Monday, February 13, 2012
My plan was to quail hunt this weekend. The weather's plan was to screw up my plan. The weather's plan worked out. Mine didn't. Instead, I stayed inside all weekend stuffing logs into the woodstove and perusing flyfishing catalogs for items I have neither the skill to use nor the money to buy. I also played around with something called a Kelly Kettle.
What's a Kelly Kettle? Well, it's a double-walled kettle with a big hole in the middle of it that you build a fire in to boil water. Here's the website with all the particulars.
When I'm on a hunting or fishing trip I usually take a little one-burner propane stove for heating up water for tea, coffee, etc. It works well enough when the wind's calm, but not so much when the wind blows. Since I live in Oklahoma, where the wind blows pretty much non-stop, I've been looking for a wind-proof alternative to my propane stove, something I can take on a fishing or bird-hunting trip and use to boil water quickly and easily right on the tailgate or ground.
I've read a lot about the Kelly Kettle and other "volcano" kettles on the bushcraft sites and thought that might be the ticket. Look for a full review over on the F&S site when I get the chance to actually use it in the field, but I did play around with it in the backyard this weekend, and I gotta say, I think it's going to be a nice little piece of kit, as SBW would say.
I was, quite frankly, shocked at how quickly this thing boils water with such little fuel. I gathered a little grass and tinder from the yard, placed it in the stainless steel base the kettle rests on, struck a firesteel to it, and placed the kettle on the base as soon as the flame got started. I fed a handful of dry twigs through the hole in the base, dropped a few more down the chimney, and literally within a couple minutes I had water boiling. All this during a bitterly cold, strong, and gusty wind, the kind of wind in which I'd have a hard time keeping my cheap little propane jobber lit, much less heating water.
Like I said, I'm withholding official judgement on it until I'm actually in the field and can see how it works with whatever fuel I can scrounge from the roadside, but it's certainly promising. SBW warned me that some Kelly Kettles tended to leak a bit from the handle and stopper rivets, no biggie and an easy fix, but mine didn't leak a drop on its maiden voyage.
About five minutes after I took these pictures the snow started and the wind really started howling. Being a wimp, I poured the boiling water out the kettle and went inside. My helper, however, stayed outside tending to his own "campfire"...
And about five minutes after that, the welfare wildlife showed up, looking for a handout. Persistent bastards. They'll just stand there and stare at me through the windows. It's a bit unnerving. I haven't been feeding them hardly at all this winter, and in fact when they show up I'll yell at them like that cranky old man that every neighborhood has. "Get out of here, you hooved locusts! You're wild animals, fer christssake, go forage!"
And as my ruined peach, plum and apple trees can attest, they oblige...
Posted by Chad Love at 2:49 PM