Saturday, 14 December 2013

Deer Hunting In The UK Pt 8

Me and hunterX are up to our usual tricks, well no, strangely we're not.
In a surprise turn of events we have just returned from the shortest and most efficient deer hunt yet. Regular readers may share my surprise.

Intended meet up 5.15am
Actual time 5.20am
So far not too shabby, above par even.

The biggest of the tunnels that let you drive under the river Thames is shut.
Re-route to a bridge crossing. Additional time 20 mins
Only to be expected. So far so good

Drive across Kent on deserted roads, time saved 25 minutes, back on schedule which in real terms, given our record, is ahead of schedule!

Out the truck, coats on, through the gate, round in chamber, close the gate behind us, and the sun peeks over the horizon. Made it!

There are two school's of thought with regard to the best way to approach a treestand or highseat; be in the seat as the dawn breaks, possibly having walked past or spooked the only opportunity you were going to see that day, or stalk to the seat in the breaking light. HunterX is a believer in the latter.

The ride that leads through the woods is sodden. Somewhere between stalking and squelching we make our way down it, on our left as the ground rises in the thickly planted coppice, something is proper crashing about, but it's well out of sight, we clear the worst of the mud, and there is even some semblance of stealth to our stalking when still out of sight more chaos breaks out in the woods.

We clamber into a box on legs that could best be described as a hybrid between; a piss-poor attempt to package a large item, a deer stand, and favela's least desirable residence.

Sitting in the box we settle to the wait, the gloaming brightens. I've propped my elbows on my knees so my binos stay in front of my eyes with no effort at all, my whole field of view is a jumble of brambles and the thin trunks of coppiced sweet chestnut. I'm drawn from my reverie by a flicker of movement, my head involuntarily turning right, through the glasses I see a leg, a grey leg.

The next section of this report comes from SBW's Internal Dialogue:

Excitable voice:
A WOLF it's an effing WOLF!

Dispassionate/patronising voice:
No SBW there are no wild Wolves in kent, I think you'll find its the front leg of a Fallow doe

I give HunterX a nudge, and pass him the glasses, he swaps me the Sako85. Now with the reduced field of view offered by the scope, I've got to find the leg and its owner in the thick coppice. For what seems an age I scan amongst the brownish-grey's looking for the greyish-brown of the Fallow doe. At last I can settle the cross hairs on her heart.

HunterX whispers: 'If you can now, or wait until she walks forward to the clear path.'

Days don't seize themselves, so I let the weight of my finger break the trigger and with the bang she turns and runs.

I'm still trying to find her in the scope again, as HunterX works the bolt muttering something about 'two man battery' but she's long gone.

We sit and speculate, waiting for ten minutes to amble past. The morning is brightening and we clamber out of our woodland favela and start to walk towards the spot where she stood. There's a small splash of foamy pink blood. Clearly not my finest hour as a marksman.

The clues left in the leaf litter are beyond our fluency as trackers, so we resort to the widening circle, which soon yields the flash of white where she lies about twenty yards from where I shot her. I've clipped a lung alright but it's her liver that's taken the shot [back to air rifle practice for me], she's not run more than twenty yards.

The gralloch is without incident, and we make good pace back to town, so good in fact that by 10am I'm already back at her flat being bollocked by Elfa for walking into the house in my muddy boots.

More soon

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Murray Carter: Knifemaker In The Yoshimoto Tradition

Carter from Cineastas on Vimeo.

Knives and filmmaking are, as ever, in my thoughts this week. I've been testing a knife by some canadian makers, and doing a little of the other kind of shooting - for my documentary about the making of the forgotten classic of London's soundsystem culture, Babylon.

So it was a delight when Tristan a director a Cineastas sent me a link to his film about Murray Carter; a Canadian who trained in Japan, eventually becoming the 17th Generation of Yoshimoto Bladesmith. Nice to watch skillful camera work of a master maker at his work.
While even his lower priced offerings will make most wives squeal '400 for a knife!' they represent pretty good value when you see what goes into making them. With Crimbo coming a bushwacker can dream, and drop hints.

Have a good weekend
your pal

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Sgt Fulton And The Gun Dog

Sargent Fulton was clearly something of a legend with a rifle, winning the King's prize at Bisley not once but twice, little known is his inventiveness as a dog trainer. Watch and Weep Bambi Basher, watch and weep.

More soon
Your pal

From Pathe News 1926

Saturday, 12 October 2013

M4 Tactical Crossbow Review Pt1

This ball bearing launching bad-boy is currently living at the LSP's place. The M4 tactical Crossbow was sent to us by the lovely people at
The M4 is a sweet set up, you even get the red-dot included in the package, for your $299

Physical Weight : 3.1kg (6.8lbs)

draw weight: 80kg(180 lbs )

Feeding mode : Manual

Effective range :75m (82 yards)

Overall size:72*54*29cm

In the Box

Wolf’s Eye Blue illuminating light

160 pellets of 8mm steel ball

LED Torchlight gun attachment

Red Dot Laser Sight



Black Carrying Case
Early testing left chief range officer The LSP in no doubt that its a lot of fun, chrono testing in part 2! Will it work against Zombies though?

More soon

Friday, 11 October 2013

Obscure Outdoor Brands Pt1

All the best outdoor gear is made by companies, with rubbish websites - Truism

All kinds of people start outdoor goods companies, some of them make total crap [I've started a list it's HERE] some of them are driven by a need to prove a point to their former company, some sold the last co. but love to tinker with designs and keep their hand in. Some just go out of their way to behave strangely....

