Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here Gator Gator Gator! Awwww Aren't They Cute!

© 2008 Albert A Rasch

I'm bicycling down Lakewood Ranch Blvd when I see two couples peering into the water of one of the many ponds and lakes in the area. I assumed that it was probably a gator and figured I might as well introduce myself and give an impromptu discourse on American Alligator biology.

I jumped the curb, rolled over the sidewalk, clamped down on the front brake, then flipped the bike around 180 into the grass. (Learned that in New York City.) Fortunately for me they were so engrossed by what they were looking at that they didn't see me splatter all over the grass. Picking myself up, I walked over to them and asked, "Whatcha got?"

The they about fell over themselves telling me that there were three gators in the pond.

Tourists. They had to be. Only tourists are that agog by some alligators.

I walked up a bit more and sure enough there were two little fellows floating in the lily pads, and a third one swimming up from the far side.

I thought it all a little strange. Most of the time you can't get very close to an alligator. But these fellows were positively unconcerned by our close proximity, and the third, well make that third and fourth little guys were positively swimming towards us. "This isn't good." I thought to myself.

Obviously someone has been feeding these youngsters and have come to equate humans with food. Whomever is doing it has pretty much signed their death warrants. As these little fellows get bigger, they will no longer be cute little gators, but huge "potential maneaters" that are "terrorizing" the local denizens of the condos that surround them.

That's when they become a nuisance alligator.

Let me quote the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ( FWC )web site:

"What is a nuisance alligator? Generally, alligators may be considered a nuisance when they are at least four feet in length and pose a threat to people or their pets or property. (Note: The threat is determined by the people who call in. AAR) Alligators less than four feet in length are naturally fearful of people and are not generally capable of eating anything larger than a small turtle. They eat small fish, frogs, and other small animals. They are too small to be a threat to even small pets and pose no threat to people. They are typically not dangerous to people unless someone attempts to handle them. Also, they are common in Florida, and the mere presence of a small alligator is not cause for concern, even when they turn up in places where people may not expect to see them such as retention ponds and drainage ditches. However, occasionally alligators less than four feet in length are legitimate problems and must be addressed. If an alligator less than four feet in length approaches people, does not retreat if approached, or is in a location that is not natural, call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 1-866-FWC-GATOR (1-866-392-4286). The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program strives to reduce the threat from alligators to people and their property in developed areas, while conserving alligators in areas where alligators naturally occur. If you have a nuisance alligator call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 1-866-FWC-GATOR (1-866-392-4286). "

That's when the FWC calls the alligator trapper. There are about 40 licensed trappers and the Commission has some of its own. Using treble hooks on multi-strand cable and baited with chicken , they set up and try to hook the alligator like a big fish. This works best on the smaller ones. The larger ones are usally snagged with very sharp treble hooks on heavy braided line with substancial rods and reels. And of course there is always the harpoon. Really, I kid you not.

The long and the short of it is that the vast majority of these gators are killed, either on the spot, which means that the trapper only has a short time to get the carcass to the processor, or they are kept alive until they are killed at the processor.

Though listed as an endangered species in 1967, they were fully recovered by 1987 and removed from the list. And though they are no longer in any danger of extinction, they are still threatened by the constant, inexorable encroachment and habitat loss caused by man. And as we continue to build into those areas that once were the domain of the otter, egret, and the alligator, the incidence of contact with them increases. There are thirteen confirmed fatal alligator attacks from 2000 to 2007. Three in 1990's, four in the 1980's, and three in the 1970's. (Source: Wikipedia - List of fatal alligator attacks in the United States by decade)

That's strange... Recovering species, building boom, population growth, increased alligator attacks...Uhmmm...

While ruminating on their eventual downfall, one of the fellows asked me about the difference between a gator and a croc. I gave them a quick (For me!) description of the alligator's, crocodile's, and caimen's features and launched right into proper respect and interaction with wild animals. I gave them my usual "Welcome to Florida. Don't feed the racoons, don't feed the gators, and make sure you put on bug repellant at dawn and dusk unless you like viral enciphilitis." speech. I told them how these alligators would ultimately be destroyed because some thoughtless person had decided that it would be entertaining to feed alligators. I reminded them that if they were scared (And they were.) of these little bitty gators, that at most were twenty to twenty two inches long, "Imagine," I said, "if just one was six or seven feet long and you were as close to it as you are to these." They all nodded their heads politely and in thoughtful appreciation as eyes dart right and left. Feet started to shuffle in apprehension as the thought of a six foot alligator possibly being somewhere in that pond. It was more than they cared to contemplate. I smiled inwardly as they beat a hasty retreat.

I didn't bother to tell them that there were four more gators floating in the lily pads just a few feet away.

I found the following leaflet on the FWC website.

Don't Feed or Molest

I'm going to print out a dozen or so of themm and put them over by the condos. I'll highlight the part about a reward, that should get a few of those condo commandos interested!

Gosh, I really do like stirring the pot!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cheer! Cheer! The Gangs All Here!

