sat, 03-apr-2010, 10:25

Upper sign

Lower sign
Upper and Lower Signs

Last weekend we had some ATVs on the rapidly melting trail, so I made a pair of signs (PDF, 13Kb) to mark it. I have my doubts as to whether these will have the desired effect, but I don’t really want to block the trail to all users, and this should be sufficient.

The signs read:

PRIVATE PROPERTY No Motorized Vehicles Other trail users welcome

They’re just paper stapled to plywood, so eventually we’ll need to get something more weather proof. Maybe black text printed onto acetate, with a florescent file folder stapled underneath? Unfortunately, I have a feeling the most likely form of damage will come from humans, rather than the elements.

sat, 03-apr-2010, 08:31
Top of the trail
tags: front 40  spring  trail 
sun, 28-mar-2010, 17:39

Trail damage

ATV trail damage

Went for a walk with the dogs on our property today and discovered some ATV’s ripped up the trail. I don’t think the damage is permanent, since the ground is still frozen, but it still makes me angry. I need to figure out a way to mark, and probably block, the trail for non-motorized uses. If the people who rode up there today are any indication, ATV riders are too fucking stupid to recognized a narrow, non-motorized trail when they see one. The photo doesn’t make it as obvious as it is in person, but their treads are entirely off the trail and in the vegetation along the sides.

It only takes one jackass to turn opinion against all ATV riders; let’s hope the rest of them show some respect.

sun, 28-mar-2010, 15:33

Bowstring and tip

Flemish style string, bow tip

Since making a bow a few weeks ago, I’ve been working on learning the other skills needed to complete a traditional archery set. First was the string. I had been using regular nylon string from the hardware store, and it’s amazing how much better a real bowstring performs at transferring energy to the arrow. The bowstring is composed of 14 strands of Daycron / B-50 fiber twisted into two bundles which are also twisted together, called a Flemish string. The twist of the full string on the bow is what holds the twistings of each loop together without any knots, glue or other fasteners. I haven’t put the serving on yet (this is a thin string wrapped around the bowstring where the arrow is nocked) because I’m not sure if the string will need to be shortened by twisting the string further, but it shoots great without it.

The photo on the right shows the tip of the bow. The notches were filed into the wood with a chainsaw file and do a surprisingly good job at holding the bowstring. The red oak is about ½" square at the tips and gets progressively thicker and wider toward the center of the bow, which is almost six feet long.

I’ve been borrowing some arrows from a friend at work, but have successfully made a few arrows of my own. I used 11/32" cedar shafting, dipped in spar varnish thinned with turpentine. After the finishing, building an arrow is a fairly straightforward process of tapering the ends for the nock and tip, and affixing the feathers. The nock and feathers are glued with what smells like cyanoacrylate glue and the points are glued on with hot melt glue. Hide glue would be more traditional, but for my early efforts I’ll stick with something simpler.


Cedar shafted arrow

The target shown in the photo is a series of dog food bags, filled with newspapers and taped together (two things we have a lot of are dog food bags and newspaper!). Each bag probably has between eight and ten newspapers in it, and there are at least eight bags taped together. It seems to work well with the steel field points I attached to this arrow. My previous target was a cardboard box filled with packing peanuts, but that was only good enough to slow down the arrows. Even with rubber blunt tips (“bunny busters”), they’d go right through the box and skitter down the driveway.

I still need to experiment with the best shafting, arrow configuration and point weight for my bow. Because the arrow rests to the left of the centerline of the bow, this means that the arrow is actually bent against the bow as it’s released, and if the shafting is too stiff or not stiff enough, the arrow won’t fly true. I haven’t actually noticed this effect, so either I choose the correct “arrow spine” (50-55), or I just haven’t shot enough or from far enough away to see it.

At this point, I can hit the bag about 90% of the time from 25 feet away (beware home invaders!), and can hit an area the size of a DVD about 50% of the time from that distance. But I haven’t shot nearly enough arrows in succession to have a feel for it yet. I have taken my bow out on the trails with rubber-tipped arrows (OK, arrow), but if I came upon a snowshoe hare within my limited range, I’d have to get very lucky to hit it. Even with a .22 rifle, snowshoe hares can be a challenging target. As my friend Igor says, “If it was easy, it’d be Fred Meyer.”

I still need an arm guard, finger tabs and a quiver, but haven’t really settled on what varieties of these accessories to use.

Here’s the bow and an arrow in my target:

Bow and arrow

Bow and arrow

tags: arrow  bow  bowyer  fletcher  target 
sat, 20-mar-2010, 19:34

Piper and Nika on the new trail

Piper and Nika on the new trail

We closed on a new piece of property last week and I’ve been exploring it on the ground and with Google Maps. There’s already a well-established non-motorized trail along two side of it, and based on the satellite imagery, it looks like there’s a partial trail approximately through the middle. I found it on the ground yesterday, and today I made an attempt at figuring out a way to connect the two trails. There’s still a foot of snow on the ground, so it’s wasn’t easy going, but I did snowshoe my way around. I’d hoped my snowshoe tracks would have hardened enough to walk it in boots this evening, but the snow had turned to sugar instead. Hopefully it’ll harden tonight when the temperature drops.

I’ve been on and off carrying my .22 rifle over the past couple months looking for grouse and snowshoe hare (hares?). I haven’t seen any grouse since I started carrying, but both last week and today I’ve seen hares. So far I’ve seen three on our property, and each time I saw them, I wasn’t carrying my rifle or my bow. The hare I saw this morning may have been laughing at me. Hares have a very clever strategy for eluding predators: when startled they run a short distance through the brush, freeze for ten to twenty seconds, then run again. For predators that are focused on movement, I think the momentary pause allows the hares to disappear due to their excellent camouflage. For a human hunter it’s a challenge because just as you get the animal in your sights, it bolts. And since you’re looking through your sights or scope, it’s much harder to pick them up after they’ve left the view. Anyway, the hare today was 20–30 feet away, in plain sight, and showed no sign that it considered me a threat. It kept right on eating alder shoots, preening, and at one point even got up on it’s hind legs and looked around. It would have been an easy target for my bow.

Had I been carrying it.

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