The Bambi Basher and I are heading north of the border in the new year for a week on the Hinds - stalking female Red Deer - and expecting the usual Caledonian weather I resolved to sort my 'cold but active' kit out.It's no secret that I favor kit made by people who use it themselves, and make it in small batches over kit made to a price by faceless corporations. Sometime this involves dealing with the foibles of the kind of company that swims against the stream.

A longtime ago the don of uk sporting journalists James Marchington posted that he'd flashed up the not inconsiderable cost of a fleece by XXXX, so after a subsequent post where he'd been out in all weathers I asked him if it lived up to its reputation and cost. "Better, you can see why so many keepers wear them on the hill". Searching online I found a website so bad that my first thought was that I'd gotten the wrong end of the stick and the company actually was based in New Zealand - home of the crap website.
In the years that have followed I've kept checking back and its still atrocious, tiny pictures of people who may be wearing the clothes, taken from angles that don't really let you know what the gear may or may not be like.There are quite a few online mentions of the brand, from Stalkers and Gamekeepers, universal in their praise, many citing the only drawback as being 'too warm for most of the year'. Keepers earn very little and spend all day every day mooching about in the cold and rain, while some get a clothing allowance, most have to spend it out of their own pocket. Their endorsement bodes well.

A couple of years ago while at a game fare,  I wandered over to the XXXX stand to learn a bit more. I had a very affable chat about jacket design with a distinguished looking gent and found that my hand had involuntarily grasped my bank card and was drawing it from my pocket. The website claims that any special requests could easily be accommodated, so in the light of our pleasant chat I asked if a couple of tweaks to the jacket were available. Scrub that, I'd only got as far as asking about the first when suddenly 'Dr No' (I assume the company's owner) burst into the conversation, making it abundantly clear, at volume, that no tweaking would be taking place on his watch. Dismayed, but not disheartened to the point of circumspection, I spent the money with another retailer where I got a thumping deal on a pair of Lundhags and change.

Fast forward to last week

I found a fella with a shop in Scotland who could do a bit of a deal on the brand, so I asked about another tweak I'd thought of; I'm a big fan of 'breeks' the traditional short field trousers of the british isles. I'm also a big fan of kneepads, I'd like to be able to fit kneepads into the breeks, he kindly got in touch with Dr No. Who lived down to expectations. Once again claiming that it was 'impossible' this time as the breeks would have to come further than the requisite four inches below the knee. Oh the horror!

More soon
Your pal


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Hank Shaw's Duck Duck Goose

We've waited a long time for this, there are plenty of books about game cookery that have a few pages dedicated to wildfowl, but there hasn't been a single work that puts all the wisdom in one place. Until now.

I've followed Hank Shaw's blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook since it's first post, we've conversed by email and in the comments sections of our respective blogs. I am an unabashed fan of his writing, recipes and outlook on food and hunting.

There are lots of johnny-come-lately foodie bloggers, and frankly I'd trust most of them to tell me about the ambience of the eatery more than the food, some of them are very experienced customers, no bad thing, its all part of the deal. But if you wish to 'know' your ingredients, you must have put in your 'dirt time' hands on with the soil, walk the earth, gather and hunt from its fecundity.
The GF - Elfa, drank, and sold a lot of wine, but for her to feel her education had begun she had to make seasonal pilgrimages to the vineyard, to walk away from a planned harvest knowing another few days sunlight would take the crop to another level of ripeness, then crush the grapes with her bare feet, before her connection to the wines could become an almost living thing. I've seen a lot of wines sold, but passion will out. It's easy to fake the sincerity, but not the deep connection to the repast you serve.

I'd like to tell you some underdog-tale of how Hank's blog started from small beginnings and grew, but no, Hank was already an accomplished writer when he made his first post. He'd worked as a journalist for many years, he'd put himself through journalism school by slaving at a hot stove and he's walked the forests, fields and beaches with rod and rifle, with gun and basket. His books could be seen as a confluence of that time and many many evenings spent between the stove and the bookshelf.

The book hits AMAZON right about now

The book tour has started, so you can meet and more importantly EAT with Hank - the details are google mapped HERE

You can follow Hank on Facebook HERE

More soon

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Education Is A Good Thing

"The Hunting season, where boys become men, and men become boys"
The Hunt  [a The Crucible for our times - very highly recommended]

On this side of the pond we have a system of voluntary hunter education, widely resisted by lots of older stalkers, widely praised by those who have attended.
The Deer Stalking Certificate is in two parts, the first like the American system - classroom and range based and the second completed afield, stalking in the presence of an accredited witness, more like the European system.
One great thing about the DSC1 is that its now recognised as a 'UK hunting licence' in europe and the states, making life easier for the traveling sportsman.

In the USofA and Canada you can take a course online for most states and provinces. Those lovely people at have the whole list, for example hunter education Alabama, and hopefully they'll come to europe soon, as I'd love to be able to study the German sylabus in english.

“There was something delightfully intimate about the relationship between predator and prey.”
Nenia Campbell,

More soon
PS If you'd like to be one of the Lovely People sponsoring this blog email me regarding your product or service. Testing 'on the hill' commences second week of next year and pre-season training will begin again soon.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Hoodrat 'Served'

Not a lot to do with hunting or bushcraft, but an amusing incident

I was standing in the street waiting for a cab, dressed in building site clothes, with a large coil of pipe, a fold-up ladder and a HOOJ toolbox.
A teenage chav with a particularly annoying bum-fluff beard and horrid ball-cap is eyeing me up suspiciously.

Hoodrat: Officer, officer what's your badge number?

I ignore him

Hoodrat: Ay Federale, what you watching me for?