© 2008 Albert A Rasch

Quick post for tonight! I didn't get to work on the pirogue. The Mrs wanted me to look for a job. The nerve.

But later in the afternoon Blake's new friends stopped by and asked Blake if he would take them fishing. Blake hollered up for permission, so I made him come on up and ask Mom if it was Ok. She of course told him to ask me. So I of course said yes. Which ten minutes later led to "How could you let them go by themselves! It's getting dark and there are alligators the size of a small car in that lake!" I of course responded with, "Honey, the gator will go for the smallest kid in the bunch, and Blake is by far the biggest." A stunning piece of irrefutable logic if you ask me.

Of course, all it got me was a smack on the back of the head, which, by the way, I never saw coming because...


Women can't live with 'em, and you can't shoot them either.

Rubbing my head, where that damned two and a half carat emerald cut diamond I bought for her ten years ago when I was really out of my mind, clocked me, I got up, marched to the stairway and laced my boots up.

Charlie was already there waiting to be leashed up. Even the dog has me trained. Will it never end!

Well, we made it to Lake Uihlein with out being run over by the cars speeding along Lakewood Ranch Blvd., and much to the Mrs' relief none of the kids had been eaten. I, on the other hand, was half hoping that we would find the kids cowering behind a park bench, screaming in terror, as one of them was being pulled down into the murky depths by a huge gator, just to justify the knot on my head, but alas, it was not to be.

Blake's Fishing Possee
Tommy, Darrel, Joe, and Christian

There was one small, minor issue that had to be cleared up before anything else though. And that had to do with good manners. When we first approached the boys, not a head turned in our direction, no one thought to say good evening, or hello. It was the second time it has happened.

Bad Idea.

One look from the Mrs and I assumed my best drill sergeant demeanor and barked out, "Line up! Right here! Now!" I love it when young men jump and follow orders. The look of surprise, a touch of bewilderment, the momentary thought of defiance that is quickly discarded, it's just a moment of pleasure that is all too infrequent. They lined up and were quick about it. I let the Mrs take it from there. Basically we asked them to be gentlemen. To greet us properly, look us in the eye, and use the English language correctly, and that if they had a question to always ask. In return for their good manners, we would in turn, invite them to all the interesting goings on that we are involved in. There's my projects that they can get their hands dirty with. (Or lose an eye!) We are always available to organize a camping trip, fishing trip, and all sorts of other outdoor fun! Plus we cook some mighty fine vittles!

They got the message.

I can't think of anything better for a bunch of boys to be doing than fishing. And I'm really proud of Blake for bringing this disparate group of boys together with a common purpose of having some good, clean fun. Good on you Buddy!

Oh, and by the way, even though I get the occasional smack on the head...

I still love her more than anything!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Project "X": Building Blake's Pirogue Part III

© 2008-2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Building a Homemade Pirogue
Part III: Measuring for the Ribs.

Making a pirogue without plans isn't very difficult at all. Not knowing what you are doing though, makes it more interesting.

I keep on thinking of improvements I could make to the next pirogue or punt boat we build; ideas of things we should have done, or things that we thought of on the fly. We will incorporate those ideas into the series as "Lessons Learned." And when we build the next homemade pirogue, johnboat, or punt, we will include them as part of the tutorial.

Well, as you can obviously see,
I didn't get it done in time for Christmas!

What can I say! It was Christmas before I knew it! I'll make up for it by finishing before the New Year! Deal?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fishing Lake Uihlein

© 2008 Albert A Rasch

We went out to feed the carp today. By the docks a couple of fellows were listlessly throwing Carolina rigged worms out in a haphazard fashion. They’d been there for a couple of hours they said, with nary a bite. Blake kept a sharp eye for any tailing carp, while I chatted with them. A little while later, we had the good fortune of bumping into Patrick, Rob, and Kara.

Patrick, Kara, and Rob

We had seen the vehicle and trailer as we biked in. Naturally Blake and I were curious as we haven't seen anyone else on the water. As they fished their way closer I hailed them for permission to take a couple of shots. The gentleman at the helm gave his assent and I asked what their luck was like today. “Not good.” He said. Their boat was nicely rigged out and both the gentlemen were working their lures through the water as the trolling motor pulled the boat in a leisurely manner. The young lady was sitting in the middle, engrossed in a book.

They pulled into the dock and after giving them a hand, we introduced ourselves; Patrick, his daughter Kara, and Kara’s boyfriend, Rob.

(Kara was reading either They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky or God Grew Tired of Us, by the way. These are the stories about the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan, the dispossessed orphans of that brutal civil war.)

As a local and long time resident, in addition to being an avid fisherman, Patrick was able to fill me in on several pertinent facts concerning what we call Carp Lake. He's been fishing this lake for over eight years, and is intimately familiar with it.

