A tubby suburban dad watching hunting and adventure shows
on TV and wondering could I do that?
This is the chronicle of my adventures as I learn to learn to Forage,
Hunt and Fish for food that has lived as I would wish to myself -
Wild and Free.
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
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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?
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'