After a while he's joined by two of his little chums, they cross the road and one of them comes up to me

2nd Hoodrat  [pointing at my pile of tools]" these two reckon you're undercover, but I'm not thinkin' that, how would you chase anyone with all-a-diss?

SBW [pointing to stomach] Or with this?

Hoodrat's 2: laughs

Hoodrat: He is he's undercover init!

SBW: [to 2nd hoodrat] If I'm undercover your mate's a real gangster

Hoodrat's 2 and 3 crack up laughing

Hoodrat: Yeah you're funny

2nd Hoodrat: ' Nah blood, face it, you've been served

Hoodrat's 2 and 3 crack up laughing

There SBW 'down with the kids' who'da thunk it?

More soon

Friday, 13 September 2013

Wild Boar Hunting: A Bit Close For Comfort?

Once he starts paying attention, he really gets it together.
I wonder if he'd worn the Kepi Blanc?

PS 'Seasons' publish a french hunting  DVD  full of wild and wacky french hunting exploits,
worth a look if you're over there

My Daughter The Anti Hunter

I was siting talking to my aunt. The conversation moved on to deer stalking, a sharp pain in my side announced that my daughter [TLB - the littlest bushwacker] was joining the conversation using Full-Contact Sign Language.

TLB: "Daddy STOP killing animals"
SBW: "You liked the venison we ate at Christmas, you didn't complain then"
TLB: " I know daddy, I wanted to say something, but it was so delicious!"

More soon
Your pal

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Skull Pix pt?

This Skull road sign was spotted on the A22 by The Bambi Basher. Considering the over 250 rta's involving deer do far this year on that stretch of road alone it's plausible  they're all road kill !

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Deer Stalking In Wiltshire Pt3

"I am SO going to blood you" HunterX

What is it about hunting? Really WTF is it? How can it be so hard to leave town in a timely manner? Especially as out of the season we could all gather together with our tools. Now with the prospect of yer actual shootable animals we struggle through the treacle of work commitments. Ai Yi Yi!

I'm on a construction site all day on the Friday, receiving regular changes and updates to our plans from HunterY who is at a fever pitch of excitement. By this time I'm just too dog-tired to care. The work get's done and I set off across town to meet HunterY who is still receiving regular travel updates from HunterX, he'll be leaving the office at 5.30 sharp, not before 7.00, make that 9.30, at the latest. Really. Anyone would think he was a plumber!

I'm passed out on HunterY's sofa by about 7.30 and oblivious to any further news of delayed departure. HunterX arrives at about 11.00 and we're off into the night. The truck blows a hole in its exhaust and we roar our way west.

The night is thick, all we'd need is the chirp of cicadas, and we'd be in Virginia on a summers night. We grab a little more sleep on the floor of a cow-shed and are on the ground a little late with the dawn is already breaking.

Leaving HunterY in a treestand HunterX and myself creep down a ride and deposit ourselves in a seat which overlooks the intersection of four rides, the long horse riding lanes that intersect the forest.

A Doe and her fawn appear from nowhere and mooch about for a while, out of season and in and out of view. Another Doe with a fawns and a follower appears. Again as if teleported in. Still and with baited breath we watch entranced, one of the Does seems to catch a hint of something on the eddying breeze, she acts weary but not enough to spook her and her young. A third group stroll into view Mum, this years fawn, last years fawn and hello who's this? Bringing up the rear with his nose to the ground is a rather handsome pricket, in his first year of having antlers, his coat white with a tinge of orange to him, strawberry blonde if you like. HunterX whispers "do you want to shoot him?" Muttering "that's why we're here, no?" I settle over the stock of the SAKO 85 and watch the shot present itself. One squeeze later, he staggers, describes a quick circle and crumples to the ground not 20 feet from where he received his .308 dinner invite.

To the disappointment of one commenter/troll I put a couple of fronds in his mouth, and wish him well. The deer not the Troll. I'm not what you'd call 'blessed with faith' myself but something atavistic stirred in my soul and it seemed appropriate to wish him well on his next adventure. I find all that whooping and high-fiveing on youtube a bit, well not to my taste, but at the same time some reflection of the moment seemed appropriate.

Just as I get to work bleeding the beast, HunterX surprises me with a handful of blood all over my face, this seems only to add to his delight. He keeps repeating 'I cant believe you're so calm" While it is exciting and wonderful to have meat on the ground again after all this time, I'm battered, I can hardly keep my eyes open. Wearily I accept his directions, "left a bit, no right, back a bit" as he takes the snap he shouts "that's animal husbandry right there!" As you can see in the picture at the top of the page - perfectly posed. Bah!

The gralloch is interrupted by the distant crack of an un-moderated 30-06, HunterY has meat on the ground too. As we work HunterX cuts off a slice of liver telling me
"In my family we always eat a bit of the liver when the animal is on the ground"
I'm not sure if this is actually true or he was just trying to claw back some dignity after being proven to be afraid of his dinner at the Kebab shop the weekend before.

Lots of stalkers abandon the liver and other offal at the gralloch or view them as dog food. What a waste! I've gotta recommend this practice to you, quivering, still at body temperature, fresh liver is one of the most amazing foods I've ever eaten. Delicious and then some. Woodland Sashimi.

With meat in the larder and all of us feeling battered-tired we beat an early retreat back to town, where I treat my flatmate to the surprise of finding me doing home butchery on the kitchen floor, before collapsing into bed to sleep the sleep of the dead.

An armed ramble with The Bambi Basher and Keeper Du Bois next and maybe another go at the Fallow Bucks.

More soon

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Deer Stalking In Wiltshire Pt2

I'm 'real life' friends with a few readers of this blog, occasionally I get the time to do a bit of hanging-out with them.  HunterX and I did a bit of unsuccessful Deer Stalking together and this year we've been fishing and having our two-man reading circle, [or as there are only two of us participating should that be hunting-book-tennis?].

