Muzzleloading Bug Has Hit

by Woodsbum

Lately, I have discovered that I spend WAY too much money on guns and ammunition just so I can go and shoot on the weekends. To make it even worse, I find that most of the time I supply all the equipment to include guns and ammunition in addition to being the only one to clean up afterwards. The entire thing become a huge chore and hit to my bank account. To cut overall investment without cutting the fun I decided that I needed to start taking the muzzleloader. This created a whole new set of problems because cleaning my Knight is anything but fun.

In yet another attempt to spend money to save money I went on a search. It became clear that the only solution that I could live with was to go and find a traditional muzzleloader rifle that was easy to clean, would be fun, and other people would find fun enough to ignore the lack of modern rifles I was taking out. The first thing I realized was that muzzleloaders are not the cheap rifles I was used to seeing when I was younger. Lyman and TC Hawken models ran between $450 and $700 on average. Now, I began to kick myself for not grabbing a $100 kit that I remember back in high school.

Whenever price becomes an issue I find that doing some serious online research will help to find me a cheaper solution. In this case I was not let down. I discovered that there were only a few companies that manufactured production muzzleloader rifles and they were resold under other names. This is no different than the American Arms .44 mag pistol I purchased some years ago. The .44 mag is actually manufactured by Uberti. Muzzleloaders are really no different. Lyman and Cabela’s rifles are actually made by Investarm out of Italy. TC makes their own. The third big manufacturer is Traditions. CVA does make some as well. Some other brands seem to be a bit murky as to who really makes them, so I took some literary license and just ignored those.

After I was armed with this information, I stepped up my search and went looking for used rifles that I might find at a bargain. Lo and behold I came across reference to an unused, never shot Hawken style rifle earmarked as a KBI/Kassnar brand. It had been advertised for almost a month without anyone even asking about it. I did some research on KBI/Kassnar and discovered that this company imported firearms until they closed up shop in 1989. They did business with gun manufacturers in England, Spain and Italy. Considering that Investarm is out of Italy, it didn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out who probably made this rifle. Not only that, but the wood grain was incredible and it had brass accents to include a patch box in the stock.

Sure enough, when I met up with the guy, the rifle was actually an Investarm model 120b, had never been shot, and was in 100% perfect condition (except the brass is a bit tarnished from sitting in a box). There were other “goodies” as well that were also still in their unopened and brand new state. Interestingly enough, the guy I met with was selling the items for a 75 year old man who bought everything in 1987 for a trip that got cancelled.

Now if you are in the market for a muzzleloader or have ever thought about getting into “smoke sticks” it isn’t nearly as expensive as you would think, if you are patient and look around. The majority of shooters and gun buyers completely ignore muzzleloaders and have no idea about them. This will allow you the opportunity to pick up an almost new or completely new rifle at 10-20 year ago prices. Another selling point is that the design of most muzzleloaders is not that different from the originals of yesteryear. Even better is that you don’t necessarily have to stay with the same manufacturer when looking for replacement parts. I have seen TC barrels on Traditions stocks with old, unknown manufacturer trigger assemblies. That is a great selling point as well.

If you are more into the modern muzzleloading products like the inline models, a lot of this information goes RIGHT out the window. My Knight Wolverine 209 for instance is deadly accurate and I can hit pie plates with open sights out to 200 yards. The problem is that most of the parts I might need for replacements would have to be purchased directly from Knight. It is also a royal pain in the gluteal section to clean. The barrel doesn’t just come off with the removal of a single pin. It requires disassembly of the rifle, pulling the breech plug and nipple, scrubbing and a good portion of your evening. For those of you who were wondering why I would want a traditional muzzleloader when I already had an incredible inline model, there you go. Cleaning it sucks out loud…….

Some of my best memories as a kid or with my kids have involved the outdoors and shooting. Being able to increase my options, cut the cost of shooting, and decrease the time spent cleaning really makes buying a new toy worth it. Now I need to get into casting my own bullets.

  • Share on Tumblr

Carving a Spoon

by Woodsbum

I have been messing around with whittling and carving stuff since I was a kid, but they have all been horrible final products. Finally, I went ahead and picked up some actual wood carving knives of various sorts so that I could have a fair chance at coming up with something decent. The fact that my son got me the Work Sharp WSKTS also made a huge difference. I now don’t have to spend more than just a few minutes to touch up any blade.

I started off with a piece of cedar that had been pruned from the tree in my front yard. I stripped off the bark to get to the wood so I knew what I was working with. The branch I chose actually had been chewed on by some bug or worm a bit, but I figured that it would just add character.

Stripping off the bark

Stripping off the bark

The Steven Long I picked up a bit ago worked really well for this task. Once I got the bark all stripped off, I started carving out the actual bowl portion of the spoon to see how well the wood cut and carved. In all actuality, it seemed to cut really well.

Starting the bowl

Starting the bowl

Once I got everything rough shaped, I stared cutting away all the excess wood to get it down to the right size. This actually took a while and I found that many of my less exact cuts I made with my hook knife and chisel made a rough bowl and odd shape. Next spoon I make I will pay more attention and be more careful.

Rough Shaped

Rough Shaped

A little closer now. I am beginning to see the right shape and errors I made with carving the bowl. Of course it is too late at this point, but I start the process of trying to fix it.

A little closer

A little closer

Now is the time to start sanding it. I am not too sure how “smooth” I want to get it considering that the bowl is lop sided a touch. I figure I will hit it with 120 grit and call it a day, more than likely.

