Tag Archives: Smokies

BUSAR Update – December & January..

20161210_115057

Training – We trained at Lookrock in both December and January. December focused on hypothermia treatment, SKED packaging, and high angle recovery.

January focused on multiple reps of steep angle, with sessions after dark as well.

Morgan and Sharbel also completed BigPig Outdoor’s Survival 101 course in January.

And the Jernigator did a little run up Groundhog Ridge manway..

Responses – 

  • Grieco, Ransom, Sharbel, Campbell, Sledge, Jernigan, Geist, Wadley, and Lewis responded to the crash of N1839X. Plane crash in the Smokies
  • Grieco responded to missing AT hiker at Peck’s Corner

Team Workouts – 2017 marks the end of 35 pound kettlebells as we up it to 45 pounders. Thank you for the loyal service and punishment you have brought to the team…

15822560_1553050094711995_2153946746924245969_n

 

Recruitment – 

  • Jeff Wadley – Former Lt Colonel in Civil Air Patrol and SAR theory junkie. Literally wrote the book on plane crashes in the Smokies – Mayday, Mayday
  • Ben Harrell – Former Civil Air Patrol ground team leader and computer wizard

fb7ae39c8c17d1ed32a65b97f5b72d93

BUSAR “Over the Hill.. Mountain” Manventure…

IMG_0564

Forty years ago on this day, I was born into this world with love, pain, and blood. This weekend I figured I would celebrate with the same style for the BUSAR team’s monthly training.

What is BUSAR you ask? It’s an interagency fitness and training group for Search and Rescue professionals.

BUSAR’s rougish development arose from my belief that fitness and backcountry skills are as important as technical skills, so I target recruited outdoor athletes for the group. We PT with our SAR packs once a week and do some type of monthly outdoor training.

BUSAR has class V paddlers, an ER doc, a helicopter pilot, and adventure racers, but the most important factor is that these guys live this lifestyle and are willing to push themselves. If we weren’t headed to the woods this weekend for training, they would be there anyway, running, paddling, biking, or climbing. Fitness and experience are not something you can learn in a weekend class and these guys have decades of living that lifestyle. To those that would argue that there is not a need for that level of fitness, I would reply  “Come hither my friend, out of the truck, and behold the brutality of offtrail or a snowy rescue in thine mountains”

More info on the BUSAR project can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/BUSAR1111

September took us to an orienteering race and this month fell on my shoulders, so I picked a “manway” that I had been on my radar for 15 years.

unnamed (2)

Ekaneetlee Trace was an old trail from Tennesee to North Carolina, originating in the Cades Cove area and ending in the Eagle Creek drainage. It was the historical route to cross the west end of the Smokies back before this was even a nation. It departs Gregory Ridge trail, heads up to Ekaneetlee Gap, and drops into North Carolina following Ekaneetlee Creek.  Fontana Lake, and the neccesity of a boat pick up or drop off, make the logistics of completing this manway a pain in the ass, but I had a good plan up my sleeve.

Intel on the net is sparse, but a few quotes that were meant to deter, only pumped up the crew.

“I absolutely love off-trail hiking, but this was a piece of s**t. Nothing redeeming about it whatsoever. There is reallly no visible manway thru much of it. You may as well just blaze your own trail from point A to Point B. If you have not done any off-trails in the Smokies, do NOT do this one. Try something a little more fun.”

“My advice..unless you are experienced at route finding, map and compass reading and or GPS, are in good physical shape and are prepared to bushwack….then stay away. This was one nasty trip!”

As for the quotes, they are completely accurate. My brief description, and the pics to support it, would be as follows..

“A 9 1/2 hour fight with a wild cat, while doing yoga in a rainy jungle gym”

rhodohell

IMG_0575

shin

Out of the 9 1/2 hours, I would estimate we were on a “manway” for about 2 hours, the rest was bushwack city. The Tennessee side was better, as the trail crew used to access the AT via that route according to “Rambo” Ricky, but the NC side was long and rough. On both sides, you would get a short section of manway, only to lose it in a mass of deadfall and rhodo.