HunterX has joined a wonderful deer stalking lease. Where as youngest member its fallen to him to set up the larder and highseats. He roped your pal SBW and our new friend HunterY into helping prepare for the season.

As per usual women, work, and kids conspire and we're a little behind time by the time we all have a clear saturday for the work party. It's also the hottest day of the year and the bracken is both high and crawling with Ticks.

I have to hand it to HunterX he is one of only two people in town who get up earlier than me, sitting outside my place at ungodly o'clock. Chipper as you like. HunterY on the other hand keeps the same hours as Elfa and seems completely non-plussed when we rock up at his flat to collect him on the way out of town. So much for 'we leave before dawn'.

The drive is the usual stuff: animals I've shot, places I've shot them, eccentric deerstalkers I know, cunning plans that have worked out, cunning plans that have not worked out, calibres I would own if I could, knifemakers and knife design. the proper proportion of rusk in an english sausage, and we're soon on the ground.
The last leaseholder has taken his tree stands on to the next place so we spend the morning measuring up and the afternoon strapping highseats to trees. There's a lot of cutting back to be done but thankfully we're joined by another member GentlemanD who has pretty much everything from the Stihl catalogue, all in perfect working order so no fires or nasty surprises this time.

Once the seats are done we drop the tools back to GentlemanD who it turns out has a giant pile of heads in his backyard. Really well over a couple of cubes of them, this guy has shot a lot of big Fallow. GentlemanD lives up to his name and is kind enough to give me the rather wonderful Fallow head at the top of the page. Fallow do get a fair bit bigger than this, but usually only in deer parks, this chap lived wild and free until GentlemanD's super custom .243 brought him home to dinner.

So much for me and HunterY's woefully optimistic 'it'll only take an afternoon'
The next couple of saturdays are a little more tense as we have to overcome a few electrical and plumbing conundrums in the cowshed. Quite a few baking hot hours later the chiller hums to life, the scales are hung, the hoist works, and the fly zapper zaps. All good.

As the afternoons cool off and our work is done for the day, we set off on a few practice stalks with an unloaded rifle. The Fallow are still in mixed sex groups and are taking advantage of the closed season to munch their way through the tenant farmers crops. Stalking without glass you can really see the value of stalking with glass, in one memorable encounter we stalk a Doe and follower, who then become two spaniels before swishing their tails to confirm their shetland pony-ness. We dryfire at a couple of opportunities, blow a couple of opportunities by stumbling about in heavy workwear, and generally look forward to the Fallow buck season's start on the 1st of August.

On the way home we stop off for Kebabs [keybobs for readers in the USofA] at HunterY's 'bab shop of choice. London has a lot of Kebab shops and they run the gamut from; processed mechanically recovered meat - which means a pressure washer and a sieve - to sublime hunks of incredible lamb, stacks of quail and chicken marinated in angel's tears. All served with a hand-cart full of salad and flat bread made in front of you. The really good ones serve offal too, great quivering lumps of liver, and what are those white things?
HunterY "Testicales, lambs balls dude"
SBW "Great! mark me down for some of them"
My first few attempts at ordering are taken as piss-taking by the guys behind the counter and are greeted with much hilarity, only when regular customer HunterY intervenes do they end up on the Mangal (grill).

HunterX suddenly morphs from roughty-toughty-hunting-dude to big-girls-blouse and sits, looking on, appalled. HunterY tries one and agrees that "they taste like brains, just with a more meaty texture"

More stalking and eating soon

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Weekend Reading: From Adnan Sarwar

Been a while since I did a post about blogs that are worth reading. I've been chatting online with an interesting writer called Adnan Sarwar whose work on Sabotage Times I'd been reading over that last few weeks. His series Confessions of a Muslim Squaddie is both a coming of age tale and an interesting insight into the gap between disillusion and duty. Funny too.

Adnan Sarwar is a former British soldier who wrote a diary while serving in the Iraq War of 2003 and since leaving the military has written for The Guardian, Taki’s Mag, Channel 4 News and the Burnley Express. He has been a military adviser to the BBC and ITV for war drama scripts and acted in films, dramas and at the theatre. 

What do you do when you're the only Muslim in the squad and your leader gives you a dead rabbit?

From his story: Corporal and the Rabbit 

Corporal McBride had a Muslim in his section and had a lot of questions for him. What’s all this praying about? Five times a day? Fasting? Mecca? And if I’m honest I didn’t know much about it but I was the Muslim so I was meant to be the expert, I tried to keep up appearances as far and long as I could. During an exercise while digging a trench to sleep in, Corporal Mac asked me ‘What’s this Halal thing all about?’ I told him the animal had to be killed slitting the jugular vein at the throat, he asked why and I told him what I’d been told which was that it was to kill the animal quickly with the least amount of pain. He said he didn’t believe that would happen and asked why not just shoot it? Oh, I don’t know Corporal Mac, all I know is I need to dig this hole so I can get some rest in the soil. Look, I told him Allah had said it had to be done that way so we the Muslims did it that way, it’s just the way it was. He then asked what would happen if you went hunting and had to shoot an animal, could you eat it? I said you still had to slit the jugular vein and pray on it. He then asked what if you had found an animal dead in the woods, I said the same would apply not really knowing, all my answers were to cut throats and bleed. My parents bought meat from the Halal butchers and hadn’t killed it themselves but here in the army things were different. He told me it was a peculiar way to kill something and left me to my digging. Good I thought, hopefully there’ll be no more questions, I can’t be both digging a hole and an expert on Islam, I’m too tired today. I want to dig the earth, make a berm with it, clean my rifle, get into my sleeping bag and go to sleep until somebody gets me up for guard duty. No more questions, Corporal Mac.

