Thursday, January 14, 2016

Winter Survival 2016 - Canadian Forces

This week we had the pleasure of working with 18 of Canada's finest infantry soldiers from 3 RCR. We spent the week sharing our knowledge, skills and abilities with them and than watching as they took those skills and applied them to survive the harsh weather conditions.

These soldiers were not allowed any personal equipment. No extra clothing, no food, no man made shelters and no sleep systems. They had the clothing worn and a few cutting tools which we provided.

With no hesitation they assssed their situation, their equipment, their environment and then put a plan in motion. Hard charging professionals who worked together to complete the mission. A true pleasure for us here to be able to watch and learn from them as well.

Over the next week I'll be adding photos to this site as well as the Facebook page. Be sure to follow us on Facebook at Beyond the Fire School of Survival.




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall and Winter Tinders



As the temperatures drop and frost blankets the foliage it becomes clear that the Sun's summer Rays can no longer warm us or dry out our gear. It becomes vital to our survival that we understand the need to have the knowledge, skills and abilities to start fire in any situation.

It has been stated many times that Mother Nature can be nasty but she always provides you with what you need if you just know where to look.

With hunting season upon us and thousands of folks heading into the bush it's inevitable that some will get lost, suffer hypothermia, break bones and unfortunately some will die from exposure or natural causes.

Although you never plan to suffer a setback you must be prepared for that reality. Therefor knowing how to make fire is the essential skill for warmth and rescue.

Here are 5 natural tinders which you will find ready to harvest in the fall and winter that can help make your fire even when wet.



Cattail is an amazing natural tinder that is best harvested in the fall and winter for fire starting. Found in low lying wet areas such as swamps and ditches. The fluff is great as a coal extender and we use it in all of our fire starting birds nests.




Cedar bark is extremely fibrous when broken down in your hands creates a dry, dusty birds nest that will light by several means of ignition and burn hot enough to ignite your next stage of fuel.  Even when your environment is soaked the inner layer of bark will be dry. 




Old Man's Beard is a moss that grows on the branches of coniferous trees and is best harvested in the fall. A handful of this can be easily lit with matches, lighter and when dried can accept sparks or char cloth. Carrying wet Old Man's Beard on an inside pocket will quickly draw out the moisture and allow it to dry.



Milk Weed pods start to open in the fall exposing the dry fiberous fluff that easily light with several means of ignition. Milk Weed is readily found along the edges of fields and open areas. Milk weed isbest used as part of a birds nest tinder bundle. 


Birch bark is well known to almost anyone who has spent time in the Ontario bush. Whether you harvest sheets off the tree or just small pieces birch bark is highly flammable and easily ignited with several sources of ignition. 

So next time you're out in the bush whether hiking, hunting or on an atv ride be sure you harvest some for your pack



Friday, October 2, 2015

Kirk Dustin Fatwood Firesteel

For those who have either wandered through the bush with me or taken one of our courses you'll be well aware of the two items I preach must always be carried regardless of task.  The knife and fire starter are those two items which are a must carry.

Fire starting has been a passion for me. A journey which has challenged me to try every method possible. Sometimes until the fingers bleed and the muscles ache. However, since the beginning of written history men have known that fire meant life. It meant survival. It meant sustainability.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pics from 2015 CF Course

It goes without saying that we here at Beyond the Fire have a great respect for the men and women of the Canadian Forces. We've been fortunate enough to run 3 courses in 3 years for these soldiers. Each course designed to challenge their knowledge, skills and abilities. To add to the challenge we removed all of the items which they have learned to survive and thrive with through their years in the military. Instead they receive the bare bones we provide based on our survival scenario.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Cut Above

A few weeks ago while out in the bush processing some Fatwood I realized that my small personal draw saw and my Hultafors Classic Axe just weren't the best tools for the job. 

The folding draw saw is great for small limbs and more precise work. It's lightweight and pack ability make it a great tool for almost every job. However, processing larger limbs which are infused with high amounts of resin tend to slow the process dramatically. 

Although my Hultafors Axe is an amazing tool for felling, limbing, splitting and finer bushcraft skills it's not the best choice for a job that often requires climbing to access the Fatwood shoulder. 

What I needed was an aggressive cutting tool which was lightweight, portable, packable and was efficient to use.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Practice provides Knowledge

The old saying that practice makes perfect is a great teaching methodology. However, any good sporting coaching will quickly correct that by stating that practice doesn't make perfect - rather perfect practice makes perfect. 

Whether involved in the pursuit of bushcraft skills or the skills necessary for survival in the harsh Canadian wilderness the principles are the same.  Skills are the ability to take your knowledge and abilities and apply them to a task successfully. Therefor knowledge is so very important in the equation. 

In my journey through bushcraft I gain knowledge and wisdom from so many different places. Most importantly I gain it through my practice with different materials, in different conditions and with different tools. With each new day I look to challenge myself. I look to learn from my failures. 

It is from the failures that we will gain knowledge and experience so very crucial to our very survival. 

Whether experiencing different shelter designs, using different bow drill materials, attempting to use primitive trapping methods or simply by using different tools, stepping outside of that comfort zone will undoubtedly open your eyes to the world around you. 

This winter has been a wonderfully long one which has provided hundreds of hours of dirt time to teach, to learn, to practice and most importantly it has provided me with a deeper connection to the materials which surround me. 

As winter turns quickly to spring take the time to explore and to practice your skills. That practice will give you knowledge you don't currently have. 

It's the journey not the destination that matters.