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. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Bush Pack

During a recent course I was instructing on one of the students pointed out that everywhere I went I carried a backpack. Several of them joked about what they might find if they looked inside. Some of the ideas were incredibly entertaining. 

After some ribbing and a reminder from me about how I was in charge of their level of suffering over the next 8 days they got serious and asked what I carried. 

"It's my bush pack. It goes everywhere I go. When I leave the pavement and venture into the bush it comes with me. Like a good friend - it's always there when I need it". 

With their attention I continued by speaking of the 5 'C's' of Survival. You can never know when you'll find yourself in a survival emergency so you must be armed with the knowledge, skills, abilities and the tools to get to work. 

The 5 'C's' of Survival

1.  Combustion
2.  Cutting tool
3.  Cordage
4.  Container
5.  Cover

I explained my firm belief based upon years of experience that if you possess these items and some general bushcraft knowledge you can survive and seek rescue from your emergency situation. 

With experience comes the knowledge that often times thing break, malfunction or fail to work in less than optimal conditions such as winter. So often I carry several of each of the 5 'C's'. Make no mistake, you can carry a rucksack with 40-60lbs of kit into the bush however it's not practical. Therefor your pack must be light enough to forget its on your back while containing all the items necessary to put your knowledge and skills to work. 

As the students nodded in agreement with my principles I took the items out and laid them out for display. They are self explanatory. With this pack and my skills I know I can survive or self sustain long enough to allow weather to pass or until rescue comes to find my team. 

Never underestimate the importance of carrying a small bag containing your 5 'C's'. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife

After recently testing the Light My Fire - Fire Knife I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality Mora blade. Although I don't carry knives that are not capable of survival tasks I was happy with its bushcraft capability and integrated fire steel. 

I spent a little time navigating the web researching the Mora product lines. I've always used, promoted and reviewed the ESEE line of survival knives. However, I came across the Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife and thought it was well worth the test. 

With the sun shining and the thermometer hovering around -15 degrees I took the dogs and new knife out to the cabin for some outdoor enjoyment. 

The Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife is a combination setup which includes the knife, robust sheath, diamond sharpener on the sheath as well as a ferro rod attached to the sheath. The blade appeared thick enough to split wood yet sharp enough to create feather sticks.  The back side of the blade is designed specifically to work with the attached ferro rod. 

We've always tested survival knives to ensure they were capable of completing tasks and withstanding the abuse necessary to yield confidence. 

Today I used the Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife to split firewood, create feather sticks, create a bow drill set, open a can of stew, scrape the bark of a cedar and light a fire. The rubberized handle made the knife comfortable and slip resistant. The blade took a beating with the baton to split the wood. The knife was robust yet light enough to reduce fatigue. The blade maintained a razor sharpness after splitting wood to allow me to transition right to making feather sticks.  The ferro rod produced ample sparks to light cedar shavings and birch bark. 

After the day in the bush spent testing this knife and ferro rod I can confidently state that this has replaced my ESEE blades as my EDC survival knife. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Survival Fire Starters

A few years back while working with a fellow survival instructor to setup an element of a course we took a break to start a fire and make a bush coffee. 

As I started collecting materials it was obvious that everything was wet from the recent weather. While piling our supplies my fellow instructor setup up the tinder in preparation for ignition. That's when he pulled a small candle looking item from his pack. 

As he lit the item I watched as it produced a large thick flame that seem to last forever. This flame lasted long enough to ignite not only the tinder but the thicker twigs as well. 

As we tended the fire and brewed our coffee we discussed fire starting, adverse conditions and survival products. I was so impressed with the simplicity, ease of use, natural materials and confidence this Survival Candle provided in adverse conditions. 

While preparing for our upcoming course I decided to make a few of these beauties for the students to carry and use. 


  • Paraffin wax
  • Birch Bark
  • Jute Twine
  • Wood pieces
I've heard of endless production methods with specialty items and wicks but I prefer simple ingredients to produce a max flame. I don't want a small candle wick flame. I want a fire !!