IMG_0535

One can only take so much beating from rhodo, before the creek calls your name. We were soaked from the incessant rain anyway, so it was a welcome break from the rhodo hell.

IMG_0543

IMG_0541

There were a couple highlights, including big trees..

unnamed

And the barrel camp where I punched a bear in the face circa 2003..

IMG_0538

About an hour before dark, we popped out at Campite 89 and set up shop. One of the training goals was to bivouac  out of our SAR packs, which typically run about 15 pounds. We also worked on map and compass skills, UTM plotting, and firestarting in crappy weather.

“Casa del cabro”

IMG_0548

Day 2 was a fast paced, 4 mile hike until we felt like Ranger Robin was closing in on us, so we stole a getaway car..

IMG_0550

But had to ditch it..

IMG_0549

So we swam the hell out of there..

IMG_0562

IMG_0560

So why would I choose to punish my body, not sleep in my bed, or eat a spectacular meal for my 40th birthday? Well, that is the “love” part of my first line.

I love these mountains.

I love adventure.

I love finding a camp after bushwacking through a nightmarish rhodo hell and wading a creek all day.

I love sharing those experiences with hardcore, experienced people.

I love knowing that a group I created  can handle the crappiest manway in the park and overnight out of their SAR pack with ease.

I love the feeling of gratitude that comes from adversity when you return home.

And I love looking up to see my wife and son watching us swim across a lake, not because the top of Fontana Dam is closed or it saved us money on a boat shuttle, but because it made us happy..

Future BUSAR member waits for his Dad..

IMG_0573

Special thanks to my mum and dad for bringing me into this world and making this adventure even possible.

And practicing what I preach. For “Survival 101” alumni, below was our trip plan. I also informed a co-worker of our plans and two rangers at the trailhead that morning. Free trip plans are downloadable at:  http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/bpo-trip-plan.html

 blogtp

A Week in the Life of a Wildlife Ranger – Part II…

Image

Wednesday

Same routine, except today it rains. I finish my chicken book, make a few calls, draw some plants, eat, and relax. Tonight I am headed to Doe Knob.

Two weeks ago, while working a problem bear at Birch Springs, I hunted up to Doe Knob. I was stalking a sow and a couple shoats when the wind shifted and I had to back off. Moments later, I watched through the thermal as three coyotes popped up onto the ridge, ran my hogs off, and ruined my hunt.

“Hogblocked” by coyotes, I don’t know if I should count them as allies or enemies. They migrated to the park naturally, so they do not suffer the same fate as the invasive hogs. That night, Doe Knob was theirs, but tonight I am returning to stake my claim.

Hunt, fish, trap, and forage.

When I created my list of desired activities for when I retired, those rose to the top. Not surprising, as when I am engaged in them, it feels right. Maybe it is the sense of freedom or self-reliance, maybe it is hardwired into my DNA, but I have chosen not to wait twenty years to pursue them. There is nothing natural about leaving meat lay on the ground, but hunting hogs is about as close to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle I can get and still get a paycheck. Maybe one day that will change, but for now I have been hitting a wall of federal restrictions on donating the meat.

Foraging in the park is also illegal, with the exception of berries and mushrooms, but I can still look at the menu. As I hunt west I take note of all the edible plants around. Wild cucumber, carrion flower, spring beauty, trout lily, violets, sheep sorrel, toothwort, branch lettuce, Turk’s Cap Lily, greenbrier tips, chaga mushroom, solomon’s seal, false solomon’s seal, blueberry bushes, beech trees, azalea galls, and a nice big patch of chicken of the woods.

Image

About a mile from camp I run into my bear again. He is just down off the hill munching on vegetation, so I slip by him unnoticed, making a mental note for later when I return in the dark. In another two weeks one of my co-workers, “Rambo” Ricky, has to shut down Campsite 13 because of this bad boy. He weighs about 200 now, but later this fall he will be pushing 300. He is the badass on this mountain and knows it. When Rick was camping at 13 to dart him, he said he just rolled in and acted liked he owned it.

