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Old 05-23-2020, 05:18 AM   #1
Rich Lockwood
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smudge fire?

I know that having a smudge fire to keep bugs away was universal in the adks in the past. I have found that smoke is very effective bug repellant especially for blackflys. Any tips on the best way to build a smudge fire and what to burn in it? My efforts were not satisfactory.
Thanks, Turtle
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Old 05-23-2020, 07:46 AM   #2
St.Regis
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Build a fire, then put something damp on it like a chunk of a half decayed birch log. If you can find a downed piece of green pine, that'll work too.
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Old 05-23-2020, 07:51 AM   #3
Woodly
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a tire...lol
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:13 AM   #4
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Ditto St.Regis. Base of coals, with wet, rotten wood and bark on top. Try to completely cover the coals with the rotten wood and bark so that you can't see any embers (this will make more smoke). If you do it right, it will simmer and smoke for an hour or two without much intervention necessary.

I would be careful about burning anything green though, even if you find it on the ground... the regulations do say "dead and down" for firewood, not just "down." If a ranger sees you burning green wood, at the very least they'll likely question you on where you got it. Probably better just to avoid any chance of that awkward conversation entirely.
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Old 05-23-2020, 06:25 PM   #5
Justin
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Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
I would be careful about burning anything green though, even if you find it on the ground... the regulations do say "dead and down" for firewood, not just "down." If a ranger sees you burning green wood, at the very least they'll likely question you on where you got it. Probably better just to avoid any chance of that awkward conversation entirely.
Funny enough... Not naming any names but last summer I had an AFR ask me to burn up some freshly cut green hemlock branches that someone (not us) had recently cut not far from the campsite so that other people wouldnít see them & get the wrong idea. I politely declined because we were leaving soon, and he definitely seemed very annoyed & Iím not quite sure why he felt it should be my responsibility to get rid of them, but I told him that I would drag them up the hill a ways out of view which I did without any help from him. Mustíve had a bad day I guess.

As for whatís good to burn to help keep the bugs away I hear burning some sage helps. Never tried that but Iíll usually stick to punky/damp type wood mentioned above & stand in that smoke, and sing & dance around with it as much as possible & as much as you can take it haha.

Last edited by Justin; 05-23-2020 at 06:40 PM..
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Old 05-24-2020, 12:03 PM   #6
Lucky13
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I was in the Plains early once, and encountered a couple of guys who were set for the bugs. They had harvested male cattail flowers (the "cigars") with a fair piece of the cane, and then dipped them in melted paraffin, and stored them over winter. When lit, they smoked like giant punks, which we used to be able to buy when we were kids. They would lite one end, then stick the cane into the ground. They would have five or six going around there fishing spot, and stayed pretty bug free, and very little to cleanup. They burned for quite a while, and did a pretty good job.
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Old 05-24-2020, 03:27 PM   #7
Jack
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Seen this on Survivor Man, he used a small piece of Birch Fungus to ward off mosquitos. He explained the theory and it seemed to work for his situation. Don’t know if it would work for black flys or other biting critters. I’ve never tried it (but always remembered) and I don’t know if it’s legal in the Adirondacks. Just saying.....
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Old 05-24-2020, 04:32 PM   #8
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Iíve never tried it (but always remembered) and I donít know if itís legal in the Adirondacks. Just saying.....
The firewood regulation reads as follows:

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6 CRR-NY 190.1 (c) No wood, except from dead and down trees or from supplies furnished by the department, shall be used for fuel.
So the "dead and down" rule applies only to wood fuel specifically.

However, there is an additional regulation that prohibits the "defacing, removal, destruction, or other injury" to a variety of items- including fungus.

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6 CRR-NY 190.8 (g) No person shall deface, remove, destroy or otherwise injure in any manner whatsoever any tree, flower, shrub, fern, fungi or other plant like organisms, moss or other plant, rock, soil, fossil or mineral or object of archaeological or paleontological interest found or growing on State land, except for personal consumption or under permit from the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation and the Commissioner of Education, pursuant to section 233 of the Education Law.
Obviously, strict enforcement of that later regulation is pretty much impossible. No one gets ticketed for breaking a blade of grass while hiking. I don't think most rangers would have an issue with the occasional burning of birch fungus (provided it was furnished from a dead and downed birch) but it's also probably not really something that should be publicly advocated as a generally accepted practice.
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Old 05-24-2020, 06:21 PM   #9
Jack
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DSettahr, thanks for the info and the old pictures on the other thread. This is my 49th year of Mountain backwoods adventures. I’m hoping to make 50 years but it’s starting to look doubtful. Anyway, being chewed up really bad in the early days I learned to limit my trips to early spring and the fall timeframe. I’m good at packing survival tips way back in my brain, just in case. I would only use fungus in a dire situation, and again thanks for the info. If I get back in the fall I will definitely look for down and dead birch trees with the fungus attached, and note it’s location, just in case.......
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Old 05-25-2020, 04:30 AM   #10
Rich Lockwood
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I believe
adk regulations say something about fires being allowed for cooking or smudge.
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Old 05-25-2020, 01:30 PM   #11
DSettahr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Lockwood View Post
I believe
adk regulations say something about fires being allowed for cooking or smudge.
Here's the regulation on that:

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6 CRR-NY 190.1 (a) No fires are permitted except for cooking, warmth or smudge. No fire shall be lit until all flammable material has been removed from its perimeter as is necessary to prevent its spread. No fires shall be left unattended until extinguished.
So technically... if it's a hot, bug-free day and you're not cooking... you can't have a fire on state land in the Adirondacks (or on state land in the Catskills, where many of the same regulations apply).

In all seriousness, I would surmise that the intent of this regulation is not so much to restrict the recreational use of campfires as it to prohibit fires for non-recreational uses- such as burning trash to dispose of it.

With the smudge fires, there is still plenty of room to be creative, I think. For example: Last spring I was camped at Plumleys on Long Lake one night, and the bugs were absolutely horrendous. It had been a wet spring, and the water had gotten pretty high- and the shoreline was covered in piles of detritus that had washed up. There was no shortage of wet and rotten branches, logs, sticks, leaves and pine needles to use as fuel to make enough of a smokey fire so that I was able to at least eat dinner in peace before diving into my bug net for the night. I hardly even used any of the pile of wood that was there when I arrived- just enough to get the fire started and build some coals before piling the wet detritus on top.

I went through there again a few months later and the piles of detritus were hardly touched... no one had thought to use any of it as fuel at all.

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Old 05-26-2020, 09:32 AM   #12
St.Regis
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6 NYCRR Part 190.8 (g)...thankfully the wording "except for personal consumption" is written in that regulation. Otherwise, eating a handful of raspberries on the trail or collecting enough wild blueberries for a pie or harvesting a few morels for dinner would not be permissible.
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:05 PM   #13
Schultzz
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When the wild blueberries are ripe look for bear and moose tracks on the Plains road. It's one of their favorites.
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