Blake and I learned that the lake is actually called Lake Uihlein. (Pronounced "U-lin") It covers 141 acres and is part of the Manatee river watershed. For those not in the know, a watershed is the area from which water can flow to a common terminus; in this case the Manatee River. It is a Class three body of water which means it is suitable for swimming and fishing, but not potable without treating. Unfortunately all of the hydrographic data for the lake is a little over seven years old, and no bathymetric data is available. So without a depth finder you'll never know where the deep holes are.

As a fellow outdoorsman, Patrick has kept a close eye on the lake. He has noticed a dramatic decrease in the size, quality, and quantity of the largemouth bass. At one time local tournaments were held on the lake. An anecdote that he recounted to me was of an early experiences on the lake and is indicative of the health and quality of the lake at that time. Fishing from the shore with his son, he was afforded the opportunity to use a jon boat. His very first cast, from the boat, caught him a respectable largemouth. The exciting thing was that another largemouth was trying to do its best to impale itself on the crankbait. Patrick told me that he has previously taken a double header from this lake. But in recent years the largemouth population has taken a dive. Possibly some of it has to do with weed control efforts. As Lake Uihlein abuts both a single family home subdivision, and a huge multistory condominium development, natural processes take a back seat to home owner’s sense of aesthetics.

Obviously, something is affecting the largemouth population. Whether it is water quality, global warming or cooling, or some other factor, I don’t know. I emailed the Manatee County Water Atlas with some questions concerning the dated data that they have, and asking when they might get new data. This might yield a clue as to what is transpiring.

Unfortunately, neither Patrick and his family, nor the fellows fishing off the dock had any luck. Even though they had a full selection of tackle at their disposal, the Bass were not cooperating.

And that's just one side of the boat!

Equally impressive was the labeling on his individual tackle trays. How better to know what's in the trays? It's the little things that really make for an efficient and stress free trip.
Labeled and in a Soft Side! Genius I tell you, Genius!

Why didn’t I think of that? Whenever I need to pull one, invariably it is the one at the bottom of the bag. Stood up on its side and labeled, well… that was a stroke of genius.

If we had more time I would have taken more pictures, but they were on a schedule and so was I.

Patrick, when you bump into this please drop me an e-mail I would really enjoy talking with you about your experience with Lake Uihlein. And I would love to get better pictures of your rig!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

To all our friends,
Both near and far,


Here's wishing y'allThe very Merriest of Christmas,Happiest of Holidays,And all the Peace and ProsperityYou can Stand!

May you find the very best gifts around your trees,
Your friends and family!

"Holy Night"

Good Wishes to All!
Albert, Cristal, Jordan, and Blake

Drawings by my great-uncle, Guillermo Rasch, 12/24/1947
Malaga, Spain

Blake Rasch's Strikes, Bites, Fights!

© 2008 Albert A Rasch

Just a quick note. I have to keep on working on Project "X"!

Blake has a new Blog of his very own!

We are still working on the layout, tweaking the alignment, and working on the introductions. If y'all have the time, he has posted his very first entry, and a little encouragement would go a long way in motivating him to practice his writing skills for all his new friends and fans!

(I must sound like one of those dads who blathers on about his progeny!!!)

Thanks to everyone for spending so much of your time with me here! Now you will have to split it between Blake and I!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Project "X" : Building Blake's Pirouge Part II

©2008-2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

It's cluttered, it's cramped, but at least it's my shop!

Well, by now everyone should have run out and bought a few sheets of plywood and said, "Hot dang Albert! Let's get on it!" Now remember, there are no free plans for building a pirogue. You don't need them, it's all by eye, and that is close enough!

When I last left you all we had the plywood cut to size. One side on all of the smaller strips is a factory edge. Stack all of them with the factory edge facing the same way. Take a marker and put a line across the factory edges, this way you will know which side goes down later. Now put them all factory edge down on a flat smooth surface. clamp the ends together. If you have a sharp block plane, take a thin curl off the top to even them up. Lacking a sharp plane get some 120 grit sandpaper and a hard block and run up and down the strips until they're evened up.

In order to join the side strips end to end you need to "scarf them." The ends are cut at a shallow angle so that they overlap by eight times their thickness.

Did you get that?

Right, I think I better show you in pictures.

This might be a better explanation than mine. Here's a link to a pretty good method of scarfing: Scarfing Plywood

Here was my first glitch. Using a 12 inch by 4 foot piece of MDF shelving that I cut down to two feet, I made the jig exactly ninety degrees, thinking I could adjust the shoe of the circular saw to the requisite 8 degrees. Except the blade would tilt into the jig rather than away. So I disassembled it and cut the edges of the MDF at about 10 degrees. Why 10 degrees? Because that is what is marked on the scale and its close enough.

I clamped it together, predrilled the holes, counterbored them and drove the screws in taking care to keep the edges square.

Now for the guide. From the woodcraft area of the big box stores get a quarter inch thick by inch wide and two foot long piece of oak. You will notice the sheet of thin magazine paper I laid between the fully extended blade and the jigs table. This bit of clearance will keep the blade from chewing up your jig. Lay your guide piece up against the circular saw's shoe and carefully secure the guide to the jig.