I make it to Doe Knob right before dark, just in time to hear the coyotes start howling. If I could interpret coyote, I am pretty sure they are telling me to get lost and that this is still their turf. Damn.

I hunt through mostly old sign and cook my dinner on the back side of the knob. These days I carry a little twig stove that allows me to hike out from camp and set up my kitchen for dinner. I used to cook my dinner in camp before heading out, but some fool tore down my rock oven that allowed me to bake, boil, and grill, so I cook on trail now.

I ate many good meals from this kitchen, even though some Leave-No-Trace fans might object. The truth is, I favor fires and managed correctly, think they are more environmentally friendly. Maybe I leave a fire scar for one season before it fades, but I am pretty sure that the byproducts and industry associated with the production of fancy stoves and fuels are worse and last a whole lot longer.

Image

I hunt the two miles back to camp with no sightings of anything but mice. Glowing white hot in the thermal, the mice run up trees, jump, and disappear like watching some paranormal ghost hunting circus.

Pictured below are a couple deer seen through thermal to give you an idea how animals look. Adding to our effectiveness, night vision and thermal are also a huge safety boon to a program that once sported tractor lights and motorcycle batteries for the night work.

Image

Just before heading down to camp, I see a boar working his way up the hill. It has been windy all week and tonight is no exception, but I have a cross wind that favors me. I rotate the bezel on the Surefire Millenium to the IR mode, allowing me to illuminate the area, when seen through my NVG, but with no visible light for the hog to see. Although I can clearly see the hog in the thermal, the night vision tells me there is a wall of blackberries between us.

It’s almost two in the morning and I am on top of a ridge line eight miles from my duty station. The wild boar that I have been patiently watching through my thermal monocular for the last hour takes another step. I raise my rifle to look through the night vision, but all I see is a wall of vegetation, even though my quarry is less than 30 feet away. The dance continues.

After over an hour of watching patiently, he makes the fatal mistake of stepping into an open area. The heart of a hog is further forward than a deer, behind the front legs. A well placed shot to the heart can also break the shoulders preventing any tracking or trailing. I dispatch another 200 pounder and wonder why I hunted the four mile roundtrip out to Doe Knob, only to shoot one 100 yards from camp.

Image

 

Thursday

 

Same routine, but I today visit the gym, a tree on the bald, to do some pullups, elevated pushups, and planks. Fresh air and free membership.

Image

Early afternoon, I am visited down at the spring by a father and son camping in the area. Caught off guard by a bearded man drawing wildflowers with an assault rifle strapped to his back, my well rehearsed dialogue, badge, and park service hat assures them that I am not some crazy hillbilly. We make small talk and a couple hours later I see them again when I head to the Bald.

I try to call my wife, but my phone is dead. I bought a solar charger for the mountain back in April, but I only get a trickle of juice out of it. Back in the day before I had a cellphone, I could go a week without seeing or talking to anyone. It didn’t bother me, as I am just as comfortable alone or in a group setting, but it is nice to visit with my new neighbors. I eat my dinner on the Bald and chat with Paul and his son Cole about his time with the government, fatherhood, bears, and plants. My table has the best view.

Image

Before leaving the Bald, I listen to the weather channel on my radio about the storms headed my way and watch them roll through the mountains north of me. As I head west, the shift in thunder and the wind in my face causes me to hesitate. I don’t wan’t to hike too far from camp. Crossing the bald in a thunderstorm is not something I want to repeat, as I have learned my lesson before.

I turn around and head east as the thunder draws near. I make it across the bald and hear a hog in the beeches. I stalk closer, kneel down in the trail, and wait for it to cross the trail. It comes off the bank and stops with it’s head and shoulder behind a eight inch tree, effectively covering it’s vital areas at 25 yards. The thunder is right above me now, so I stand up and lean out to the side to get a shot in as tight behind the shoulder as I can.

