In this episode, Ricky is on location in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) is 1.1 million acres of pristine Boreal Forest that spreads across the Northeastern tip of Minnesota. The BWCA has over 1000 lakes, more than 1200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and over 2000 designated campsites. Hunters and Fisherman alike, seek refuge from the hustle and bustle of the world, to find world class fishing, as well as ruffed grouse, whitetail deer and bear hunting opportunities.
Ricky has frequented the BWCA for much of his adult life, however, his passion for protecting the pristine wilderness, has prompted an increase in time spent. On a recent solo canoe trip, shortly after a severe thunderstorm rolled through, Ricky discusses his day to day activities. Among them were the repair of a canoe seat, the making of a cup, and using primitive techniques to light fire and build shelters. Ricky also details the experiences he is having, both physically and mentally.
The BWCA is under threat by from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining at its headwaters. For more information and to find you how you can help, visit @sportsmenbwca .
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[00:00:00] Welcome to the range everybody. My name is Ricky Bruley and I am here in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Studio. I put this together, really not as a studio, but my intention was to keep things dry as a... Major storm was coming through and so I put together this shovel point Shelter with the tarp that I had And man i'm in here.
I'm cozy. I'm dry. I got everything I need right here the only problem is I am Stuff in here, probably for the next two days. Welcome to the range podcast. I'm Ricky Bruley. And with me as Jake Hollywood Iverson, join us at the archery range, or we'll tell stories from the hunt, discuss technical bullshitting tactics and gear.
And pick the brains of some of the most successful people to ever shoot a bow. Whether you're about to shoot that X for the wind or send an arrow at a trophy buck, this podcast is for you.[00:01:00]
The range podcast is brought to you by vapor trail archery. Makers of the best bowstrings money can buy, originators of limb driven aero rest technology and innovators of stokerized stabilizer systems. It looks like it's supposed to rain non stop for the next couple days. And I also needed to have...
An open air space to congregate in because I will go stir crazy in that tiny little tent that I have. Anyways, thank you all for joining me for this special episode of The Range Podcast. I apologize for the rain, but such is life. It is raining and so I'm going to have to deal with it. Make sure that you head on over to our Vapor Trail YouTube channel, hit subscribe, give it a and also hit the bell so you can get notified on [00:02:00] anything archery related or I guess backcountry related.
So yeah, since I'm out here, I won't be able to record an episode with Hollywood, so I figured I would just... Do my best to do it remotely, and so here we are. We're just gonna have a little story time and gonna take it from there. This whole trip I absolutely love it up here. It's the closest thing that you can get to being out west in the mountains right here in Minnesota.
And, here for a week, at least once a year. It's just amazingly beautiful out here. Even these rainstorms, just get me excited to fishing. Fishing is world class. There's not a lot of people up here and so you just, you really can't go wrong. So I started planning this trip.
Last winter and my original plan was to bear hunt out here again in the hopes that I would draw a bear tag, which I [00:03:00] did not. The access permit, there's some thunder, the access permit that you have to apply for, you gotta get it in January, they go fast. For, the really solid dates. I applied for the beginning of September in hopes that I would draw a bear tag.
And not thinking about the fact that if I didn't draw, there's nothing I can hunt. Nothing else opens up. Grouse doesn't open up until the 16th. Deer doesn't open up until the 16th. I'm really just up here just having a blast. Filming stuff, and just up here solo, just getting a break, and just thinking a lot, and doing all that kind of stuff.
I started my trip out pretty rocky, my truck isn't in the greatest shape, I just put a bunch of money into it to get the brakes fixed and everything. And then, on my way up, I wanted to stop at my buddy's place Cody Meyer's, of Wolfheart Ironworks, [00:04:00] and he had crafted a very beautiful knife for me, which, of the ten of you that follow me have probably seen, he My post of this blade, but this is, I just can't even, I just look at it, I just stare at it, and I don't even dare use it.
