Somewhere in the middle of Oregon.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Affordable Water Purification Reviews

 Here in the 'Great West' I have the privilege of living in a state where being prepared is not only thought about extensively, it is heavily practiced. People, for whatever reason, in this half of the United States seem to put a great deal of effort into preparing for a would-be catastrophe or disaster.

Having grown up in a culture where having a long term food supply stored away was pretty normal, I started my own food storage supply when I started my family. It's just something that you do here. So, on occasion, I feel the need to refresh and replenish and add new things that I hadn't thought of or maybe gotten around to before. (I said that I always have stored food....I never said I was good at it) So my storage and food supply are definitely lacking, but while shopping for some basic items to add, I thought I would do a couple of how to posts on some simple items and why they are important.

Whether you're preparing for an apocalypse, a massive earth altering incident such as an earthquake or tornado, or just because you feel like you need to be a chipmunk, here are a few things to think about.

Water is first and foremost when it comes to basic survival. As a survival instructor, we taught that you can survive 3 weeks without food (give or take...and some can survive longer for sure), but only an average of 3 days without water. These numbers vary greatly on the conditions, how much energy you are exerting, how much extra weight or fat content you have on your body to start with, etc. But it's a good general guide. Point is, you need water, and if it's not fresh, you need to be able to boil or filter it.

One thing you should know about me is that I am extremely bargain/value oriented. I don't buy cheap junk and expect it to perform well, but I look at the overall benefits and value of an item as well as what I plan to use it for, whether or not it's a logical investment, how durable it is (I'm pretty hard on things), warranty if applicable, how hard it is to use, and cost comparison to other items in it's class. Recently I purchased a couple of water filters to try out and here is a quick review on them in order of my findings.

Number 1:

Sawyer puts out this filter which a friend recommended. At about $20 it can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water......yes.....that is not a typo.....100,000 gallons. It beats EPA standards removing 99.99999 % of all bacteria. It's lightweight, compact, comes with it's own little cleaning kit, and doesn't get much better. In an entire year, my whole family does not use that much water including watering are yard and garden. For the price, it's probably more than you'll ever need.

Number 2:

Similar to the Sawyer, Versa makes one that is half the price and nearly identical, but only does 20,000 gallons. It also does not come with the container or cleaning unit, and I don't believe it can be washed out and reused, however, 20,000 is more than I will use in a years time personally as well, so I bought these for quick escape kits. In a situation where you have to evacuate and all you have is what you can grab, I have a small lightweight pack full of bare necessities, and this is one of the necessities.

Number 3:

Since I hike all the time, it makes sense to carry something that holds water because you can't simply always be where the water is when you're in the high desert or back country. Clear Flow has all the same great cleaning qualities as the other two but in a bigger package. Still light enough to throw in my day pack and haven't had any problems with leakage. It does 1000 liters, which is not nearly as much as the Sawyer or Versa, but still a viable option.

With survival products being all the rage these days, there are countless other options on the market to try, and there are many reasonably priced. There are also some that seem a bit overpriced, yet do the same thing in the end. Do your homework before you buy, and look at things like practical uses. Why are you getting it? Is it something that you will be putting in an emergency survival kit just in case, or something that you will use on weekly outings in the woods? How efficient is it, .01, or .001? There is a big difference in the sizes of particles between those two numbers. If you go with something that cleans all but .01 size particles, there could be some things swimming around in your cup that you may not see.

Of all the things you need to survive any situation, water has to be at the top of the list. Find a way to carry it, store it, purify it, and heat it. When you have these basics, you have less to worry about.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dogs And Hunting

I have never really been much of a bird hunter, and though we have a couple of bird dogs, my husband is the only one that uses them for hunting. He hunts pheasants with pointers, my brothers hunt ducks and geese with their dogs...... chase chipmunks when we're camping, (which usually stresses me out because I like the chipmunks).

Recently, however, we were introduced to another type of hunting with dogs. Bears. Hunting bears with dogs has become a very controvercial issue with all of the animal rights folks these days. I wasn't for or against it when my husbands bear hunt began. I am a firm believer in 'don't knock it until you try it', so I keep an open mind.

Since we had hunted bears in other ways, several times before, we thought we would try using dogs this time.

Can I just say, these dogs are AMAZING animals! It was truly worth the entire trip just to watch them work. They were a mixture of differnt types of hounds. Some were Blue Tick, some Red Bone, some Walker, and some Black and Tan. Their sense of smell is second only to the animals they chase. They are made for tracking, and watching them work is an experience i'll not forget.

The dogs are secured in a big kennel (or dog box) in the back of a truck until the hunters reach 'bear country'. At that point, 2 or 3 'tracker' dogs are put on top of the kennel and leashed (so they don't fall off or begin the chase too soon.) The hunters then drive roads that are less traveled by people(because bears are shy and tend to stay away from busy areas). If a bear has crossed the road or is near enough to the road that the dogs can smell them, the dogs go off like an alarm. The hunters look for tracks and turn loose a pack of dogs who run into the forest barking and whaling for all they're worth.

