Thursday, 29 July 2010

American Storyteller(s)

Over the last few days I've been doing a spot of decorating at my mums place. I used the time to listen to This American Life online. Created by Ira Glass, Broadcast from Chicago on Public Radio International this is one of the most compelling archives of storytelling I've ever heard. There isn't one single episode that I've listened to that isn't praise worthy. If you like storytelling (and I'm guessing you do, as you're wasting what would otherwise be valuable time reading this) get an ipod and download the podcasts for those random moments when you'd like to feel smarter and better informed, or just fancy seeing the world through new eyes. For readers in the UK Mr Glass is a bit like an American cross between Mr Fry and that guy from D-ream who did the physics show. Clever, witty, with an infectious enthusiasm for the side issues that drive the story. Way Cool.

Poultry Slam is an investigation into our relationships with fowl and what our attitudes say about us, as ever on TAL the voices are diverse, and serve to counter point each other creating a 'whole' commentary.

"Humans have turned chicken and turkey into what we want them to be. 
Which means that chickens and turkeys are a mirror of ourselves." 

In act 3 Michael Lewis' piece about goose hunting is also very good.

Guns is a great piece of journalism, conflicting responses to gun violence, moments of terror and joy, how 'strawman' purchases come to be made, insight into the changing culture of violence among inner city kids and the HILARIOUS Sarah Vowell takes a trip home to Montana [thanks Chad] to spend some 'family time' with her gunsmith father.

'Some things were said during the Reagan administration, that cannot be taken back.'

As with my recent comments exchange with Hippo - realising that we in fact ARE our dads is the hardest thing to bear. And therefore the funniest.

Best thing on the radio.
PS Should you find yourself in need of an urbane felt Ira Glass this is where you get them from

Friday, 23 July 2010

Birds Eye View

Peales tiercel wearing camera way up over Jackson Valley from Jason Jones on Vimeo.

I saw this on Tom Chandlers Trout Underground and thought you might like it too.
A Falconer has trained a Falcon to fly with a camera harnessed to it, AMAZING
Your pal

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

City Boy Goes Deer Stalking In Scotland

'If you burst into tears I'll know you're not feeling up for it'  Niall - head Stalker

A life long supermarket carnivore heads north to stalk red deer on the west coast of Scotland. He wonders if he can survive, if the locals will eat him and if he'll be able to pull the trigger. During the trip London Media-Boy hunts woodcock, takes an unexpected dip in a burn and looks into his own conflicted feelings about killing his dinner.  Plenty of misconceptions,  some guts and gore, and the locals persuade him to read a Burns poem - in an english accent. Cringe.

Worth a look

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Shit My Dad Says - About Bushcraft and Car Camping

The Maine Outdoorsman's recent post Car Camping For Dummies  reminded me of this gentle piece of advice from one of my favourite outdoor writers:

“Leave the real wilderness out of account for the present; go to some pleasant woodland, within hail of civilization, and start an experimental camp, spending a good part of your time in learning how to wield an axe, how to build proper fires, how to cook good meals out of doors, and so forth. Be sure to get the privilege beforehand of cutting what wood you will need. It is worth paying some wood-geld that you may learn how to fell and hew. Here, with fair fishing and some small game hunting, you can have a jolly good time, and will be fitted for something more ambitious the next season.”

Which in turn reminded me of the forthright nature of the advice and commentary offered by Sam Halpern (Justin's dad) in the hilarious record of the trials and tribulations of child-parent relations 'Shit My Dad Says'

"I’m not sure you can call that roughing it, son… Well, for one, there was a fucking minivan parked forty feet from your sleeping bags.”

Sam Halpern is, without doubt, the least passive aggressive person in the world, and that makes him a great dad in my book.


PS Am I the only one having endless formatting errors in the new blogger layouts?

Monday, 19 July 2010

When They Gotta Go They Gotta Go, Whatcha Gonna Do?

O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us? 

Well I've a rough idea of what they'd be thinking if they'd wandered down the canal path and overheard us chatting the other night. Not good.

The Northern Monkey: Have you seen the swans on canal? There's a whole flotilla of the bastards, this morning they woke me up at dawn. There must be a way to shoot them, or at least scare them off

The Suburban Bushwacker: I stamped a pigeon to death this morning

The Northern Monkey: Any reason? Or you just fancied it?

