Here is a real quick way to start a fire in Interior Alaska.  This is one tip of many that will help keep you warm while venturing into the wilds and beyond.

Granted there are many eco systems located throughout the state of Alaska, some areas of the state such as the South Eastern parts have relatively few birch trees.  In many parts of the state birch trees and spruce trees are abundant and finding these ingredients will only take a short walk-about.  TIP:When camping in Alaska, fill your pockets with the loose dying bark from birch trees.  Having available fire starting material in your pocket could mean the difference between life and death.  



Photo Courtesy

-Fire starting materials

1. Birch tree bark

2.Spruce tree sap 

3.Spruce tree branches.



Photo courtesy of

To start the fire (presuming you have matches or some kind of flame) begin by gathering all the supplies as noted above.  Building a fire takes patients and preparation.  You must prepare your tinder, kindling, and fire wood before even thinking about striking your match.  Visualize your fire before you make one, make three small piles of different sized burnable materials.  A tinder pile, a kindling pile, and a firewood pile.  Starting from smaller to larger, building your fire to accommodate larger burnable chunks.

Rip 10-30 1/2 inch pieces of Birch bark strips and place them on top of a larger platform of Birch bark.  Place the spruce tree sap in the center of the Birch bark stripes.  With your kindling pile standing by, light your match and ignite several corners of the torn Birch bark strips.  These stripes will burn quickly and light the spruce tree sap on fire.  Take spaghetti thin pieces of kindling(spruce tree branches) and stack a fist full of them directly over the burning birch bark. Remember graduating your fire takes patience. Once your spaghetti thin pieces take flame use pencil thick pieces of Spruce branches to make your fire hotter.  Following a “smaller to larger” formula, continually build your fire to the desired size.  

In damp conditions, blowing on the coals of your fire will make it burn hotter.  Fires like oxygen, sometimes a slight wind will help your fire so don’t be afraid to do some light blowing at the base of your birch bark platform.  

The warmth of a fire can be the saving grace of a long, cold, and wet day.  Remember to disassemble your fire ring, drowned your coals, and leave no human trace when moving to different camp spot.  Enjoy your adventure and most of all be safe!



This year big game hunting is essentially coming to a close, and the populous of hunters are beginning to find themselves in a hybernation type pattern.  This is the exact time when the hard yards are earned  help you have succusfull 2012 hunting season.  If you have ever dragged a deer from the woods or packed out a bull elk, or bossed up a 200+ pound moose hind quarter then you know that you must be in not the best, but a pretty good shape  to safely bring your quarry from the field.  It’s to often that you hear a hunter tell a story of how he busted his ankle, or threw his back out, pulled a hamstring, the list of injurys goes on and on.  Being healthy and fit for the outdoors can only help to make you a more successful hunter, going further to help you get to that secret spot you only wish you get during the rut.  No matter if your a tree stand whitetail hunter or a back country elk hunter, being in shape both mentally and physically are factors playing into a successful hunting season.  Besting game this day an age takes hard work and perseverance, this is why I enter my hunting seasons as a professional athlete would enter his pre-season training camp.

Camp and Caribou on back.

I begin my pre-season hunting workouts during the winter, starting with an alternate cycle of a month of heavy weights with light conditioning such as non-weighted hikes or back country snow boarding hikes.  The second alternating month is an anaerobic high intensity high repetition excercise which is a simliar variation of the popular work called CrossFit.  Crossfit, focuses on a combination of different excersise in non-step repetition with little to no rest between exercises.  I made up my own variation of cross fit and p 90x, I like to call my workouts Wilderness X because its a combination of the outdoors with functional workouts.  The work out is similiar to what a hunter would go through during his time in the field(think spring bear on an Alaska hunt deep snow), I begin a snow shoeing hike with a weighted pack and enter one mile onto a pre-designated national forest trail in the middle of no-where Colorado.  Once a mile up the trail I pulled out my 40 pound dumbbell and begin the work out doing a combination of 5- 10 exercises between 15-30 repetitions each.  Once I finished this I would pack my weight away and hike back to the base of the hiking trail.

This work out mimics a spring bear hunt by placing the hunter in a game time situation such as a bear that is spotted, then stalked, then harvested. Long periods of heavy walking with a pack leading into several high intensity moments followed by another long period of walking.

That pack has a 40lb dumbbell inside

-The Wilderness Work Out

One Mile Hike with weighted pack (I chose 40 pounds)

Sumo Swings

Standing Triceps extension-20

Push ups 20

lunges 15 X each leg

Push ups 20

Sumo Swing

Standing Triceps extension 20

One mile hike down with weighted pack

This one way I prepare myself for success, some would call it a little crazy but each hunter has there superstitions.   How do you get ready for your hunting season?  Do you work out or go through some other form of ritual?  To each his own, what has helped you have you most successful year ever, and what will make you have the most successful 2012 season?

Stay tuned for the next post, the youtube video of the actual work out.

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