Scout Skills

Tracker Scout Skills – Camouflage

Of all the wilderness skills, the Apache Scout skills of camouflage and stealth are the most inclusive of all, integrating all other physical and awareness skills together to one purpose.  This past weekend we made a beginning in these skills.  It tends to get messy, but is always a lot of fun.

IMG_1537wwIMG_1552wwIMG_1539wwShiny hair is a no-no.

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Camping stoves

The Solo and Bush Buddy stoves look interesting.  These are cooking stoves that use wood twigs as fuel instead of liquid or gas fuel.  they use a design that takes advantage of convectional air flow to effectively burn both the wood and the smoke.  The reviews that I see around are all pretty good.  Being smokeless would make it a great stove for a scout situation, plus there’s no need to carry fuel (as long as some debris is available).


I had a similar stove maybe 20 years ago which used the same principles but added a small battery powered fan to help with air flow.  I recently unearthed it from some dark corner of my basement, and was surprised that it still worked.  Have to take it out and give it a workout.

Of course, the new models have dispensed with the battery and the fan, having found a design that accomplishes the same thing.  It is not so much the availability of batteries that might be concerning in the old model, but rather that the motor might expire on you, rendering the stove useless.

Here is a well done video comparing several models as they boil water.  Warning:  You’re watching a 7 minute plus video of water boiling.

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WalMart Camping

Over the past two extended road trips in the U.S., I’ve done a fair bit of camping in WalMart parking lots.  I’m almost reluctant to post this, as I’m sure it is one of those situations where increased popularity of this practice may cause WalMart to change their policy.  As it stands now, WalMarts allow and even encourage people to park trailers, cars or trucks in the parking lots of their 24 hour Superstores for overnighting.  Here are some do’s and don’ts for this economical way of traveling.  On a road trip, crashing at a WalMart can save you $50 to $100 a night in campground or motel fees.

If you visit a 24 hour WalMart any night, especially the ones close to major highways, you will see an array of camper trailers, cars and trucks.  They are usually parked in one of the back corners of the parking lot so as not to interfere with regular customers.  There are security cameras throughout the front of the stores to discourage any vandalism problems, and some stores even have security cars doing regular sweeps.  The washrooms inside are always clean and accessible.  WalMart is an excellent and cheap source of breakfast, whether you’re looking for McDonald’s, or buying apples and yogurt.  Sometimes it can be a little noisy, especially if you’re unlucky enough to hit a night when they’re cleaning the parking lot, but on the other hand I’ve stayed at many campgrounds located beside highways that are just as noisy.

Most WalMarts have two entrances and it is worth noting that one of them is usually locked after midnight.  So if you anticipate having to use the washroom in the middle of the night, locate yourself on the side of the parking lot with the unlocked door to avoid a very long walk.   Sometimes there are benches or even lawn furniture set up (in the summer) in front of the store, usually under lights, so you can sit and watch the customers, read a book or just socialize.  This is handy if you don’t have a trailer.

Here are some “don’ts” that you should remember:

1.  You  can’t pitch tents or set up chairs.  The most recent group I traveled with misunderstood what I meant by “WalMart Camping”, so when I returned from the washroom, I found the scene shown below.  In spite of the fact that WalMart allows camping, it is probably a good idea to still maintain a low profile.


2.  You can’t unhook your trailer and leave it for any period of time.  This is meant for overnight stops on a road trip only, not a home base.

3.  On one occasion we did have a security person ask us to leave, saying that this WalMart was an exception to the rule.  He actually directed us to another WalMart nearby which he said wouldn’t mind.  However even in this case we managed to convince him to let us stay as it was very late at night.  (This was in Boulder, which perhaps explains things.)

4.  Of course it pays to be considerate and not do anything that will jeopardize this good will from WalMart.  All it would take is a few people to be inconsiderate or do something stupid like dump their waste water in the parking lot in order for this policy to become unpopular with the stores.

Here is a good site that comments on this policy.


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Escaping From Zip Ties

Not sure when you might need this, …unless of course you get captured during a Zombie Apocalypse.  Then you could get out of them without having to cheat.

We discussed recently how zip ties could be useful in a Go Bag.  It would be neat to summarize the possible uses here.


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Body Comouflage – Way of the Scout


Most people who come through my advanced tracking/nature awareness classes are surprised to learn that there is more to the art of body camouflage than buying some camo clothes or dabbing on some mud. In fact, camouflage is an art form as varied as the landscape and the individual animals that inhabit it. What I hope to accomplish in the following paragraphs is to give the student first-hand knowledge of this forgotten art form, enabling him to hide himself in any landscape with little or no cover.

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