More Ray Mears on TV

Cliff Stamp

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"Trips money can't buy" with Ewan McGregor had Ewan and Mears go to honduras for a short stay (days) in the jungle. This wasn't a basic survival trip, they had massive amounts of gear, brought their own food (cooked pancakes), and there was a full camera crew and a bunch of "helpers" who set up a camp outside of the main one where Mears, McGregor and a few others stayed.

However, there are a few points where Mears illustrates methods for obtaining water, food and cordage, including cutting a banana tree which is either the softest wood on the planet of Mears could arm wrestle a silverback because he takes a huge jungle knife and cuts the tree like it is made from foam. At times instruction is given with no reason like "don't touch the plants when clearing a camp site". Insects?

As for knives, most of the guys carry full machetes, some still have the stickers on them, there are several of the classic pattern, some of the large square tipped ones and Mears and a few others carry a knife very similar to the Martindale Jungle knife, just a lot larger. That is a nice blade if you have not used one, very interesting feel. There are a lot of smaller sheath knives, a single bevel blade is used during one of the meals.

On an interesting note, some of the guys, not Mears, use an extreme wrist action with the machetes, there is little arm movement, just very fast wrist snapping and rotation, and again these are long blades, full machete length, fairly impressive. Just as on the Birch Bark show, Mears is natural on camera, relaxed and looks like he is just as comfortable as if he was walking through his backyard.

Mears also treats Ewan just as a normal guy, which is how he acts. When Mears is making cordage from the bark of a tree (cut, peel and split), Ewan starts laughing and loosely pantomiming Mears who then says "You make some" and heaves a pile of the Bark at Ewan.

-Cliff
 
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Banana trees have the consistency of a roll of wet cardboard interspersed with soggy bubble wrap. There isn't much to them. A good swing with a machete will chop most of the way through them with one hit. This is standard proceedure for harvesting bananas. The tree only produces fruit once so when you harvest them you cut down the tree. Mac
 

Cliff Stamp

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Thanks, that is what it looked like to me, can you dry/season the core and burn it or use it for materials or does it just rot? Can you eat it directly, or use it? Do you know why they were warned not to handle the vegetation when cutting it? I was figuring either sap, thorns, sharp edges (some plants can have them), or insects. Ewan had no clue how to use his knife and no instruction was given, he was hacking about like it was an axe, no draw and did a lot of cutting near the handle vs the tip. But to his credit he didn't let this stop him from working.

-Cliff
 
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The myth of thaiboxers kicking trees to harden their shins probably originates from some of them kicking through some very soft trees, probably banana trees. Shin-kicking them would offer a completely different experience than kicking a pine tree, for instance.
 
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I have never seen anything done with old banana trees other than cutting them down. They aren't made out of "wood" but are just tightly rolled layers of fibers and membranes. When dry they resemble a roll of cardboard and are very light. I'm sure they burn but have never tried it. I would surmise that they would burn very quickly. The sap from a banana tree stains a carbon steel blade very quickly.

You can slice them off evenly and the stump will continue to pump water for a day or two. If you hollow out the top of the stump it will fill with water. I've done it and waited around to watch it start to fill but didn't go back and drink any later.

Banana leaves are awesome shelter and cooking material but if the wind gets to them they shred easily and resemble tattered venetian blinds. Banana groves tend to be spider and snake infested places with lots of leaf and old trunk litter on the ground, no place you'd want to spend the night.

Banana trees propagate through their roots and the roots go DEEP. If you cut one down others come up in its place. Lots of people buy land that was once used for cultivating bananas and end up living in a banana grove after a few years.

Where I live we don't have true "jungle" it's called "Mata Atlantica" and is more woody. I don't know why they wouldn't touch the plants. Here in tropical Brazil things have all sorts of spines that can leave nasty punctures. We have grasses that will shred your arms and clothes, this I know firsthand... well first forearm anyway. The undersides of many palm-like plants have two inch needle-like thorns and their trunks can be armed as well.

The ground is covered with ants of many types and sizes. In my area we don't have poisonous plant leaves like poison ivy. Some saps are highly irritating though, especially if you rub your eyes or nick yourself with your machete.

The thing you have to remember about the tropics is the amazing biodiversity here. Everything has it's niche and if you go over the next ridge or change elevation even a few hundred feet you can be in a very different area plant-wise.

I can't really comment on their particular jungle. Mac
 
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Cliff, I suggest you get the Second DVD series of Bushcraft. It deals a lot with your lattitudes and its probably the better of the 2 series.

I wish Ray would make instructional DVD's rather than one's that consists of a lot of history and 'respect for nature' I know this is because initially it was broadcast on the BBC for the unwashed masses. However a DVD of pure skills would be for those specifically interested and therefor we can (hopefully) assume that they already treat the mother with care.


One can only hope.
 
