Thursday, 5 June 2008

Happy Blogday To Me! Bushwackin’ 365

Suddenly it’s time to do one of those ‘that was the year that was’ reviews that TV stations use as cheap programming on new years eve. A whole year has passed since I formalised my journey and started telling all of you about it. I’ve not been deluged with animal rights nutters telling me I’m a cheerleader for the forces of darkness, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have told me that they couldn’t do it themselves but understand why the wild food journey is so important to me. First things first, I’m always a bit amazed that you are actually reading this, and enduringly grateful to those of you who could be bothered to chip in with the odd comment, it’s made keeping the blog going a lot easier. The year has been full of soaring highs and crushing lows in my other life, the one I lead outside of the adventure in this blog, and the blog has helped. It’s given me a focus outside of work, a perspective, a purpose. The other positive output has been a new found confidence in my writing. Like it or loathe it, mock my spelling and poor grasp of grammar, but there’s no one else writing anything quite like it, it’s mine and, there are a growing number of posts that I’ve started to feel quite pleased with.
I’ve done errhm ‘some’ work on the skill set that my hunt will require, re awakened the kit fetishist within, took a bit more exercise (ok babe a very little bit – but I have dug the vegetable patch over!), expanded the range of my reading, learned the basics of bare bow archery, hunted rabbits with ferrets, used a shotgun to turn flying ashtrays to dust, and cast my first fly at a wild trout. My compound bow still languishes in the garage, certainly not unloved, but unused. I’ve found an archery club I could attend but they are stickbow only as their secretary told me her butt wasn’t big enough. I was confused too until I remembered that a butt is the traditional name for an archery practice ground!

Lessons in feral failure?
When I stared fishing I learned three knots, and for some reason my brain has only assigned enough memory to its knots database to remember those three, I can tie them in the dark, in the rain, wherever. Regular readers will have noticed that while I confidently announced that I would be making my own set of purse nets for rabbiting, so far all I have to show for my efforts are some tangled pieces of string – described in the word[s] of one observer as ‘shocking’.

Tanning Hides?
Firstly I’d like to try to shift the blame onto Mrs SBW – she found my rabbit brains in the freezer and chucked them out. So that was brain tanning out the window. Sadly the rest of the failings are mine. Tanning hides is harder than it looks, one rabbit skin is now hard enough to make a knife sheath from and the other two are still hiding from Mrs SBW in the freezer.

Fitness and Mass Reduction?

I’m too embarrassed to talk about it; there is only one worthwhile prescription.
Eat less and do more

The wild food highlights were;
Bunnies ferreted out by James’s little helpers. The legs cooked with tomato, paprika, and black olives. The loins rolled into spirals, poached, browned and served on top of large slices of black pudding (traditional English blood sausage).
A haunch of Muntjac; which turns out to be the perfect size of eating deer for suburban dads on portion control, skinny bints and picky city kids. I casseroled mine in a gravy of shallots, plonk red and Hoisin sauce. Yummy.
GMT Chestnuts (harvested in Greenwich park) eaten with pancetta and leeks in a cream sauce.
Road kill Pheasant – Although I haven’t had the opportunity to either attend a traditional English pheasant shoot (which looks from the outside like a sort of real life video game shoot ‘em up - for £1000 ($2000) a day!!) or join a walked up woodland hunt. I have been keeping my eyes open and have been pleasantly surprised by the number of daft birds who made the mistake of playing in the traffic. With delicious consequences!

As with every ‘that was the year that was’ round up there are of course some awards to dish out.

On the kit collecting front the Best in Test award is shared by the
Fallkniven F1, covered in scratches, sharpened, blunted and sharpened again, a genuinely bombproof confidence inspiring tool.
The Bahco Laplander Saw: which has proved itself to be thoroughly deserving of its ‘bushcraft’ reputation - lightweight, cheap and a very, very efficient cutting tool. [Apparently there are; hardwood, softwood, and greenwood blades available, but the card mine came attached to made no mention of which blade it’s equipped with. It has happily cut all three.

If there were a category for best gadget (ok there is) it would have to go the spyderco Sharpmaker. It does what it says on the tin.

The Bushwacker Style Award
Rogue for their great hats – described by one observer as ‘Like and outdoor Bez hat, way cool’

Services To Bushwacking – furthering the cause.

In the afield category
James Marchington – for teaching me to hunt with ferrets

In the a-stream category
Jeremiah Quinn – for his inspirational fly fishing lesson

In the best blog comment category
Mungo – Butcher, Bushcrafter, Project manager and Surrealist.

Thanks for reading, stick with it – it gets better!
Your pal

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