Unique Survival Kit List Additions!

My slow and steady accumulation of items from my survival kit list continues.  Sometimes it’s a little boring but remembering the “why” of my project keeps me motivated to do the work – no matter how exciting or not. Once the big, major items from my survival kit list had been acquired and stored, the little, almost random, items are left and seem to accumulate in a strange order.

Survival Kit Storage and Labeling

White Survival Kit Labels on Blue Boxes
Survival Kit Labels
My survival equipment list is pretty long and requires almost a dozen containers to store. I didn’t want to waste space by organizing by container so my labeling system has to make up for that.  I prefer a simple approach that is durable so I used index cards and clear tape.  Some storage boxes have a *lot* of small items from my survival equipment list!

Survival Kit Snares

Silver Wires and brown nuts for Game Snares for Survival Kit Building
Game Snares for Survival Kit Building
Snares for trapping animals are a somewhat unique item for a survival gear list.  I like them for their simplicity but they do require some practice to use effectively.  Additionally, various wire or cable sizes are also needed as small animals won’t trip large wire snares and large animals will destroy small wire snares. I’ve added extra slips and anchors to my survival gear list snares just to make sure that I can repair them if they break.
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Survival Monocle

Black and Gold Monocle for Survival Kit Equipment
Monocle for Survival Kit Equipment
If you aren’t old enough yet to require “readers” then just wait, your time is coming.  Presbyopia typically sets in during a person’s 40s.  Once it has taken hold it is relentless – your near vision degrades slowly and requires more light to see distinctly up close.  Spare readers are a good survival kit item but a monocle on a lanyard?  Perfect!

Survival Knife Sharpener

Blaock and White Knife Sharpener for Survival Gear List
Knife Sharpener for Survival Gear List
A knife sharpener in my survival kit list is one of those little items that make a huge difference.  Use this as an example of a survival kit list item that becomes obvious to you as you study your survival kit list for future additions.

Paracord for Survival

100 Feet of Black Paracord for Survival Equipment List
100 Feet of Paracord for Survival Equipment List
There aren’t many problems, even in survival, that paracord can’t solve.  If you don’t have it, get some now.

Medical Scalpels for Survival Kit Gear

Silver Scalpel for Survival Kit Building
Scalpel for Survival Kit Building
In my survival scenarios, accidents and injuries happen and medical attention is hard to find. I’m certainly not planning on major surgery but I do want to able to handle almost any non-life threatening emergency.  Sharp scalpels and scissors on my survival gear list will make sure I can handle those situations.

More Survival Tweezers

Two Silver Tweezers for Survial Equipment List
Tweezers for Survial Equipment List
It is almost guaranteed that you’re going to need some tweezers when SHTF.  Make sure you have at least 2 on your survival equipment list.

Survial Equipment Forceps

Three Silver Straight Forceps for Survival Gear List
Straight Forceps for Survival Gear List
And forceps too!  They are harder to find but have literally no substitute when you need them.  Add them to your survival kit list.

Funky Survival Forceps

5 Silver Curved Forceps for Survival Gear List
Curved Forceps for Survival Gear List
My Dad is a retired doctor so I raided his stash with his help and supervision.  He insisted that I’d need these non-standard forceps as well.  Each seems to have a very unique use – mostly clamping blood vessels.

Summary Unique Survival Kit List Additions!

Label your stuff in your survival kit list storage containers.  Don’t worry about organizing, just label really well.  Think through how you will feed and protect yourself after the easy stuff is gone – plan on having to scrounge for food so think about trapping and shooting.  You’re getting older too. What do you use everyday that you’ve come to rely on that you may not realize?  Your readers?  Find the secondary items on your survival kit list.  A knife sharpener accompanies knives.  A metal file should accompany your tools.  What else might you be missin on your survival kit list?  Think through your medical supplies again.  Think beyond first aid and what you will need if you can’t get to medical help. Thinking is the most important part of building your survival kit list – accumulating and organizing it is secondary – now go think!


