Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Tragic Loss in the Family

In 2009 Beyond the Fire School of Survival was born in the forest of Pembroke, Ontario.  As two great friends, John and I had dreamt of learning and sharing our knowledge, skills and abilities with colleagues in the search and rescue field as well as our Canadian Military partners.

Over the next 9 years we enjoyed every opportunity we could to leave the paying jobs behind and travel into the bush to practice, share and laugh as much as we could with those who loved the wild and the challenge of harsh winter survival.

Tragically in the spring of 2018 John passed away.  His sudden and tragic passing left a giant void in the lives of all who knew John and had the pleasure of spending time with him.  John was passionate about everything in life from his family, his friends, his career and his hobbies.

Personally I lost my best friend and my teaching partner.

It has taken me almost a year to write this post.  To post his picture in the environment he loved, doing what he loved.

Forever in our hearts.  Forever in the bush.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Skills Inventory

No matter what your passion or hobby is you undoubtedly have spent hours, weeks or even years trying to improve yourself. You would have buried your face in books, magazines or the Internet trying to research and gain new knowledge to increase your success in whatever it is that brings you satisfaction. 

You would also understand that if you stepped away from that sport or hobby for any given amount of time that you'd experience a little rust when you first returned. You would then return to the foundations and slowly build yourself back to that previous level of success or experience. 

I believe that we've all experienced this whether in sport, school or any other technical skill. Survival is no different. The skills that assist us in having a successful outcome are perishable but unlike sport or school the loss of these skills can result in your death. 

Even the most seasoned full time survival teachers will have a story or two to tell you about how they realized they had let certain skills perish or suffer due to complacency. A real life survival emergency is not the place to realize you've forgotten equipment or forgotten the fundamentals of friction fire.  

As the snows begins to accumulate in the bush this becomes the best time to sit down and review the survival priorities, the enemies of survival as well as your own skill set. So get out there and practice. Ensure you are prepared to survive a winter wilderness emergency. 

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.