But this has a very special meaning to me, this blade, and I do intend on having him on the podcast at some point. So that we can talk about it and just real quick I'm gonna take a quick break because I want to make sure that I'm not just talking to a electronic device that isn't doing anything one second. Coming this Friday, June 30th, is our brand new Online Arrow Customizer. Build your Victory or Eastern Arrows with multiple vein options, configurations, and custom arrow wraps in a large array of designs and colors. Spine indexing and expedited build options are also available so you can get back out in the field and flinging in [00:05:00] style.
Check out the Vapor Trail Aero Customizer at www. vaportrailarchery. com forward slash aero customizer.
All right, so we're good. So we're like five minutes in. I feel like I've been talking for a half hour. So where were we? Oh yeah, so I stopped off at Wolfheart Ironworks. I was, I don't know, 15 minutes from there and I started hearing a really nasty grind. Coming from my driver's side front wheel. And I had a pretty good idea of what it was, but I limped my way to Cody's.
And once I got there, just assessed everything and nothing seemed too crazy out of place. I'm like, alright, I can limp it up to Duluth and then try to figure it out. And as I got up to Duluth, it [00:06:00] got incrementally worse. And so I pulled off at a auto parts store in Duluth. I went in and asked if.
Permission to take my wheel off and they said it was okay. I pulled my wheel off and as I was doing it, I could just tell right away it was wobbling back and forth pretty bad. I just knew that it was the wheel hub immediately. And these all three Chevys. Or the Chevy's within that year gap there.
We're notorious for having that issue. And I've already replaced one on the other side, not an easy thing to do in a parking lot of an auto parts store. And I have, like I said, I've done it before. But it's just, I had the tools that I needed at home, and I did bring some tools with me in preparation.
But the guys there were gracious enough to let me borrow a puller. I had [00:07:00] everything else I needed except I needed to get the socket for the hub bolt. It's like a socket that I didn't have with me. And it went surprisingly well. There were some moments where I was a little frustrated. Prior to even starting that, I was, I didn't know what to do.
I'm like, there is no way I'm going to replace this hub here in this parking lot. It's not going to happen. Looking for a rental car? Good luck, it's Labor Day weekend. Looking for a mechanic? Good luck, it's Labor Day weekend. Not happening. I had no choice. It was either that or call my wife and have her come pick me up and then what do I do with my truck and figure that out.
Anyway, fixed that up, replaced it, got back on the road. I decided to grab some food, get a little bit of work done. I had some work that I had planned on doing anyways prior to going off grid, so that's what I did. Went and grabbed some food, got some work done, and then... [00:08:00] Decided to just keep on driving.
There wasn't, there's not a hotel to be had from Duluth to Canada. So I just figured I'd hit the road and find a way sidestop and sleep in the truck. Which is exactly what I did. Of course I got... Pretty much all the way to Grand Marais, Minnesota, which is, that's a roughly, I think two hours from Duluth, hour 45, two hours.
And so stopped at a wayside rest, slept in the truck for about six hours. Got up, went in the Grand Marais, got some coffee, again, sat down, did some more work. Drove out to the pier where, the weather was real nice. It was, there was a nice breeze coming through, sat out there for a little while, did some more editing.
Did some more posting and then went over to a place called My Sister's Place. It's actually a, it's a restaurant. It's a really cool spot. Sat down, [00:09:00] did some more editing, did some more work. I had to charge my devices. I had to charge batteries for cameras because I knew I was going to be recording this up here.
And I wanted to really just video log this whole trip. And I brought a lot of weight with me. As soon as I got done with work, FaceTimed my wife and my daughter. And they were just getting ready to go up to Brainerd and spend some time with their cousin. For Labor Day weekend, and that was, the last time that I saw them, anyways.
I do have a Garmin inReach Mini 2, which is pretty cool. So I've been able to communicate with my wife through that throughout the course of this trip. Which, it's really nice to be able to send her messages, let her and Emma know that I'm okay. And[00:10:00] also just in case something happens back home that she can get ahold of me so I can hightail it home.