Each dog is equiped with a tracking collar and when they catch up to whatever they're chasing, that animal, be it a bear or mountain lion, will typically climb a tree to get away from these pesky critters. The hunter then goes to the tree and takes his game animal if it is what he's after, sometimes with a camera, sometimes not. However easy this may is far from a cake walk. While the dogs are chasing, the hunters are racing up and down mountains and trails and roads in hopes of seeing the animal for a shot, hoping it will tree soon, or hoping to get in front of it. Sometimes the dogs lose the scent and the critter outsmarts them. A bear, for instance will circle back around where it first saw the dogs and runs it's same track to confuse them. Bears are extremely inteligent animals. If the dogs do not lose the scent, they will stay with the animal for as long as they are able. If they do happen to lose the scent, they will go back to where they were first let out, or they will wander until they find a road and wait there for someone to pick them up. The tracking collars help retrieve the dogs.

Some of the dogs are more aggressive than others. Usually the ones that have been munched by a bear or lion know better than to get that close again, but they are still used to intimidate the animal and track it. Some of these little dogs will go until they can't anymore....and then they keep going because it's not in them to quit. They know their job. They will stay with the pack until it is done.

Hound dogs are my new favorite breed. Watching them work and seeing their excitement when they're on the chase is so much fun. When some are turned on a track and others must stay behind until it is their turn, they can hardly contain themselves, barking and whining as if to say 'pllllleeeeeeaaaasssseeee, let me go with them!' They have such sweet personalities, and yet can be extremely brave when it comes to knowing what they have to do. One little such dog was with us on my husbands bear hunt. She took a bite to her head from the bear. Teeth marks in the top and one through the bottom of her jowel, bleeding profusely, she stayed with the bear until her hunter pulled her away and she knew it was ok to back off. Some of these dogs fight to the death because they are protecting one another, but trust me when I tell you, the bear or lion has a definate advantage over these little guys that aren't much bigger than one of their paws, complete with razor claws.

I am still unsure about being for or against this type of hunting, as I have seen both sides. The adrenalin in bear hunting is second to none and the boys that do it are just as athletically amazing as the dogs they take so much pride in. It is, hands down, the most exciting hunt i've ever been on. Still....the sentimental side of me says I couldn't turn my pets out in hopes that they don't get eaten. There in lies the differences between the guys that run the dogs and myself, these dogs are not pets, they are tools, and effective ones at that. They try not to get attached to the dogs because they know what could happen when they turn them loose, but you can see the love they have for each one.

 Many bears and lions could not be harvested without the aid of dogs. Mountain lion populations would soar and deer and elk herds would decline significantly. They would move to the valleys and begin to eat people and their pets. It's a need to balance nature that gives this hunt justification. In some cases, wounded animals may never be recovered without the aid of dogs and the meat would spoil, thus making the hunt a wasted effort. There is no doubt that dogs do have a place in hunting, and they have had since the dawn of time. It's what they're bred for, and what they live for. 'Go get em' boys!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buck Fever

Some time in the middle of August the air begins to change just enough that you can smell Autumn in it. Though it's too hot to be hunting, I can feel that it's getting close and my every thought (well...almost) turns to being in the back-country. I begin to visualise sitting next to a quiet spring watching the chipmunks and hoping 'the big one' will walk by. (the big deer....not chipmunk....although i've seen some pretty hefty chipmunks around, lol)

Traditionally, buck fever is what happens when you get so excited about the deer standing in front of you, that you're shaking too bad to make the shot, or something goes you forget to load the gun, or your arrow falls off the rest when you pull back your bow....and the deer bounces away while you stand there with your head hung low in shame. It's an adrenalin rush that's so extreme that you lose all site of everything you should be focusing on.

I can say that I've truly had this type of buck fever once, and to this husband will not let me live it down. I was hunting with a muzzleloader. I had a decent buck at about 50 yards, and shot. I hit him, but he didn't go immediately down, and my husband is in the background telling me to hurry and reload. So...I put a cap on the gun pulled the trigger again. The problem was, for those who are not muzzleloader hunters...I forgot to put the powder and bullet in the gun, so basically....I was shooting a cap gun at the deer. The cap went off and I stood there in sort of a duhhh moment, hurried and reloaded my gun complete with powder and bullet this time, and got one more into him so he didn't go far. In my was my first hunt with a muzzleloader....I think I prefer a rifle.

