Cow Stick... Everything you ever wanted to know.....

Discussion in 'Bushcraft' started by HK_User, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    COW STICK, how to make one.

    Part 1.

    Funny this subject came along now. "Refurbished and/or re-purposed tool"

    Yesterday we cut down yet another "Cow Stick/Tree" This purposed tool came down at 22lbs and about 8 feet long. Way too long and too much weight to carry daily but about right to start with. And it is now losing weight as we type, first I slowly remove the bark, one piece at a time with a knife, chip by chip. No scraping or other tools need apply at this stage because they would cause more damage than its worth. As time progresses, as the stick dries out, I will smooth and shape the staff.

    The purpose of this staff is a resource to improve muscle mass and general over all balance and strength.

    Consider that if I get this down to a working weight of 16lbs, and carry it daily as I walk out side or work with the cattle then comes time to carry a rifle of 10 lbs then I will be on easy street.

    Not to mention it is one heck of a snake stick with the Anaconda sized fork on one end!

    My current Cow Stick weighs in at 4.5 lbs and seems light, so up a notch on the Stick Scale for me.

    Progress from the start on yesterday, plus a Carpenter ant nest find the day before that.

    The start.
    The start of a new Cow stick 2.JPG

    The selected part of the trunk is down and in a few days BLO will be placed on the stump. The stump will be treated with BLO to prevent insect damage to the standing tree.JPG

    Trimming the cut piece to lighten the load back to the house
    Old and New Cow Stick.JPG

    Bark Removal one chip at a time. Removing bark one chip at a time.JPG

    More Bark gone. More bark removal.JPG

    Sun drying for a while and then a soak. DSCF0952.JPG

    New and old Cow Sticks. New stick and old stick.JPG

    Bark Be Gone Bark be Gone.JPG

    Pitting in the base wood when bark is removed. Base wood shows pitting uncovered by bark removal.JPG

    New stick soaking in the Cow Tank Dry then Soak a bit, more work later.JPG

    While looking over storm damage we found a Carpenter Ant Nest. Carpenter ant nest.JPG

    More trimming.
    Trimming to lighten the load and reduce New Stick to Old Sticlk length.JPG
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  2. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    More on the Cow Stick or How to Skin a Tree.

    The first picture is the most unusual, the inner bark turns this strange orange when left in water and by the way the water was all rain water from the storms.

    I'll describe the pictures later because I did most of what you will see as an example for other uses for this tree.
    At the end you'll discover why my present Cow Stick is Blond. Don't cheat, take your time and wait till the end!!!



    Notice how the inner bark starts to thread out, a great source of material for fire starting or making cordage.


    Side view of bark strips developing into cordage.


    The use of a single edge knife comes in handy at this stage. The knife blade stays at the level where you start it and does not cut down below the outer bark.


    Single edge @Bear? Blade at rest.


    At this point we now have the rough outer bark off and the inner bark absorbed water from the cattle Tank last night so it is more pliable and can start to be stripped by hand.


    Here you can start to see the wood of the trunk around a knot from old growth dead wood.


    Here is another example of why you should not use a draw knife. A draw knife does not have the control, or better said, the operator cannot see each overgrown knot and the draw knife will dig too deep and destroy the under lying beauty of the wood.


    The skinning process starts by using the flat bladed knife to cut past the many layers of inner bark and then lift a section of the bark to open up to the main tree.


    This is the only spot I nicked using @@Bear? blade. The single edge blade allows for more control at this point of the stripping.


    Note how the outer bark now starts to be stripped, last night's water soak helped in this operation.


    Close up of what I call the "boot", if the tree has few knot holes at this point you can remove the 'boot" (as the last operation) cut and fold both ends and sew the ends shut to have a way to carry water or as a container to carry goods or food. Close up just one end and stitch the side shut, caulk with clay or tree sap and you have a bucket or canteen.


    Cordage material comes to the top.


    For my "so you think you can live in the woods' section. If you do not know these processes of survival you will not have time to learn them post SHTF.


    The multiple inner layers of the bark cross to keep the tree strong in the wind.




    Now we get down to removing the inner and outer bark in one step. Work goes faster now.



    Be aware this is not a job for "keyboard" only hands. Lots of pressure and lots of pulling to remove bark at this point.


    More than one knife style can be used to speed things up, if need be a rock could be used to pulverize the bark and then into the tree.


    The knots really slow things down and one of the reason I waited till now to label the pictures is that my hands are still stiff from the hours of effort this AM. Whine BOX OFF


    This is the point a survivalists would be waiting for, the beautiful clean white center is seen and the outer bark will be off soon.



    Nice piece of outer bark and inner bark, could be used to make any type of shoe or repair an existing shoe or to cover most any thing you have to protect.



    The V is in sight so we must be close to the end of this story for now.




    Here we can see that the Bark is over 1/4 inch thick.



    As seen here the Cow Stick now weighs 17lbs, so we lost 5 lbs in the debarking. I figure we will loose another 2lbs when it dries and I trim it.

