Canoeing, camping, cooking and carving…

The following story and fantastic photos were kindly supplied by Woodlore customer Dan Metcalf and his family:

To Ray Mears & the Woodlore Team,

I have just returned from a family canoeing trip in Minnesota, USA (BWCA, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness). I was up there with my 69-year old father and three brothers (30-45 years old). We paddled about 40 miles and portaged about 10+ miles in 6 days.

The Metcalfs

The Metcalfs heading out into the BWCA at Moose Lake; left to right – Bob, Dan, Seth, Andy

With skills I had learned from Ray Mears’ TV programmes and a couple of his books, I was able to have quite a bit of fun. Only our first fire was lit with a match – dad’s tried and true method – and the rest were lit using a fire steel; the first time any of us had ever used a fire steel as a main method of lighting fires during a trip.

Bow drill

Fire by friction – it really works! Dan Metcalf, Lake Insula

I was able to put together a bow and drill set, and for the first time in my 45 years I was able to make fire by friction. Blowing that ember into a flame really was exciting. I could see it grow and smoke more and more until we had flame.

Andy Metcalf

Dinner on Lake Insula, provided by Andy Metcalf

I ponassed some bass and cooked up smaller fish, skewered right on a stick by the fire. Also fashioned a crayfish trap from a mesh laundry bag and some birch shoots. Wolves are back in the BWCA now, spread down naturally from Canada, and we could hear them nightly and even saw some scat and prints on a portage trail.

Lake Insula

Day moon rising over Lake Insula

At each site we made simple cooking pot hooks, cooking utensils, forks and spoons, improving our skills at every stop. I had a sharpened hoof knife along to help in the carving, and while not a crooked knife it sure helped. I even made my own knife for the trip by custom handling and sheathing a Mora carbon steel blade in a semi traditional Scandinavian style. Just about the best knife I have ever had an opportunity to use, and the dangler sheath worked great in the canoe.

USA/Canadian border

Along the USA/Canadian border, heading for Knife Lake

From Ray’s programmes I learned much about the Boreal forests and their ecosystems. It made the trip very interesting and even more enjoyable. His information about Voyageurs and northern “First Nation” birch bark canoes was very entertaining to the party.

Thomas Lake

View from the campsite on Thomas Lake

Just wanted to say thanks and I hope that someday those great programmes find their way to the USA TV markets.

Dan Metcalf

3 thoughts on “Canoeing, camping, cooking and carving…

  1. The Everyman Olympian

    Wow this trip looks amazing!

    I went on a canoeing trip with 11 pals a few months back but we werem’t so resourceful – though our leader, Will has taken a few of the lads on a similar excursion before – he’s an ex marine (once had his knife comlimented by Ray)

    Our trip was part of The Everyman Olympics – my quest to complete a challenge based on EVERY sport in the Olympics by London 2012, check it out if you get a mo:



  2. David Thompson

    Agreed! As an American who is an avid fan of Ray Mears’ shows, I really wish more American audiences became aware of him!! I love how Ray’s shows are educational, not hyped-up entertainment…because the education is entertainment enough!!

    The only problem then would be that everyone would know what I have learned and I wouldn’t be able to impress family and friends as much on camping trips!! 🙂

    Winner of ‘Comment of the Week’



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