DIY Fire Starter

DIY FirestarterAs a former corrections nurse, I can tell you identity thieves are merciless. They will trash you and your credit in a heartbeat. That’s why I never throw anything remotely sensitive into the trash. Bank statements, credit card offers, insurance bills, anything that could be used to steal my identity gets destroyed. Here’s my favorite recipe to get rid of those perilous papers.

Begin by stacking two or three sheets of paper and then smearing the top one with a healthy amount of petroleum jelly. Repeat this process several times until you have a stack of 15-20 sheets interspersed with semisolid hydrocarbons. Once you reach the desired thickness place a wick in the center. I experimented with cotton balls, dryer lint, and shredded paper. Roll up the sheets of paper into a long tube. Take one last piece of paper and glue it around the outside to hold it in place.

I did some burn tests and got great results. Cutting them into two inch blocks, I split them down the side and splayed the papers a little. If you try and light the rolled tube it won’t catch very well. The dryer lint worked the best and gave a ten minute burn time.

There you have it. Cheap, easy, and effective. What more could you want? Do you have your own DIY recipe for a fire starter? Post it in the comments below.

-Richard Hammack


Field Bug Out Bag

Field Bug Out Bag

Have you met my buddy BOB? I have a lot of friends named BOB and this one goes with me when I’m after small game.

The Allen Company makes great hunting equipment and this pack is no exception. The Smart Rig is the platform I use for my small game BOB and it has withstood the test of time. Before you rush out to buy an exact copy I have bad news. It’s the older version of their current Nomad fanny pack. The only difference is a strap of webbing across the front of the Nomad.

This BOB sits on a shelf right next to my desk. Whenever I get a spare afternoon I grab it and go. What’s in it? I’m glad you asked.

Main Pocket

With an 8x10x6″ main compartment, what’s not in it?

Field Bug Out Bag

Hatchet: A Gerber hatchet with a knife in the handle is a must. It makes short work of wood for fire and shelter. It’s incredibly light yet robust and can be used as a maul. The little knife that lives in the handle is a great bonus. It’s sharp, sturdy, and grips like it’s covered in tar.

SOL Pack: The Survive Outdoors Longer pack goes with me everywhere. It’s with every one of my BOB’s.

Paracord: This is the difference between a debris shelter and a hut. It has more uses than can possibly be listed here.

Medical Kit: Steri-Strips with mastisol adhesive, gloves, ABD pads, gauze rolls, needles and syringes, toradol, benadryl, lidocaine, ibuprofen, and tylenol. Personalize your kit to your skill level.

Fixed Blade: A Mora knife forged by Vulcan himself. Mora’s are among the best survival knives out there. The handle doesn’t slip even if covered in blood or water. The edge is scary sharp and stays that way no matter how you abuse it.

Ammo: Without it your gun is just a nifty club.

Light: A headlamp and a small flashlight make camp easier to navigate in the night. I also have a glowstick if the batteries fail.

Multitool: The difference between dying naked and alone in an uncaring wilderness and having a nice day hunting often revolves around tool use. Get one, learn how to use it, thrive.

Marking Tape: Can be used to flag trails if the GPS fails. I also use it to mark traps if I’m running a line.

Front Pocket

Field Bug Out Bag

Document Holder: A gentleman doesn’t toss his license and ID around his bag. Keep it protected and stylish in case.

Hand Warmers: After fleshing the hide, plunge your hands into an icy stream to clean up. When your hands get numb, pull them out and crack open some of these.

Power Bars: Your body wants carbs and protein. Do what it says.

Notebook and Pen: For writing your notes and recollections. Also useful as a fire source. If you haven’t prepared well, save the last page for something to scratch an incoherent farewell on as the darkness closes in.

Hand Sanitizer: Washing up before supper was never so easy. Also highly flammable and makes a city slicker fire in no time. This one is wrapped with foam tape. It makes blisters disappear.

Hide kit: A handy kit to preserve small animal hides in the field. Scalpel, gloves, towelettes, salt, tissue paper.

Side Zipper Pocket

Camera: As the internet adage goes, “pix, or it didn’t happen”.

Binoculars: Sometimes telling a Eurasian Collared from a Morning Dove isn’t easy. Avoid confusion and fines by using some lightweight optics like these Tasco’s.

Chapstick: We get so much radiation here it’s crazy. Sunburned lips are lame.

Open Pocket

Water bottle: The key to dedication is better motivation through constant hydration.

Trashbag: What? Are you gonna put a bunch of animal hides and meat in your pocket? Don’t be a heathen and use a bag.


The belt is made of webbing and holds the pack fast.

