Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Hedgehogs! What are they all about?
Why cant they just share the hedge with the other animals?

More Soon

Picture credit britishhedgehogs.org.uk

Monday, 26 December 2011

Bow Hunt Giant Rats?

Morning all, hope you're not feeling too rough after yesterdays excesses, At the shindig I went to while the family were gathered round a copy of the saturday paper was being passed round to squeals of delight, it contained a review of the hilarious book [and website]  Awkward Family Pet Photos  needless to say this handsome beast was my favorite, although no family member was able to answer my questions:
What is it? Where can I Bowhunt it? What do they taste like?

I've loved hunting and eating squirrel's, Mr. Bojangles has reported on eating Rats in Senegal, could this be the next stop for the Rodant Carnivore?

Any pointers, and/or invitations gratefully received

Your pal

PS For news of the UK's Trophy Rats click here

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Crimbo '11

Having been up all night working, some people seem to have fallen off the wagon sleigh!

Where ever you are, whatever you're up to, Happy Crimbo
Your pal

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

My 500th Blog Post

Well doesn't time fly? 500 posts along the road. I've learned to write [a little], a bit about shooting, very little about archery, I can now cast[ish] a fly [so that's 1% of yer actual fly fishing], I've collected most of the gear, been on TV, made myself a dinner party pariah, changed job, worked my way out of poverty, been cheated back into it, separated from the mother of my children, found and lost love, feasted on the flesh of wild animals, and felt the shame of my shopping perpetuating factory pharming.
All in the name of freedom, adventure and a more honest relationship with my dinner.

[Shrill] Horrified dinner part guest: You kill deer! How can you do that?
[Smirking] SBW: With a high-velocity rifle.

Honestly. Not much of this would have happened without you dear reader, some of you have actually stuck with it and read every post, some of you have written blogs of your own, a few of you I've actually met. I can honestly say blogging is the best thing I've ever done, I cant even begin to express how much it's sustained me during the dark times, how cool I've seen myself look in some peoples eyes and just how great it is to have a little bit of inner space where I can speak to you in the voice of SBW.

I could make a long list, a roll of honor of the bloggers I've emailed with and or met, and try to thank you all individually but I'd be mortified if I missed anyone out. I've loved every minute of it. It's meant more to me than I can say.

More soon

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Hitch: A Eulogy

So it's over, The Hitch has left the building: angry, clever, scruffy, stylish (in a way), funny, hard drinking, fine dining, and provocative. The contrarian's contrarian. We parted company over the war in Iraq, but not over a lot of other stuff.

The table at the ultimate dinner party now has one less place setting.

"My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilisation, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either."

"What is your idea of earthly happiness? To be vindicated in my own lifetime."

Your pal
The Tweets of favorite Hitchisms
Picture credit and an interview

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Girl Hunter: Book Review

I was made-up when I got sent a pre-release copy of Georgia Pellegrini's second book 'Girl Hunter' to read and review. Unknown on this side of the pond she's built her media profile as the champion of 'retro-locavore'; recipes that develop from meals with people, seasonal local ingredients, and seek to evoke those moments again.

I hunt and gather myself, and hone my pioneer skills. I seek ingredients that are anchored to the seasons and a definite place. It is the kind of food once served in simple restaurants and in homes by housewives, now, by grandmothers, by families for generations, and today by people – culinary artisans – choosing to do the hard work required to live off the best their hands can produce.

The good news is she's an engaging storyteller with the 'get stuck in' sensibility of the true adventurer. The bad other news is you'd need to spend a year hunting to get all the ingredients for the mouthwatering recipes at the end of each chapter.

'G' travels from across the US (with a stop-over in england) from the pay-to-play luxury lodge of the Berretta Trident directory where multi-million deals are done as investment bankers follow the dogs, to multi-generation gatherings where families enact their rituals over grandma's recipes. 'The Commish' a former fish and wildlife commissioner takes her on a variety of hunts and to learn the ways of the hunter.

I really enjoyed it and am giving it for a Crimbo prezzie to a couple of people

More Soon

The link to the Amazon page is HERE

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Other Foie Gras Controversy

Photographed by Holly A. Heyser. For more of her Foodie photography click HERE 

Having a bit of time to myself, and too battered to go out, I spent the time listing to This American Life podcasts. Where I heard this interesting story which sheds further light on our relationships with food animals. Which in turn reminded me of a post Hank Shaw wrote a year ago.

The received wisdom [AKA dogma] has it that Foie Gras 
is only man-made by Gavage the force feeding of Ducks and Geese

Foies Gras is probably the most contentious of foods; to some the ultimate delicacy, to some 'greasy meat paste', a 4,500 year old tradition, and the most unkind of animal husbandry.

The TAL story concerns Dan Barber a NYC based farmer, restaurateur and Foie Gras aficionado's discovery of Eduardo Sousa who raises 'free-range foies gras'.  Dan initially dismisses the story as the stuff of legend but later goes to Eduardo's to track down this seemingly contradictory delicacy.

On the farm he learns that when in their wild state Geese are a feast-and-famine eaters, accustomed to periods of famine; when the opportunity arises they will gorge themselves, eating and eating until the food stuff is gone, then flying on in search of the next opportunity. When Geese are stressed by environmental factors like the cold AND surrounded by food they really stuff it in. So far so plausible.