Glitch # 2: 10 degrees is too much. So I disassembled it again, and cut it at what is aproximately 7.5 degrees. Better.

Now to use the jig.

Warning: You will be using a saw with no guard and a whizzing blade capable of taking your hand off, cutting off your reason for wearing a loincloth, or worse- actually killing you. Don't do this if you are a nervous type, distracted, taking sedatives, have been drinking, or suffer from being a dumbass. Keep your hands away from the blade. And for the love of Pete, wear safety glasses at a minimum.

Line up your strips, they should be about two inches apart, and make sure every other board is inverted. This way at glue up time they match. Make certain they are securely clamped.

Glitch #3: When the saw cut is done, they should NOT look like this:

Bad Scarfing!!!

If I had done it right the feather edge would be very straight and very fragile; take care not to damage it.

I'm not sure what happened. My guess is that because I was not working on a steady platform and had to rig everything up, it just didn't work out
the way it should have. But no fear I have a back-up plan.

Butt It, and Back It!

The joints will be butted up and backed up with another piece of the underlayment. Certainly not as aesthetic as a scarf joint, but it's getting painted inside and out now... again.

The glue up isn't as nerve wracking as the scarfing cuts, but very important none the less. Get yourself a good glue like Tite-Bond (PVA) or Gorrilla Glue (Resorcinal). Have everything ready. Painters tape, wax paper, wire brads and a hammer, rags, wood scraps, and some heavy weights or clamps and a caul. You need to have a good flat surface to work on too.

Line up your pieces. Use a straight edge or any thing that is dead straight. You want to keep it aligned. Spread the glue on the backer piece making sure you have a uniform coating from edge to edge. I used my fingers.Notice the tape. I want to avoid getting much glue on the wood side. The tape will help to keep the glue from smearing on the wood. It also helps keep the strips in place and aligned.

Lessons Learned: By the way, the backer strip only needs to be 2 to 3 inches wide. I did it with six inch pieces and it makes a stiff straight section that doesn't fair well. Also keep in mind that you will be attaching chines and gunwales later on. The strips should butt up to the chines and the gunwales; it will make the installation much neater and stronger.

Tack them together.

The brads will keep the scarfs or in this case the strips and backer from slipping.

The excess glue needs to be cleaned off.

Now either clamp or weigh them down.

Finish the other side, and then get the bottom done. Now we're getting somewhere. It'll take shape soon.

That's as far as I was able to get today. Too many interruptions and mistakes on my part.

Follow the rest of the Pirogue building series!
Building a Pirogue Part I: Getting Started
Building a Pirogue Part II: Butt the Plywood
Building a Pirogue Part III: Measuring Up
Building a Pirogue Part IV: Cutting and Building the Ribs
Building a Pirogue Part V: Attaching the Ribs
Building a Pirogue Part VI: Attaching the Internal Chines
Building a Pirogue Part VII: Attaching the Bottom and Finishing Up

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Project "X" : Building Blake's Pirogue Part I

© 2008-2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

"Dad," he said as I looked over, "if i could only fish over there," his hand waved vaguely over the water, the certainty in his voice convincing even me, "if I could just get there...
I know the big one is there!"

Blake to his Dad

Building a Pirogue
Since moving to the suburbs, Blake has been fishing non-stop. Fishing from the shorelines, docks, or lakesides, he has been able to land any number of fish. Bass, bream, catfish, and assorted salt water specimens have fallen to his fishing rod. What he is lacking though, is a means for accessing the many holes, reed beds, and small islands that dot the larger lakes and intercoastal waterways.

Largemouth BassLakewood Ranch Lake

I've been planning on making some type of craft, preferably something relatively inexpensive, and easy to build. The pirogue is a probably the simplest of the stitch and glue boats to build. The pirogue can negotiate shallow, narrow waterways, has a relatively light weight compared to its load-carrying capacity, and maneuverability that makes it perfect for many outdoor activities. It can be easily paddled and with practice one can stand on it and pole over water so skinny that the Cajuns would say, "A pirogue can float on a heavy dew." The pirogue is at its best in shallow water, perfect for ponds, lakes, and especially tidal flats. Pay close attention waterfowlers!

With five days to Christmas, I thought I had better get on it. All Blake knows is that we are working on project "X". Fortunately I had already bought most of the materials a couple of weeks ago. I may still have to get a few odds and ends but I'll get to that when the time comes. Oh and if you are wondering if there are free plans for building a pirogue, there aren't. You don't need them it's all by eye, and that is close enough!

Building a PirogueThe "Shop"
Work with what you got!

Building a Pirogue"Clamp Rack"

Some of the Materials.

First thing I got was three sheets of quarter inch underlayment. This stuff is really good quality luan veneer. And it isn't that expensive relative to the birch or oak plywood. I got it for $12.00 a sheet. I haven't found any voids in it, and the patches on the printed side are minimal to non-existent! The face side is clean and clear on all the sheets. Since this will be completely painted inside and out, and glued with waterproof glue, I see no good reason to go with expensive marine grade plywood. BTW, marine grade plywood is glued up with the same glue that exterior plywood is: Resorcinol. The difference between CDX and marine grade is the total lack of voids in the interior veneer of marine grade, and the C and D grade veneer on the CDX sheets.