She crashes through the brush and I hear another one just above me. It grunts, and I see the tops of the beeches ripple as it runs through them. It’s course bypasses the shooting lane I am watching, so I bail off the trail to track the first one down.

Tracking through acres of hog sign can sometimes be an exercise in frustration. A thick layer of subcutaneous fat can seal up a bullet hole leaving very little blood to trail, so here is some hard won advice. Before you shoot a game animal, take note of exactly where it was standing. Reference a tree, a rock, or something, because if you don’t drop it, you’ll be hunting for that trail.

With the threat of rain washing away the blood trail, I don’t waste any time. I pick up a good trail and find her about 80 yards down off the hill. The storm is right above me now. I forgo taking a blood sample and decide to double time it back to camp. As soon as I hit the trail, I run.

A half mile isn’t very far, but when you are on top of a mountain in a thunderstorm, it drags out. I make it under the tarp just as the downpour starts. Lightning is cracking off everywhere, so I spend the next hour squatting on a 1′ x 2′ piece of foam. Even though my chances of getting struck by lightning are about the same as winning the lottery, squatting on the foam at least makes me feel like I am doing something to improve my odds. Truth be told, falling limbs and trees are a greater hazard, but there is something about lightning that gets my attention. I ponder the physics of lightning and hammocks, life insurance, and my unborn son, as I wait for the storm to pass.

The storm moves on, but commo says another cell is to the west of me, so I stay in camp. My phone has 1% battery life, so I text my wife that I am okay, before calling her to tell her about the storm. With her ubiquitous carefree nature she asks me if  “was pretty”. I jokingly reply “Hell no!!” and my phone dies. The rain starts again, so I settle in for the night.

Friday

I wake up early. I have eaten all my food, so I break camp, collect my blood samples that I stored in the creek, and head out. It is foggy and right before the bald, I see a dark animal to the right. Bears and hogs are both black, and by the time my brain processes that the ears are pointy and not round, the hog has winded me and taken off.

I drop down into Campsite 13 and talk with Paul and his boy about the storm. I tell Cole that it was one of the worst I had been through up there and at least he has a pretty good story now. They are breaking camp and heading down the same trail, so I lead the way in case we run into any hogs, which we don’t. I point out a few plants and animal tracks on the way down and enjoy the company.

Back at the truck, I head to the station to process my blood samples and fill out some data forms for each hog. The Dragon’s Tail is littered with branches and broken trees, confirming the power of last night’s storm, and while charging my phone, I receive two texts from Thursday afternoon.

One from my old supervisor asking if I was available to run the boat on a rescue down on Fontana Lake and another one from my current boss that warned me of impending doom. Maybe it is time to start shopping for a new solar charger.

Image

My week is done and I reflect upon it as I head to the house. It may be hard for readers of this blog to believe, but we have had guys quit our crew because they hated camping on the mountain. I even know of one case where a hunter pretended he was up high by calling in and out of service from the station. The “mountain” is not for everyone, but for me it is a good fit.

Even though I am using modern tools, it gives me a glimpse into a primal lifestyle and a peace and relaxation that sings to my soul. An ancient song that is calling us all back…

 

Part I – https://bigpigblog.com/2014/06/18/a-week-in-the-life-of-a-wildlife-ranger-part-i/

A Week in the Life of a Wildlife Ranger – Part I…

Image

It’s almost two in the morning and I am on top of a ridge line eight miles from my duty station. The wild boar that I have been patiently watching through my thermal monocular for the last hour takes another step. I raise my rifle to look through the night vision, but all I see is a wall of vegetation, even though my quarry is less than 30 feet away. The dance continues…

Let me back up and explain how I got there. First, if you are new to this blog, scroll on over to the right and read the disclaimer that this is my blog and not representative of my employer. Next, realize that I am walking a delicate line, so I can’t post pics of dead hogs and have to use my words wisely. Finally, if you are unaware of the damage this non-native species does to the ecosystem, read here. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/dff309-meetexotic.htm  Got it? Great, let’s move on.