The received wisdom [AKA dogma] has it that Foie Gras is only man-made by Gavage - the force-feeding of grain soaked in fat to the birds, however by the wonder of the bloggerverse I beg to differ. A year back my wildfood hero, hunter and blogger Hank Shaw  posted the picture at the top of this post where he compares the livers of two Ducks he shot, one with steatosis after it had been gorging itself on rice in the paddy fields of northern California. Hank's theory is that with such an abundance of high-energy food, rice, the birds 'thrifty-gene' kicks in and the bird's metabolism switches to the 'store fat now' setting.

Doctors call the condition steatosis, in which liver cells accumulate lipids. I call it yummy.
Hank Shaw

Would it also be plausible to think that 4,500 years ago early foodies saw geese and ducks from the wild with engorged livers and thought to replicate the process in the farmyard?

Eduardo does everything he can to provide an endless supply of foods right across the range that Geese are attracted to. Grains, leaves, acorns, figs, and olives are made available - but never fed to - the Geese. He contends that Geese have had a lot of their wildness bred out of them, and with it much of the feast-and-famine-eater instinct. Any and all human contact signals that food will be provided, even fencing acts to re enforce this now inbred expectation. The stuff-yer-face-coz-ya-don't-know-where-yer-next-meal's-coming-from stress response is now much less acute. Just as the dogs of today are a fair way off the African wild dogs or Australian Dingos 4,500+ is a lot of generations of geese. It would be more remarkable if they hadn't adapted to human husbandry. In Eduardo's non-contact farming the geese act like wild Geese, not being so hemmed in by a fence or protected from the elements by a shed when it gets cold they eat everything in sight just like wild geese landing on a sweet food source would.

To Dan Barber the principles he see's at Eduardo's farm la Pateria become a cipher for the way he'd like to see farming engage with naturally occurring proceses.

You can hear the This American Life podcast HERE it's the last story in the episode

Dan Barber tells his story at TED talks HERE he's very witty, you'll like it

Eduardo Sousa's website is HERE

Read Hank's post HERE with links to the research and recipes

With the Scottish Goose season still in full-flight I'm hoping to get some samples myself.

Thanks for reading, you have no idea how much your comments and page views mean to me.
More soon

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Hunting Deer For Food: Book Review

'The nuts and bolts of putting meat on the plate'

I've read a fair few hunting magazines in the last few years, I've seen lots of websites that also claim to show you 'how to hunt TROPHY BUCKS!' but if your reading this you'll probably have noticed that that's not really the way I roll, I would love to have a wall hanger but I'd happily settle for one most trophy hunters would walk past, and I'm not the only one. The greatest trophy of all is a full freezer.

Jackson Landers who blogs as The Locavore Hunter has brought out 'Hunting Deer For Food' a book for newbie hunters who don't eat antlers. Unlike the hunts in the magazines where 'just regular guys' drop four and five figures to be flown into the wilderness Locavore Hunting takes place, ideally, footsteps from your house and costs as little as possible.

Where HDFF wins out is it covers everything you need to know in just enough detail to get you asking the right questions when you take those first steps away from the supermarkets and their Factory-Pharm beef. I wish he'd written it years ago.

If you've become interested in having a more honest relationship with your dinner, reading Hunting Deer For Food would be just about the best place to start. Or you could buy it for someone foodie for Christmas?

More soon

On Amazon

Here it is on Amazon in the UK

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Another 39th Step

Some Birthday Tacticool Swag

So it's that time again, the odometer has clicked round to 39 once more: it's 2.43 in the morning and  I'm sleeplessly camped out on the Ex Mrs SBW's sofa looking back over the years adventures and kit collection.

Scotland I'd recommend to anyone, being on TV doesn't seem to have transformed my fortunes over night but there's still time, and the weather here is decidedly warm for the time of year so I may have been premature in preparing for the Arctic Blasts that were supposedly to sweep the country. Still as other kit tarts will testify just because it hasn't happened yet is no reason not to collect the kit for when it does!

Best Books: would have to go to WDM Bell's The wanderings of an elephant hunter. Apart from being an excellent way to induce shock and awe in dinner table conversation its also been something of an inspiration to me. I'm not in any rush to shoot elephants but the wonderlust of his adventurous spirit and the way he seeks to travel without imposing his world view on those he encounters have resonated with me.
Blogger, Naturalist and Hunter Steve Bodio's book Querencia was an amazing read too, so amazing in fact that a review will have to wait until I've re-read it, there are so many moments and great vignettes in it that I'm half compelled to write something myself and half compelled to give up any hopes I have of telling tales on the page.

Best Piece of Kit: despite all the Kifaru I've bought and loved this year its got the be the Lifesaver water filter a really exceptionally good idea.
Favorite Knife: Spyderco Urban, not cheap (actually a bit over-priced) but holds a wicked edge and is very pleasing in the hand and pocket. That VG-10 steel really is the mutt's nuts.

Thanks too must go to: The Bambi Basher who continues with his efforts to provide me with an education in stalking both deer and Trophy Ruperts and his quest to infect me with his enthusiasm for vintage rifles.

Andy Richardson and the lovely C for their hospitality, help, advice and support during my adventures in the Kingdom of Fife. Literally the best working holiday I've had in years.

