Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Custom Blade

Today I received my very first custom handmade knife! I was going to wait and use it for a while and show it to you when I wrote my review, but I couldn't wait that long. I still plan to do a review later, but I wanted to show you the knife now. 

First, let me say that I cannot take any credit for the knife whatsoever. It was designed from scratch by my very good friend, Marc. He actually designed a total of four different knives - all his original ideas. He spent several weeks in the design process. When the four knife designs were finalized, he sent me the sketches and this particular knife really jumped out at me. Marc calls this one the Cab-N-Muk (Cabin Muk). 

After much research, Marc chose custom knife maker John Kiedaisch to build the knives. John owns JK Handmade Knives. I liked the Cab-N-Muk design so much that I told Marc I wanted one of my own and he asked John if he would make a second Muk at the same time he was making the others. Marc's knives are all serial number 1, naturally, and my Muk is serial number 2.

Handmade Cab-N-Muk serial #2 and handmade leather sheath

Marc designed all four knives with different tasks in mind. He wanted the Cab-N-Muk to be a food prep, cabin, camp, light bush crafting knife. He incorporated some really neat features into the design that I will cover in my review. The knife is made from 01 steel of 1/8" thickness, has a 5" blade with a full flat grind and convex edge, and is 9 3/4" long overall. I had John put black micarta canvas handles on mine with black liners and stainless pins.

The knife feels great in my hand! I love the deep belly and you can choke up on the blade easily for precise chopping (I'm talking food, not firewood). It looks like it could be a heavy knife, but in fact, it is very light. Since I just got it today I haven't done any serious work with it, but I did use it to cut steak and slice potatoes for dinner. 

The Muk preparing dinner

John's craftsmanship is excellent! He posted photos of the entire process from start to finish so we could follow along and see the transformation from raw steel to completed knives. It was very interesting! I am very impressed with his work and proud to own my first JK blade! 

I have many knives from top-of-the-line makers, but this is my first custom knife. It's special to me for that reason and more importantly because Marc designed it. It is easily the coolest knife I have! I told Marc I'm going to dog-stomp this thing so I can write a review later! Something tells me it's going to pass with flying colors. 

Cab-N-Muk wearing black micarta canvas handles

If you like custom knives, go take a look at John's work. He is great to deal with and can make a knife for you of his design or your own. I am certainly going to enjoy using this Muk and will post a review after I've put it through the ringer! Kudos to my bud, Marc - he designed four very practical knives that are meant to be used, not displayed on the bookshelf! 

JK Handmade Knives

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Props, Pardon, and Prep

It's time to give Props to some folks who have been supportive of my blog. I've meant to do this for a while now and finally decided tonight was the time. My blog is only seven months old, but there are quite a few people who have been kind enough to read my drivel.

TexWisGirl at The Run*A*Round Ranch Report has been a huge supporter and recently gave me a very nice award (more about that in a future post). She is one of my most consistent commenter's. Nancy at A Rural Journal and Dawn at Puzzle Pieces have also been very kind in their support and feedback. Nancy has promoted my blog more than once on Facebook. If you want to see some truly beautiful photographs, just visit these three outstanding blogs! 

Mel over at Blog Cabin Angler has been a long time supporter of my blog and has routinely provided me with great feedback. Mel has an outstanding fishing blog and is a true gentleman. Kari, known to me as RH, runs I Don't Wear Pink Camo to the Woods and is one beer sponsor away from her own TV show. Kari does something few others do - when I put up a new blog post, I don't have to go to Twitter and announce it - Kari will do it for me on her own. She's cool like that! I tend to remember those kinds of things and do the same in return. Like Mel, Kari has an outstanding blog. 

Al at The SoCal Bowhunter has been a big asset to me with his feedback and willingness to share information. His blog was featured as my most recent blog of the week and it's well deserved. Al is an all around great guy with a wonderful blog. Joe runs this thing he calls Massanutten Game Trails and has been a familiar face here on my blog. I appreciate his support. He's got some of the coolest trail cam pics around and a very intriguing blog. 

