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From The Mountains of Montana

6161 Views 16 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  cobalt
I'm pleased to have found this site, and look forward to participating.

I'm a walker/hiker/bird hunter, mostly as a bushwhacker...and retired with time to fiddle with sticks too.

My first hiking stick of 62 inches, was from a red oak sapling in Michigan, back in '88. As my outings in Montana lead to an appreciation of the possibility of running into large varmints...mountain lions, coyotes, and bears, I decided to go to a shorter and stronger stick. Hickory became my first choice...but I didn't know exactly how long they should be for the best fast and powerful swing. And good "impact grade" hickory was somewhat costly.

So, living in the middle of a Douglas-fir forest, with many thousands of saplings available to experiment with, I became a rustic stick maker, using only simple hand tools and developing a little knowledge of the trade. I make my doug-fir sticks thicker to ensure a comparable strength of hickory.

I've been at it now going on three years, and my hiking stick preference has become a "carbine", of about 44-45 inches. And within the last year I've made some walking sticks, rustic Shillelagh style, at about 36 inches. These are good for short walks around the house at night, shorter steps on uneven ground.

I've included a picture of the heart of my collection, with the long red oak on the left and moving towards my carbines and walking sticks on the right. The far right stick was purchased...I love the build in handle.

Musical instrument Wood Sports equipment Twig Hardwood


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Welcome to the site Rustic Dave! Nice bunch of sticks! :)
Rustic Dave,

Those are very nice sticks. I like the 'double ended' style carbines, specially the half barked/debarked ones. Just grab and go-- That's a utility stick! I do see your hickory walking stick (that I would call a cane) you also made double ended. Very cool stuff.

Up above the Douglas Fir in the Elk and Mountain Lion country of Montana, should be Aspen groves, along with other deciduous woods by the creeks and meadows. Some of those slow growing, high altitude small tree/large shrub woods would probably make a very nice walking stick. That kind of wood is usually incredibly tough, too! Ever fly fish for the little Brookies up there?
Greetings Rustic Dave from NW Indiana. Nice looking bunch of sticks!

The wife and I love Montana. My profile pic is from the trail along Upper Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. We have been camping and hiking the last couple summers in Montana's National Forests. So far we have camped and hiked in the Lolo, the Beaverhead/Deerlodge, the Gallatin, the Custer and the Lewis and Clark National Forests.

This summer we will be back again and will be heading up to the Kootenai and Flathead National Forests and maybe Glacier again.

Welcome and hope you enjoy the site as much as I do, great group of folks on here!

Hello R. D. likewise from No. Indiana.

Your sticks look very serviceable. Is there some sort of under coat beneath the rubber tips?

Thank you. The carbines have a shortcoming...well, they're a little too short when walking downhill. So the extra rubber tip on the top has the effect of stretching the length a little by allowing the hand to cup the top. And the bark gives a better grip without requiring a tight squeeze. And on the short walking sticks without a handle the rubber tip serves as a knob to also allow cupping the top.

Since I've been making sticks I spent much more time looking for saplings of the right size...I tend not to see the forest as I eyeball the cluster of young doug-fir trees. And now I'll be checking out the hard woods too...and the aspens where there might be some blue grouse too. The many years of drought have reduced the fishing in those Brookie rich streams...but now with a cool and wet spring I'll have to give it a try again.
Thanks MJC4,

You sure get around Montana! Good for you...maybe someday we could have a rendezvous...

And hello gdenby...thanks for the reply.

Yes, the ends of the sticks have extra oil applied. I "seal" the ends with the oil at the start of the drying process to prevent cracking, and then they get additional treatment as I oil the whole stick.

Thanks Rad,

It sure is nice to be here!
Welcome Dave! Nice having you on board and a nice set of whompers you have there.
Rustic Dave,

Your explanation for the double tips makes perfect sense, along with the half debarking. Awesome function and utility. I do run across branches that are to short for my liking, now I'll take a second look at them, and ask myself, double ended?

When harvesting a branch for what I see as full length stick, there is a second one that is too crooked, or short that I have passed by (sent to the brush pile or burn heap) that I may pay attention to now.

Before I moved to North Dakota, I lived in Utah, and hiked the Uintas a lot. I loved leaning against a tree for 20 minutes by a little beaver pond, until the brookies would finally come out and start feeding again. Amazing how a little 40 foot long pool could host a dozen or so little fish, at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. Sensitive little devils, too. Any movement from me to bring camera to eye, and they would disappear for another 20 minutes. Never got a photo of one worth looking at.

Warm greetings to you, Rustic Dave. Welcome to the Forum! Enjoying the friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
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Welcome to the forum Dave. Look forward to seeing more of your sticks.
So many great ideas, so little time!

Welcome aboard.

I was fortunate to spend a month during each of three summers in the late 70's, working along the coulees and on those outwash covered plateaus south and east of Great Falls. Met some great people there.
Sorry havnt been on line much bsuy decorating /gadening ,looking for the escape root out of it , lol

nice buch of shanks ,

You could always use a coupler to lenghen any stick ,The american supplys of these arnt as long as the ones i use but they should do the trick to lenghen them

The joint could always be covered with a nickel silver collar .assuming you can get them

Would be interesting to see different varietys of wood joined together? never tried it but would consider it

At least that way you could make any lengh you like .

But mayby you would consider that getting away from that rustic look?
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