Goofy Girl for having the courage to try out life on a slightly bigger island

And you dear reader, the steady tick tick of your visits and comments are what keeps me writing this blog. Last but not least thanks to the Fallow doe who gave her life so I might eat as mother nature intended.

Stick around for more of the same, now with added 'fashionable grey bits'
Your pal

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Unboxing: Etymotic's GunSport Pro Hearing Protection Review

Do you know anyone who's been shooting for a while who doesn't have some hearing loss??

In the comments section of the last post Exploriment expresses surprise that here in Blighty you can legally fit a sound moderator to your rifle. Our legislation recognises them as a piece of PPE (personal protective equipment) rather than the Assassin's Accessory they seem to be viewed as in North America.
Here they are licensed to individuals on health and safety grounds: culling for the Forestry Commission, and Keepers working on estates are issued with moderators as part of workplace safety -  like hard hats and steel toe-capped boots on building sites. So if an individual police force (firearms are licensed locally not nationally) were to turn down an application from a licensed holder of a firearm they would become liable for impeding the users attempts to protect themselves from the hazard.

I've often been amazed at the way 'health and safety' is derided on the cities construction sites - offer someone using loud power tools a pair of ear defenders and they'll tell you "my ears are knackered already" Which puzzels me. If you knew you were part way deaf surely you'd try to look after what you've got left?

The number of guides I've met who make sure they keep you to their right [as their left ear is blown] is pretty high, these are the same people who at the range will hand you the skankiest cans you've ever seen.
There really is no excuse; I have a really great pair, they knock off 30db and even fold up, best of all they were only £6.43p (less than ten bucks) from Toolstation [here's the link - when you actually get them they are yellow].

On site and at the range they are sweet, but they're a bit bulky for walking about in, and of course you can't hear much while you're wearing them. I've always fancied a pair of those in-ear defenders. Especially [as a life long fan of the Six Million Dollar Man] the ones that can amplify sounds while you're walking around in the woods until they automatically shut off when you take your shot.

So I was proper delighted when the lovely people at Etymotic got in touch to ask if I'd like to do a little field testing for them. Err, that would be HELL YES!

Etymotic have won a couple of awards for their ear protection, and in the enhanced hearing setting you can hear why, they really are great.

Out of the box
They come with several sets of earplugs which is just as well - the standard plugs fit my left ear really well but aren't that comfortable in my right ear. I've got different shaped inner ears! Who knew? Every day's a school day!

I'd have preferred it if the little pouch that hold them and the cleaning kit had an attachment for a lanyard and belt loop but I have one of those neat little surgical gloves pouch from Maxpedition that'll be perfect for the job.

I'm way too busy with work to go beating or shooting this weekend so a full field test will have to wait, but I do need to cut into the foundations of a wall with a big grinder so the Gun Sport Pro's efficacy at defending against continuous noises can be put to the test during the week.

More soon

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Paul Merton Meets The Suburban Bushwacker

Do you remember when I went to Scotland during the summer? Finally the embargo is lifted and I can tell you a bit more about the trip. Well, I will tell you a bit more about the trip, but first if you can get UK TV you can see me and Andy on Channel 5 this wednesday at 10pm UK time.

More - oh so much more- soon
Your pal (and TV personality)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Urban Fox Problem?

As with all things where town-meets-country, misconception and folklore romp home while the science stuff is still putting its boots on. Foxes must be about the best example of this. Out of Town: known pests that predate on the eggs of ground nesting birds, and the newborn young of deer, that are to be shot on sight. Whereas within the confines of the city: foxes are both violent interloper and anthropomorphised pseudo-pet. On the same street some people are investing in fox-proofed dustbins while others are buying cat-food to encourage them.

Twenty years ago the sight of a suburban fox was a remarkable one, now they are a common sight even in the daytime, as far into the city as London Bridge! As a life of discarded KFC and Kebabs is easier than actually hunting in the countryside where the locals shoot on sight, we'll see even more of them in the coming years.

Not too far from me in Hackney's Victoria Park a family home was invaded and their sleeping children attacked last year. I've had one come into the house, and my friends R&E have been subjected to a campaign of shoe chewing. The raided dustbins, noise and disease-carrying poo all over the garden don't endear them either.

A couple of weekends ago I went out with Tim of Urban Fox Control to learn a little more about the ways and means of dealing with the city's ever growing fox population.

Tim explained that while it would be legal to shoot foxes from an upstairs window it would be far from practical. He favours baiting a large cage with [you've guessed it] KFC, once the fox has imprisoned itself the householder can pop a cover over the cage to minimise the foxes discomfort. Tim or one of his team will come out that day to administer a .17 sleeping pill.

As we pulled back the cover the fox was sitting defiantly in the cage and didn't seem distressed to be so close to us, as Tim had prepared the rifle the time between pulling back the cover and the fox's demise was only about 30 seconds.

Knowing that fox shooters in the countryside usually use a bullet whose calibre begins with a .2 [eg .222/.22-250/.243] I asked Tim why he was using such a small bullet. Tim explained that the smaller bullet travels exceptionally fast but is also exceptionally fragile - leading to it disintegrating on impact with the foxes skull, this was borne out when he showed me that there was no damage to the wooden decking where the cage had been standing, this disintegration also means there is no danger of a ricochet leaving the garden or doing collateral damage to one of the family's gnomes.

