A Day in the Life of a Field Knife Updated with Fire Making

Discussion in 'Carothers Performance Knives' started by never.truly.lost, Dec 11, 2018.

  1. never.truly.lost

    never.truly.lost Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 13, 2015
    Good afternoon all,

    Some guys were asking about what the life is like working in the bush. I got “winded out” this afternoon so have a few minutes to write this up. “Winded out” is just where the bush has too high of winds for safety reasons, especially when working alone, that I have to pull out/risk manage. That being said, here goes the day:

    Rise and shine at 0500hrs, get the coffee on and get dressed. Since winter is moving in that means thermals, pack boots, sweaters, etc.
    Fire up the pickup to warm up and drink said coffee while checking the weather and news.
    On the road for 0615 ish and start heading out the the bush:

    Pull off the highway at whichever road is open for access, or once there is more snow and the road isn’t plowed this would be where I unload the snowmobile. Also, hubs get locked in the truck, radio turned on with the appropriate road channel, and establish comms with the log truck drivers and grader to see where everyone is at/and that the road is clear (“empty” or unloaded traffic always clears out of the way for “loaded” trucks):
    2CFABDDA-BC03-4077-BB83-119B6A6D7C84.jpeg 9849195A-477B-4271-BFD7-B9F97729182F.jpeg

    Once I get up to where I cannot drive any further, I make sure to get well off the main road especially in this case as there is active logging and hauling going on in the area:


    Check the maps and look for the best way in. Not always the easiest way to walk as here I need to recce in a road location to get up the mountain (best grades, natural benches, locations for switchbacks, good subgrade material, etc). 8595759C-5A60-42B3-82E3-D0F57AC62AA0.jpeg

    Last couple drags on the coffee before getting loaded up and out:

    Equipment for the day: several rolls of recce ribbon (for this client that is plain yellow), snowshoes, vest, radio, InReach sat communicator, tablet, emergency shelter, first aid, canteen and cup (for hot water at lunch), and other misc equipment. Generally you are looking at 25-40lbs in the vest. We use a pack vest which is a cruiser vest with a framesheet, shoulder straps and waistbelt built in to help with load carriage:

    And off we go (Scout-Dog and I). A huge perk of this job is bringing the dog every day with you. Breed selection is up to the person, but for me I am glad to have this guy as a work partner. Belgian Malinois and Siberian Husky cross; perfect for a bush dog:
    76F96D6C-8512-4505-8372-7FCD58B1B8EA.jpeg 879FDDC0-7E0B-47D9-AB5C-9F79F3BB347C.jpeg

    More to follow:
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
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  2. never.truly.lost

    never.truly.lost Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 13, 2015
    After about 30-40 min of hiking in, I can “start” or establish a POC (Point of Commencement) for my road grade recce; in this case at the end of an older road:


    Making my way through a previous cut working the gradient for a nice transition to the older road:

    Once in the timber it becomes much more challenging to “see” the grade you want. There is a feel to the way the ground is going, how the road should sit, how the cut and fill will go. There are guidelines to doing this but it takes years to get the hang of it and in reality I guess this would be what architects or artist have when they look at a blank sheet of paper or canvas; for me that is what the forest and terrain looks like:

    Working a switchback. This again needs to be set up to have the proper turn radius, side hill grades, enough fill, and have correct entry and exit slopes. Challenging to see but the side hill grades are around 45% with a general road grade of 15-18% outside of the switchback. Coming directly in to a switch and out of it I have it at 0% as the turn itself with the cut will be much steeper at the 40% (doubled up ribbons being the switchback location):

    Too windy at the top of the mountain (trees blowing over with the weather today and elevation) so dog and I hiked back down to check some other potential harvest areas and then make our way back out along a lake. Frozen lakes make for very nice walking:
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  3. never.truly.lost

    never.truly.lost Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 13, 2015
    No photos here but generally on days like today I will make up a quick lunch fire, brew up a tea or coffee, and then get back at it.

    Having good cutting tools can make the difference between fire and no fire. Not a big deal in the summer but days like this at -15C plus the wind chill, that can make a huge difference in your day. I prefer knives with longer handles to be able to index and not lose your place with big mitts on (photo above). The Carothers have this down pat and are one of my favourite aspects of the FK.

    Also I use the knife for everything from cutting my work supplies, opening boxes, cutting straps, feathering sticks and splitting for a fire, scraping carbon off my gun when cleaning, breaking ice in the mouthpiece of the canteen, cutting ribbon down that isn’t being used, slicing bread or cheese with lunch, and whatever else you can think of.

    I will get some photos tomorrow and add them here*
    Will have a quick fire in the winter snow and show you what I do for a 15 minute zero to boiling water blaze.

    Update today:

    Another beauty day in the bush. Crossing another small lake on the edges to get into an area:

    And a view from the top (note the active harvesting across the valley):

    Be wary of these beaver dams as it is challenging to tell what is safe to walk across and what isn’t:

    Always check with an axe to see what sort of thickness you are working with as you make your way across. Later in the winter it is no problem but early and late season has uneven frozen areas:

    Time for lunch break. Found a nice spot by another wetland for a good view and a hint of sun poking through:

    Time starts now! First step is to clear a bit of snow and make a platform for your fire to allow air travel and mitigate moisture from preventing ignition. I select an area that has old stumps for quick fires as it is faster to get wood processed as I can’t waste time; this is a job after all:

    I don’t really consider this “baton” type of knife work; only need hand taps to split the wood:

    Pieces of old stumps are easy and quick to rip apart and split to small sections:

    Quick feathers. They don’t need to be Instagram pretty, just enough to get you going. Also note I remove my gloves while doing this as the feathers need to be as dry as possible. Wet gloves and squeezing a knife handle and your materials ends up just saturating the wood with water and will make starting a fire a real pain. Yes it is cold without gloves on but as the saying goes: “Just because you are uncomfortable doesn’t mean you’re dying!”:

    Yes Bic lighters. I carry a firesteel but the Bic works everytime and is much easier and faster:

    More to follow—>
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  4. never.truly.lost

    never.truly.lost Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 13, 2015

    Lighter does the job putting flame to feathers, and away we go:

    Now that the fire is going time to grab the canteen and cup, and go into my utility pouch and grab the lid and tea. I consider the lid a necessity for canteen or Nalgene type cups. It makes boiling way more effecient and keeps misc forest items out of your drink or meal:

    Cup filled and lid fitted, time to boil. While this is going on I take the time to dry my gloves and toque:

    Lemon tea is my go to if not coffee. Spruce needles work great as well:

    Just about there:

    And a nice rolling boil. 12min 23seconds from dropping my vest to a rolling boil. Not my fastest but good enough for the day:

    A hot beverage is always welcome in the woods:

    Lunch break is over and Scout says time to go:
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  5. stjones

    stjones Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 23, 2010
    GREAT post Andy!!
    Thank you for sharing your day!!
    .357gus, Coach23, Odog27 and 3 others like this.
  6. Oyster


    Aug 2, 2011
    ^ +1 :thumbsup::thumbsup:
    Yes, GREAT post - perfect - and look forward to the next installment with pics of your fire starting skills!
    .357gus, Coach23, stjones and 4 others like this.
  7. Grenock

    Grenock Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 7, 2016
    ^^^This. The reason you got my vote for FK2.0 guinea pig.

    Steve Irwin's voice : "Here we see the FK in it's natural environment. Crickey, that looks cold, but the FK is a tough little buggah....."
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  8. - SpyderMan -

    - SpyderMan - Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2015
  9. Coach23

    Coach23 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 30, 2015
    Definitely thanks for sharing:thumbsup: Awesome!
  10. TRfromMT

    TRfromMT Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jan 4, 2016
    Given you wear gloves a good deal, what are your thoughts on handles and useful elements for gloved-hand feel, fatigue, grip, etc.? General 'good to have' versus 'must have' and how the FK (and/or other CPK models) meets those needs.
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  11. never.truly.lost

    never.truly.lost Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 13, 2015
    Really it is more about the gloves than the knife handles. For example, I need to be able to write in a notebook, operate measuring instruments, use sat comms and a VHF radio, and other fine motor skill tasks. That being said, a little longer handle with a defined “guard” area helps with any gloves and when your hands are frozen you do not want a slip.

    My go to gloves for 90% of the year are Fox River ragg wool fingerless gloves with the grippy dots. I buy like 10 pairs at a time and just keep them going until they wear out. I used this for most of my military time as well (weapons, radios, boom things) and just have stuck with them.
  12. Odog27

    Odog27 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2011
    Looking at your pics - I would need more than just fingerless gloves.
    When I am working outdoors in the winter with hand tools and metal pipe/parts I’ve always gone with a liner on my non dominant hand and a pair of the fingerless with mitten cover on both hands. My index fingers and thumbs still crack at the joints. Frozen callouses just don’t bend well!
    Something like this
    With these

    ETA: you are obviously more manly than I am
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  13. mpjustin

    mpjustin Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 5, 2009
    Thanks Andy, @never.truly.lost

    You mentioned you clean carbon off your gun with the FK. What type of firearm do you prefer to pack in your line of business?

    never.truly.lost and Odog27 like this.
  14. trevitrace

    trevitrace Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 21, 2013
    Fantastic thread! Thank you for sharing. :thumbsup:
    Oyster, never.truly.lost and Odog27 like this.
  15. duramax

    duramax KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 29, 2012
    Wow !!!! Thank you for sharing !!!!
    Oyster, Odog27 and never.truly.lost like this.
  16. never.truly.lost

    never.truly.lost Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 13, 2015
    If you have too much on your hands or constrict them at all you lose circulation faster and get colder. That being said that is why I have the big leather overmitts for warming up.

    12ga for everything here; just run slugs in the gun but carry red and green 12ga flare rounds along with a handfull of OO buck as well. Wilson Border Patrol is what I use although a Marine Police Mag is next on my list.
    Really tough to get the permit to carry a handgun up here plus if you really want to go toe to toe with a bear with only a handgun....well good on you. At least with the scattergun you have a large metal stick if nothing else.

    The carbon build up isn't anything to worry about on that gun, I was referring more to my carbine*
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  17. Freespoolin


    Nov 20, 2017
    A handgun even a 44mag is pretty much useless vs a large animal like a bear. Will kill it but won’t stop it. 12ga or large caliber rifle is the only way to go. Shoot something like a 300# feral hog straight on with a pistol and it makes it painfully obvious.
  18. .357gus

    .357gus Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 30, 2011
    Great thread Andy! Are you going to be reviewing the the FK2 prototype for Nathan?
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  19. Lorien

    Lorien KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 5, 2005
    I love this thread
  20. Basko00

    Basko00 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 12, 2005
    Great thread! Thanks for posting it up.

    I’m pretty damn impressed with the fact that you can make grade in that kind of terrain in the snow. But I’ve primarily lived where’s it generally hot and have limited experience with that type of weather and environment.
    .357gus, Oyster and never.truly.lost like this.

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