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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been a stick enthusiast from my childhood in Europe.

After growing up, for several decades walking and hiking sticks were just an occasional glimpses for me, mainly in the form of a nice cane of an elderly person or a carved hiking stick in the hand of a hiker.

I re-discovered hiking sticks about 8 years ago while visiting Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. The woodworker's shop there carries a nice selection of handcrafted hiking and walking sticks and canes, made by Ozark hardwoods.

After that would also glimpse the occasional Whistle Creek, and later Brazos walking sticks in outdoors or tourist shops, and in some hardware stores.

I started looking up information about the different woods, the trees they came from, the history of walking stick production and use.

My internet searches led me to a geocaching forum, and there for the first time I saw mentioned the Wilderness Walkers walking and hiking stick making family business with an ebay shop, which turned out to operate right where I live, in St. Louis, MO.

First I ordered a couple of sticks from them, and now seven years later I have a nice small collection of their beautiful sticks.

I still continue to look on the net for information about walking sticks, that is how I discovered this forum.

While I am not making sticks at the moment, but I hope one day I will have the time.

Until then, I enjoy reading and learning about sticks and stickmaking.

This seems to be a very nice forum. I am glad I have discovered it.
 

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Hi, littleknife,

I have a very old friend who lives not too far from Branson. A stick is a definite plus going up and down all those hills.

Glad to read you have a small collection. Before finding this site, I had also looked at what Wilderness Walkers was making. Nice sticks, and worth having. What's your favorite in your collection?

It seems to me part of the charm of a stick is the patina of use and memory that builds up around it. Even if you don't make your own, do you have any ideas about how you might personalize yours? I'm thinking like a gunslinger, maybe, carve a notch for every 20 miles hiked. Or, given your history, pound in a tor-x driver head for each geocache found.

Have a good walk!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you Rad and gdenby!

I do like hiking, but I haven't done geocaching yet. I was just searching for info about hiking sticks when I stumbled upon the following geocahing forum:

http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=73258

http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=143629

http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=140053

http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=120777

http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=89015

There are many many more similar posts on that forum regarding sticks and stick making tips. Those guys are really passionate about their sticks and the traditional sticks have a large following there.

As for my favorite piece of my collection: it is a 'plain' 58" shagbark hickory sapling staff. It is strong, perfectly balanced, not too heavy but not too light either, with a very slight springiness.

The sapling's bark was removed to expose the beautifully variegated, reddish-brown underbark. I personally prefer natural colors with the random colors and patterns rather than a uniformly stained man-made look.

I think hickory is one of those woods, which look better with their underbark or bark left on (like hazel, sassafrass, blackthorn, wild cherry).

IMHO other shank woods, like oak, beech, maple, aspen, tulip poplar are better suited for being embellished by staining and/or carving.

Some of my other favorites are a dogwood hiking staff and a hickory stockman cane, similarly made of saplings.

My oldest stick I still have is a mere 7 year old, so there has not much patina formed yet on them. I do wipe down my sticks after hiking to remove any dust or mud, and keep them indoors. This, and the durable varnish or lacquer they are coated with might contribute to the lack of patina as of this time.

As I child I had several beech (Fagus sylvatica) hiking staves I made. The bark was shaved off immediately and the sticks were not coated or varnished in any way. They were used hard, banged around and with time developed a very nice patina. After a decade or so all of them developed splits, so they were discarded.

I tried to add slings, leather handholds, string wrappings to my staves, but since I tend to change my hold on the sticks all the time and like to slide my hand over the staff, they were more of a source of irritation for me than real help. I ended up removing them. I even removed the signature Wilderness Walkers locator whistle from the leather lace of my staff, because the repeated clanking was disturbing. I do have pockets and packs to carry all the survival stuff.

Since my sticks so far are made of saplings with a nice natural look, I did not carve anything on them. They feel personal enough as they are.

However I might buy some long dowels or broom handles and may try to embellish them by carving or woodburning, to make something like a scout staff:

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/skills/b-p/staff.htm

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/skills/staff_use.htm

http://www.inquiry.net/images/stave1.gif

http://www.inquiry.net/images/sketchbook.jpg
 

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Hey, littleknife!

Thanks for the links to the geocaching forum. I didn't book mark it, but a few weeks ago I came across some works by "el diablo" mentioned in those links. Good to learn he's helped lots of folks w. stick making.

Also, thanks for the links to the scout pages. I suddenly remembered, very vaguely, a page from my dad's scout manual that i saw when I was 5 yrs old. Amazing what is up in the attic.

I too, do not find wrappings and loops too useful. I like to change my hand position over time, and depending on the slope. But I do want to be able to avoid slipping down and forward, mostly when my palm us sweaty.I've been working on different shapes & carvings to form a grip or braking spot.

I hope to post something in the homemade stick section in a week or two that shows that cutting away the bark on sassafras, and then doing some shaping results in a fine figured piece of wood.

See ya' round
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi, gdenby!

I am looking forward to see your stick.

My hickory stick has still some bark spots and furrows left on the top half of the shagbark sapling, so it is naturally grippy enough without being too rough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, Chiricahua Jack. I already have learned a lot on this forum and am looking forward to learn more from you guys.

Also, the great examples shown in the pictures are very nice to look at.

By the way, isn't it funny how Missouri gets first and foremost associated with Jesse James rather, and not with Mark Twain, Harry Truman or Lewis & Clark for example.
 

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By the way, isn't it funny how Missouri gets first and foremost associated with Jesse James rather, and not with Mark Twain, Harry Truman or Lewis & Clark for example.
Littleknife, perhaps a discussion for another time off this board? Harry Truman was a man of the South. His grandmother was a Gregg and her son (Truman's uncle) fought for Upton Hays during the Border Wars and the Civil War that followed. Truman himself attended several of the reunions held by Quantrill's men (of which Frank & Jesse [under Wm Anderson] both fought) that were held from 1898 -1929.

On my side of the state feelings and hurt still run deep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Chiricahua Jack, just a short reply.

I am not political admirer of Truman, neither of the political mission and consequences Lewis & Clark served with their expedition.

I believe that slavery, the extermination, displacement and oppression of the native tribes, the Jim Crow and the racism of today are all shameful and dark sides of both American and universal human history, which mock the declared principles this country was founded on and for which principles many have died for.

Jesse James is not my hero either.

I do like the writings of Mark Twain very much and based on what I know about him, I admire him.

The only reason I mentioned them together is because they are all well known & associated with Missouri in one way or another.

I am just a very recent transplant to the US from Europe where deep running historical hurts still provide easy means for greedy and manipulative politicians to divide and pit against each other countries, nations, ethnic or religious groups, not counting the myriad parties and factions.

Arts, crafts, sciences, common creative interests, as exemplified by this forum too, are the best ways to bridge the divide, build trust and help mend the hurts of the past.
 
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