I'm hoping to start keeping chickens next year but the garden is bisected by fox trails so I'm guessing this wont be my last experience of suburban fox control

More soon
Your pal

You can contact Urban Fox Control here

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Roadkill: It's A Free Meal (For Two)

Saw this one in the paper the other morning and thought of you dear reader. Jeweller and mum-to-be Alison Brierley 39 [ish] of Harrogate in Yorkshire got herself in the paper with tales of cravings for roadkill.

"now I'm pregnant I get strong cravings for roadkill,' explaines Brierley. 'It's more gamey than other meat and I love the taste. I also don't have to feel guilty about eating it because I know it's had a completely free range and natural life.'

She tells how she's chowed down on: hare, deer, pigeon, rabbit and owls, obviously at this time of year pheasants being abundant. 'I would like to try fox and badger but they're never in good enough condition to eat; although I have used them for my artwork.’ said Brierley.

She's hosted roadkill dinner parties for friends.
"They trust me and they know I'm a good cook so I think they love it. I get the best meat from friends who ring me up to tell me about a kill they've spotted on their way to work"

‘One of the big reasons for being public about this is that I want to raise awareness about where food actually comes from’
, said Alison. ‘Some people are so blasé about picking their food off a supermarket shelf without giving a thought to how it lived or how it was killed.’

Giving food for thought to food faddists, yummy mummies, and other whingers. Well played Alison. 

More soon

Buying Outdoor Equipment

There's an amusing debate that regularly gets an airing on the outdoor forums between the kind of guy who maintains: that a dullard GF is every bit as good as a smart one, all whisky tastes the same, and cheap outdoor gear mass produced by democracy protesters in slave camps is just as good as gear made by people who A have free time and B spend it outdoors, and those of us who know better. For some people any old crap will do, good luck to them.

From you-get-what-you-pay-for to good-enough, choices in outdoor gear are seriously contentious with brand loyalty sometimes so strong it can cloud judgement and latest-and-greatest so skilfully marketed that, to read the flowery prose, you'd wonder just how humanity survived so long without the yah-dee-yah-dee-ya-3000 and its attendant benefits.

As regular readers, the observant ones at least, will have noticed I'd rather live on beans and rice, bake my own bread, eat only road kill, and limit dates to 'dead certs' if it meant I'd have the cash to 'buy the best and only cry once'.

1. & 2. Boots and Bag - if you're not in one you're in the other. The only thing worse than a day of cold wet feet, is following it up with a night of shivering in a crappy sleeping bag. I've tried both on your behalf, trust me on this one, don't bother. To me unlined boots make a lot more sence than the insulated ones; as they are easier to dry out, and when you've worn through the lining lined boots are very hard to repair.

Money no object: I wear Lundhags Rangers which Nordic Outdoor do some great deals on [often not on the website ring for availability]. But if I really had the money I'd have a pair made for me either by Altberg of Yorkshire or Russell Moccasin of Wisconsin.

Bargain alternative:
The Northern Monkey wears Scarpa bought very heavily discounted from a market stall and loves them, I've never heard a good word said about US military issue boots [and lots of words unfit for family viewing] but the lined British army boots have their fans and are a tenth of the list price of a pair of Lundhags.

Money no object: Kifaru Regulator for me. Demonstrated here by Goofy Girl

Bargain alternative: The Northern Monkey has the British army issue bag - warm but big and heavy. Our friend serving in Afganistan sings the praises of the US army issue system of bags.

3. Jacket
Whatever it costs to be warm and dry (or second best damp but warm) is a bargain.

Money no object: I wear a Ventile Arctic smock by West Winds and, when its a bit colder, a Kifaru Parka. It took a lot of patience to get them at a price I could afford. If I'd had the coin I was tempted by having one of Wiggy's Parkas made up for me with a Ventile shell. [Wiggy will make up in any combination you ask for for a small premium].

Bargain alternative: I've also got a US airforce issue Goretex Hardshell which is excellent.

4. Pack(s)

Personally I'd rather have a heavier pack that fits and lasts, than an ultralight that doesn't and won't, how much money you have to spend to find this out for yourself is up to you.

Money no object: Kifaru (my choice). Mystery Ranch, Kuiu, or McHale were also on my list

Bargain alternative: I wouldn't be the person to ask.

My kids have an awesome pop-up tent that cost £70 ($100) and that was for the better model. It doesn't pack away very small but it's streets ahead of the tents we had as kids and they saw out some hoolies in the highlands and very wet weeks in Wales. You can have a really kick-ass hammock and tarp set up for less than £100 ($165). Admittedly up in the mountains the game is played for slightly higher stakes "Your tent is your make or break piece of gear between a hunt turning into an inconvenient adventure or a life threatening event. Choose accordingly."- An un-named pal of Hodgeman
10. Knife Mora of Sweden, and a diamond sharpening stone. Done.

Money no object: Chad has a stunning Charles May, if I had the money I'd have something by Stuart Mitchell. If fact I'd have a drawer full by Stuart Mitchell's to go next to the drawer full of Charles May's!

Bargain alternative: There is no better bargain than a Mora. Anywhere. End of Story.