Starting to sand it

Starting to sand it

Here is how it finished up. When I saw how badly I shaped the bowl, I decided that 120 grit was smooth enough and that I would relegate this spoon to camping purposes.

Completed except for final finish

Completed except for final finish

Here are a few things that I learned during this process.

  1. Buy a cut resistant glove…….   and wear it…….
  2. Make sure that the bowl is perfect, straight and shaped correctly from the onset.
  3. Spend LOTS of time to get the bowl done and awesome before you take on the handle.
  4. Make the bowl deeper than you want it as a final product. That way you can take some off the top to get everything straight.
  5. The handle can be modified as needed to keep the bowl portion straight.
  6. Buy good carving knives and keep them sharp.
  7. Wood is much less forgiving than metal, so don’t get overzealous with each cut.

This was the first spoon that I have made that wasn’t a total embarrassment. I really learned a lot through this process and am looking forward to my next attempt. Follow on carvings should be much better for I learned a lot about how to get things on center and spaced correctly during this carving. As I do more, I will post them and let you know anything new that I learned.

  • Share on Tumblr

Willow Bark Tea

by Woodsbum

I recently started using willow bark tea to help out with my constant ache and pains associated with the over abundance of injuries that I have sustained over the years. It doesn’t taste bad and when mixed with nettles and local honey, it is quite tasty.

The use of willow bark is not something that is new. Natives have used it for hundreds of years for pain relief. All you have to do is harvest the bark at the right time and then boil it up. Willow can be either ingested as a tea or turned into a tincture, so that is another option if you so choose. I have never used the tincture because the tea is perfectly fine with me.

Of the whole process, it is always the harvesting of the medicine that seems to be the rub. What you are looking for is the live, bendy twigs at the end of branches or year old saplings. Either way you want to gather it in spring when the twigs turn to a bright color and start to bud new leaves. Once you identify and harvest your willow bark, just take a vegetable peeler and strip off the bark. Don’t get any of the pith or your tea will taste funny. Also try to keep the buds out of your harvest.

Once you have your bark stripped, dry the bits out on a plate or bowl. I built a drying rack out of screen so that whatever I am drying does so more evenly. If you do use a plate or bowl just make sure that you turn it every so often to keep the bark from trapping moisture between the bark and the plate.

If you are having issues finding willow just take a trip down to your nearest river or stream. Here in the PNW, there tends to be a plethora of willow somewhere along every year round waterway. It won’t take too much of a hike to find. Worst case take a trip to Sauvie Island or walk along the Lewis River for a bit. When you get to the point where the brush and trees are too thick to navigate there is a high probably that willow is what has stopped your forward progress.

When you get ready to make your tea, I am much less than scientific. What I do is take what I can pinch between my thumb, fore and middle fingers and then toss it into a tea pot. After it whistles at me I remove it from heat and put in some local honey and let it sit for about 10 – 15 minutes. This allows the bark to completely soak and it seems to bring out the best flavor for the tea.

Now is time for the science of what willow bark does for you: From my research willow has a varying amount of salicin, which is an active pain reliever that is similar to aspirin. If you ingest too much salicin, it can do harm and even cause Reyes syndrome in much the same way that aspirin can.

  • Share on Tumblr

Why You Should Always Be Safe

by Woodsbum

Just this week I was in a heated discussion with someone about why it is so important to follow safe gun handling procedures. For some reason this individual thought that it was perfectly fine to pull the trigger and muzzle flash people if he “knew” the gun was unloaded. Lucky for him, I didn’t witness him doing stupid things with a firearm or I would have been raising money for my legal defense.

To help illustrate why it is important to be safe with firearms at all times, please watch this video.

Even though the firearm was on safe and his finger was off the trigger, this shotgun will fire a shell every time you jack one into the chamber. The firing pin is still locked to the rear as well. If someone had been messing around with it and loaded a shell into the chamber while unsafe, there could have been a huge disaster. This literally could get someone killed. Thankfully, this owner is smart enough to follow range safety rules and has common sense.

For those of you who do know know firearm safety rules I have included the NRA fundamentals of gun safety below for you.

  • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

For those of you who go to the range or were in the military, here are those common safety rules. These are actually from LtCol Jeff Cooper, the guy that made the scout rifle famous.

  • RULE I: ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
  • RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY
  • RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
  • RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET

Whether you like to go with the NRA fundamentals or Cooper’s rules of gun safety, it all comes down to one thing – DON’T BE A DUMBASS…….  Assume every gun is loaded and will go off at any time without your assistance. If you think in that way at all times many gun related accidents can be prevented.

Be safe!!!!

  • Share on Tumblr

Physicians Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines

by Woodsbum

A few weeks ago I ran into an article that referenced the Physicians Desk Reference for Herbal Medicine. Considering my time in medicine and the fact that I work in a medical clinic, I was completely blown away by the fact that such a book existed. Of course I promptly went onto the Internet and purchased a copy. Here is a newer version of the edition that I purchased.

PDR for Herbal Medicines

PDR for Herbal Medicines

From the onset, I was blown away by this book. The amount of information in this book makes it one of the most comprehensive collections of herbal medicine documentation I think I have ever seen. The edition that I purchased go so far as to touch upon the different preparations and parts of the plants that are used for different conditions.

By picking up this book as a supplement to several other herbal remedy sources, I am finally beginning to feel pretty comfortable with substituting this method of healing for Western Medicine. Of course each person’s results will vary, I am at least feeling much better than when I was relying upon chemical pharmaceuticals. If nothing else it would be a great reference if you were unable to get to a doctor for whatever reason.

 

  • Share on Tumblr