And so far everything's been pretty good. Got on the water just a little bit later than I wanted to. Went in on entry point 62, which is Clearwater Lake. And was in a hurry, trying to hustle. There was even a, I ran into a bear hunter that was just coming off the water. And he seen a giant moose.
He showed me pictures. So cool, I wish I could have seen that. But he didn't have any luck with the bears. Then there was another couple that came in and they were surprised to see that I was going out when I did and I went out at four o'clock and my plan was to paddle all the way across along Clearwater Lake and then forage over to West Pike.[00:11:00]
But because I had gotten out so late, I didn't think I'd be able to make it, so I was going to stop somewhere on Clearwater and camp for the night. And these gals were like, good luck, she was like, you're going to have a really hard time finding a spot to camp on Clearwater at this point in the day.
But she said, she was nice about it and was just like, be safe and hope you find a spot. And lo and behold every campsite was occupied on clear water. So I had no choice but to portage over to West Pike. And I have to do a double portage because I have my canoe. and two packs.
I've got a Mystery Ranch Pop Up 28. I actually bought it for my wife, but it's really nice because it's smaller, it's more compact. I have the Beartooth 80, and it's a giant [00:12:00] pack. It's huge, and it's just way more than I need for this sort of a, this sort of a thing. So I had that pack full. I had the portage pack full.
I had a canoe. So it's a pretty long portage. I can't remember exactly how far it is. It's decent. I was hurting when I got to the end. I had the canoe and the pack on the first trip across and it felt so good to get that pack off. I can get that canoe off my back. It's just, I gotta get better about.
Packing lighter, but so far there's nothing that I have here that I haven't used With the exception of my pistol while in my fillet knife I have caught a couple fish, but Nothing too crazy. In any case, got to the end of the portage. It's seven o'clock, sun sets at eight, dark by 8 30. [00:13:00] And so I'm just praying that there's a site available on this side.
And luckily, The first site was available. I wanted to stay on the second site, but I could hear some people down there. You can hear voices travel across that water, I could hear some voices down there, so I knew Campsite 2 was occupied. So I settled in here for the night. Got camp set up.
By the time I ate dinner, it was 9. 30. I ate, hung out in the in the hammock for, I don't know, 15 minutes. It was more like a half hour, kinda fell asleep, goes off for a second, got up, climbed into the tent. Didn't even crawl into my sleeping bag because it was like 78 degrees still, and just knocked out instantly. I slept pretty good. This is how it is out here in the wilderness.
I wake [00:14:00] up a lot but for the most part pretty good. My my air mattress that I brought has a hole in it, a small leak. It's slowly losing air. It still was keeping me up off the ground when I woke up in the morning, so it's a very slow week, but I think I'm gonna get rid of that thing. It's, when you move around, it's like super squeaky, it makes a ton of noise, it's super annoying.
When I was up here with my buddy Tony last year, it was like every movement I made probably woke him up, so it's horrible if you're camping with friends or something like that. Plus, Now I've got two of them and the other one I have got holes in it and I patched those up and I don't know.
I'm gonna probably resort to a different sleeping pad from here on out. But, slept pretty good. Woke up in the morning, day two. Got up got a dehydrated meal [00:15:00] going. It was just bananas and cream oatmeal which is pretty good. It's I bought a bulk pack of it way back in 2019 and then I I just individually packaged them and I've been...
Taking that stuff on trips for the last what, four years now, coffee, breakfast and then I just immediately started doing projects. I had the seat on my canoe it I don't know what it is, it's like wicker, and it was all dry rotted out, and I had put a hole in it, and eventually just ended up ripping it all out.
And I've got one of those aftermarket seats with a back on it, which are super nice. But the problem is it would sink into that hole in the bench seat. And it wasn't very comfortable. After a while, I would start getting sore. First thing I did is I took a bunch of my paracord and I made a like a, I don't know what you would [00:16:00] call it, like a webbed seat out of paracord.
