able to shoot too?  Of course I was.  Utilizing the Coach-Pupil method of teaching, I had him coach me, just as I had him - every step of the way, reinforcing his knowledge gain.  The other part that I was concerned about, and was not sure until I tried it, was using the Caldwell Lead Sled to help him make his shots.  This wonderful tool took almost all of the recoil of the gun away, but allowed him the flexibility to adjust his own sights, and shoot the gun himself.  I first learned about the Lead Sled at the 2009 Orlando SHOT Show, but they can be purchased at most stores that sell quality shooting gear.

I need to point out that even though these are the recommended ages for 4-H, they differ for other youth programs, and sometimes within the same program but state to state and county by county.  Check with your local youth leadership professional to be sure.  Some programs are more or less stringent, but I think they're about right.  No child is however too young to learn about the dangers and risks involved with guns and anything that shoots a projectile.  Kids are killed virtually every week with air rifles, airsoft and paintball guns.  They should all be respected, and every member of the household, oldest to youngest should know The 3 Always of 1) Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction, 2) Always keep the gun unloaded until you're ready to use it, and 3) Always keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

There are some excellent articles and helps written on the Ages and Stages of kids.  My very first reference for this is the Univ. of Florida EDIS publications on teen development.  Another great site for this is

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Risk Management Worm Assessment

Picture the most beautiful apple you have ever seen.  Mine would be a big, juicy Red Delicious!

Before anyone (smart) bites into an apple, they always check it for worms. Sometimes it will look wonderful, but something not so wonderful will be just right under the skin.  This is the same with your risk management plan.  We examine our program, like we are examining our apple for worms!  We want to make sure they're good before we start.

We should see if our program has the following:

  • I have a risk management plan documented for my program
  • A first aid kit 
  • A list of medically trained volunteers for use at our youth activities
  • Current health forms for members
  • Current screening information for adults
  • Program is fully covered by accident and liability insurance
  • Incident forms are completed within 24 hours of mishap
  • We have an emergency plan for all major activities
  • Volunteers are trained in risk management
  • All instructor credentials are up-to-date
  • Activity/range rules are posted in clear view
Does your program have any worms?  Does anything need to be addressed before you continue?  An Ounce of Prevention is Worth A Pound of Cure!  Plan ahead NOW to have a safe environment and reduce the risk for you, your kids, your volunteers and your program.  You won't regret it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Designing a program with the end in mind.

I don't know about the rest of you, but it is common for me to begin a program with a great idea, thinking of some activity that would be a fun, learning situation for the students.  That's the time when it would be smart to stop, get out a pad and pencil and jot down some notes, not waiting too long before asking the question, "What do I actually want my students to learn from this event or activity?"  You could say it is starting with the end in mind.

In University Extension settings we have adopted a method called the Logic Model.  Here's how it goes, and I am using an example from Colorado Cooperative Extension because it is centered around 4-H Shooting Sports.  Even so, it could be adapted to any teacher-student / coach-pupil learning situation or activity.

First, consider what your situation is.  Here's an example...

Nearly two thirds of all U.S. homes have firearms. It is important that our youth learn and understand the safe, acceptable and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment, in and around the home as well as when participating in legitimate shooting sports activities. No other youth sport can match the record of the
shooting sports in regard to its outstanding record of low number of reported sports injuries. The shooting sports rank 3rd in popularity among international sports, behind track & field and swimming. The Shooting Sports are accessible to boys, girls, young, old, physically challenged and total families.

Second, plan what the desired outcome will be.  Having fun is a great outcome I agree, but it is hardly one that satisfies the organization paying for your labor and facilities to hold the activity.

Example Outcome Summary:
To provide a comprehensive 4-H youth development program focused on the 4-H shooting sports. Program to include development of individual life skills, leadership development, safe & responsible practices and supporting events and activities.

Next follows the "nuts and bolts" of program planning when you ask the questions, What do I need to do to accomplish this? What are we going to do?  Who are we going to reach?

Example Inputs - (What we invest) National 4-H Curriculum, National Instructor Training, State Instructor / Volunteer Training, Faculty, Time, Funding, Equipment, Resources, others?

Example Outputs - What we're going to do, and who we're going to reach.  Conduct Youth & Adult Classroom Training, Youth & Adult Hands-On Training, Youth Skills events, others(?)  In what setting?  Youth in 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs, Special Interest Youth in Summer 4-H Camps Youth in Private Summer Camps

Finally, what are your actual Outcomes and Impacts going to be that can be measured in a meaningful way?  Consider these example short, medium and long range outcomes for this shooting sports example:  

  • Short term: Participants gain & improve target shooting skills.
  • Medium term: Participants will gain skills in leadership, self-confidence, concentration and sportsmanship.
  • Long Term: Improved public perception of the Shooting Sports.
Last but not least the program planner needs to consider any Assumptions and contributing External Factors. what may help or hinder your plans. Here are some samples of each:

  • Trained volunteers will deliver proper training to youth following the National Curriculum.
  • Camp planning committees will include shooting sports.
  • County Faculty will recruit volunteers to attend instructor training.
  • Youth will choose to fully participate.
  • Participants will follow safe & acceptable activities in day to day living.
  • County Faculty will support & assist volunteers
Possible External Factors:
  • Funding in support of programs continues or grows with the program.
  • Program needs support of Management and Faculty as well as stakeholders.
  • State Leadership for the program is maintained.
Planning programs keeping the Logic Model in mind will help the planner achieve success in the short run, and ultimately will contribute to sustaining a quality program for the long term.

Acknowledgments: I'd like to thank Colorado State University for providing the background for this information, however it is also available from many state extension programs.  The document this was taken from is Logic Model for Colorado 4-H Shooting Sports, Quality of Life – Personal / Individual Development.  Another great paper for this is Using Logic Models for Program Development, by Glen Israel of the University of Florida, 2001, 2007, 2010.