I could tell you the rest of the story, a tale of tracking a wounded avian across the small expanse of a suburban car park, the pitiful sight of it's suffering and it's dispatch. But it's probably funnier if I leave that bit unsaid.

your pal

Picture credit goes to story from the telegraph

Thursday, 15 July 2010

For Fun - Writing Cozya Want To

Lots of us write blogs, not that we have any feasible hope of pecuniary gain, but first for the satisfaction of getting something down on the page, then because the unexpected approval of strangers is such a thrill, and then as the list of posts grows to take those first often faltering steps: new subjects and new styles of writing.

You know who you hope you write like, but is there a scientific way, a 'fair and balanced' way to find out who you actually write like? Take the paragraph above:

Do I have the voice of a man who was regarded as a churner-out of populist crud for the worst kind of 'penny dreadful' but now all these years later has 'classic' and 'textbook' status? We fished the same river maybe there was someting in the water?

'Check what famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them to those of the famous writers.

Any text in English will do: your latest blog post, journal entry, comment, chapter of your unfinished book, etc. For reliable results paste at least a few paragraphs (not tweets).'

Here's the link - let us know who you write like

Our First Hunt got me Margaret Mitchell - not too shabby, but frankly my dear ........ I don't give a damn

Hmmm-Bushwacker  James Joyce -  I fear those big words which make us so unhappy

I just Play One On TV Chuck Palahniuk - You wanna fight about this? Tuesday next is good for me, bring a friend.

Who'd have thought that Albert's Charged - Hog Hunting at It Finest would come out as Margaret Atwood?

Your pal


PS Chad, that last email - You're David Foster Wallace! LOL

Blogging: Rule 303

Erhm, I wish to report an oversight. it has come to my attention that there is a blog that many of you aren't reading, or if you are reading it you're yet to comment. I'm just as bad, I intended to write this post weeks ago. Rule 303 The Locavore Hunter is on my must-read list of blogs.

'Hunting (literally) for local food, some geeking about rifles, conservation and a dose of civil politics' 

He runs a course for people who would like to get up close an personal with their dinner call "Deer Hunting for Beginners" which he's had some success with and it's been featured in the New York Times
and We Love DC (as ever the comments are worth a read).

There are a number of reasons to consider learning how to hunt for your own food. Many people reading this probably feel a little bit bad about eating meat but not quite bad enough to actually stop. If you feel that you've been somehow dodging the ethics of meat and animal cruelty in your own life, there is no more effective way of facing the matter head-on than by learning to hunt and butcher the food yourself. As a hunter, the experience of the animal that you eat is up to you. A whitetail deer in Virginia can live a good and natural life in the wild and then have one bad morning before becoming food. Which is an ethically better source of obtaining meat? From a wild deer or from a pig raised in a factory farm under Auschwitz-like conditions?

Commercial meat is typically filled with hormones and antibiotics and is fed on grain that required high amounts of petroleum to fertilize and transport. Wild venison is free-range and free of hormones, antibiotics and the cruelty of captivity. If you are concerned about 'food miles' and the impact that your own diet has on the environment, hunting is a very practical way of addressing this. There are wild deer in high numbers in nearly every area of the Eastern US. Many people reading this can either hunt literally in their own backyards or could be helped to find land within 25 miles on which they can hunt for deer. Literally, you could be measuring your food miles by looking at your odometer.

His commentary on firearms legislation is a welcome improvement on most of the blogosphere's cut 'n' paste rantings.  None of the boring indignation, asks more than he answers, pins a tail on the elephant in the room, worth a read. As is his coverage of Ebay's firearms policy

His 'rifle geeking' extends to running a weekend course where you can turn a vintage Mauser 98 into a modern hunting rifle which you get to take it home with you on Sunday afternoon. Have a look here.

This piece might have been written with The Northern monkey in mind, rifle choices from $60!
Bang For Your Buck: Comparing Surplus Rifles For Sporting Conversions

What will be, I imagine, of particular interest to regular readers is his interest in eating aliens, those non-native disrupters of the ecosystem, and how to bring about 'the culinary solution'to their invasion plans.

"Work and hunting for food were interfering with each other so one of them had to go".