LB at Bullets and Biscuits just cracks me up! It's hard to tell what you're gonna get with her, but just the fact that she reads my "what-passes-for-a-blog" is enough for me. Her blog is a treat. I can't promise what kind of treat it'll be every time, but a treat, nonetheless. Stephanie over at Antlers & Gills has been around for a while and I always enjoy hearing from her. She has a great blog full of wonderful photos and interesting stories. The same goes for Emily at Scent Free Lip Gloss. She has a very intriguing blog and I appreciate the feedback she leaves me. 

Some of the folks who are a bit newer to my blog include Kerry at Chaplain to the Outdoorsmen, Justin at Foggy Mountain Meanderings, Lisa at Sall's Country Life, and Duane at Wild Wisconsin. I'm thankful for their feedback and support and they probably just haven't been here long enough to figure out not to come back. These folks have outstanding blogs and I encourage you to visit them. I also want to make special mention of the girl at Hunt Like You're Hungry. I don't know her name so please don't think I'm being rude. Apparently, that information requires some top level clearance which I obviously do not possess. She also has a great blog full of interesting stories and I appreciate her feedback here. 

My props wouldn't be complete without thanking Chris and Jon at Foremost Hunting Blog. They have been big supporters of my blog on Twitter. They're also responsible for my current blog template. Both of them are great guys and very generous with their information and assistance. 

I realize I may ruffle some feathers somewhere because I forgot somebody. I did not go back and look through my posts to see who had commented. This was written from memory and the folks here are ones I recall seeing either recently or consistently (or both). It was not meant as a slight to anyone and if I did forget to mention you, please let me know and I will do so. I believe in giving credit where it's due. Just don't send hate mail. I hope to do this periodically just as a way of saying thank you to the people who actually take in my nonsense. I'm a little fish in a big blog pond and truly do appreciate the comments, feedback, and support. 

Now on to the Pardon portion. Pardon me for being scarce lately. TexWisGirl recently chewed me out for not posting more often. Well, okay, she didn't actually chew me out - it was more of a scolding. Okay, not even a scolding. It was more of a suggestion or perhaps a wish that I would post more often. My biggest enemy in that endeavor is time. This week I suddenly found myself in the middle of a big, time-consuming, yet important "project" and it's likely I will be even more absent at times over the next few weeks until it's over. Life must be prioritized and this thing is very near the top. However, I will strive to post whenever I can until things settle down. 

Okay, I'll wrap this up with the Prep section. My bass tournament partner and I were supposed to go fishing today in preparation for our first tourney in two weeks. Ma Nature had other plans, though, so we did the next best thing - we sorted tackle and got our gear ready. We spent about four hours this afternoon putting fresh line on all the reels, going through lures, and making sure all the necessary equipment was in the boat. 

A few weeks ago when we went to Bass Pro Shops, Jim bought a new chip for his fish/depth finder that has maps of most lakes in the southeastern part of the country. Many of the lakes are in high definition which shows contours all the way down to as little as one foot of water. It's pretty neat technology. After Jim had installed the chip and turned the unit on, he astutely commented that it was showing no fish under the boat. I'm sure the fact that the boat was on the trailer parked in the garage had nothing to do with it. I offered to toss some Goldfish crackers under the boat...I do what I can. 

Jim assuring me we'll catch big fish right here

The only drawback to our tournament fishing is the fact it will compete with our turkey hunting time. While I love to hunt thunder chickens, I have to admit I'm very excited about fishing in these bass tournaments. I've never done it before and I'm looking forward to it. 

So in conclusion, I really appreciate all of the support you all show my humble blog! I'll be a little busier than usual for a while, but I'll return the favor anytime I have the opportunity. And I promise TexWisGirl I'll post when I have the chance! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog of the Week: The SoCal Bowhunter

This week's blog of the week will be of interest primarily to other hunters - The SoCal Bowhunter by Al Quackenbush. Al is a New York native who now lives in southern California with his wife and daughter. He has been bowhunting for over 27 years and routinely goes back to New York to hunt with his father and brother. 

Al has a well written and informative blog. One of the first posts I read after finding his blog was a gear review. It happened to be his newest post at the time and I was impressed with the thoroughness of his evaluation. Al has reviewed many products and always keys in on the important points. I get the sense from his writing that he is being very impartial and not just praising a product for the sake of giving it good press. If he found something he didn't like, he wouldn't be afraid to say so. In addition to reviews, Al also covers various hunting topics, including his own adventures. 