Buck fever these days is more of a state of mind for me. When Fall is in the air, hunting is all I can think about. I close my eyes and see big bucks standing on a ridgeline or in the trees. I go to sleep dreaming of bull elk bugling in the distance, and I can't wait to be out for a few days just enjoying the fresh air. With hunting season in full swing already, someone call a doctor....I've got it bad!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Water Fun

It's no secret that one of my favorite past times is summer water sports. There are many to choose from, from float tubing on a quiet little reservoir, fly fishing a small creek, and river fishing for salmon, to some of the more active sports such as being flung behind a speed boat on an innertube in hopes that you survive, or cruising wildly on a waverunner.

My favorite, however, would have to be wakeboarding. Being in my 40s, three children later, I'm no spring chicken, consequently, a graceful wakeboarder....I also am not. (I have video proof of this, which I am not inclined to share) None the less, I keep going back for more because it makes my children laugh when I crash, and it's pretty good excercise when I manage to not. You know the old saying, 'The family that plays together, stays together'....and play we do!

So here's my intro on getting into wakeboarding. The boat is a bit of a necessity, obviously. A rental is an option. One that has a lot of power is a plus, not because you need to go fast, but because the more power it has at take-off, the quicker you come up out of the water and the less work it is as the skier. A 350 inboard/outboard usually does the job, and the prop that you put on the motor plays a part too. You can spend $100,000 on a fancy wakeboard boat with heaters and showers and fancy paint jobs, or you can buy an old 20ft,73' Fiber Form with trim tabs for a couple thousand and throw in a big fluffy towel. The difference is mostly the respect you get on the boat ramp, which....if you're there to have fun, doesn't matter. You can laugh your way all the way to the bank. I have skied behind both....and for those of us that are less than amateures, there is not a $98,000 difference in the wake the boat throws. But if you have the funds and the time to make it worth the money, spend away.                                    
You can spend several thousand dollars on a wakeboard, or you can start out reasonabley under $300. I have a nice board that seems to be easy for any rider that was under $200 for the boots and the board. I AM a bargain shopper and I love sales!!

Next you have the option of a wakeboard tower. Though not necessary, this gives you an additional edge when coming out of the water because the rope is anchored 4 or 5 feet higher than if it were just anchored to the boat itself. It also helps with putting a little more air under your board when jumping, which in turn gives you more room and time for trickages.

The rope would have to be the next option to make a difference. A longer rope tends to have more give, which is not necessarily a good thing for wakeboarding, where as a short rope gets you closer to the boat, closer to the bigger wake it throws, and more air as well. A comfortable handle is a must.

The last key ingredient would be the a driver that has the feel of pulling and knows how to handle the boat when pulling someone out of the water. Your driver could make the difference between popping right up, or swallowing several fish in the process. Water skiers tend to like more speed than wakeboarders. My son, for instance, has managed to do a 360 degree jump this summer, but insists that his father pull him at only 8 or 10 mph. Most wakeboarders prefer 15 - 20 mph. My personal feeling hurts a lot when you crash at 20 mph, so I like to go 12 I'm old...and there's a longer recovery time for injuries. We try to please the skier, because we're all there to have fun, not get hurt, so the speed is a personal preference thing. We spend about 7 or 8 days a year wakeboarding because there are too many other fun things to fit in during the summer. We're not experts by any means, we know just enough to make it fun!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sharing The Sport

Hunting is something that has been handed down in my family for probably more generations than even I realize. It's just what you do when it's hunting season. At certain times of year, our schedule revolves around it, vacation time is saved for it, and it's always been that way. It IS the priority when opening day rolls around.

Over the years I have hunted with my dad, my brothers, my uncles and aunts. I have made my children follow me through the back country....and my husband. But I rarely get the opportunity to take a new hunter out. Someone who's new to the game, new to the experience.

This past Spring my nephew and his mom (who will be the first to tell you that she is a city girl, and is fairly new to the whole outdoor experience)graduated from the hunter education program, and I thought it might be a good idea to start them out with turkeys. With tags in-hand, we headed off in search of our fair-feathered friends.
Our hunt was not an extreme one, but was full of calling and listening and watching in hopes that we might bag Tom. Though we never did. I still, however, would say it was successful. We learned a little more about hunting turkeys, we learned a little more about calling them. We watched them roost each night after the hunt, and even had a chance to take lots of pictures. (since we can't legally shoot them out of the tree with a gun, we shot them with the camera, not as good eating, but much easier to clean, lol) 

But spending time with family, seeing their enthusiasm and excitement, and knowing that now they understand what hunting is about and why we do it was just as much fun to me as if I had had my own tag.

Just being out and enjoying the outdoors is what it's all about. Next time, we'll have a little experience under our belt, and we'll fill our tag too. Watch out Tom....we're hooked on Turkeys.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What To Do, What To Do...

With summer in full swing, one might ponder on which activities to fit into this, all too short, season. From kayaking the rapids, to bicycling the back country, there is more to do out there than there is time to fit it all in.