See you over there, 

Pic credit to John Athayde

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

I Just Play One On TV

True Story:
I was sitting on a bench eating a sorbet - a woman, with the belligerent tone of the holiday maker, demanded

BHM: "Where'dja get the ice cream"

Not 'Say Honey' or 'Excuse me' just "Where'dja get the ice cream" [face like a slapped arse]
I, on the other hand, was able to remember my manners [just]

SBW: One block, turn right and it's the fudge store.
BHM: Oh tell me that's a fake accent
SBW: Of course it is ma'am, I just put it on for the tourists

It's the small things that make this life bearable, dear reader.
Keep on keeping on

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Wild Gourmets Book Review

I quite liked the first series of the TV show and watched a couple of the second series but it didn’t really capture my imagination. So when MCP gave me 'The Wild Gourmets: Adventures in food and freedom' for Crimbo I was intrigued. The authors have managed to pull off the difficult trick of showing hunting in a positive light on mainstream TV. The show is aimed at a foodie audience who, while liking the idea of wild food, may still have some trepidation about up-close-and-personal knowledge of their dinner’s demise.

Guy Grieve is a good deal more interesting a character than the series lets on. Bored of his desk-jockey life at the The Scotsman newspaper; he actually did what so many of us occasionally dream of doing and de-camped to Alaska to live in a self built cabin for a year. I know he’s Scottish and they’re tougher up there, but it’s still no small achievement. You can read more about his adventure here.

Tommi was a former winner of ‘Masterchef’ a TV show with a self explanatory title.
Where ‘Tommi’ shines is that she shows just how frikkin’ easy it is to cook nice food over burning wood. I’ve never believed that campfire cooking should automatically be burned around the edges. She makes some really nice looking food and clearly has a sense of adventure with ingredients.

All great cooking TV has to be to succeed is to show the audience how small the step beyond their comfort zone is, and then entice them to take the step with pictures of the result and the cook being praised for the result. She makes a good fist of it.

Most TV cooks in the UK have used ‘Chocolate and Chilli’ as a cipher for adventure, the mindset that chocolate is always served as a sweet food is so completely ingrained in UK food culture that even when it’s become a cliché of foodie TV it’s still able to elicit a fission of excitement and squeals of unexpected delight at the dinner table. Here’s Tommi’s take on Venison and ChocolateFeeds 10

2kg shoulder or haunch of venison
olive oil, for browning
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
5 celery stalks, diced
2 parsnips, diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 dried chillies, crumbled
500ml game stock (or stock made from bouillon cubes)
½ bottle full-bodied red wine
100g dark chocolate, finely grated or chopped
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
For the marinade
1 bottle full-bodied red wine
4 garlic cloves
1 sprig of rosemary
4–5 sprigs of thyme
2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 juniper berries, crushed
salt and pepper
How to make venison braised with chilli and chocolate
1. Make sure your fire has lots of hot embers (or preheat an oven to 190°C/gas 5).

2. Cut the venison into 2.5cm cubes, removing large bits of fat or gristle. Put these into a double-layered plastic bag, along with all the marinade ingredients. Set aside for a day in a cool spot in the river (or in the fridge if you have taken your quarry home), turning every so often so that all of the meat comes into contact with the marinade.

3. When you are ready to cook, remove the venison from the marinade, setting the marinade aside for later.

4. Heat a large casserole over a high heat until it is smoking hot. Pour in a tablespoon of olive oil and when it is very hot add the venison cubes, 6 or 7 at a time, so that you are not overcrowding the pan and thus bringing down the temperature of the oil.

5. Brown the meat on all sides for 1–2 minutes, letting the pan get hot again between each batch and adding more oil if necessary.

6. When the meat is all browned, set it aside while you brown the vegetables.

7. Add a tablespoon of oil to the casserole and sweat the onions for 5 minutes before adding the carrots, celery and parsnips. Cook for a further 10 minutes, allowing the vegetables to start caramelising without letting them burn. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

8. Return the venison to the casserole, along with the reserved marinade and the rest of the ingredients. Bring up to a gentle simmer, stirring to melt the chocolate into the sauce. Cook in the Dutch oven (or preheated oven) for about 90 minutes or until the meat is tender and falling apart.

lf you're a regular reader  I think you’ll quite like this book as a read, and find the recipes easy to follow and delicious to eat. If you’re looking to expand someone’s foodie horizons I think you’ll find its the perfect gift.

I’m still waiting for our friends, those bon viveurs afield, NorCal and HAGC to hit our screens. 
I can see it now ‘She Kills it & He Grills It - The Holly & Hank Show’.

Your Pal

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Old School Kit: The Acme Thunderer

I must have had this whistle for over twenty years, a lad I used to know brought it home one day, having had a near miss with an absentminded pedestrian whilst cycle-dispatching. He gave it to me, and in the intervening years I've made quite a few people jump out of their skins with it. Really it is 'double bastard' loud. Solid brass with thick plating and a cork 'pea' ball. Which, while we're passing: travels as just over 800 meters per hour - who knew?