And it's so nice. It's just absolutely amazing. Now I've had the canoe out a couple of times since then and it made all the difference. I've used up a majority of my paracord, so I've been scrambling. In order to make the ridge line for this shelter luckily I had a bunch of paracord.
I made a paracord handle for my hatchet, and so I had 25 feet, which was perfect. So I pulled that handle off and was able to use that to make the ridgeline for the shelter. But I did that forgot my toothbrush, I brought my toiletry kit along with me and left it in my car, but I, my toothbrush was not in there.
Got toothpaste, but no toothbrush. I had to make a stick. Toothbrush that I've been using for the last couple of days, which it works, [00:17:00] but it's not the greatest doesn't get Into the crevices the way you want and then you know, it's nothing like getting a splinter in your gums. That always feels really good, too so So yeah, made myself a little toothbrush Also, I usually bring two Nalgene bottles with me just for water storage and then I also like to have One that I can mix ramen noodles in with or something like that.
Because once you use it for that, it's hard to go back to water with it until you can get it home and wash it out good. So I usually bring two, but this time I didn't. And now I was wishing that I had one because when I would... When I would make my coffee in the morning, then I would have to finish my coffee before making my breakfast, and I like to have both at the same time and then later on it dawned on me, you [00:18:00] idiot, you just gotta make your breakfast first and then make your coffee and then you're good. I've done it thousands of times, so I don't know why my brain was malfunctioning in that moment.
But, nonetheless, I was still looking for things to do, so I decided I'm going to make myself a cup. I found the perfect piece of wood cut it, drilled a little hole in the front of it. I don't have it here to show you. It's in my tent, but... Started a hole with my knife and then started a fire and then just put an ember in there and then just let it slowly burn into the cup and burn its way down and I got about halfway and then had to stop because I wanted to go fishing and it's a constant, you have to pay constant attention to it because if you don't, you're The coals go out inside the cup and it no longer pours a hole for you so put that [00:19:00] down.
To light my fire, I use my ferro rod, actually I've got it right here my wife bought me this ferro rod, I can't remember if it was for Father's Day or for my birthday, but it works really nicely. It's got a deer antler handle here. And it didn't do very good withstanding the force that I was putting on it.
So it actually came out. And from what I understand, there's no amount of epoxy that can hold these things in. You have to actually pin it in. So I might do that. I might run a brass pin through there just to keep it in there. Cause this handle is really nice. And then it just has this little striker.
And just, and. This makes a pretty heavy duty spark I have a lighter, but I wanted to try some things out, so I looked around I found a dead Norway pine on the ground, and... I [00:20:00] cut a branch off and you cut them really close to the trunk of the tree closer to the ground, that all of the tree sap like kind of settles in those little joints.
And so when you cut it, you get this fatwood they call it or pine pitch. I could be wrong on the pine pitch thing, but, and it's just engorged with that. And it's very combustible and you can actually cut it off in big chunks and then you can scrape off some of that and you put it in with your tinder bundle and those sparks hit that thing and it lights up almost immediately.
It's, it took me probably 10 strikes to get it. I'm still pretty inexperienced with it, but. Man, it lit up and it started roaring. It went really good for a while. That was pretty cool. I've done it before, but this is the quickest that I've ever been able to light a fire with a ferro rod. And so I've done it like three times now.
So I think I've got it [00:21:00] down. I think my issues before was just, I had, my Tinder was wet or I just didn't have something figured out correctly. Oh, there's a beep. I think I'm getting a message from my wife. I let her know about the storm. It was pretty wicked. She said, yikes, I was worried about you. I'm glad you're okay. Yeah these thunderstorms are supposed to continue to roll through, and right now it's pretty chill, but I guess we'll see. My tent held up pretty good. It's still pretty dry in there. I went and checked it out.