The ground was soft from the rain which made it easier to bite into with the shovel but dirtied the sleeping bags and mats. I didn’t mind, didn’t mind at all, sleep was my goal and I could sleep anywhere, even in the damp soil. My eyes wouldn’t mind the wet, they just wanted to close. Once I’d rolled out my sleeping mat and put my sleeping bag down and laid on it, it felt just fine and made me smile. I was near sleep. I was sharing the hole with a friend, another soldier, and in between the two sleeping bags rested our rifles to be cleaned and cookers on which we boiled meals in mess tins. Every so often after the hard work was done for the day, I’d catch moments like this and remember how much I loved the army. Loved the digging despite being dirty, loved the soil despite it being wet. I had all an animal needed, shelter in my little earthy hole with a poncho over to keep away the rain, food in my ration boxes and drink in my water bottle, a little fire going which I could get warm off and watch and play my fingers into, and if you tried to attack me, I had a gun - bullets were my teeth. It was all I ever needed. The army wouldn’t allow me one but this would could be made higher than perfect by adding a small transistor radio. The rain outside could do what it wanted, I was under my camouflage poncho drinking a hot brew and if you came my way, I’d shoot you, listening to the Shipping Forecast, if they’d let me. Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Bang Bang you’re dead.

The army issued me Halal ration boxes and the lads would always want to swap my Chicken Tikka Massala meals for theirs. We sometimes mixed them all up in a mess tin and got a big stew going. Nothing could touch us here in our little holes with a little fire going, if Corporal Mac let us relax a bit we’d get a right old chat on in the hole all huddled in talking about where we were from, fights at school, girls we liked, and I’d stir the pot for us all. But not today. Corporal Mac came back smiling with an air rifle in one hand and a dead rabbit by the ears in the other hand. “Halal this, then,” he said as he put the rabbit in front of my hole. READ MORE HERE and you can find him on Twitter @adnansarwar

More soon

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Kelly Kettle Brew Kit

The idea of a Brew-kit is to have a pocketable way of making Tea. People have tried hexamine tablets - tiresome in my book. Those really nifty little stoves made from a Pepsi can, or a Swedish Army Trangia - both good but slow. The best option is the power of the small gas canister stoves - much the best. I thought I'd press my Kelly Kettle into service.
I'm told the KK started out as a brew kit for Irish seaweed gatherers; its fairly windproof, it can be carried full of water, and fuel can be gathered as and when you need it. That last bit can prove a bit problematic, there's always wood, just sometimes not a lot of it is dry. So here's an option I thought I'd try out

I took an old air rifle pellet tin and filled it with rolled corrugated cardboard to make the wick

I broke up a few Nightlights, any small cheap candle will do

 Melted them in the Microwave

Poured the wax over cardboard - if I was smart I'd have used one or more of the wicks to make it easier to get the cardboard to ignite

 As you can see it was a bit of a struggle to get it up to full burn

 Still not burning strongly

 Once it was finally ablaze it produced a decent amount of heat, but from cold tap water to a rolling boil did take 12 minutes from lighting to boiling, which isn't that quick in anyone's book.
 I'm hoping that the now pre-chared cardboard will get fully alight a bit quicker next time. We'll see?

More soon

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Scottish Air Gun Law Petition

Simple as, HunterX forwarded this to me.
There is a move afoot to bring in compulsory licensing for Airguns north of the border. Whether you are a gun-rights person or not this is a monumentally stupid idea. The Scottish Assembly has already had to abandon its woeful attempt to burn public money by licensing knives, and now in the face of public opposition still wants to create a whole new criminal class at the stroke of a pen.
If you'd be so kind as to add your name to the petition, we can get yet another glimpse of the contempt our leaders have for democracy.

Hi Everyone,
Firstly I'd like to thank everyone for their continued support in this campaign and as we are drawing nearer to the petition meeting that support will be invaluable.
The bad news first is that despite 87% of consultation responses against the proposal the Scottish Government has decided to ignore this and press on.
The good news is that we are nearly at 16,000 signatures on the petition.
However judging by the actions of the Scottish Government in ignoring the responses to the consultation we are going to have to show the strongest hand possible. It is with this in mind that I'd like to ask if everyone just try to reach just 3 more people. If we can all do this then we will easily surpass 20,000 by the 3rd of September. It is down to us to fight our corner no one else will do it for us.

If you do share please ensure you send the link to our page and if possible also our Facebook page.
Many Thanks

Monday, 12 August 2013

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Deerstalking in Wiltshire Pt1

The Fallow Buck season opened on the 1st: yesterday, following many trials and tribulations Hunter X, myself and X's pal Hunter Y managed to get afield in time for dawn. No one has hunted the estate for months and even the woodsman hasn't been in down some of the rides through the forest for the last month. Hunter X and I sat up in a highseat at dawn and watched groups of Does milling about, the third group to arrive were accompanied by this Pricket He's in the fridge.
Full report to come

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Crap Outdoors Pt 5

Hear that scraping sound? Welcome to the bottom of the barrel, a place where no-one will be expected to walk and chew gum at the same time. Traveling by hand-cart we have arrived in hell.

We've seen sophisticated solutions to non-existent problems before, but really people WTF! How did we get to the spoon-fed point where the outdoorsman is so insecure that he needs a weather tool to tell which way the wind blows? Sheesh! and Sheesh! again. Big wind socks for aerodromes, little flags for rifle ranges, yep I can see that, but by the bones of Ishi, what kind of lackwit would buy this piece of crap? And it's $25 box!