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i like the mears' shows as well. they aired a few episodes on discovery channel a few years ago and i taped them. the episodes i have include the one with ewen mcgregor, one on the desert southwest, one on the canadian rockies, and another on australia. very fun to watch and informative too.
 

Cliff Stamp

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Temper said:
I wish Ray would make instructional DVD's rather than one's that consists of a lot of history and 'respect for nature'

Another episode was on last night, he went on a canoe trip with Ray Goodwin, from that show I got the impression that he sees himself similar to the role of Grey Owl (he does a brief Bio on him). It seems the central message of living with nature is integral for him to bushcraft which is how he views wilderness survival.

This is different to how Davenport for example who separates wilderness living vs survival. Survival being a situation where you don't want to be in and would appreciate any artifical help and gladly take a rescue vs wilderness living where you willingly go away from civilization and try to make a home with minimal supplies.

Sometimes Mear's arguement is a bit well selective as he will say things like you don't oppose nature through artifical meals (synthetic canoe vs cedar/canvas), when it rains I will get wet, when it stops I will dry off. However he cooks with magic baking powder, uses zip lock bags to store foods, uses a suit to keep off black flies, and are of his clothes really all natural fibres.

The show had some interesting elements, he demonstrates some paddling, notes the lichen "old man's beard" can be used for fungal problems, starts a fire from birch bark fire from a well used ferro rod, makes a cooking tripod, and carves a paddle from a piece of cedar with a GB axe, frame saw, and a crooked knife, and does a really nice job. He is really at ease with the axe.

He also doesn't complain or constantly hype the difficult of the situation, if anything he constantly does the opposite. There is a close up of his face and neck which shows a large number of bites and he laughs as one gets into his bread and notes he can now bite them back. He also bakes the bread against the fire which is interesting, I just flip it over.


-Cliff
 
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Yeah he looked like a biting insect Smorgasboard on that episode :D

Regarding Zip locks and man made stuff, he isnt promoting this as pure 'Survival' and he talks about kit a lot, he isnt one to say (like Tom Brown) for example that taking even a knife into the wilderness is a luxury, they are really 2 different ways of approaching the same thing. Ray is more of a Technology guy, in this case its primitive but still, its an open embrace of tools and technology. TB on the other hand (and correct me if I am wrong) has more of a spiritual approach and one that utilizes things found in Nature, rather than brought into it.

You just cant help but like Ray, I just hope he is a catalyst for more shows and better awareness in the immediate future that will hopefull steer some of the MTV generation away from wanton consumption and a 'disposal' mentality.
 
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Great camera work showing the mosquitoes on the moose!

I caught both of those episodes of Ray Mears, last week he was a "helper" making a birch bark canoe and this week on a canoe journey. I tape both eps on TIVO and the Ewan McGregor show, hope to copy them to DVD.

I rather enjoyed the paddle and the tripod as those are new tricks for me to try. Very gentle show with a few great demonstrations.

What knot was that he show Ewan in the jungle? Cliff what was Ewan carrying for a machete type knife and didn't Ray's machete look somewhat similiar to a Khukuri with a much bigger handle?
 

Cliff Stamp

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Don'tkillbill said:
What knot was that he show Ewan in the jungle?

It looked like a noose varient, I do something similar around one finger to attach hooks. It is very strong as tension doesn't focus on one point. The large non-machete knives looked like this :

http://www.cutsforthknives.com/images/pics/Jungle_Knife.gif

in style, with handles similar to found on the Valiant goloks. It is an interesting knife to use, because of the hump it balances above the grip and to me it always felt like you are using it upside down, but you get used to it after awhile. The martindale version has a really funky grind, the edge angle changes smoothly from the choil to the tip and gets really fine there.


Temper said:
YRay is more of a Technology guy, in this case its primitive but still, its an open embrace of tools and technology.

There are some point though that I see as a little contradictory, he talks about communing with nature, and how you should not fight it by using modern synthetic canoes for example and choosing gear to "oppose nature", I think though here he is talking about a wilderness trip where you want to expose yourself to the enviroment as opposed to an emergency kit.

He also presents the other side of the arguement, when Mears notes that he feels if you are going to go on a wilderness trip with a canoe you should be able to carve a paddle, the guy with him says that he does not, and that he and all the guys he canoes with just carry a spare paddle. He uses a modern canoe with plastic paddles and has little experience with wood working tools.

TB on the other hand (and correct me if I am wrong) has more of a spiritual approach and one that utilizes things found in Nature, rather than brought into it.

That is probably an evolution which most people who go towards if you spent a lot of time living in any enviroment.

You just cant help but like Ray, I just hope he is a catalyst for more shows and better awareness in the immediate future that will hopefull steer some of the MTV generation away from wanton consumption and a 'disposal' mentality.

What would be nice would be to see some of them on really popular shows like Survivor. This hits a massive audience and guys like Mears or Davenport could design challenges, judge shelters, or even be a reward (get one day of training), etc. . Now it isn't likely that you would learn anything from the episodes directly, but it would give them a huge level of exposure.