Rainwater Collection Addition for Fruit Tree Orchard

I’ve long had a dream of a small fruit tree orchard where I could grow things and learn more about them.  I used to have two concerns that stopped me.  One concern was watering those fruit trees.  They aren’t like a garden – well, they are, but MUCH bigger and year round so they will require a lot of water.  Since I’ve learned about rainwater collection and gained some experience with it, I decided I could expand my rainwater collection enough to overcome that concern.  The other concern was enough protected space to build a proper orchard space.  Fruit trees need lots of sunlight.  With a recent drought in Texas and the loss of some Cedar Elm trees, I finally had enough open space for an orchard!  No time like the present to get started building my rainwater collection and fruit tree orchard!

Front of House Rainwater Collection

New White PVC and Grey Concrete Rainwater Collector
New Rainwater Collector
My fruit tree orchard is going to need a lot of water.  I currently collect the back half of my house so I needed to add rainwater collection from the front of my house to provide the extra water that the fruit trees will need.  Piping that collected rainwater from the front of the house to the back of the house was a challenge!

Rainwater Collection Sump and Overflow Drainage

White Plastic PVC Rainwater Collection Overflow into Green Rainwater Collection Tank for Orchard
Rainwater Collection Overflow for Orchard
I only have 4000 gallons of rainwater storage and that’s not enough for the fruit tree orchard – especially since I’m going to expand my square foot garden as well.  I don’t have enough room for extra storage under my deck so I’m going to pipe the front of house rainwater collection into my overflow pipe and just let it run down the hill for now.  Later, once I sort out the actual water needs of the fruit tree orchard, I’ll install a much larger rainwater holding tank near the fruit tree orchard.
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Soil Testing for Fruit Tree Orchard

Fruit Tree Orchard Green Soil Testing Kit
Fruit Tree Orchard Soil Testing
Although I now have plenty of open space to plant my fruit tree orchard, I want to make sure that the soil is not terrible.  I’m sure there are better places to plant an orchard but what I have is mine and I want to use it to it’s full capacity.  SO, I ran soil tests at multiple locations throughout the orchard area.  This was actually a LOT of work but very informative.  In most cases, the soil is fine for pH, Phosphorous and Potassium.  It is almost all deficient in Nitrogen but my understanding is that this is typical and not a huge barrier to using the soil.

Soil Nitrogen Test

Pink Nitrogen Deficiency in Fruit Tree Orchard
Nitrogen Deficiency in Fruit Tree Orchard
The soil in my fruit tree orchard is definitely nitrogen deficient.  I have elected NOT to apply any fertilizers until after the first year when I will have a better understanding of how the trees I select will perform in the soil I have.

Clearing and Burning for Fruit Tree Orchard

Burning Brown Stumps in Green and Brown Fruit Tree Orchard
Burning Stumps in Fruit Tree Orchard
The open space for my fruit tree orchard used to look like the dead forest in the background of this picture.  Most of the large Cedar Elm trees had died during the 2008 drought but needed to be cut and then roots dug.  Digging roots is very very hard so I elected to burn mine.  I drilled multiple 1″ holes deep into the trunk and filled them with a potion that consisted of salt peter – Potassium Nitrate.  The Potassium Nitrate combines with the decomposing carbon of the wood fibers to form a very low grade gunpowder.  This low grade gun powder provide oxygen when the fire is burning deep inside the stump and ashes cover the top – this allows the stump to continue burning for longer. It was hard but it was fun – most stumps burned for more than 48 hours!

More Burned Stumps

Borwn Stumps in Green Fruit Tree Orchard are Very Large
Stumps in Fruit Tree Orchard are Very Large
Even after the stumps were burned, a lot of stump still remained in the ground.  At least now, they individual roots were no longer connected together and I could us a tractor with a plow to gently tug them loose.  There was much more stump in the ground that I would have imagined!

Deep Plowing the Fruit Tree Orchard

Red and Yellow Deep Soil Plow in Green and Brown Fruit Tree Orchard
Deep Soil Plow in Fruit Tree Orchard
The soil in my fruit tree orchard is mostly hard clay.  The clay retains and drains water nicely but is very dense.  I used a deep plow very gently right on the rows where I wated to plant fruit trees to loosen the soil as much as 16″ in the ground.  I hope the little fruit trees appreciate this extra touch!