So why am I trying to shoot a wild beast in the middle of a National Park, in the middle of the night? Well that’s my job.

Last December, after spending one too many hours behind the wheel of my patrol truck, I quit my career as a Law Enforcement Ranger and switched back to hunting hogs for the Smokies, a job I had previously held for seven years prior to my LEO job. Some people think I am crazy giving up “permanent” status and taking a huge pay cut, but I think it is crazier to work a job that you don’t enjoy anymore.

I have hiked up to Gregory Bald to spend the week hunting hogs. Since my season is coming to an end, I thought I would write about a typical week on the “mountain”.

Spring changes everything. The hogs I have been hunting and trapping all winter have moved up to higher elevation to feed on the abundant spring beauties. When the hogs move up, so do I, and I have been camping Monday through Friday since mid-April. The winter cold is replaced by rain, fog, bears, and bugs, bringing their own set of environmental challenges.

Our division has a series of camps strung out along the Appalachian Trail, so I pick a camp, pack in my gear on Monday and hunt until Friday. The following is an account of what life “on the mountain” is like, at least my life and my camp. The events and pictures are from a week in May, with the exception of a few pics because my phone died and I snapped those during the next.

Monday

Time is ticking away. My shift starts at 1600 and since my wife is visiting family in Florida, I have to get the chickens squared away before I head out. Usually free-ranged, being confined to their run for the week is going to make them real bitchy on Friday, so I let them out while I plant three beds of corn and water the garden.

Our camps have sleeping bags, tents, and a few other items locked in gang boxes, so all I have to take is my food, books to read, my gun, and ammo. I already went grocery shopping over the weekend and pack my food bag with oatmeal, dried fruit, almond milk, clif bars, almonds, llama jerky, coscous and some dried pineapple. Eating only two meals a day when I am camping simplifies my menu. I pack a book on herbal medicine, a book on raising chickens, a wildflower field guide, and the small book I sketch and document plants.

It snowed on me at the end of April, so I throw my primaloft jacket, a pair of socks, a pair of underwear, a merino t-shirt, my rain gear, and a fleece hat into the Wild Things Andinista pack that I am testing out. This week I take my AR chambered in 6.8 SPC, PVS-14 NVG, and a thermal monocular. I usually take my Remington 870 when the mountain “greens up”, but I have a Surefire IR/White light on loan that I want to run with the night vision.

Image

My week begins with death as I pull up to a motorcycle fatality at the beginning of the Dragon’s Tail. I watch as they photograph the body and load it onto the ambulance. Six months ago, as a LE Ranger, I would have been out assisting the medics and deputies, but now I gratefully slide by as they wave me through. I imagine that his family would be consoled by the fact that he was doing something he loved, but it is a good reminder of the fragility of life for me as I continue my commute.

I park at the trailhead and my five mile hike in is uneventful. Lots of hog sign on top of the ridge and I head to camp to set up. When I first came up in April, I set up the raggedy tarp and hung another one under to stop the leaks. The gang box holds a tent, sleeping bags, ground pads, a stove, and a few other things. It doubles as a bear box when I leave camp to hunt, so I can store my food and gear without them tearing it up. My setup is really just wrapping my tree straps around the two trees so when I get back in the middle of the night, I can just hook my hammock to them. The 55 gallon drums are relics from pre-gangbox days and we store the tarps in them at the end of the season.

Image

I ate a big lunch, so I just snack on a clif bar and some almonds. I lock up my food and books, and head out to hunt. If you are unaware of the damage hogs can do, this picture says it all.

Image

The whole top of the ridge is plowed under as they seek out the tasty tubers of spring beauties. I don’t blame them as they are delicious sauteed and pretty good raw. Like four-legged rototillers, the hogs disturb acres of serene mountain tops.