In addition I bought some 1X2 cedar boards for the ribs and gunnels. I won't need them until tomorrow or the day after.

For the bow and the stern I have a few pieces of white oak dunage salvaged from the red steel delivered to the construction job sights. Though I've used the majority of them while bar-b-queing, I did save a couple for odd projects I have had in mind, like this one.

I've got a good circular saw, plenty of clamps, a chisel or two, hammer, nails (mostly rusty, may have to buy some more), drywall screws, pencils, a couple of bottles of Tite-Bond, a variety of squares, and another handful of tools that I'll explain as I continue. Plus I can damn near make any kind of jig I need to.

Let's get started!

Building a PirogueBlake cutting a strip to size. He's using one
sheet of plywood as a guide to cut the other.

The first job was cutting the sheets down to the required measurements. Most of the internet pirogue builders cut two, 10 inch wide, strips from two sheet of plywood, which leaves them with four 10 inch strips and two twenty eight inch strips. I wanted 12 inch sides so I needed to get the extra sheet of plywood. Not to worry, I'll put the leftovers to good use. In order to have one perfectly strait edge on all the strips, I cut one strip from each side of one sheet, and one from each of the other sheets. Those factory straight edges will be the bottom of the sides, assuring me a flat edge to connect to the bottom, more on that later. For a really straight cut, measure out your 12 inches, add the width of the shoe of the circular saw, and use that perfectly straight factory edge to guide your saw. Clamp the two boards together to make your life easy.

The underlayment cut to size. Four strips 12 inches wide
and two 28 inches wide.

From the two pieces that are 36 inches wide I cut two 28 inch wide strips. These will be joined together to make the bottom.

Ok I'll leave the project here until tomorrow, when we will scarf the plywood, cut the ends to the proper angle, and maybe stitch the ends together. That's if I can make a jig to cut the bow and stern pieces properly!

Please feel free to ask questions so I can amplify on this. I would like this to become a tutorial so that any of y'all who want to try can build one too.

Follow the rest of the Pirogue building series!

Building a Pirogue Part I: Getting Started
Building a Pirogue Part II: Butt the Plywood
Building a Pirogue Part III: Measuring Up
Building a Pirogue Part IV: Cutting and Building the Ribs
Building a Pirogue Part V: Attaching the Ribs
Building a Pirogue Part VI: Attaching the Internal Chines
Building a Pirogue Part VII: Attaching the Bottom and Finishing Up

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Friday, December 19, 2008

An American Combat Classic

© 2008 Albert A Rasch Randall Model 18, collecting Randall knives

"It was a terrible thing at close range. (Your knife) would cut a man's head nearly off with a quick swing.. I also used that knife to open cans, cut wood, dress water buffalo... and it stayed sharp. I was offered all kinds of trades, but I wouldn't part with it."

A letter to Bo Randall

"The only thing between me and certain death was my Randall Model 18."

One of Albert's wished for stories...

Randalls have always held a certain mystique with the American fighting man. I r
emember distinctly the Randall on the hip of the 10th Group Special Forces A-Team medic we were training with at Ft Devons. Of all the items hung on or about his person, the Randall drew the most admiring glances and whispered commentaries. I don't think there was any one of us, who dreamed of being a professional soldier, that didn't want a Randall of his own. Grenades were dime a dozen, but a Randall... the man must have been an artist.

More years ago than I care to remember, my good friend and fellow Norwich Cadet, GoGo, presented me with what many would call the ultimate soldier's gift: a Randall Model 18 Attack and Survival knife.

There was little ceremony when he handed the package to me, as is fitting between men,
professionals, and with the proper respect for an artisan's tool. He had it wrapped in a worn piece of cloth. I knew by the weight that it was metal, but I had no idea what was in store for me.

I'm big on the whole gift giving and receiving thing. Rule number one: Don't rush me. I'm usually the last one to unwrap gifts at Christmas. The experience has to be savored, enjoyed, drawn out. Not just for your own personal enjoyment, but for the spectators too. Once its unwrapped the wonder is gone.

I raised an eyebrow when he handed it to me. I felt the heft of the object in my hand. I had a feeling that there was more to this, that I would be pleasantly surprised.

I carefully pulled one fold over, and then the next. I paused to savor the suspense that was building.

I love the suspense.

Well, maybe not when I'm standing in the door at 3500 feet, watching the world
drift by at 125 mph, or worse yet, while waiting for the reassuring slam of you rig against your nether regions that lets you know the staticline pulled your chute out of the bag. But otherwise, I do like the suspense.

As I pulled the third corner, I got my first glimpse of tanned leather. I lifted the final piece of fabric up and out of the way, and the whole of the gift was there for me to experience. A Randall. And not just any Randall, but a Model 18.