Why not try something new. If you like water sports, there are many to choose from, but one that began back in 1948 called 'sailboarding' might be just what you need. Today, this popular sport is termed as 'wind surfing' and the riders....'board heads'. Though the first thought of a board head brings to mind a blonde, tan, teen on the beaches of So. Cal. holding a surfboard, I'm not above trying new things. And though I may not be as good at it as my 18 year old son, who seems always at home in the water, I'm not out to win any competition. I'm there to learn something new, and be able to say....'yes, I can do that!' (or at least I tried)

So if you are up for a new adventure this summer, check into your local sporting good shops and lakeside marinas. A new board complete with gear can be had for around $1000.00, which might be a little much to jump into before you know if it's the 'new' sport  for you. I would suggest renting the gear first, and see how it goes. The other benefit to renting is that most pro shop opporators are plum full of how to info. They will be more than happy to lend you a tip or two (because your surviving means they get there equipment back, and your not crashing insures that it is in one piece when they do). Most pro-shops also offer training for a few more bucks. I myself, am a figure it out kind of person, but I will admit that help is never turned down. The few extra bucks you spend on lessons could cut your learning curve time down tremendously, in essence, saving you time and travel to the lake money.

Happy sailing :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No Lions, No Tigers, Just Bears!!

Over the last couple of weeks I have become completely infatuated with planning a bear hunt. In the great state of Utah, we must enter into a drawing for a bear tag, and our chances of drawing a tag are not as great as I would like them to be. Turns out, this year, my husband actually drew a tag in one of Utah's prime bear areas. ('s prime to us because we know there are bears there and where to find them) It's a Fall hunt, so we have plenty of time to plan, but also, plenty of time to wait.....not so patiently for opening day.
Armed with a new camera, I'm excited to start scouting, but with this years' over abundance of late snow may be Fall before they even wake up!!

One of the hardest parts of hunting, for me, is waiting for opening day, but one of the great things about hunting is the opportunity to spend time scouting. It's really amazing just how much you can learn about an animal just by searching for signs from them.

Years ago, before we began hunting bears, we hunted elk in this same area, but had no idea there were bears there. Just because I wanted to try something new, I put in for a bear tag in 2006 and was lucky enough to draw the tag, but a little concerned that I had absolutely no idea how to hunt bears or what even to look for. I had NEVER seen a bear in the wild, and I wasn't really sure I'd even ever seen signs.....that I was certain were made by a bear.

Over the next month I wandered around trying to figure out where I would go if I was a bear. After treking into the thickest, deepest parts of the timber covered, rugged terrain, we found probably more sign than I needed to ensure that there were bears aplenty in any direction of travel. We found cub prints, and big bear prints, little scrapes and big scrapes, broken branches, stumps and rotten logs that were torn apart, claw marks that were left as they climbed to the top of a 30 foot tree, and roots that were uprooted. I was amazed at how many signs we found in the same areas we'd always hunted....but never noticed they were there. Though I never filled my bear tag that year, it was undoubtedly the funnest hunt I've been on....and I've been on a LOT. I have a new found love and respect for black bears, not because they are mean or vicious, but because they are the exact opposite. They are shy, quiet, and reclusive most of the time. So here's an insite for those who may fear this beautiful creature or may not understand them.

Unlike a grizzly bear, the black bear is mostly vegetarian, (which means....he would prefer not to eat you, but will if necessary). Their main diet consists of mostly berries, grasses, nuts, and bugs(larvae). Their claws are not as long and straight as a grizzly's which resemble small double bladed knives perfect for ripping flesh, but are round, much shorter and curved, and made for digging and scrounging. They come in several colors other than black, such as blonde, brown, chocolate, cinnamon and silver. An older bear has no interest in ever seeing or being seen by humans, so if he can see or hear or smell you coming, you'll never know he was there, (except for the hair standing on the back of your neck). When there are reports of bear encounters, it's usually youngsters that have been booted from mama bear so she can raise her new baby bears. These bears are learning how to look for food....unfortunately....some of them learn to follow their noses to your 'pic-a-nic' basket. Sometimes bears will attack if they feel threatened or are surprised, but these instances are rare.

In Utah, there have been only two major bear attacks that have made the news in the past 30+ years (that I can remember anyway). One of them happened because someones child was feeding a bear oreo cookies through their camper window and when the cookies ran out, the bear took the next thing he could find....the child who had been giving them to him. (This is why they tell you 'Don't feed the bears!!') As the story goes, grandpa wacked the bear over the head with a big flashlight and the child escaped. If you follow a few simple rules when you're camping, you'll likely never have problems. You are actually 180,000 times more likely to be killed in a car than you are by a bear, (that is an actual statistic) and....more people die from bee stings every year than from bear attacks. The moral of the story.....walk to where you're going, armed with bug spray, and leave the oreos at home!