Firefly (originally dubbed, "Windetector") was born out of necessity. We developed and used the powder "puffers" 15 years ago and they worked fine for the most part, as long as it was light out, there wasn't any snow on the ground (contrast of the powder color with snow was difficult to see), and they didn't get clogged up. They were functional but simply didn't meet our needs so we set out to develop an electronic approach. Firefly is the result of nearly 3 years of technological research and development. It's the result of a major investment in electrical engineering married to a form factor and mechanical design that assures precise measurement every time. This electronic instrument works and it can't be fooled. Firefly is not a gimmick, it's not a toy! It will determine wind thermals and light drifts down to two inches per second" - Tom Galley

He's either delusional, or a genius. If he really has spent the last 15 years separating suckers from their cash by selling them a tube of powder to puff into the air I have to concede its probably the latter.

But wait there's more

Hunters fully understand the importance of knowing wind direction. Whether you're a big game hunter, waterfowl hunter or predator hunter, few things are as important as wind direction.

That's why we made a model for all types of hunters.

Erhm, 'all types' excluding: the type who go outside, the type who have skin and of course, the type who are familiar with the bleedin' obvious. Sheesh! and Sheesh! again.

Gather a seed from a plant that uses air-borne distribution - ie the seeds are mounted on a piece of fluff that floats in a tiny breeze - and super glue one stand of the 'fluff' to something you'll have with you on the day, like a rifle or bow perhaps. Take the $49.95 (+ $24.95 for a box) and spend it on strong drink to numb the pain of life at the bottom of the barrell. It's not a permanent solution but it'll at least offer some respite.

More soon
1st seen on the excellent Hog Blog

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Super Dad Catches Trout With Bare Hands!

If America was Russia this gent would be the new Putin
You sir are a LEGEND
PS to anyone who even thinks about crying 'fake' you are a moron

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Deer Management - Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Have you ever noticed how people create false arguments, the answers to which support their agenda? Here's this morning's example, from the NY Times

“Deer have entered our backyards and essentially become unruly guests,” Dr. Rutberg Disney said. “We are bound by suburban rules in dealing with them, and violence is not how we deal with neighbors we don’t like.”

There is a town called Hastings, (not the Hastings I fish) it's about two square miles, with a population of 70 to 120 deer. For such a small space to support so many deer there must be artificial food plots AKA gardens.  In 2011, there were 16 car collisions that were reported, and presumably a few near misses for each collision. Biologists and deer managers seem to think that 5 to 15 deer per square mile is a more appropriate number for the deer's well being.

Built up area, so rifles are perhaps not the ideal solution, the sound of shot guns tends to upset the neighbours. So Bowhunting from highseats is the way forward. Safe, quiet and effective. Start with a doe season. Give the meat to food banks that will feed the hungry.

But no the bleedin' obvious isn't for hastings residents, oh no.

Someone has managed to create a false choice between trapping the deer and killing them like factory farmed cows with a bolt gun, who would want that? and spending $30,000 [and up] on a deer contraception experiment.

You can read the story sorry debacle HERE

More soon

Monday, 8 July 2013

A Brief History Of The Bushcraft Knife

A bit of Recycled SBW for you, I first posted this a couple of years back, and its stood the test of time quite well.

In a recent email exchange with LSP (the lone star parson) he mentioned he was feeling a little 'under knifed'.Never being one to shy away from lecturing my friends I promised him a post with some of my ideas about what really makes for that most elusive of purchases -

'The one knife to rule them all.'

First up, it's only fair that I give you a bit of background to these opinions. I've owned and traded loads of knives over the years. I'm not a collector, but I am an enthusiast and my stuff is put to hard use.

Most production knives are way over priced, and the semi-custom knives I've owned weren't finished to a high enough standard for the money. I've never been able to justify the cost of a real high end custom but I've handled a few and while there are plenty of other things to spend the money on, yes I do covet one.

'Any job is easy if you've got the right tools' As the guy with a hardware store says. But 'easy' is an entirely relative term. Your favorite might be the most cack-handed thing I've ever held. My 'utilitarian' might be your 'plasticy'. Price too has an effect on perception, 'fantastic' at $20 might be 'substandard' at $100.You need a tool that fits your hand and your requirements. There I've made it sound easy haven't I? If only.

The traditional designs have developed as responses to different environments and needs. The flex in the blade of a fish knife isn't what you need when battening firewood. The 2 mm flat ground Lekeu is a perfect tool for daily use [and sharpening] in the Birch forests of the Sub-Arctic, but something a little thicker with a convex grind suited in the Sweet Chestnut forests of southern Italy. One of your needs might be resale value. I'm more a 'wont snap if hit with brick hammer' kind of guy. Only your choice is going to give you the confidence the 'right' tool gives.

That well known outdoorsman, philosopher and blogger of this parish Mr Albert Rasch heartily recommends the Randall Model 18 Attack and Survival knife, never owned one myself, but I can remember seeing one as a lad and thinking them the mutt's nuts. The handle is hollow giving you room for firelighting kit, a few bucks, or whatever you feel should be in your mini survival kit. It's a bit 'tactical' for my current taste, but may well be just the thing if you've got a lot of hogs to impale.
Inspired by the style of the Randall, but seeking something with even more drama, the producers and props buyers of the Rambo movies helped sales of small swords with a saw back, the Rambo knife was held in high esteem for a few years in the 80's, then came the inevitable backlash. Dour Finns and Sardonic Swedes honed their cold hard stares, and cast scorn on the big knives of 'Hollywood'. Around the campfire anyone who produced a blade longer than 4 inches was mocked as an inadequate .
The Scandinavian Tradition has it that a small light blade is all you need for most jobs, practice in it's skillful use will be of more help to you than the brute force of the 'sharpened prybar'. My favorite iteration of the concept is this Desert Scandi by Todd Hill who writes Primitive Point. Todd's people came to the US from Scandinavia, he has harvested the Mesquite for the handle from the area where he lives, and smiths the blade from scrap steel from the area's disused wood mills. Links it all together rather nicely don't you think?