Six through to nine? I'd welcome your thoughts.

We've come a long way from when buying from the Sears catalog was the only option for outdoorsman supplies.

Here's a round up of other bloggers thoughts on buying gear:

Dave Petzal's been writing for F&S since god was a boy, he's spent a few bucks over the years and has no regrets

"I'm not your investment counselor for goodness sake, I'm a blogger that lives just this side of Timbuktoo. ..." Hodgeman's thoughts on value for money when shopping for outdoor gear

While we're passing The Gear Junkie has complied a mind-blowing list of the most costly tat imagainable

Soon Come

PS I saw this one the other day
"The pleasure of buying really good quality kit is that the pleasure of using it will long outlast the pain of buying them.The downside of buying really good kit is that you don't need to buy it ever again." Heym SR20

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Crap Outdoors Pt4

I don't post every bit of ill-advised nonsense for the outdoorsman I see, just the exceptionally stupid examples. But when The Terrierman posted this, as soon as I stopped laughing, my first thought was "straight on the blog". As a HOOJ James Bond fan I've always loved gear that packs up small and assembles with a series of satisfying clicks. But really? A rifle-fishing rod combo? Really? As a rifle maybe, but by adding fishing functionality to it the designer has snatched crapness from the jaws cool-toy-ness.

There's more on The Firearms Blog

More soon

Monday, 31 October 2011

Dumpster Dived Burberry Jacket

Conspicuous Minimalism: the non-ownership purchase of material goods flaunted as a token of moral and intellectual superiority. 

Well who-da-thunk-it? No sooner had I put the last post up when a chance to flaunt my new found 'moral and intellectual superiority' with a bit of dumpster-dived booty. Behold the Burberry Waxed Cotton jacket [£500 to you sir] or free from a posh blokes rubbish! All I need now is a pair of red strides.

More soon

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Unboxing: Kifaru Packlock Parka Review

Café Minimalism
To espouse a philosophy of minimalism without actually putting into practice any of its tenets. 
From Generation X by Douglas Coupland

OK this really is it. I've confessed to rampant Kit Tart-ism before: it started as a fascination, thats became a little too much of an obsession and must come to an end. I've scaled the giddy highs of matching boot bags, I've sneaked guilty lustful glances at the websites of low volume manufacturers, I've felt the pain of being out-bid or worse still; been at the back of a que of similarly afflicted chaps offering the asking price.

The main focus of my recent kit collecting has been Kifaru; the Colorado design and build shop run by Patrick Smith. He seems to go from one extreme to the other with his ideas, the packs feel like they'd be tough enough if they were only half as strong, while the sleeping bags and clothes seem to be made of not a lot. At just 1,715g (60.5oz) for the whole outfit the Arctic edition of the Parka and Pants look like a lot of warmth for the weight.

Secretly I've been delighted to hear the weatherman foretell freezing conditions this winter, my heart leaps at the words "Arctic Blasts sweeping the country" for now - at last - I have the whole suit.

A while back I picked up the matching pants, and then missed out on buying the jacket, this very jacket. Weeks passed then the vendor wrote to me, confessed to backing out of the deal, and offered the parka to me again. Seeing as I'd been emailing Kifaru to see if I could at least get on the waiting list for when they restart the clothing line, I resigned myself to living on road kill, beans and rice for another month or two and bought it.

As with Kifaru's regulator sleeping bag the design time has gone into draft exclusion. There really is an almost hermetic seal where the collar meets your face, I've often felt that pretty much any weather can be tolerated if you don't have a draft playing over your neck. With the hood up only your eyes are exposed to the elements.

 Moody 'ninja stare' model's own

These pockets put a pair of heat pads right on the small of your back - perfect for groaning old farts and/or those of us afflicted by the growing pains of middle youth. The little black square is a pocket for the elasticated draw-cord for the waist. It's these small touches that make gear from small companies so special, at the time of ordering you specify right or left handed and the zips and tensioning cords are handed for you.

The Packlock concept is the tacky/sticky patch (both inside and out) matches up with patches on the pants and the packs lumber pad to lock the pack in place.

During the summer I spoke to Scots supplier of high-end low-volume hunting gear, [yes there will be a review but not for the foreseeable - skint init] we chewed the fat for a while, discussing the outdoor industry's latest attempts to separate the public from their money and agreed that the Kifaru pass-through pouch concept (you can still use the pouch while your packs waist belt is done up) is probably the most 'elusive obvious' idea in current outdoor clothes design. I'm planing to modify my Ventile smock to have the same utility.

So how does it stand up to the elements?
How should I know its still in double figures [centigrade] here!
More Soon

The yearning spiritual emptiness of my acquisition-deficit-syndrome is now being held in check by the yawning actual emptiness of my wallet. But there is an alternative I'm thinking of trying.
Conspicuous Minimalism: the non-ownership of material goods flaunted as a token of moral and intellectual superiority. Also from Generation X by Douglas Coupland

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Falconry For Grouse In Montana

I really love this film, unfortunately its not available for free anymore, but it's well worth the $2.99 it costs to watch it. If I find anymore clips I'll add them to this post.

I've never met the filmmaker, I'm not getting paid to recommend or post it but I'm very happy to champion the film, it must have taken many many hours of work to shoot and edit. A real labour of love.

