Thumb Stick

A little show and tell this rainy winter morning.

Mule deer fork with rings of walnut and hickory.

I’ve been carrying this walking stick in one form or another since 2001. What does that mean? I just can’t leave well enough alone, that’s what.  It was a straight knobbed staff before attaching the stag horn but I decided it would be more useful and aesthetically pleasing with the fork on top.

A quick polish with walnut oil this morning.

The fork is not only good for resting the thumb but works well for creating shelter and provides a bit of heft should it be needed for persuasion.

The cancelous tissue is fairly light in this one as the buck had an unfortunate highway encounter with a truck. That’s how I found it.

This stick has long been a comfort on walks where stray dogs, javalinas, or other beasties may be encountered. I remember that it took me weeks of wandering around the high country, looking to find the right diameter, length, and character in a sturdy oak, in this case Quercus gambelii or Gambel oak). I don’t kill trees lightly, especially in marginal environments, as they are slow to grow and benefit the earth so much.

It’s always difficult to photograph walking sticks and longbows.

The foot of this one is capped in heavy copper to prolong life of the wood. It’s good to save those bits of hardware for re-purposing.

Terrible “selfie” of the previous hickory staff that this antler was mounted on. I can’t leave well enough alone so I changed it.

And just for fun, here is a nifty Sketchbook drawing of some uses for the traditional Scout Staff from and artist who goes by “Ishkotekay.”

Click for full size image.

A Nice Pack Basket

If you know me at all you know that I am interested in pack baskets.  Because of this, they catch my eye when I’m browsing historic images. 

I could find no information whatsoever about this one.  I suspect maybe Tibet in the early 20th century?  Pack baskets have been underrated in the west.  I’m glad to see more and more of them used in the primitive technology, bushcraft, and survival communities.  I love the one I made but I know there are even better ones out there.

I was interested in the harness system here.  It seems to sling around the entire basket for support.  It took me some time and effort to come up with one I liked for mine but based on some historic examples, I was able to come up with one that worked.

Enjoy a little preindustrial technology today.

What is Irish stick fighting?

Nothing like a good piece of wood when you’re in a tight spot. Working in remote places with a bad dog problem, a walking stick or staff can be quite a comfort. You can carry one without looking (too much) like a thug even.

I don't do long sword

You’ve probably heard of Irish stick before or at least if you clicked on this article you are no doubt curious about what it really is. The art called bataireacht or boiscín is a peculiar martial art not only because of its history but also because it has only recently begun to rise back from nearly total extinction. It is known around certain circles such as Historical European Martial Arts but even in Ireland you will find very few who know of its existence and even fewer who practice it.

This article is meant as a complete basic overview of the history and practice of Irish stick. It will be part of a book to be published on the subject of the history and techniques of this art.

1. Deep roots

like many old martial arts the origins of Irish stick are extremely hard if not impossible to determine. Mankind has…

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