It is windy all afternoon and through the night with steady gusts at 10 – 15 mph. Years ago, I would have call it a wash as your best sense for night hunting, your hearing, is disarmed. Technology has caught up with the hog boys though and a thermal monocular allows me to reclaim the night even more effectively than night vision (NVG). I spend my evening walking the trails peering through the monocular, looking for the telltale white bodies of the hogs. Around 2300, I slip up on a sow and three shoats and wait for an opportunity. Becoming sexually mature at six months means even these juveniles are on my hit list.

Thermal allows you to see the animal’s body heat clearly, but if it is not mounted on your weapon you have to use white light or night vision to take the shot. When I look through the night vision mounted behind my Aimpoint, all I see is brush. The shoats safely root underneath the thick blueberry bushes as I lie in wait just yards away. Eventually they join the sow and wander off the side out of view. I move on, repeating the same frustrating game with a boar closer to camp. At 0100 I return to camp, set up my hammock, call out of service, and go to sleep.

Tuesday

Image

The sun wakes me up. I slide out of my hammock and fix my oatmeal with fruit. I visit the spring to water up and slip back into my hammock to laze the day away, reading books and making a few phone calls until my shift starts at 1600.

I have read accounts where explorers described native populations as being lazy. If one of them rolled into my camp, they might say the same thing. Since my caloric needs are met and I will be hiking and hunting all night, I lounge around during the day and study plants, read, occasionally work out, and make to do lists for when projects back home. I turn my radio on for two hours during the day in case my boss needs to get a hold of me, but my off duty time is my own and I don’t expend a lot of calories.

My boss calls me to see if I want to come off the mountain early for the seasonal employee picnic, but I decline. The afternoon rolls around and I re-hydrate some llama jerky and mix it with couscous for an early dinner. I leave camp and head towards Parsons Bald.

Just before crossing Gregory a boar runs across the trail, but I don’t take the shot. It’s uphill and I can’t see what is over the rise. No hog is worth putting a bullet into a hiker and our rangemaster, “Rambo” Ricky, drilled that into our crew back in the day with his “judgement” course. A ghetto version of a FATS simulator, he would set up tents and mannequins back behind targets on a “jungle lane” shooting course.

I cross the Bald and run into a big bear headed the opposite direction. He doesn’t run off, so I know he may be a problem later. Traditionally, bears have learned to follow us on the trails for free food. Spring is a hard time for bears, so scoring an all-you-can-eat bacon buffet is a pretty good deal. He will later harass the vegetation crew and cause the nearest campsite to be closed in June, but for now he just cruises by with indifference.

I stop in at Campsite 13, introduce myself, and inform the nice couple from Wisconsin that I will be hunting in that area. We chat about bears and I give them some tips on dealing with them.

Just before dark, I catch a 200 pound boar rooting in the trail. This time I have a safe shot, so I slip closer, and dispatch him with a head shot. It is about as humane as you can get and prevents tracking and trailing woes. I take my blood samples, snap a picture, and drag him off the hill.

I head out to Parson’s Bald and wait until dark before hunting my way back to camp. I get in at 0100, after stalking another boar only to be thwarted by the thick growth again.

Image

 

Bears, coyotes, and lightning coming your way in Part II…

Whistlemania IV – Sound Off…

Image

Whistlemania is back!! This week we broke out the sound meter to see how loud our whistlers could get.

Let me first say that measuring decibels is just one more variable to consider and a loud rating on the sound meter may, or may not, correlate with the distance heard on the ground. Nevertheless, decibel ratings are often used as a marketing tactic by whistle manufacturers.

For the testing I used an Extech SL10 Personal Sound Meter, my lungs, and the lungs of Jake, a 9 year old, athletic boy weighing 67 pounds.

Forty five years ago, on this very weekend, a six year old boy went missing in the Smokies and was never seen again. This tragic story and lessons from the huge search effort helped to shape the search and rescue techniques and protocols of today. A whistle is one of the best items to equip your kids with in the woods, so it makes sense to see which whistles work well for them.