Original Post
This morning, while falconry was in my thoughts I saw that The Terrierman had linked to his film by Matthew Huston, three friends go to grouse camp to fly their birds in Montana's endless skys. It's just over an hour long, and its an hour that will leave you feeling inspired. Grab a coffee and a sandwich - this is amazing storytelling
More soon

Friday, 28 October 2011

Falconry Survey Please Help

My thoughts entirely

Chas who writes the excellent Southern Rockies Nature Blog has mentioned that Helen Macdonald (University of Cambridge) and Mike Nicholls (University of Greenwich) are doing a survey on people's attitudes to falconry, you can guess mine. If you're not doing anything more meaningful - and let's face it if you're reading this you're not - please spend 1 or 2 minutes answering their questions
The survey is here

I've always been fascinated by Falconry and in particular the falconers of the Kazakh and Mongol stepps, so I really enjoyed this piece about a trip by Falconer, naturalist and amazing storyteller Steve Bodio.

It's here Sovereigns of the Sky from Atlantic magazine
More soon

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Benedict Allen: Going On Expeditions

A hero of mine Benedict Allen talking about, Going On Expeditions! He's a source of great fascination and inspiration to me with his parachute in-walk out philosophy of adventure travel.

His quiet understatement is at odds with the way in which TV demands that all adventure be 'EXTREME!!' yet his adventures are far edgier than anyone else I've seen on TV.

When he travels his left hand is the film crew, while his right is clearing a way through the jungle - unsupported to the source of the Amazon anyone?

His approach is to present himself as ready to learn, like an infant; the communities that he visits take him under their wing, equipping him with the necessary skills. It is not always the adults but sometimes the children that "adopt" and teach him.

A great example of someone who could only be what he is, and in many ways the father of the video diary format.

"Qualifications for a Traveller. - If you have health, a great craving for adventure, at least a moderate fortune, and can set your head on a definite object, which old travellers do not think impracticable, then - travel by all means. If, in addition to these qualifications, you have scientific taste and knowledge, I believe that no career, in time of peace, can offer to you more advantages than that of a traveller. If you have not independent means, you may still turn travelling to excellent account; for experience shows that it often leads to promotion, nay, some men support themselves by travel. They explore pasture land in Australia, they hunt for ivory in Africa, they collect specimens of natural history for sale, or they wander as artists. " - Sir Francis Galton

More soon

PS Steve thanks for the Francis Galton quote.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

For The LSP

This post is for my old pal the Lone Star Parson 'A Brit Anglican priest in rural Texas getting into the country life' he's also something of a Short Magazine Lee Enfield [smle] aficionado and sometime hog hunter. One of the good guys.

Saw this sporterized 'smellie' over the weekend, belonged to a general who carried it during WW1 .303 (actually .311) should make powerful hog medicine. With its 'parsimonious' running costs, you could stock it in Texan Black Walnut.

 While I was at the National Army Museum I also saw these adjustable sunglasses, pretty niffty for shooting over open sights in your neck of the woods.

More soon

Plucking Pheasants And The Pheasant Plucker's Song

Many years ago when I first met Tobermory, among the smart things he taught me we some very very silly things. One of them was this drinking game/linguistic dexterity exersise.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son. I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes. I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son. I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son. I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son. I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son. I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son. I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son. I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.

How fast can you say that after four pints of Stella?

Turns out it comes from a lager body of work

The Pheasant Plucker's Song
I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son
I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.

Me husband is a keeper, he's a very busy man
I try to understand him and I help him all I can,
But sometimes in an evening I feel a trifle dim
All alone, I'm plucking pheasants, when I'd rather pluck with him.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's mate 
I'm only plucking pheasants 'cos the pheasant plucker's late !

I'm not good at plucking pheasants, at pheasant plucking I get stuck
Though some pheasants find it pleasant I'd rather pluck a duck.
Oh plucking geese is gorgeous, I can pluck a goose with ease
But pheasant plucking's torture because they haven't any grease.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, he has gone out on the tiles
He only plucked one pheasant and I'm sitting here with piles !

You have to pluck them fresh, if it’s fresh they’re not unpleasant,
I knew a man in Dunstable who could pluck a frozen pheasant.
They say the village constable had pheasant plucking sessions
With the vicar on a Sunday ‘tween the first and second lessons.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's mum
I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker's come.

My good friend Godfrey is most adept, he's really got the knack
He likes to have a pheasant plucked before he hits the sack.
I like to give a helping hand, I gather up the feathers, 
It's really all our pheasant plucking keeps us pair together.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's friend
I'm only plucking pheasants as a means unto an end !

My husband's in the forest always banging with his gun
If he could hear me half the time I'm sure that he would run,
For there's fluff in all my crannies, there's feathers up my nose
And I'm itching in the kitchen from my head down to my toes.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's wife 
And when we pluck together it's a pheasant plucking life !