Pistol: Sometimes I don’t even bring a rifle. I don’t have to think before hitting the trail because this H&R Model 676 is always strapped to the side.

GPS: Use them while you can.

Skinner: A little skinner to make quick work of your harvest.

The exterior of this bag is soft and quiet as you move through the brush. Mossy Oak pattern works where I live all the time. I throw this around my waist and a camel bag on my back and I’m gone for a while. Put together a BOB for the field and make the transition from home to hunt a snap.

-Richard Hammack

Cartouche Part Deux

Paper CartridgeWith the ammo shortage I’ve been shooting a lot of black powder lately. Nothing like an $80 asking price for a brick of .22 to make you reach for the old smoke pole. I promised an evaluation of the paper cartridges and below are the results.

To begin with, it’s dirty. Like real dirty. I was using my 1851 Navy Colt and the cylinder required way more cleaning than under normal conditions. Every 12 rounds or so I would find several large pieces of unburned paper in the chambers. Below is a picture of 20gr cartridges with the wadding rolled in at five yards. You can see the partially combusted grime peppering the target. There’s even some wadding smooches for effect.

Black Powder Paper CartridgeBelow is the same distance but using 15gr cartridges. I got better groupings and had less garbage coming out of the barrel with the lighter load.

Black Powder Paper CartridgeThe best part was the speed. What once took me 5-10 minutes now only takes moments. Simply tearing the end of the cartridge and pouring the powder into the chambers made loading a snap. I loaded some without wadding and actually got decent results. I twisted the paper around the ball and then poured in the powder and the zig zag acted as a simple wad.

I did not have any failure to fire or smoldering burns. I even loaded some cartridges without tearing them first and still got them to fire each time. The paper is definitely thin enough for the caps to burn through.

I can’t wait to get these out into the field. When I do I promise I’ll return with results.

-Richard Hammack

Les dernières cartouches

Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe_de_Neuville_-_Les_dernières_cartouches_(1873)Behold, Les dernières cartouches, a glimpse at the battle of Bazeilles. Alphonde de Neuville painted this majestic work in 1873. The battle had been fought only a few years before and had changed the world. It was this vision that blazed vividly in my mind while out on an excursion.

I was seeing this painting in the curling smoke of my Pietta made .44 Navy Colt from Cabela’s. I was squirrel hunting in the foothills of Colorado and slinging lead into trees like Doc Holiday on a bend. My hammer clicked and I began to reload. Doing that with a gun designed in 1851 isn’t easy. It’s what got me thinking about the painting and the battle that went with it.

The battle Alphonde painted was fought in Bazeilles France, a little town just a few kilometers from the modern border with Belgium. On September 1, 1870, a division of French Troupes de Marine ambushed an attacking Bavarian army. The battle was a defensive reargard to slow the Northern German juggernaut. Napolean III and his army were encircled in Sedan and Bazeilles was on its flank. Beginning before dawn, a battle took place that saw the town change hands four times. At the end of the day over 5,000 Bavarians and 3,000 Frenchman lay dead. The Marines fought to the last bullet, in the last house, on the way to Sedan. Ultimately the battle was a loss for the French and Sedan fell. Napolean III was captured and the French Second Republic ended. Paris fell the following January. While the embers of Paris still burned, the triumphant German Confederation met at Versailles. Several German duchies and municipalities merged with Prussia to create the modern German state. Alphonde’s painting shows the inside of the last house in Bazeilles. A weary soldier from the colonies stares into the afternoon longlight. His comrade fires his Chassepot at the Bavarians in the street. A bearded veteran is kneeling in the middle ground, reaching into the last box of bullets. If the French could massacre 5,000 of Bavaria’s finest with bullets made of paper, maybe I could shoot a squirrel or two.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPaper cartridges have been in use since the firearm became portable. They are simple to make and save time down the road. This method is designed for my revolver. It probably won’t work for long gun cartridges.

I use only the finest quality French cigarette papers. Zig-zag 1 1/4 inch are the easiest to work with. The ‘light’ zig-zags are too fragile and tear when rolling. To begin, set your powder measure to how many grains you want to throw. Consult your guns’ manual to see how much powder to use. Once you have your powder measure set it’s time to begin rolling. Simply set a wad and ball on top of the powder measure and wrap the paper around it.


Twist the paper around the top and hold the ball in place. Wrap the paper around the powder measure and moisten it. Don’t lick it. After a few rolls you’ll have lead and gunpowder all over your fingers. You don’t want to be licking that. Once the paper is wet, turn the whole setup upside down and let the powder fill the paper tube.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a little practice, you can begin to crank them out. It becomes meditative. Once I’ve compiled enough for some serious range time I’ll post a follow up with results.

-Richard Hammack