I knew what it was right away. I looked at Homeslice in wonderment. He had that smug l
ook of someone who knew that he could hit a homerun whenever he wanted to. He's good, really good.

I've taken that knife with me every time I've needed the cold comfort of a soldier's knife. I can get the Randall in places that my Gov't 1911
can't go. And at less than 21 feet, its even money which is faster... Or deadlier. It has been a constant companion
for well on twenty years.

A Florida orange grower, Bo Randall started his knife making career in the late '30s. His hand forged knives sold as quickly as he made them. As they were very popular and he enjoyed making them, he decided to go into the business so-to-speak, selling them out of his Father-in -law's clothing store. But it was World War II that catapulted him to knife maker extraordinaire. A journalist's news item, picked up by the wire, spread his name throughout the United States, and the American fighting men throughout the world. Orders poured in and Bo had his hands full making the knives that helped to finally overthrow the Fascist tyranny engulfing the world. They skewered Nazis and Imperials with equal gusto and aplomb.

As time went by, new models and adaptations were produced. The Model 18 came about during the Viet Nam era when an army doctor designed a variation of the Model 14. Instead of the solid handle and extra heavy tang, he wanted a hollow handle with a cap and sawteeth along the top of the spine. Randall worked the design over, improved it, and came up with the Model 18, probably the first survival knife to feature those adaptations. The earliest models had a crutch tip as the butt cap, but that was quickly changed to the threaded brass butt cap.

The Current Model 18 is available in two blade lengths: 5.5″ and 7.5″ with a choice of either O-1 tool steel or stainless. It has the dual-edged blade, with the sawtooth edge covering three-quarter of the length on top. The handle is made of stainless steel, measures 4.75 inches, and has a removable brass butt cap as mentioned previously, with a neoprene O-ring to keep the handle waterproof. The hilt is an elliptical piece of quarter-inch brass, carefully hard soldered in place, with holes for a wrist strap. Mine has the additional feature of a compass under the butt cap.

The sheath is a wonderful piece of craftsmanship. Heavy, supple, but not too supple, it is welt stitch. Strategically placed holes allow parachute cord to be used to secure the sheath and the knife.

I wrapped the handle of my Model 18 with parachute cord. All I did was half hitch it each turn. This gives it a nonslip grip and adds about ten percent more cord to the wrap. Useful when you need every inch of it. Underneath the paracord is a single layer of copper wire. Quite necessary for snares. A small wooden bobbin in the handle holds 30 feet of twelve pound test monofilament, a couple of splitshot weights, and several #8 hooks. Matches should be replaced by a magnesium striker, and I suppose a small piece of fire starting material should be in there too.

I have been fortunate that I have never had to call upon the Randall. Knowing what I do about the care and craftsmanship that goes into each and every Randall knife, I have no doubts that when called upon to perform as needed, it will be ready.

Randall Knives
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kommen Sie Heir, Schwine!

© 2008 By Albert A Rasch

Ms. Klose's first thought was: "That is one ugly dog."

It might not be hog hunting, but I sure think its funny!

What's not funny though is the following:

"The hunter says the tabloid reporter brandished a camera and warned him he'd have the whole of Berlin on his case if he pulled the trigger. Mr. Eggert sensed a PR debacle, so he phoned around until he found an animal sanctuary 40 miles from Berlin that granted the boar asylum and named the swine "Amanda""
MARCUS WALKER Wall Street Journal

I wonder what the season is on knuckle headed reporters.

Here is the rest: Pigs in Berlin

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Outdoor Bloggers Summit: The Florida Extravaganza!

© By Albert A Rasch 2008

Well, the more I thought about it, the better it sounded!

Why not have a local Outdoor Bloggers Summit Extravaganza right here in sunny Florida?

The nation's travails, being what they are, have put a crimp in just about everyone's life. But I got to thinking, if the Florida Bloggers would like to get together for a day of family friendly fun and frolic, it could be just like a mini vacation or day trip! What I am advocating is a get-together where we could all sit down for a while and discuss matters of blogging, (Perhaps a guest can be lined up!), and then we could break up into loose groups. Folks that want to talk blogging or writing can do that, folks that want to fish go and wet lines, if you just want to soak up the sun, well go and have at it!

First thing I would like to know is how many are interested. Quite frankly if there is just one other Florida blogger interested, that's good enough for me. But as they say, the more the merrier.

Location would be the next question. Depending on where the majority of the folks are would determine where we could hold it. Some are more willing to travel than others, so that needs to be taken into account. In addition the venue has to be considered. I think that we really need an "Outdoor" venue like a state or national park, preferably one with charcoal grills. But that's just my preference. Here is an idea: Fort Desoto Park

If you have any ideas please share them; I'm willing to organize it, try to get a guest of some sort to attend, and overall do what I can to help as many people attend.