"There is no whistle available today, from any source, that doesn’t owe its existence to a concept or design pioneered by Acme. The Acme Thunderer alone had sold over 200 million"

It doesn't get anymore old school than that. As our friend The Bambi Basher said "everyone should have an Acme Thunderer"

Cuckoo, Crow, Jay & Magpie, Duck, Quail, Curlew and Predator calls also available

Catch you soon
Your pal

Sunday, 4 July 2010

I Want One - A Not So Occasional Series Pt17

Partially in response to Colorado Caster and the mighty Josh of Lands On The Margin commenting on the high-ticket nature of the I Want One series, and partially as I'm hoping to vist New England during shotgun season, abet on a severly restricted budget. I thought it was time to have a look at slug launchers. As luck would have it The Gun Nuts at F&S were doing a round up of possible options. In a land were firearms ownership isn't controlled [much] economies of scale mean some handsome deer-slayers are available from new at prices even I can occasionally afford.
The Harrington and Richardson Ultra Slug Hunter Deluxe

Priced around a feasible $300 and claimed to be a 'true tack-driver', this single shot shotgun has a 24" fully rifled heavyweight barrel. Which if my understanding is correct will offer favorable harmonics and better long-range accuracy.

It's offered with a 'walnut-stained' American hardwood stock in the Monte Carlo style to promote rapid eye-to-gun alignment. 12 and 20 gauge versions available, and even comes with a set of scope mounts.

Interestingly Harrington and Richardson use their own proprietary design of Ultragon™ rifling to guide the plastic 'sabot' or casing that encloses the slug trough the barrel. This is designed to make less impression on the slug than the 'lands' of conventional rifling and should greatly increase accuracy. 

Of course this post wouldn't be part of the I Want One series if we didn't top it off with a Schmidt & Bender Zenith 1.1-4x24 a snip at $1699. Perfection.

Happy 4th of July Folks


Friday, 2 July 2010

Blogger Loses Gunfight

Round One: Gun 1 - Blogger 0
Can you guess what happened? It all started innocuously enough, Goofy Girl and Stonecutter (you'll meet them later) had set me up with a 'play date' with GG's friend Ean, and his pal Mike. I was to be inducted into the great american tradition of 'heading to an out of town quarry to fire guns'.

Ean: "Ever fire a muzzle loader? This one I fire prone, we're allowed two shots or two guns so I take the other one along for a follow-up shot." Hmm "I fire prone" Hmm maybe there was clue there?
Ean: "Ever fire a thirty-aught-six? Care to?"
SBW: "Does the pope shit in the woods? Is the bear a catholic?"

Notorious on my side of the pond for having a fair amount of bark, the 30-06 also has a bit of clack to it, but it didn't seem as hard a recoil as I'd been led to believe. Old school steel butt-plate was a bit alarming though!
Ean: This one seemed appropriate. 

Another treat the chaps had laid on for me was a Rifle No5 Mk1 AKA the .303 Jungle Carbine. Highly point-able and a svelte 7 lb. 1 oz. (3.2 kg) I really  liked it. It would definitely make an excellent deer stalking rifle, although some people use the .303 for larger game.
The boys had some new toys they were keen to test out
I could hear the delighted laughter even through the ear plugs and over the sound of gunfire, 
this is one Chinese import that appears very popular, offer excellent value and does what it says on the tin.
So that's what it's like to be a hollywood action hero
Rumours that I'm a fat Jason Statham will be hotly denied, as usual.
Mike thought I should expand my firearms experience 
As American as Apple Pie - the S & W 1911
.50 cal Muzzle loader off the 'pod: I'd struggled to get my eye lined up with the scope, I 'thought' I had the pad against my shoulder, the sight picture cleared and I was ready to let one go, when.....
It bit me! (OK a sheepish, fat, Jas.....) 
Claret everywhere! Smarted a bit too. Fortunately most of the bruising was to my ego. The cut was nicely placed to be beyond the sewing talents of the junior doctors that work emergency rooms. My policy is that I don't mind going to hospital if A: someone is carrying me and/or B: I'm unconscious at the time. Ean, who has the confidence inspiring air of the ships surgeon about him, produced a seriously well appointed first aid kit and patched me up. One of the good guys.

The last word goes to Mrs Ean:
"That's how we do it at our house. It's not fun unless someone-almost-gets their eye poked out."

Your Pal