So what's next? Okay, we're starting to get later in the day. I thought I should go do some fishing. I had read about a spot where maybe there's some walleyes, so I went over. Damn, mosquitos, man. Ugh, they get you good. So I went to some fishing over to that spot. Caught some smallmouth, two of them.
Actually, no, I'm sorry. I caught one. I had one actually chase my line up to the boat, and then I had another one grab, but [00:22:00] I didn't set the hook right. Assuming those were all smallmouth, not 100 percent sure, but so yeah, that was that. I had a little bit of fun there. Paddled back to camp. What did I do?
I don't think what I did.
Just came back, I think, and just cleaned up. Just bummed around. Put stuff away. I had a lot of stuff laying out, so I put stuff away. And just prepped everything for the next morning. Again, just winging it. So I didn't really have any particular plan. Yeah I decided last night that I was going to sleep in my hammock because there was a nice breeze coming through and so I just brought my sleeping bag out and I just slept in the [00:23:00] hammock last night and surprisingly comfortable.
I've actually never, I mean I've slept in one before, but just napped in them during the day. I've never actually slept in a hammock overnight. And it was pretty nice. Aside from the pine needles occasionally falling and hitting me in the face. Or the occasional bugs scurrying across your arm or whatever.
But other than that it was very comfortable. I slept for almost like 10 hours. So that was good, really nice and refreshing to wake up and, first things first, made myself coffee, made myself breakfast, and then sitting down by the water, just looking at onyx maps, and there's a lake to the south of me called Dogobik.
Yeah, so I was getting everything packed up, I wanted to go check that out, and then there was like a, it's like a 2. 8 mile hike. Up to a vista [00:24:00] that I can see here from my campsite. And I thought maybe I'll go do that, all my gear. I knew there was a storm coming today, so I packed everything up that I could think of just in case I got stuck out there.
Just before I left, I was starting to feel not so good. I was like a little bit dizzy and yeah, just, and my stomach was feeling funny and I was like, man, I really hope that I didn't get Giardia I have water filtration system. It's new to me. And I started thinking about the possibility of somehow contaminating my drinking water, using that unit. And I did do one meal where I just took water straight from the lake and, but I boiled it for quite some time.
The water up here is so clean and so clear, it's I just want to drink it right out of the lake, but that would be foolish, [00:25:00] anyway, I boiled it, but I thought maybe I didn't boil long enough or who knows. And I don't know. Once I got to the other side of the lake and started my hike, I started feeling a little bit better.
I was drinking a ton of water as much as I possibly could and try to stay hydrated. And I think that's ultimately what it was, is I was just feeling dehy. Just getting dehydrated. Yeah. Started the hike. It's like a 150 foot climb, I guess about 200, but when I checked on X, it's about 150 or 160 foot climb to get to the lake.
So it's really cool. It's just like way up there and just a small little lake. There's two campsites out there and I thought about just putting up a spike camp. Out there today. But then I just, I really got nervous about the weather coming through. I just felt like it was just a bad idea to try to test nature in that way.
I figured, if I could get back to camp in time, I [00:26:00] could throw up a, somewhat primitive shelter here, and if something were to go haywire, at least I have my tent that I can climb into, and my sleeping bag, and my pad, and everything to keep me warm. I decided to not. stay up there, but hiked all the way to the top of the Vista.
The view was not spectacular there's still a lot of trees, couldn't see super far. There's a lot of, there's a lot of smoke that's come through from the Canadian wildfires, which I don't, I can't believe there's any of Canada left. It seems like fires have been burning all summer non stop up here.
The air quality has been horrible. And I won't even get into the conspiracy theories that go through my head about that whole situation, but in any case, hung out up there for a half hour. I actually had service when I was up there. My phone started buzzing when I got up there. So I called my wife and I talked to [00:27:00] her on the phone and Emma was asleep.