If anyone is interested email me at

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pipes and Iron

© By Albert A Rasch

Just a small catch-up post for some of my friends that are outside of the Outdoor Bloggers Summit. As I sit here and think about it, it strikes me that many of my fellow Bloggers who aren't yet members of OBS, think that they don't actually belong in the "Outdoor" category. Well I am going to invite each and every one of you personally. If I think you belong, then by golly, you probably do! You just haven't realized it yet! Or you just don't know about OBS. So expect an email from me soon!

My Argentine friend Pablo Gonzalez, El Aprendiz Herrero is not only an accomplished bladesmith, but a pipe smoking aficionado too. He has wanted to know which were some of my favorite pipes. I thought I would share my favorites, not only with him, but with you also.

For those of you who don't know too much about pipes, the long stemmed one is a church warden. Also known as a "reading pipe," because the long stem allowed one to view a book without the bowl in the way. This one was made by Tim West. Tim West is an American pipe carver who makes many unique freehand pipes. This one is a pretty conservative though. It is the pipe I most frequently use at home.

The other two are Danish Stanwell pipes. The dark one is a #30 "Barok," and the lighter one is a #62 "Legend." I consider these my traveling pipes. Relatively lightweight, they're great when you're driving down the road.

Now, this calabash is probably my show off piece. Filled with a mild, sweet, blend, nothing says, "Country Gentleman," or "Squire," like a calabash. I find that when you really have nothing intelligent to say, or perhaps some boorish company is troubling you, the mere use of the calabash will immediately stop anyone from actually hearing what you are saying. You can say pretty much whatever you want. Make fun of their kids, insult their intelligence, anything. When you are done you put the calabash behind your back, rock back and forth on your heels, and profoundly expostulate, "And that, my dear, simple, friends is why the Theory of Relativity is being superseded by Quantum String Theory." Trust me, it works.

I also have a really nice Randy Wiley pipe. Wiley has been carving pipes for well over thirty years here in the USA. I got this one many years ago but truth be told, I haven't smoked it yet. I got it because I liked the shape! The bowl is humongous, but the pipe fits very well in the hand.

I have another dozen or so pipes that I have picked up over the years, but they are smoked when the mood for that particular pipe strikes me!

I've got one more thing to share with everyone. I've mentioned it a few times, that I'm somewhat of an amateur metal worker. I do a little on the lathe, a bit on the milling machine, and a little at the forge and on the anvil.

My favorite in terms of taking something and really working to get it to be something, is forge and anvil work. With the mill and lathe, you usually know what the results should be, down to the thousandth of an inch. Not the forge, no sir. The metal and fire tell you what they will or won't do. At least they do with me. On the other hand, my buddy Todd Hill at Primitive Point not only makes the metal dance, but it will whistle a tune simultaneously.

This is the one and only utensil I ever made that actually came out! Not pretty, but I really like the way it came out. I made a nice set of tent pegs once, the recipient thought they were the best thing ever. Made out of #3 rebar, I cut it to 14 inch lengths, squared it on the anvil, folded the last inch and a half over, beat that until it was round, and levered 3/4 of an inch from the folded over end up a bit for the rope to hook onto. I also forged a point on it and quenched it in oil. Came out pretty good.

Well another weekend is now half over, hopefully tomorrow we'll have some fishing tales to tell!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Friday, December 12, 2008

What Madness is This? Making Boilies.

© By Albert A Rasch

"And yet again, I have come to another conclusion of less than earth shattering proportions."


What the hell is a boilie? Sounds like something you get on your butt from humping a ruck to low. Just in case you’re not sure what “humping a ruck” means, it is a military expression relating to carrying a fully loaded rucksack, over an interminable distance, for an endless period of time, and of course, for no apparent reason.

But I digress.

Some time ago Bubby caught himself a 21 lbs carp out of an apartment complex’s retention pond. As you might imagine, a thirty-one inch long fish is a trophy no matter what kind. Recently, with the move to the suburbs we have found new ways to continue our outdoor adventures. Bubby in particular has found an extensive series of lakes, ponds, and water courses, to entertain himself with.

I don’t know what it’s like in the rest of the nation, but in Florida we have a superabundance of ponds and lakes. It seems that no matter where you go there are any number of bodies of water, both minuscule and horizon busting, waiting to be fished.

As I have mentioned in several posts, we have moved to an apartment complex, within a planned community development area. Within walking distance, there are at least seven ponds or lakes. Bream, catfish, largemouth bass, carp, and assorted other fish prowl the sometimes inch deep shallows, to depths that would tax a deep diver.

There’s lily pad cover, cattails, sandy shorelines and concrete seawalls, along with strips and whole lawns of St. Augustine grass right up to (and sometimes growing in) the water. Most of the time those also have a house attached to the other end of the grass. Makes it tough on the backcast when flyfishing. I once snagged a blue hair and dumped her halfway in the lake before I realized what I had done.

Bubby’s been instrumental in searching for and fishing the myriad lakes in the area. We would have no idea where they were if it wasn't for him. The lakes have names now: The Bass Lake, where he caught I don’t know how many bass. Gar pond which has a gar in it. Go figure. The latest is The Catfish Lake where Bubby caught up with an eighteen incher. I wasn’t there so I couldn’t get any pics. Christmas may have a surprise in store for The Boo though!