    Now you can see why I did not use a Draw Knife in the first or second pass, had I made that mistake then I would have cut chunks from the wood and hacked up every knot I came to. But now it is just a matter of the drying time and smoothing the Staff after that.


    Save the bark for repairs, cordage or other building projects.



    Please avert your eyes if naked trees bother your sensibilities.
    There you have it, a Naked Tree and its little brother!

    Now to let dry.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2015
    GOG, Yard Dart, Sapper John and 3 others like this.
  3. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    My definition is; Cow Stick is a tool you use to control cattle and use to defend yourself from angry poorly trained cows.

    At best the Cow Stick is hopefully used as a psychological tool. When used as a psychological tool you must understand how the Cattle treat one another and how the pecking order of cattle work. I am sure many have seen cattle beat on with a Cane or shocked with a HOTSHOT. In the normal movement of cattle on a Homestead or Ranch with a family member on foot you need to let the cattle understand that you are the Herd Master.

    The BULL is the Herd Bull and the same way a good human leader never berets anyone in public then you must maintain the Pecking Order. Herd Master, Herd Bull, Herd Members. At this point you need to understand there will be a Herd Cow.

    This Herd Cow will keep order within the Herd and will understand that you are above her in the pecking order. So unless she is in need of some training she is your best helper in maintaining order and helping in moving cattle to feed or through gates to other pastures. In this you show respect to the Herd Cow and "allow" her to be the first to pass through gates to the best feed or hay.
    When you direct the Herd Cow through a gate the others will follow, usually the Herd Bull will be last through the gate and he will make sure younger Bulls are in the Herd.

    So it goes like this: Herd Master opens the gate and secures the gate so it will not blow shut or into the cattle as they pass, then he directs the Herd Cow into the opening, prodding gently with the V end of the Cow Stick in her side or by capturing the lower back leg and gently pushing hard enough to move her leg. Done quickly all of this is invisible to most onlookers, it goes smoothly and the herd knows their job and move on out.

    A problem may arise if the Herd Master misses the signs of a calf staying back, in this case a Momma Cow, even the Herd Cow will cause disturbance at the gate opening and might injury herself or even kill a young calf in the dust up in her attempt at retrieving her calf.

    The Cow Stick is used in the same manner the Cattle use their horns, a gentle poke at first and then a slightly more aggressive pressure. The forked ends if the Cattle Stick lets the cattle understand that the poke came from the Herd Master and not just another cow and being above them in the pecking order they will usually move quickly. OTOH if they think it is another Cow then they may stop and look back to see who was telling them to get on the move. If it is another Cow and below them in the pecking order then you may end up with a fight.

    The Cow Stick is used with the Herd BULL or any Bull or Cow as a psychological tool in that when turned horizontal and a gentle movement in a slight rocking manner is done the Cattle perceive that distance (end to end) as your size. Now for the most part they can see both ends of their horns and they can calculate your size to theirs. If they perceive you as larger then normal pecking order will put you in charge, Bigger IS Better.

    Last case defense against charging cattle is to use the staff first, raise it horizontal up and holler. Cattle learn more than most think and NO works well if taught.

    Then again a training session might be in order in which you pull your .45 and fire at the charging animals feet.

    That training session will last for a long time and all the cattle will watch as the suspect stops and turns around, thus proving you to be the HERD MASTER.
    Yard Dart, Bear, chelloveck and 5 others like this.
  4. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Cow Stick Part 2.

    The first drying stage is complete, the Cow Stick now weighs 11.5 lbs and is near dry. Time to do a bit of trim work and also explain the "simple" process.

    The reason the Cow Stick was not just stripped and all the limbs lopped off was first and foremost experience.

    The tree selected can be used for basket work use due to the ease of removing several layers of fibrous material for weaving, making into cordage etc. This ability also means you need to decide the end use of the tree. Trim back too early in the process and you end up with a mess of pealing tree bits.

    For my use and longevity of the Cow Stick we start with a 1 month drying time, then a bit more curing time to allow a rasp and sand paper to finish the 3rd stage. More work later to preserve the Cow Stick.

    Some may wonder why so much time is used for a mere Cow Stick, this is a pretty simple device be it a case of survival or as an on going Homestead Tool. But time wasted is time you'll never get back so if you just need a temporary prop then chop and go, if it is a long term tool then figure out how to make it last and save that remake time for other gainful endeavors.

    So on with the show.

    In the next 3 shots you see how the tree fiber will start to pull away and split at the knot if cut too short.