Image

The Dennis Martin story: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/jun/28/missing-dennis-martin/

Thanks to my pint size partner, we can also extrapolate the effectiveness of each whistle for an adult with a chest injury or condition preventing the full use of the lungs. Last year, I was routed to respond to a hiker that had been pinned under a tree for a day, after a tornado rolled through the park. http://www.local8now.com/news/headlines/Rescuers-work-to-save-53-year-old-hiker-trapped-by-tree-211582431.html. I never made it there, getting redirected to another emergency, but that scenario could easily crush ribs or restrict your lung capacity. Furthermore, COPD, asthma, and a host of other lung ailments restrict the breathing ability of millions each day, so value may be found for them as well.

I asked Dr. “Hunk” Miller the ins and outs of lung volumes and this is my lay person understanding. If one were to blow on a whistle, you would use both your Tidal Volume (TV) and your Expiratory Reserve Volume (ERV), which equals out to be 22 ml/kg.

Image

Jake, weighing in at 30.5 kg, has around 670 ml of potential air to blow his whistle. That would be the equivalent of a 135 pound person with only one lung or with a chest compressed so it cannot fully expand. If you weigh 135 pounds or more, one could assume that a good performing whistle for Jake would function equally as well if you had an injury that restricted your lung volume or a chronic breathing problem.

This is all important if you consider that if you are using your whistle, there is a high chance that your are injured and/or under the effects of adrenaline, potentially affecting your breathing rate and capacity.

Here were the testing parameters:

1. Decibel level measured at the meter. I assumed, and testing supports, that manufacturer’s claims are done at this distance

2. Decibel level at a distance of 4 feet by a 200 pound adult. Notes on how hard or easy to blow each whistle are in parentheses. Resistance seemed to be the determining factor and can been seen in the duration of the whistle blast in seconds. “Hard”, in this context, means that the whistle provides an amount of resistance greater than the other two categories and does not connote difficultly in use.

3. Decibel level at distance of 4 feet by 67 pound boy. Notes on how hard or easy to blow each whistle are in parentheses based upon Jake’s opinion.

I chose 4 feet for tests 2 & 3 because two other field whistle tests were done at this distance and following that standard will allow comparison.

 

Image

Jetscream Micro –  

  • Meter – 113 dB
  • Adult –  97 dB   (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 95 dB (easy)

Fox 40 Classic – Manufacturer claim of 115 dB

  • Meter – 111 dB
  • Adult – 99 dB  (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 90 dB (easy)

ACME 660 –

  • Meter – 126 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (medium) 4 seconds
  • Child – 101 dB (medium)

ACME Tornado 635 –

  • Meter – 124 dB
  • Adult – 100  dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (hard)

Hammerhead – 

  • Meter –  124 dB
  • Adult – 100  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 99 dB (hard)

Tin Whistle – 

  • Meter – 129  dB
  • Adult – 103  dB (easy) 4 seconds
  • Child – Fail – fingers were too small to cover chamber openings

Fox 40 Mini – Manufacturer claim of 109 dB

  • Meter  – 116 dB
  • Adult  – 96 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 94 dB (easy)

AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro –  Manufacturer claim of 110 dB

  • Meter 119  dB
  • Adult – 93  dB (easy)  3 seconds
  • Child – 82 dB (easy)

ACME Tornado 636 –

  • Meter – 115  dB
  • Adult – 97  dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 87 dB (hard)

SOL Slim Rescue Howler –  Manufacturer claim of 100 dB

  • Meter – 123  dB
  • Adult – 105  dB (hard) –  5 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (hard)

ACR – 

  • Meter – 124  dB
  • Adult – 104  dB (hard) – 5 seconds
  • Child – 106 dB (hard)

Image

Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – 

  • Meter – 125 dB
  • Adult – 105  dB (medium)  3 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (medium)

Zipper Pull Whistle – 

  • Meter – 105  dB
  • Adult – 90  dB (hard)  5 seconds – lip placement must be perfect
  • Child – 87 dB (hard)

Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – 

  • Meter – 123  dB
  • Adult – 100  dB – (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 96 dB (hard)