On the east coast of the USA: That contemporary outdoor legend Tom brown jnr had a look at the 'one knife to rule them all' conundrum and, it would appear, decided to take the 'utility creates form' approach to design. He thought of the jobs he used knives for, part saw, part hide scraper, and part tillering tool for bow making, and tried to carve all those different knives out of one piece of steel. I admit it, there was a brief infatuation, but nothing happened. Phew.
On my side of the pond: a chap called Ray Mears looked out upon the feast of 'survival knives' and sighed, his travels had led him to the campfire of one Mors Kochanski. An ingenious chap, who thought you could thrive where others sought only to survive in the boreal forests of the northern hemisphere. In his company Mr Mears had become a believer in the 'not too long, scandinavian flat grind, not too thick, just make sure its 'double bastard sharp' school of thought. After a while he commissioned a knife of his own, called it a Woodlore, pronounced it the 'perfect bushcraft knife' and a whole industry was born, with most custom makers offering a variation on the design. The last time I looked the endorsed maker was able to charge the price of a new laptop for one.

More recently a cheerful young chap called Bear Grylls was wondering how to make the TV racket pay out [a little more] so he launched a shockingly expensive 'survival knife' and kerching! I'm told he really does have people queuing up to give him £350 for one. I rather like it, but for the money? Well there's fly rods, wool camo, guide fees, wining and dining northern tarts, ammunition, that new compound bow, child support, need I go on?
Of course all this had happened before, almost exactly a hundred years before. When George Washington Sears AKA ‘Nessmuk’ was writing about the outdoor life in the 1880's.

'A word as to knife, or knives. These are of prime necessity, and should be of the best, both as to shape and temper. The "bowies" and "hunting knives" usually kept on sale, are thick, clumsy affairs, with a sort of ridge along the middle of the blade, murderous looking, but of little use; rather fitted to adorn a dime novel or the belt of "Billy the Kid," than the outfit of the hunter.'

Not being unduly impressed with what was on offer, he had a chap make one to his design and the 'Nessmuk' we know today was born. They now come in 57 varieties from the littlest 'Neckmuk" by Guy Stainthop,
Rik Plam's faithful realization of Washington-Sears' line drawings,made from an old file,

this deep ground version by Dan Koster

and you can get a sense of the idea in Chris Reeve's 'Ubejane skinner'. Which also features a hollow handle a la Randall. Chris Reeve's knives are extremely impressive, being machined from a single billet of steel. He also makes a large range of tactical styled knives, but this is the one I'd go for.
A few years after G W-S was writing the unfortunately named Mr Horace Ke-Phart was afield, and thought a simpler style would be more suitible to his needs. In the first edition of The Book of Camping and Woodcraft, he outlines his thoughts [and echoes a few others].

“On the subject of hunting knives I am tempted to be diffuse. In my green and callow days (perhaps not yet over) I tried nearly everything in the knife line from a shoemaker’s skiver to a machete, and I had knives made to order. The conventional hunting knife is, or was until quite recently, of the familiar dime-novel pattern invented by Colonel Bowie. Such a knife is too thick and clumsy to whittle with, much too thick for a good skinning knife, and too sharply pointed to cook and eat with. It is always tempered too hard. When put to the rough service for which it is supposed to be intended, as in cutting through the ossified false ribs of an old buck, it is an even bet that out will come a nick as big as a saw-tooth…. Such a knife is designed expressly for stabbing, which is about the very last thing that a woodsman ever has occasion to do, our lamented grandmothers notwithstanding."
The American Bushman owns this glorious re-creation by ML Knives.
“A camper has use for a common-sense sheath-knife, sometimes for dressing big game, but oftener for such homely work as cutting sticks, slicing bacon, and frying ’spuds.’ For such purposes a rather thin, broad-pointed blade is required, and it need not be over four or five inches long. Nothing is gained by a longer blade, and it would be in one’s way every time he sat down. Such a knife, bearing the marks of hard usage, lies before me. Its blade and handle are each 4 1/2 inches long, the blade being 1 inch wide, 1/8 inch thick on the back, broad pointed, and continued through the handle as a hasp and riveted to it. It is tempered hard enough to cut green hardwood sticks, but soft enough so that when it strikes a knot or bone it will, if anything, turn rather than nick; then a whetstone puts it in order….”
His design is still being made today. I've never owned one, but chad is a big fan of the Bark River Knife & Tool Co. version, elevating it to his list of 'things that don't suck'. Should be worth a look.
By the 1917 edition of Camping and Woodcraft Kephart had found a production knife he liked, the Marble’s Woodcraft.
“For years I used knives of my own design, because there was nothing on the market that met my notion of what a sensible, practical sheath knife should be; but we have it now …. It is of the right size (4 1/2-inch blade), the right shape, and the proper thinness.”

Back to the present day: While Mors had the temerity to be able to do it all with a $10 knife from the hardware store himself, he took the time to outline a style guide for what he thought would make the perfect bushcraft knife. One of his students used the style guide to create the Skookum Bushtool.