    Cow Stick 2_1 dried branch.JPG

    Cow Stick 2_2 split wood.JPG

    Cow Stick 2_3 top view dried limb.JPG

    It is most important that all dead limbs be left alone till the last to allow the tree to cure around that point. Also bleach can be used here to kill any bugs or their larvae that might burrow into your Cow Stick and destroy your tool.
    Cow Stick 2_4 dead limb yet to be cut off.JPG

    First cutting of dead limb knot.
    Cow Stick 2_5 first trimming of a dead limb.JPG

    Saw cut of live limb knots.
    Cow Stick 2_6 more trimmed live limbs.JPG

    More Live Limb cuts.
    Cow Stick 2_ 6 saw cut first trimming of live limbs.JPG

    Now a couple days drying in the Sun and then maybe some sanding. Just to make it "Fun" I'll get a piece of new wet bark and use sand found on my place and use my own home made sand paper.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
    pearlselby, Ganado, Bear and 2 others like this.
  5. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    But I will use an old rasp first then to the sanding.
    Ganado likes this.
  6. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    This thread, to me was not just about the "cow stick" but also the cows.
    The more I learn about cows the more I realize just how much work they involve.[OO]
    Think I'll stick to chickens and rabbits. [tongue]
    Learned something good about sticks and cows.
    Good thread. [coo]
    john316 and pearlselby like this.
  7. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Thanks, my intent is to explain what my live stock is like and how any one who really believes that they can just walk out the door and live off the land at a moments notice will have a very sad life, if any, for long.
    pearlselby, Ganado, Yard Dart and 3 others like this.
  8. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Ganado likes this.
  10. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    *groans* [tongue]
  11. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Just Cold Steel.
    kellory likes this.
  12. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Going to insert a spear point?;)
  13. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Nah, more of an overlay.
    kellory likes this.
  14. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Bull line is from that area just much further north and a lot smarter.
  15. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    PM sent.

    I also know of Jersey as well as Rockall, seen them both.

    Rockall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2015
  16. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Cow Stick Part 3. Pointy end and Balance

    The Cow Stick is now down to 11 lbs and time to check the natural balance point and the drying process.

    Maybe even check for fit of the Pointy End too.

    Here the Cow Stick sets on its chosen balance point. The Balance Point also includes the natural curve of Cow Stick and how the forks settle in. This is most important because you need to have the natural balance and the location of the fork in the position of function. Otherwise you will reposition the Cow Stick each time you need to use it. This can cause fatigue and miss strikes when you need the forks or the Pointy End the most. The knots have been rasped to help the internal drying of the Cow Stick and then on to the next part.
    Cow Stick 3_1 Find the Balance on a knife edge.JPG

    Checking for splitting of the main fork arm. Cow Stick 3_2 Check the fork curing process.JPG

    This inspection indicates, the outer most layer of the Cow Stick is drying too fast and if this drying continues in only the outer layer we will end up with splinters on the surface. To prevent this uneven drying we do two things.

    1. Coat the split with BLO.

    2. Rasp the knots to allow internal moisture to escape from the center of the Cow Stick, as seen in the first picture.
    Cow Stick 3_3 A split indicates the drying process needs to be slowed down.JPG

    The Cow Stick balance point and rotation of the forks is near perfect and now we check the way the forks lay, and how they will be shaped to accept the Point End. Cow Stick 3_4 Aligining The Sharp Point.JPG

    The Pointy End will be rotated 90 degree and is in line with the stronger and larger of the forks. Cow Stick 3_5 Aligining The Sharp Point.JPG

    With more cure time we will start to shape the large fork to fit the socket of the Point End. Cow Stick 3_6 Aligining The Sharp Point.JPG

    Just Checking! Cow Stick 3_7 Aligining The Sharp Point.JPG

    The Pointy End's handle has a hole drilled (not seen in this view) to secure the pair as a unit. Cow Stick 3_8 Aligining The Sharp Point.JPG

    And Now we will have a Cow Stick/Cougar Hunting Spear.

    Dual Purpose tools, always nice to have.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
    Bear, Hanzo, kellory and 2 others like this.
  17. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Hk you let this dry about 13 days? Just till the knot dried out?
  18. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    As it stands the Stick has now dried for about 45 days. I have not weighed it in the last week but I doubt it weighs less than 10.5 lbs. Of course it has never been left out side in the sun yet. No reason to chance cracks or warping.

    Soon I will smooth and taper the fork for the Steel Point.
    Bear, Ganado and Witch Doctor 01 like this.
  19. pearlselby

    pearlselby Monkey++

    We have raised all sorts of livestock. I love the animals and how they have their own personalities. They do need to know who is boss and you need to be a REAL homebody
    Ganado and Yard Dart like this.
  20. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    A little update on this long term project.
    As always planning is part of the work and winter is a good time to carve and finish those small task that you just do not have time for in the summer months.

    So here is the original Cow Stick @ 45 lbs.

    Now we see it as we smooth it and remove knots and finish the diameter that fits your hand and tailor the grip.


    The Y end is part of the the stick and has its own usefulness. It can be used to hold open a gate or as a push stick, placed gently on the rear leg of live stock to convince it to move. No beating needed if you know how to move them to their and your best advantage.


    This is how it looks at near sundown. Weight is now 8 lbs and soon we will start some carving on the Cow Stick. Figure some Bamboo on the bottom, an animal or two half way up and then a rendition of Mt Fuji near the top. Just some small amount of carving to give it that personal touch. DSCF1301.JPG
    No Hurry, it happens as it happens.
    Bear, Hanzo and Yard Dart like this.
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