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Used a timber hitch last year, interestingly for its designed purpose. We needed to move some logs for a lean-to we were fixing and the timber hitch was the perfect choice to tie on to the human mule powered line. I have never used the sheepshank. Even its designed purpose is "dumb" IMO.
Sheepshank isn't one of the 6 scout knots. The sheet bend is, and it's great for joining two lines of different thicknesses (or the same thickness for that matter).
first of all, I use climbing webbing, at least 1in thick, as it causes less damage to the tree. I use a timber hitch on one end, but then secure the hitch with a bowline to the standing end of the line to prevent movement / slippage... I make sure this end is wrapped at least twice around the tree trunk to help distribute weight and not cause bark damage. I do the same for the other end, but use a TL hitch so that I can adjust the hieght of the hammock. Once I have the right height, I tie a modified truckers hitch around the webbing going to the tree trunk. This will stop any slipping of the TL hitch. Both are pretty easy to undo. Only time I've had trouble is when it rained and my boy was jumping into the hammock, that caused the hitches to seize up a little bit.
My dad was a Master Chief Boatswains Mate in the Coast Guard. If you don't know what that is, the Boatswains Mate is the guy that among other things, handles the ropes, chains, etc..... lashes stuff down to the deck, handles the boats, etc....
He knows all the knots, but in practice always uses a half hitch for almost everything. He used to show me the bowline in a few different variations, and a couple others, but when it came to actually tying off anything, it was a half hitch or multiple half hitches, or one of the variation of that theme.....
We just got some new patrol gear for our Troop. One of the items in each patrol box is now a dining fly. The first thing the SM did was cut off the "friction" ties on the guy-lines to the fly tarp... "It'll force the lads to use the taught-line hitch for its intended purpose". We are toying with the idea of ripping through one of the eyelets on each tarp as well to force the use of the sheet bend, but can't quite bring ourselves to break brand new gear.
I don't think knots are the end-all be-all of scouting, but kind of like first aid, if you don't use it you tend to loose it.... so look for ways to MAKE the boys use their knots in everyday camping situations. Also, if your tying a taught-line hitch in the basement of a church for a requirement, versus doing it to keep a trap up over your head to protect you from rain / heat.... I bet you pay attention and remember it better if / when your comfort demends upon it.
Lastly, I consider the truckers hitch to be one of the most important / useful if not the most useful knot you can know. Its certainly more important that the sheep-shank. Every time I'm behind a truckload of crap on a CA freeway on my motorcycle, I say a little prayer that the person that tied the load was a scout worth his salt. (I try to get out from behind the truck as fast as possible, as I assume most DIY movers were not scouts / scouters)
When we got new dining flies, I did the same thing--I removed all of the doobers (my name for the mechanical tautline hitch replacements), so the boys had to use TL hitches.
I was pleasantly surprised at the camporee last weekend, when the boys in my troop knew all the 6 knots in the knot relay. They lost the competition (speed), but I was happy that they knew all the knots.
Finally, I agree with you totally about the trucker's hitch. I canoe/kayak/windsurf and I use a modified truckers hitch to tie the bow and stern of the watercraft down. By modified truckers hitch, I mean I use an overhand loop for the knot in the body of the rope, which is semi-permanent, as I am usually tying the same watercraft on the same vehicle. I also use slipped half-hitches, because I can double up the line, and don't have as much leftover line then. The painters of my watercraft are at least as long as the watercraft are, so I have some extra line that needs to be dealt with.