Ready to Plant Fruit Tree Orchard

Green and White Fruit Tree Orchard Cages Ready
Fruit Tree Orchard Cages Ready
Deer are a problem at my house so I needed a way to protect the fruit trees from browsing while they grow and from depredation when the bear fruit.  I also needed the solution to be affordable and easy to work with and clean.  I used some old sheep fence wire, 3 t-posts and a short piece of hog panel wire to rig up cages for each fruit tree.

Bare Root Plants for Fruit Tree Orchard

Brown Bare Root Fruit Trees and Vines Soaking in Orange Buckets
Bare Root Fruit Trees and Vines
I planted bare root plant and that was very interesting.  I planted 15 fruit trees and 15 berry vines.  Each tree was a grafted plant.

Pear Tree Roots

Yellow and Brown Bare Root Pear Tree
Bare Root Pear Tree
This is the detail of my Orient Pear tree as I planted it and a great example of a bare root tree.  I was instructed to remove 1/3 of the roots and 1/3 of the main stem along with any branches.  Man, it was scary when I got through cutting them down to size!

Soaking Vines Before Planting

Brown Bare Root Berry Vines Soaking in Orange Bucket
Bare Root Berry Vines Soaking
I soaked the roots of each fruit tree and berry vine before planting for 24 hours in a solution of root vigorizer.  This stuff smelled terrible!

Fruit Tree Orchard Planted!

Brown and Green Fruit Tree Orchard Planted and Mulched
Fruit Tree Orchard Planted and Mulched
I got the 15 fruit trees and 15 berry vines planted just in time.  It was more work than I expected but I am very proud of how it turned out.

Summary of Rainwater Collection Addition for Fruit Tree Orchard

I’ve always wanted a fruit tree orchard and my growing expertise with rainwater collection finally provided me with an opportunity.  I planted 15 bare root fruit trees and 15 berry vines in a large area I cleared in my lower backyard.  It was much harder than I originally thought but the results have been very pleasing so far – stay tuned for more updates!


2014 Duck Hunting Review – Dogs, Boats and Blinds

2014 was a great year in Texas for duck hunting. We never get a ton of ducks in Texas but I still enjoy hunting them and all of the adventures and learnings that I accumulate during the short season.  I always find time to innovate my hunting approaches a little bit each year. It’s also fun to look back and appreciate just how rich and satisfying it is to hunt ducks in Texas.

Federal Duck Hunting Reports

Duck Hunting Report of Yellow and Green Mail Folder
Duck Hunting Report
I don’t remember doing this but I must have.  The Federal Fish & Wildlife Service sent me a large packet of envelopes and asked me to report each duck that I harvested in 2014.  I probably signed up for it but don’t remember.  I did it – not because I had to but because I wanted to.  It wasn’t hard at all – the instructions were clear and easy.  Makes me wonder who get’s to open all those duck and goose envelopes!

Boat Duck Hunting Blind

Green and Silver Duck Hunting Boat and White and Brown Grass Blind
Duck Hunting Boat and Blind
I mainly hunt the river and ducks seem to congregate in the shallow pools or deep water.  I suspect they prefer the shallow pools but go to the deep water when they are gun shy.  It’s hard to hunt deep water on the river because the banks are usually steep. I built this rig so I could anchor right on the shore and still stay hidden but close to the deep water.  It worked fine after I put a small ladder on the front so the dog could get in and out.  It is made from simple PVC pipe and Avery grass mats.  The frame folds down for traveling and the grass mats just hang on little hooks on the front of the frame.  It’s not sexy but it does get the job done!
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Trust Your Dove Hunting Dog

Trust the Orange and White Dove Hunting Dog
Trust the Dove Hunting Dog
Trust the dog!  Every time I tell her that she’s just pointing at nonsense, she proves me wrong – don’t even know why I doubt her anymore.  This was a tough find for her and she WOULD NOT leave until I gave her the bird to “retrieve.” Trust Your Dog!