Sternum Strap Whistle – 

  • Meter – 126  dB
  • Adult – 102  dB (medium) 5 seconds
  • Child – 98 dB (hard)

LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 –  

  • Meter – 112  dB
  • Adult – 93  dB (hard) 3 seconds- lip placement must be perfect
  • Child – 94 dB (hard)

Image

Windstorm – 

  • Meter  – 130  dB
  • Adult – 109  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 105 dB (hard)

Hammerhead Mighty – 

  • Meter – 129  dB
  • Adult – 104dB  (medium) 2 seconds
  • Child – 99 dB (hard)

Lifejacket Whistle – 

  • Meter – 119  dB
  • Adult – 98  dB (too easy) 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 84 dB (easy)

FOX 40 Eclipse – Manufacturer claim of 115 dB

  • Meter – 119 dB
  • Adult – 98 dB (too easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 97 dB (medium)

Storm – Manufacturer claim of 130 dB

  • Meter – 130  dB
  • Adult – 112  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (medium)

Scotty Lifesaver –

  •  Meter  – 112 dB
  • Adult –  91 dB (medium) 2 seconds
  • Child – 89 dB (easy)

ACME Tornado 2000 – 

  • Meter – 118 dB
  • Adult – 98  dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 91 dB (medium)

FOX 40 Sonic Blast – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 120 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 90 dB (easy)

UST Jetscream – Manufacturer claim of 122 dB

  • Meter – 109 dB
  • Adult – 95 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 93 dB (hard)

Whistles for Life – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 121 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 86 dB (too easy)

Promo whistle –  

  • Meter – 109 dB
  • Adult – 95 dB (easy) – 3 seconds
  • Child – 92 dB (easy)

FOX 40 Sharx – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 125 dB
  • Adult – 104 dB (too easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 92 dB (medium)

ACME Cyclone 888 – 

  • Meter – 118 dB
  • Adult – 97 dB (easy) 3 seconds
  • Child – 100 dB (hard)

ACME 649 – 

  • Meter – 115 dB
  • Adult – 97 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 95 dB (medium)

BigPig Outdoors Ear Ringing, Spit Flying Observations:

1. Most of Jake’s scores were very close to mine, a few higher, and some a bit lower. This suggests that lung volume to achieve a loud whistle blast is not much of a factor. Jake outperformed me on several whistles and in one of the linked studies, the child routinely got higher scores.

2. I am not a fan of the “Too easy” to blow whistles. The largest difference between Jake and my scores were seen with these and a few of the windier “easy” whistles. A little resistance by design or by a pea, allowed a more efficient use of the expelled breath in my opinion.

3. Some whistles require perfect alignment or placement of lips that could prove challenging under stress or while injured. These whistles were also tough for Jake to manipulate, and would therefore be poor choices for little ones.

4. The decibel scale is logarithmic, so my lay person understanding is that a 10 dB gain doubles the loudness. In perceived loudness, the 5 – 10 decibels can make a big difference. Source: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-levelchange.htm

5. Like I stated earlier, I think decibel ratings are not as important as the distance that a whistle can be heard, which is a factor of loudness, terrain, and frequency.

Stayed tuned as Whistlemania hits the woods and lakes to see how the whistlers perform at distance…

 

Resources: Adiittional whistle tests based on decibel levels

http://sgtmikessurvivaltips.blogspot.com/2008/05/who-gives-toot-whistle-tests-coming.html

http://sgtmikessurvivaltips.blogspot.com/2008/09/whistle-tests-part-two.html

http://briangreen.net/2011/03/safety-whistles-decibel-testing.html

http://www.refsworld.com/index.php/whistle-decibel-comparison-chart.html#.U5iXFvldX58

If you are new to the blog and wondering why anyone would spend such an inordinate amount of time on researching whistles, start here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/05/whistlemania-i/

then go here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/15/whistlemania-ii-the-iceman-cometh/

and then here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/28/whistlemania-iii-slippery-when-wet/