Al is a pro staff member at and enjoys participating in do-it-yourself hunts. I didn't know this until recently, but he is also a professional photographer. He has been consistent in commenting here on my blog and always provides me with useful feedback for which I am very appreciative. 

If you enjoy hunting, especially bowhunting, and haven't been following The SoCal Bowhunter, you are missing out! Al is also active on Twitter and you can follow him there at @AlQuackenbush. Give Al a well deserved visit. You won't be sorry! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

First Trip To Bass Pro Shops

No, not my first trip to Bass Pro Shops, but my daughter's. When she got home from school on Friday, I told her we were going to Bass Pro over the weekend.

Daughter: "What's that?"

Me: "Bass Pro Shops. It's a big store with lots of fishing and hunting stuff."

I walked over to the coffee table and picked up the 2011 Bass Pro Fishing Master catalog - the Holy Grail of fishing catalogs. Her eyes got really big when I handed it to her. She started flipping through it and picking out things she liked. Keep in mind my daughter is six.

Daughter: "Do they have all this stuff in the store?"

Me: "Yup."

Daughter: "How does it all fit?"

Me: "It's a big store."

She then proceeded to cut bookmarks out of construction paper so she could mark the pages of things she wanted. She needed a lot of bookmarks.

The big day came and we met my good friend, Jim, who was playing chauffeur for the trip - mainly because he gets mildly carsick if he isn't driving. My daughter brought along the Bass Pro catalog complete with bookmarks.

We arrived at Bass Pro and, of course, the biggest decision was where to start. I had it in my mind that I would get the few things I needed and then we could spend time just looking around. I had a reel with me I was trading in that would knock X amount of money off a new reel so I took care of that first.

The ground floor was primarily fishing and boating and was quite crowded. It was the first weekend of Bass Pro's big Spring Fishing Classic Show and lots of people were gearing up for fishing. The aquarium was also on the first floor so after I got the reel I wanted, my daughter and I went to look at the fish. She enjoyed seeing the big bass, catfish, bluegills, and other fish swimming around the huge tank. There were a lot of animal mounts around the store and she pointed them all out as we walked by. The center of the ground floor had a "stream" running through it with live fish and turtles. She got a kick out of the turtles with their heads poking up out of the water. 

We eventually made our way over to the boats. Each boat had a placard next to it with all the specs and prices. My daughter was looking at one boat and motioned for me to come over. 

Daughter: "Daddy, we could get this boat. It's only for three and twenty-four dollars." 

Me: "Sweetie, that's thirty-two thousand four hundred dollars." 

Daughter: "Whaaat? Oh, my gosh!" 

Welcome to what us adults call the real world. 

We finished our tour of the ground floor and went up to the second floor which was hunting, camping, and clothing. The clothing section was closest so we headed there first so I could look for a particular shirt. 

Daughter: "Ugh. I don't wanna look at men's stuff. BOR-ING!" 

Me: laughing

I found the shirt and then we wandered through the hunting section. She looked at the knives and walked along the gun wall. From there she wanted to go look at the kayaks. She wanted to buy one, but couldn't understand why only one person could fit in it. Then she went over to the tent displays and went inside to inspect each one.

After we finished on the second floor, we went back downstairs so we could find her a new rod and reel. We're well past the days of Snoopy rods. After thirty minutes of looking at various rod and reel combo's, we finally decided on a Zebco outfit and got her fixed up with some tackle. She also picked out a nice red Bass Pro koozie. I found a rod to go with my reel and by that time Jim was done with his shopping. Plus, my daughter informed me she was starving. She tends to overuse the word as kids do, but I was hungry, too, so we decided it was time to check out.

Speaking of the check out, it was the only hitch in an otherwise fun afternoon. The young kid at the register was very slow at the whole process and had the personality of concrete. He clearly did not want to be there, but we finally got-er-done.

I spent the ride home listening to Jim and my daughter banter back and forth. Jim has three kids of his own - two of them girls. He and my daughter got into an in-depth conversation about SpongeBob Squarepants and his undersea friends. That led to the Penguins of Madagascar which somehow led to Hong Kong Phooey....

I closed my eyes. Any time spent with my daughter is time well spent.