Texas Dove Hunting Rainbows

Dove Hunting Rainbow over a brown and grey cut cotton field
Dove Hunting Rainbow
I love a Texas Dove Hunt!  We are very blessed to have an enormous, year-round population of white wing and mourning doves.  We also have plenty of ECDs as well.  Our dove season begins in September just as Summer is cooling off and Fall is arriving with rain storms.  Rains during a Texas dove hunt are common and usually a source of complaint as guns and hunters get wet and grouchy.  Occasionally, it takes a rainbow to remind me that the rain is a good thing and that it might be better to just enjoy it as it passes.  I hope you have some rainbows on your dove hunts as well.

Appreciating the Bird Hunting Harvest

Upland Bird Hunting Trip Souvenirs of Grey, Black, Brown, Red and Blue Feathers
Upland Bird Hunting Trip Souvenirs
I make an annual “Big Trip” to hunt birds in other states.  This year was Oregon and Idaho.  Since I’m traveling for a few weeks at a time, it is just not possible to keep the birds I harvest until I return home.  I always find a good home for my harvests but discovered a new approach this year that brought (and continues to bring) many smiles to my face.  For each species I harvest, I save a few small tail feathers to remind me of the hunt.  This year’s trip included Ruff Grouse, Blue Grouse, Huns and Sharptail Grouse.  I had many smiles this year.

Accidents Happen when Bird Hunting in Texas

Orange and White Quail Hunting Dog Accident with Pink Skin and Purple Stitches
Quail Hunting Dog Accident
Jill, my Brittany hunting dog is 6 years old and knows about fences and bard wire – as long as she can see them.  This year, we hunted pheasants in North Texas in the pivot corners.  One place was just full of birds but also had a lot of old farm trash – including barb wire.  Jill caught her leg on one pretty bad on opening day.  It’s hard to find a vet late Saturday in Po-Dunk Tx so I took her to Lubbock.  The very nice vet stitched her up good as new and she was back in the field in 10 days.  Yeah, we missed the Sunday of opening weekend but I wouldn’t want to hunt without her – would you?

Those Damn Airboats!

Duck Hunting crew of 4 hunters on a Silver Airboat with Orange and White Dog
Duck Hunting on an Airboat
There are only 2 good parts to an airboat ride – getting to where you’re going and getting off at the end.  Everything in between is just ugly.  But, if you’re going to hunt ducks on the TX Gulf Coast, you’re going to need a guide with an airboat to get to the good spots.  Otherwise, you’re probably going to be limited to pintails and redheads.  Get a guide with an airboat but bundle up and get some goggles and ear protection.  The ride is worth it and the complaining afterward always good for a laugh or two.

The Best Duck Hunting Guide in Rockport

Duck Hunting Guide in camoflage asleep on brown grass
Duck Hunting Guide
This is actually the ONLY TIME I’ve ever seen Capt Brent Hopkins take a nap – and he was just fooling for the picture.  Brent is the best duck hunting guide in Rockport Texas – Ace In The Hole Guide Service.  He’s the hardest working and most successful duck hunting guide I’ve ever met – and I’ve met and hunted with a LOT of them.

Mixed Bag from Texas Duck Hunting

KWP-020515-12 This was a late season treat for me hunting ducks on the river. We don’t see mallards on the river very much – mostly gadwalls – so it was a treat to put one in the bag along with the Gadwalls, wigeon and Teal.  It’s days like this that have me already excited to hunt ducks on 2015!

Summary of 2014 Duck Hunting Review – Dogs, Boats and Blinds

Help the Federal Fish & Wildlife Service when you can – they determine when and how we can hunt and real data helps make better decisions.  Try hunting a new way – build a new blind or try a different spot – you might be surprised and you’ll get to experiment and possibly discover something new!  Trust your dog – it’s always a better than even bet.  Take a minute to enjoy the rainbows when you hunt – they soon pass.  Watch out for your duck hunting buddy getting into an accident – and take care of them quickly.  Keep souvenirs from your hunts – they will make you smile during the long hot Summer!  Get a guide with an airboat but be prepared for a heck of a ride. Contact Brent Hopkins if you want to hunt ducks in Rockport Texas – he’s the best.  Lastly, enjoy your harvest bag but more important, enjoy your hunts – you only get to do them once!