So I didn't, wasn't able to talk to her, but
yeah, had a snack, turned around. And then started hightailing it back. I was cutting it pretty close to the storm and so I cruised out of there took a dip into Go Gavic quick. I was like overheating. And so I stripped down to my skis and I was gonna jump in the lake, but it's not very deep.
It's pretty shallow, quite a ways out, and it's all rocky. So it's really hard to walk on, really hard to get out there. So I just got out as far as I could. to dip in enough and that was just amazing, super refreshing. And yeah got out of there, hiked the rest of the way back down to West Pike Lake where I'm at now.
Put the canoe back in the water and you can see the thunderhead coming in from the southwest. And I got some [00:28:00] pretty cool shots of that coming in from behind. And so I just hightailed it back over here to my campsite when I got closer. I was like, I got a little bit of time, so I dropped a line in the water for about 20 minutes.
Didn't catch anything. Came up and just real quick threw up this tarp. And just got everything set up and ready for the storm. And, man, that was wild. It was like no storm that I have ever been through in the wilderness. There's there's been times where I've rode out thunderstorms and ground blinds when I'm hunting.
Or there was... There was one night my wife and I slept in the tent at a campground and we had a pretty good thunderstorm come through but you know always with the luxury of being able to get to a vehicle quickly if you have to And so like out here, it's just i'm there's no way i'm this is where i'm at.
I'm not [00:29:00] going anywhere And so just that when that thought process sinks in, it's like a little scary, but at the same time there's something about it too that was just like energizing, and so thankfully this shelter is just, it's just perfect for this. It's been raining for, gosh, I don't know, what time is it?
It's 834 now. Started at six o'clock. Got really bad at six 30. The thunderer claps, there was that lightning was close. Just sends, shivers up your spine. The rain was coming down hard too. I was a little worried about my tent, but it held up pretty good. My hammock was looked like a sail and the wind was funny.
Yeah, so that all [00:30:00] brings us to, this moment, and yeah, it's just a cool experience being up here, and every time I come out here, or I'm in the mountains, or I'm in the backcountry somewhere it changes you. Changes me, and always for the better but you're able to just think about things that you can't think about on the, in the day to day, and just sitting here in your thoughts and really just analyzing and, so the plan for the next day, is just going to be sitting in the shelter until the rain clears that might not be till Today is Tuesday, that may not be until Thursday morning, and so I might be stuck in here all day tomorrow, but, I got books to read, I got journals to write in, I got thoughts to record, you name it, I'll find ways to keep myself [00:31:00] occupied.
So I think that brings us to the end of this episode, and make sure once again that you head over to the Vapor Trail YouTube channel and subscribe. Give this video a and click the bell so that you can get notified about all things archery and backcountry. And with that, I am going to pack up all of my gear here and put it into my tent and leave the Range BWCA studio.
Have a good day everybody. Thanks. Vapor Trail is now offering an exclusive discount to the Range podcast listeners. Enter promo code T R P 15, that's T r p 15 at checkout for 15% off V T X bow strings and Vapor Trail and Stoke Rice, branded t-shirts, hats, and other gear. Woo.[00:32:00]
Heard it. Nice shot. What the hell went wine, I think. I think he cut the. I think he cut the tube at the bottom. Oh man. Sticking him off. Seems like he's driving me nuts.
Trying to find a way to get him out of here. Just wait for him to stop. Then I'll grab him. Chill out bro. Where'd he go? Oh, I almost got him. Oh, come on.
Got him. He'll probably be back. Anyway, there are... Yep, there he is. There are freaking thousands of these mobs everywhere. Like they... He's in my boot. Got in my boot.[00:33:00]
Caught some of this. Oh, there he is.
Oh man, it like... Pissed on me or something. Weird.
That's crazy, I've never had a moth do that before.
Then, it's interesting.
We're still recording. And so that's good. That I'm not just talking to an electronic device that is doing nothing. Yeah, I might cut this part out, but...