Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Inherited Axe

Today in the News:  We're retaining between 100 and 200 hits per day.  We are also now up to 20 followers!  Thanks everyone!  If you're new, hit the little "follow" button in the upper left hand corner.  I'm always looking for guest writers.  It can be on anything bushcraft related.  Email me at .

Link of the Day: This is harsh, I know, but I have to include it.  Back in the day, before "The Beastmaster" made them cool, ferrets were used for hunting.  Those that don't like violence or the hurting of small animals, please don't watch this.  That is your fair warning.  You must remember, this old man is 90 years old and when he breaks a rabbits neck it is a lot like smacking a piece of broccoli.

The Inhereted Axe

My Grandfather, Bernard, died in 2005.  I'm not going to get overly sentimental.  What I will say is that he was one of my favorite people in the world and that he loved the outdoors.  He hunted and fished all season long and his idea of a good time was "heading up in the woods" to spend time doing just about anything.  At his funeral, his friend referred to him as, "a true son of Northern Maine".  I can think of no better moniker for him.  Here he is at 14 or 15, riding his toothless horse, Trixie.

He had a couple of heart attacks before he died and cancer, which ultimately took him home to The Maker.  As men go, he was fairly young (69) when he died.  In his moments of recovery and remission, which he had a few of, he always kept busy.  I moved back to Maine from Colorado for a brief time in 2003-2004.  We stayed with he and my grandmother on the farm when we first went back.  He had just come off of chemotherapy treatment and was doing his best to fight his way back to good health.  I'd see him in the mornings, shuffling around the, hallway, living room, kitchen.....he kept going around and around.  The first time I saw him doing that, I asked him what he was doing.  He replied, "Winning the race, boy....winning the race."  He'd then extend his walk day after day out to the front porch, then to the tractor, then to where the outhouse was, until finally, he'd walk to and from camp, which was about a 15 minute walk away from the farm.  By then, you knew he was better.

On his upswings after the sickness, he'd get right back into whatever it was he wanted to do.  I remember walking into the shed chamber of the farm and seeing carved axe handles on the wall.  I then would see boards with axe handles traced onto them.  I remembered shaking my head and thinking that old man didn't have enough to do.  If he wanted an axe handle, he should go the hardware store and buy one.  I wonder what it is that brings a man closer to his origin as he moves further down the road of his life? Maybe it is the need to connect with those that came before him, or God, or the land he was given.  I guess we won't know until we get there.

Enough blabbering.  This is part of the load of cool stuff that Uncle Bern dropped on me when I was in Maine.  He took this axe out and showed me the handle and  told me it was one of Gramp's.  It wasn't finished.  The carve marks were still on it and, at closer inspection, it had big dings that would make it not-so-usable.  Doesn't matter.  The old man made it and that's what mattered to me.  Above anything, it gives me a good pattern to go by if I ever want to start carving my own handles, which I hope will be soon.

The head is a different story.  It is one that Uncle Bern came across in his travels.  It has really cool pockmarks where it was rusty at one point.  Then it got restored and sharpened and cold blued.  I'd love to find a useless Hudson head to replace this one, since the handle is mostly for show.  This one is begging for action, I just can't bring myself to use the handle that it is currently mounted on. 

The Hudson Bay style is my favorite.  What's yours?

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel....out.


  1. Hey Mike, looks like you have received quite a family heirloom. :) The Hudson Bay axe pattern is a very attractive and useful one with a lot of history.

    I think my favorite axe patterns are some of the standard American felling axe types with a nice long, curved bit. I'll be receiving a Jersey pattern axe soon, so maybe that'll become my new favorite. :)


  2. I carve all my own axe handles. A lot of work but worth it, they are better. Store handles still require about 2 hours work of fitting and thinning and whatnot. I must post pics over to BCUSA in the axe thread.


  3. I've been trying to figure out what style of Axe I had for a while now. Thanks to you, I now know the Hudson Bay is what I like so much. Thanks!