Click to consult the expert for a recipe

More soon


Friday, 21 October 2011

Dozy Bitch (Stay Calm The Four Legged Kind)

Big shout to Sir Hiss who found this one, very funny and safe for work too. For once.
Thanks to everyone who has been sending me books, I'll be posting reviews as I read through the pile
Stay tuned for a new series of posts, a pile of new gear reviews from the 'super cheap' to the 'HOW MUCH!!!', and some nose-to-tail eating

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Runner Beans Of Sulkers Medow

My own words in the last post prompted me to do a little suburban homesteading. Although Kit-tart-ism is fun, and indeed compelling, my journey should be about moving away from rampant consumerism and towards a more honest and complete relationship with my dinner. So this afternoon while The Littlest Bushwacker  was receiving some frankly unnecessary training in the dramatic arts [trust me on this one, drama she knows 'I love the camera and the camera loves me!']. I ventured to my former sulking ground at the end of the Ex Mrs SBW's garden. There I found evidence of my feral failure.

A few months back The Littlest Bushwacker and I had sprouted and planted Runner Beans, I think I harvested the first crop a little late as Ex Mrs SBW, Bushwacker Jnr, and The Littlest Bushwacker pronounced them not to their liking. "Bitter and unpleasant" in fact. The rest grew on untended and unloved.

Today's harvest was part seed crop and part bean crop. While Wikipedia claims that in north america the vines are grown for their, admittedly. attractive flowers here in old blighty we eat the seed pods. Sliced. The other thing I learned from Wikipedia, as I was nibbling on a few of the fresh raw beans, is that they contain a poison unless cooked, so if this is the last post you'll know it was 'deadly' poison.

More soon [hopefully]
Kmart coupons are available for pressure cookers, to cook up the perfect pot of beans.

What Are The Odds Of That?

Morning folks
Just saw this and thought you'd like it too.

Evan Van Der Spuy of Team Jeep South Africa is taken out by a Red Hartebees in a race at Albert Falls Dam. The video was shot on one of those neat little Go Pro cameras worn by teammate Travis Walker. Keep the sound on - Epic groaning from the victim at the end! Or is it the protagonist?

More soon


Friday, 14 October 2011

Unboxing: RedRam Merino Base Layer

The lovely people* at Red Ram have sent me a Merino Base Layer for testing, but frankly the weather is still a warm to be able to tell you anything about it's thermal efficacy. Red Ram is a fair bit cheaper than my current favourite brand, which is no bad thing. The saving seems to come from not having the spiral seams of 'technical' underwear, after one days wear I'm yet to detect a difference. I wore the top last weekend on a  Pheasant shoot where I was over dressed for the weather and under dressed for the thorns and brambles I fought my way through, I was boiling the whole time. As soon as I get round to slinging on a wool wash on I'll let you know how well it survived the rigours of the washing machine, but a true test of the longjohns will have to wait until the mercury falls.

For those of you not afflicted by 'kit-tart-ness' sorry if that's the way the blog seems to be going at the moment - normal service with it's tales of feral failure will resume shortly with a cold weather adventure, a look at the english class system afield, some book reviews, and I may even get the time to finish some craft projects that aren't based in other people houses.

Keep well, your pal

*Lovely People status is available to pretty much anyone who wants to send me useable stuff

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I Want One - A Not So Occasional Series Pt20

Caught sight of this, and well, it was was love at first sight, at last something truly new in air rifles. Just single shot at the moment but that maybe about to change....

Made in Russia by EDgun

Perfect for "Bring Your Rifle To Work Week"

More soon

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Unboxing: Lundhags Ranger Boots Review

Your boots and your bed: if you're not in one you're in the other.

Regular readers will know that up until a while ago I was a firm believer in wearing 'approach shoes' and waterproof socks or Muck Boots for deerstalking (hunting), and was dismissive of proper clomp-clomp walking boots, that was until I woke up one morning and walked downstairs, as yer do. I've now got a bump in my achilles tendon that still hurts over eight weeks later. More ankle support is called for. Not that I'll be wearing them in bed, so they won't prevent a similar incident - but here's hoping they'll be a aid to recovery.

I really want a pair of handmade bespoke boots, but alas many many things are between here and there, all of them clamouring for money. So for the time being it'll have to be off-the-shelf. I flirted with the idea of this brand and that, I toyed with Kevlar instead of leather, but ultimately my dreams return.

There is a boot you see, ever since I first saw them in the long departed Survival Aids store in London's Euston station I've wanted a pair. Every nation has it's national boot maker, Sweden has Lundhags.

Born in the Swedish wilderness region of Jämtland, Lundhags are a simple un-lined boot. I've heard about the wonders of Thinsulate linings, but the quick drying practicality of the un-lined boot has always made more sense to me. At the moment they are hard and smooth; where one day they'll be soft and wrinkled, the Nubuck is pale and matt, soon it'll be dark and greasy with treatment. The other side of those first hard-yards they'll be a dependability that the much promised 'improvement' of plastic boots never seems to deliver. Dare I say it - they'll have soul.

I'm not the only one. There's something about the love a blogger has for his boots, that has brought forth some great writing.