Basically it's a scandinavian style blade, a full tang with a sturdy pommel welded to it, the the slabs of the handle are secured by hollow rivets. Not Cheap but VERY NICE, and even though the man himself is still using the cheap jobbie from the hardware store, it establishes Mors in the firmament of outdoor writers whose knife designs will still be made a hundred years or so after they've gone to the happy hunting ground. There are alredy lots of makers doing their own 'bushtool clones' and some of them are very nice too.

What is the best shape for a knife?
Is a bit like asking who is the most beautiful woman in the world, or which is the best car for over 100K, assuming you have to good sense to buy a knife designed for the jobs you do, what speaks to you?

Serrations and gutting hooks?
The bushcrafters tend to sneer at serrations, I speculate that that's because either
A: They use mainly natural materials, serrations come into their own on man made materials.
B: They enjoy sneering at everything not used by their heroes or in their favorite book

If you're going to be cutting a lot of multi stranded ropes of man made fibres, you could do a lot worse than carry a serrated blade. Where I do agree with the bushcrafters is that most of the time knife makers put the serration's is TOTALY THE WRONG PLACE. The part of the blade nearest to the handle is bit I use most, the bit with the control needed for the delicate tasks. If cutting manmade rope is one of your requirements, carry a rope cutting folder - I'd look at Spyderco first. When you need to saw wood a Laplander is only £20 and is a far better tool for the job than a serrated back to your knife. If I wanted a gutting hook I'd have one, but it wouldn't be on my main knife, it'd be a tool in it's own right.

Steel Recycled, Tool steel or trick steels (or how often will I need to sharpen it)?
Plenty of knives will take an edge, some knives will still have most of the edge after use. Easy to sharpen, usually equals easy to blunt, on the upside a few swipes a day and your good to go. On the other foot; the extremes of skill and diligence required to sharpen the super steels are repaid in edge retention. You pays your money you takes your choice.

There is some awesome steel just lying around out there, either free or yours for the asking. Road crews will usually give you old blades from their cutting tools, old files are also excellent. Todd from Primitive Point uses nothing but found steel and makes lots of soulful knives that look as though they'd last a lifetime. I have a 'Bushwacker Bushtool' on the way and it's made by Black Rabbit from a recycled file.

At the other extreme the VG10 the lamination that Fallkniven are currently using has A LOT GOING FOR IT, on my recent trip to italy I put an F1 to the test called 'one knife for everything', I harvested and debarked burls, cut roots, shaved parmesan, sliced tomatoes, split firewood, feathered fire sticks and ate my dinner with it. After five days use, it had held enough edge to slice tomatoes in one stroke before I fried them for my pre-airport breakfast on the last day. it's taken me a long time to get even half way competent at sharpening it.

To read some people post about this you'd literally think it was a matter far more important than life and death.
I've never owned a chisel grind knife but I have used one in a kitchen, they rock for vegetables but I can't say what they're like for other uses.
Flat grinds are easy[er] to sharpen on a stone.
Convex grinds have some advantages, in terms of robustness and edge retention, but I've found learning to sharpen them a bit of a grind ;-). Here's the case for Convex made more cogently than I can write.

Currently I'm contentedly convex. Ask me again in a year.

Forged or Stock Removal?
Forged means beaten from a piece of steel that was another shape, a lot of fun/hard work at the anvil.
Stock removal means starting with a flat pice of your chosen steel and abrading away material until only the knife remains. things of great beauty and pieces of junk are made using both methods.

Handle Materials?
Um, Errrr, don't ask me. I like manmade materials for their inertness, I admire natural materials for their looks. It's that Angelina or Kate question again. Your choice will mean more to you than anything I could say.

It only seems like yesterday when you could have something really great for $100 or £50, sadly due to the current climate, those days are over, in the UK at least.

Fallkniven are now getting to be pretty expensive, you get a hell of a lot for the money, but the prices are now aproaching that of the work of the more affordable custom makers. From the custom makers you usually don't get the super trick steel, but you do get a realisation of your Knife. These are the standard all production knives should be measured against. You get what you pay for.

Here are a few of my current favorite makers. Todd and Black Rabbit aren't included as they don't actively sell their work. YET.

Wild. Out There. Recycled. This guy is truly a son of Vulcan. When you want to see forge work as high art Tai Goo's shop is where you go. Todd from Primitive Point is making a video of Tai at work forging some knives, keep a look out for it.
Off The Map Outfitters - you may know him as the blogger Backyard Bushman
He's been making knives for a while and recently seems to have hit his stride, developing quite a range of different styles. I love this shocking pink hiker but most are in more traditional handle materials. Get in there now while they're affordable.

Guy Stainthorp AKA Guy Cep
Some great work, I particularly like his 'bushcrafter' design - a little bit different to what others are doing and very well executed.
If time [on the waiting list] and money [a fair bit of it] were no object I'd be popping in to the Sheffield workshop of Stuart Mitchell for a 'stalkers set' much better, both in use and aesthetic than those silly gut-hook knives. His website just doesn't do his work justice. Use this search of British Blades to see more of his work. THE BEST.

On the subject of British Blades this link takes you to a HUGE list of custom makers from all over the world.

Some thoughts about features:
There's a current fashion for hollow rivets, so the knife can be lashed to a pole. They would have come in very handy in Italy when we'd harvested all the low hanging cherries and were under laddered. Just make sure the tubes are wide enough to clean easily.

The distill taper is surely the sign of the high end hand made knife, it means the tang is tapered away from the blade. You still get the strength of a full length tang, but the weight balance of the knife moves towards your index finger. Classy.

In summation: They all cut, some need more attention than others. You pays your money and you makes your choice. I've never found that ONE knife, but I've really enjoyed looking.

Happy Hunting
Your pal
PS For more info on Horace Kephart visit Horace Kephart: revealing and enigma Fascinating.