Thursday, March 3, 2011

Picking up threads

It feels like a good time to re-visit some topics covered on KintlaLake Blog in recent weeks and months. In no particular order, then...

Scouting arms
I posted a pointed
commentary last month about the disappearance of marksmanship from the list of essential Scouting skills. And while it may be endangered Scoutcraft, it's not yet gone.

Two long-gun merit badges remain -- Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting. Earning each requires a Scout to demonstrate knowledge and proper mindset as well as skill with firearms.

Rifle Shooting gives a candidate the option of firing a .22 rifle, an air rifle or a muzzle-loader. The marksmanship standards might sound simple -- putting five three-shot groups inside an inch at 50 feet, for example -- but I'll wager that many of us gray-haired shooters can't do that reliably with open sights. Shotgun Shooting is similarly challenging.

It's also worth noting that Shooting Sports is an elective Ranger Award in the Venturing program, which succeeded Exploring in the 1990s.

There's no telling how long it'll be before runaway political correctness relegates those awards to Scouting's trash heap, but I wanted to temper my previous pessimism with some (encouraging) facts.

Urban Resources: Ranger Bands
Seldom does the sun set without another use for "Ranger Bands" popping into my head. It's a curse.

One sub-zero February evening I pulled a Mini Maglite from my
TrailBlazer's console, and after just a few minutes the ice-cold aluminum had my hands aching. The next morning I cut a length of road-bike tube and slipped it over the housing -- problem solved.

I also found a neat idea (
above) in a 1919 issue of Popular Science. Soon I believe I'll cannibalize a motorcycle tube and use that "cobbled" sheath on my Vaughan Sub-Zero Axe. Pictures (mine) to follow.

Sharps: Pocket sheaths
Looking at my "pocket sheath for the woods" the other day, it occurred to me to dose the hide with Montana Pitch-Blend Leather Dressing -- beeswax would help repel water, protecting the knife and (especially) the tinder in the fire kit.

The sweet-smelling paste darkened the leather slightly and gave it a nice sheen. Tested afterward, the surface beaded and shed moisture well. I treated my
smaller pocket sheath, too, but with the Leather Oil -- less water-repellent than Leather Dressing (owing to the lack of beeswax), but just fine for the application.

Waste management
I hate to see
food go to waste -- any food, for any reason. It's safe to say that it's one of my pet peeves. And although composting is a perfectly responsible way for us to turn truly disposable matter into fertilizer, I've been thinking about better ways to save fresh fruits and vegetables that risk spoiling before we're able to eat them.

At a local odd-lots store the other night I spied a brand-new five-tray food dehydrator. It was a convection-only model (no fan), so it wasn't ideal -- but it was "marked down" from $40 to $25. Besides, it came with a jerky kit.

So we brought it home. We'll do some drying, some vacuum-sealing and some
canning and see how it goes over the next year or so. As for making jerky, I'll use the nifty convection oven that was in the kitchen when we moved into our house.

Winchester Model 67

I uncovered a relatively recent article about my old single-shot .22 -- "Winchester Model 67: A Product of Another Era," written by Gil Sengel and published in the January-February 2009 issue of Rifle Magazine. It covers the M67's history, development and variants, and I found it a fascinating read.

I'm unable to offer a hot-link to the piece, however -- it's vanished from Google Books. Go figure.

Scout at 16 weeks
The last time I wrote about our new puppy, she could sleep in a teacup with room to spare. Now she's four months old (give or take) and weighs about 25 pounds. She looks more Lab-ish every day -- otter's tail and all.

I agree with our vet that she'll top-out between 50 and 60 pounds before she's done growing. I hope she doesn't grow out of her disposition, though -- she has the most amazing personality.

Smart? You betcha. She was obeying "sit" and "stay" a long time ago. And she doesn't just "shake hands" -- last week she mastered "gimme five," "high five" and "all ten, up high."

She's definitely Daddy's Girl -- and Daddy is incurably smitten.