From The Buffalo Digest, where the outdoor media is called as it's seen
'you can tell a lot about a man by his boots. I read an article by someone who was billed as some sort of expert backpacker, which I suppose is someone who is just really good at camping. I guess that’s just a weird distinction, because if you can set up a damn tent, not starve, pick up your trash and return uninjured, you’ve pretty much nailed it.' Boots

And the ever-wonderful Mouthful Of Feathers
I have to be honest – I rarely ever think about you. Which, I suppose, is the ultimate testament to how good you are at what you do. At times, however, I know this may come across as ingratitude, and for that, I’m sorry. You’ve accused me of being a fickle S.O.B. and I know there is a certain amount of truth to that. I expect a lot in a lamentably short period of time, and offer little more than neglect the rest of the year.  Dirty Love
More Soon

PS in part two we'll see how they got on after some dirt time

Friday, 30 September 2011

Unboxing: The Lansky Sharpening System

Dumpster Dived Kitchen Knife Of Unknown Stainless Steel

Sometimes there are benefits to this Blogging thing, if you post enough about a subject sooner or later you get offered stuff to review. Although contrary to popular belief I'm not sponsored by Patrick Smith of Kifaru, in fact when I look into the empty void in my pockets, it feels more like I sponsor him!

Every once in a while someone writes in and asks me to review a piece of kit. Sadly most of them are vendors of crap I wouldn't have in the house, let alone take afield or recommend to you. Every once in a while it's something I've been meaning to buy so when Scott from Lansky popped me an email I was thrilled. I've known lots of fans of the Lansky Sharpening System so I was very happy to have one of my own to play with.

Straight out of the box it's a pretty well thought out piece of kit with enough grades of abrasive to take a knife from used-and-abused to damn-that's-sharp. I know lots of you have struggled with freehand sharpening, and to be honest its taken me a lot of time and effort to get even reasonably remotely good reasonable at it. I'm still no where near as good at it as I want to be and it takes a lot of time to get a credible edge.

Most sharpening systems that actually make a durable edge are bloody expensive.  It's very easy to make a knife sharp for a few cuts, most of those little 'pull-through' sharpeners will give you an edge of sorts, but it won't stay sharp. What they create is a very very thing 'wire edge' which soon flattens or breaks off leaving a dull edge behind. What helps is a fixed sharpening angle. So as a first step to sharp and durable the Lansky seems like the logical choice.

So how does it work?
The Lansky is a blade clamp with a series of slots which guide the hones as they contact the cutting edge, every stroke is the same as the last one, meaning that you're avoiding the classic beginners mistakes of mis-estimating the angle and you're always taking material off the blade without the odd acidental 'off angle' strokes undoing of the work you've already done. Works well.

Stay tuned for the next part where I'll show you some tips I've compiled for getting the most out of the system as I take a truly used-and-abused Mora Clipper back to hair-popping sharp.

Your Pal

Monday, 26 September 2011

Unboxing: West Winds Ventile Antarctic Smock

Here's one I've wanted for a while, but always sucked a lemon at the price, at the Midland Game Fair I saw one on the remainder rail of an army surplace stall, it was reduced, but not enough, so I tried it on then repositioned it on the rack so I'd be able to tell if anyone else had taken it down.

The Midland finishes at 4pm on the sunday, so as the paying punters were trooping out. I thought I'd do the other kind of 'Trying It On' and made a bee line for the stall. I was defiantly the last person to so as now they had no prospects or customers they were packing up. I asked the owner bluntly "are you interested in selling this before you go home?" as he took a breath to answer I gave him the other barrel "What would you really take for it?". After some face pulling and sharp intakes of breath we began the good natured haggling - he claims to be able to sell it for more online - I point out that it's less hassle to reduce the cost of sale and sell it to me. We reach a figure where honor is served on both sides. I now have a Ventile smock.

So what's so special about this Ventile stuff? Like so much of the UK's history, our tale starts during the dark days of WWII.  As a way of guarding the arctic convoys that brought food to the UK aircraft were launched from the decks of merchant ships using catapults. Sadly once their work was done there was no space for them to land on the decks. When the pilots ran out of fuel they simply 'ditched' their Hurricanes into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic and swam for it. Understandably the mortality rate was pretty high.

Scientists from the Shirley Institute in Manchester (a northern town with pretentions) developed the cloth known as Ventile as a way of keeping the pilots alive for a few precious moments more, life expectancy in the sea soared from 'no chance mate' to around 20 minutes and many rescues were affected.  80% of the anti-submarine pilots who made a splash landing lived to fly again.

Ventile works by using the finest cotton possible (the top 2% of the worlds crop), woven as tight as possible (30% more cotton per sq yard). Woven so tight in fact that as the first threads make contact with water they swell making the weave tighter still. Ventile isnt technically waterproof, but is near as damn it. It allows vapour to pass through but unlike Goretex and its ilk, its breathability isn't affected by dirt or pressure (ever noticed how the first place water comes through is where your rucksacks straps press against your jacket?). Its also so naturally flame and spark retardent that it's used to make the suits firefighters wear. The reputation Ventile has from its use in arctic exploration comes from its tight weave being almost totally windproof. Quiet too.

Gotta be able to post a better picture than this

West Winds make a whole range of jackets and other clothes from it, but I've always wanted the simple smock - it's a real bushcraft classic. Very little is perfect out of the box, and while the smock is pretty good, I'm thinking of it as a work in progress. The logo(s) have got to go, for some reason there's a strap that goes between your legs with is just plain annoying. The pockets are big enough, but the noisy velcro closures have to go. I'd like it to have a big chest pocket for a pair of binos, but in fairness I'd like my other pockets to have enough cash in them to buy the binos I want, so I guess that's a mod that can wait.

More soon