Then there’s the Carp Lake with the monsters we’ve been trying catch for the last week or so. As it so happens, it is right off of Main Street, and it’s an exceptionally large lake. I’m guessing that it might have been a phosphate mine or a limestone quarry.

Almost crystal clear, it holds an abundant variety of plants, mollusks, bird life, and fish. Not to mention a good number of alligators too. Bubby’s pulled a number of smaller largemouth bass from it by fishing the edges with his secret-weapon, bream-patterned lures. Though lately I’ve seen him using a fire tiger pattern with similar success.

What he hasn’t managed yet, is to catch the lunker carp that frequently tail in the shallows. You would think that a shoal of redfish were in the lake the way the fins stick left and right out of the water. He caught the original on a piece of bread, molded around the hook. He has tried mightily to repeat the experience, but it just hasn’t worked out for him the way he has wanted.

In the hopes of helping him out, I have been doing a substantial amount of research on carp fishing in general, and carp bait making in specific. And yet again, I have come to another conclusion of less than earth shattering proportions. In the USA, we will make a club for anything, and brag about it too! Therefore, Bubby and I are joining the Carp Anglers Group. I don’t know why, it seemed like the right thing to do at the moment.

As with anything we do, or in this case import, a whole market has developed around it. You would think that carp fishing is going to be the next “Bass Masters” thing. The truth is they already have tournaments for them. Anyway, there are any number of tricks and techniques to catching carp. Obviously many of them come from Europe where carp fishing is an “olde and honoured” tradition. My favorite is the “hair rig,” which I think might be the bomb for those finicky sheephead that gather around pilings. Hell, I’ve already modified that rig to suit my purposes, but that’s another story altogether. There are special unhooking mats to protect the carp as they are landed and de-hooked. There are hooks designed for carp, especially in France. Carp specific rods and rod holders.

Well, we got plenty of fishing rods and reels so they’ll have to do. I'm not about to get into some kind of Euro-Angler thing. Get involved in something like that and the next thing you know you're wearing a beret, growing a goatee, spouting beatnik poetry, and trying to live a Bohemian life.

Having said that, I did find something worth appropriating. Boilies.

A boilie is basically a boiled ball of dough, hence the name boilie. Get it? They are comercially made in Europe in a bewildering arry of flavors, colors, and sizes. Plenty of people make there own, and there are as many different recipes as there are people.

Having given the “boilie” recipes their due consideration, I decided to do what I do best: Improvise!

A fifty pound sack of Sweet Feed is about eight bucks, a five pound bag of flour is two bucks, and the eggs were already in the fridge. I figured that budgetarily speaking it was a wise decision as opposed to going with an established recipe.

My mix is the following:
Four pounds of Sweet Feed
Four eggs
And about half a cup of flour
Water as needed

Find a place to work where you won’t get your head cracked open by an irate wife. There is nothing that ticks a wife off more than a man doing stuff that she:
  1. Doesn’t understand
  2. Understands but doesn’t care because you’re in the kitchen.
  3. Figures it is yet another phase you’re going through

To begin with, wet down the sweetfeed the night before. This will allow the pellets to break down into particles.

Mix in the beaten eggs.

Start mixing in the flour.

What you are looking for is a doughy mix that doesn’t crumble, but not so damp that it’s too pasty or sticky.

Now the hard part… Pinch off pieces of dough and roll them into balls approximately half an inch in diameter. After an hour or so your hands will be aching. They'll get sore between the thumb and forefinger. Which reminds me. Go to the bathroom before you start, hard to operate a zipper without the use of your thumbs.

Now in Europe, they have ball makers. You can make as many balls as you want with it. As a matter of fact you can get them to make really big balls if you need them. I don't know though... looks to me they don't sell 'em in France.

Anyway, after you have filled up a couple of bowls, or your hands hurt so much that you swear you'll try to kick my rear the day you set eyes on me, put a good sized pot of water on the stove and get it boiling. Gather up a good sized slotted spoon or one of those flat spoon things with a million holes in it. Even better would be a colander that fits in the pot.

Drop as many of the boilies in as you dare. Remember the water is boiling. It'll burn you, and bad too. give the boilies a couple of minutes, scoop them out and set them on a towel to drain. After a couple or three batches, the water will foam up and spill over the pot, thereby making a huge mess you'll have to clean up.

Once you have them all boiled, put them out to dry.

Someplace breezy would be fine, but if all you have is the widow sill that'll do too. This toughens up the outside of the boilie. I leave mine out for a day or so, put them in a plastic container, and store them in the fridge.

The only thing I don't know is if these will work. They should, but I haven't seen a recipe quite like this one. All the good stuff is there so I'm hoping that the carp appreciate all the hard work I have put into this.

Next time we'll discuss rigs, and how to use boilies. With some luck, Bubby and I will have caught something to show you too!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...