-Cliff
 
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there are two diffrent shows that Ray does with diffrent focus's. Extreme Survival is usually showing someones survival story and some tips and tricks that could have been used in that situation or showing some of the natives of diffrent areas and what they do using modern gear. Bushcraft was more focused on primative skills and living such and in the first episode of the first season he had a bowmaker use stone tools and natural fibers to make a bow and arrow using what they could find/make. Sometimes he uses modern gear like a fiberglass canoe, a good tent, stove, etc and sometimes he goes low tech and uses his woodlore blade with a scandi grind or in one episode he hd an inexpensive erickson plastic handle mora and his ever present GB axe and makes shelter from his surrondings and fire from spark or friction. I think he gears up or down depending on where he's going and what he wants to show just like we do.
 

Cliff Stamp

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Hopefully they are just testing the waters now and they get enough of a responce to put on the rest of the shows. He has a fairly clear way of presenting material which translates well to the screen. On the current shows though this is really sparce and it is more of advocating respect for nature and such than actually describing skills.

-Cliff
 
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One show on the second DVD 'Sweden' showed the most skills.

First, trad skies were built with an axe and shaped in a steam box. Then Pine Tar was made and that used to treat the ski's. Then a knife was made in a traditional manner, this was a carbon steel laminate. Then Ray fitted a Birch, antler and leather handle to it.

This in itself could have made at least 1 if not 2 full episodes. If the camera crew was there I just wonder why they didnt cobble a 'How to' or 'The makings of' episode at the same time.

Total time spent watching the knife was about 1 minute :mad:
 

Juiceseller

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Cliff Stamp said:
"Trips money can't buy" with Ewan McGregor had Ewan and Mears go to honduras for a short stay (days) in the jungle. This wasn't a basic survival trip, they had massive amounts of gear, brought their own food (cooked pancakes), and there was a full camera crew and a bunch of "helpers" who set up a camp outside of the main one where Mears, McGregor and a few others stayed.

However, there are a few points where Mears illustrates methods for obtaining water, food and cordage, including cutting a banana tree which is either the softest wood on the planet of Mears could arm wrestle a silverback because he takes a huge jungle knife and cuts the tree like it is made from foam. At times instruction is given with no reason like "don't touch the plants when clearing a camp site". Insects?

As for knives, most of the guys carry full machetes, some still have the stickers on them, there are several of the classic pattern, some of the large square tipped ones and Mears and a few others carry a knife very similar to the Martindale Jungle knife, just a lot larger. That is a nice blade if you have not used one, very interesting feel. There are a lot of smaller sheath knives, a single bevel blade is used during one of the meals.

On an interesting note, some of the guys, not Mears, use an extreme wrist action with the machetes, there is little arm movement, just very fast wrist snapping and rotation, and again these are long blades, full machete length, fairly impressive. Just as on the Birch Bark show, Mears is natural on camera, relaxed and looks like he is just as comfortable as if he was walking through his backyard.

Mears also treats Ewan just as a normal guy, which is how he acts. When Mears is making cordage from the bark of a tree (cut, peel and split), Ewan starts laughing and loosely pantomiming Mears who then says "You make some" and heaves a pile of the Bark at Ewan.

-Cliff

Hey Cliff,

I dont know about all the TV culture nowaday, most people who watch them are couch potatoes who wish that they be on a "survival" adventure, but I know some would not even hike a mile in the wilderness ...........

To tell you the true, if them people want to survive, drop them in the jungle, no food, no tents, just a bowie on their back.............I bet they back right out of the deal, LOL

Stuff made for TV aint worth seeing, just way for the network to rob you of your hard earn cash.


Juice
 

Juiceseller

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Temper said:
One show on the second DVD 'Sweden' showed the most skills.

First, trad skies were built with an axe and shaped in a steam box. Then Pine Tar was made and that used to treat the ski's. Then a knife was made in a traditional manner, this was a carbon steel laminate. Then Ray fitted a Birch, antler and leather handle to it.

This in itself could have made at least 1 if not 2 full episodes. If the camera crew was there I just wonder why they didnt cobble a 'How to' or 'The makings of' episode at the same time.

Total time spent watching the knife was about 1 minute :mad:

To tell you the true, even if one can have a knife made in the wilderness in the winter, there aint any food or much animals left to use it on........human are not catered to digest tree bark like a deer, so better not get lost in the first place, eh.

Cheers,



Juice
 

Juiceseller

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Temper said:
You

Perhaps watching it first, then passing judgement later is the wiser way to go.

What is there to watch?, most of these shows are "promoted" commercially.........if you look closely, they would tell you to buy this and that, and maybe you can melt that brand name surfboard to make a fine shovel, LOL.......

Please dont mistake fantasy for reality.

Cheers,



Juice
 
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