Monday, 28 May 2007

Savory Seal Hearts

Savory Seal Hearts
1 Large seal heart
1 cup Breadcrumbs or cooked rice
1 teaspoon Parsley
1/2 teaspoon Sage
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
2 tablespoons Onion flakes, softened in lukewarm water
Some slices of fat bacon
2 tablespoons Melted butter
Soak the heart in salted water overnight.
Wash the heart well and trim off the fat, large veins and thread-like cords
Cut the heart into thick slices.
Grease a casserole well with butter.
Make a stuffing of breadcrumbs or cooked rice, parsley, sage, salt, pepper and the onions.
Toss lightly.
Place the slices of heart, stuffing and slices of fat bacon in alternate layers, in the greased casserole
and top with the melted butter.
Cover tightly and bake in a moderate oven for at least 2 hours.
Serves 4.

This recipe from:

Hats and other 'clubware' from:


1st Shoot Your Seal - Seal Cookbook Launched

A ski mounted hide to hunt seal from

A cookbook purporting to be the first in the world containing recipes only for dishes made with seal has been launched in Sweden.
"Seal tastes wild and of course it is nutritious," said author Susanne Jonsson to newspaper Västerbottens Folkblad as she launched the book. The book is being published in Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian. Twelve chefs have contributed their best seal recipes to the book. Åke Granström of the Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management is project leader for the book. He told Expressen that seal meat is rarely found in shops, and that most people get hold of it through contacts. He said he understands that some people are opposed to the idea of eating seal.

"There was a time when there were very few seals, but what people don't know is that seal numbers are increasing very rapidly at the moment. We couldn't have published this book in the mid-80s, but a protective cull of the animals is now underway, so it's obvious that we should make use of the meat. It's good, so we might as well eat it.”

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Late One Night I Saw A Documentary About An Old Thule Hunter

“One day a woman came a beautiful woman, with beautiful blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes came here. She said we shouldn’t kill the baby seals with their beautiful pale coats and beautiful big eyes. I could see her point of view.”


Saturday, 26 May 2007

Elk Pasta!

Get Tough or Move South.

“ must have a good pair of legs. If automobiles, elevators, and general laziness have not ruined your powers of locomotion, you may follow the dogs; otherwise, you had best stay at home.”
Dr Saxton Pope

So after a considerable hiatus, the Suburban Bushwacker took some unpaid exercise.
Actually it’s worse than that I’M PAYING THEM!!!

This time rowing in front of the TV down at the gym just isn’t going to do it.
I’m not preparing for a duck hunt or a fishing trip: this is an elk hunt, so I’ve enrolled with a military fitness crew.
Started by a retired major and staffed by serving physical training instructors these boys know blood, sweat and tears.
I’m yet to donate any blood.

We meet in the park for an hour of running and circuit training.
The group is divided into three; the green bibs - skinny determined looking people, all high as kites on endorphins.
The red bibs – smiling, full of life, people who chat to each other during the class.
Then bringing up the rear, in the blue bibs; the chubby folk. Needless to say your friend the Bushwacker is wheezing along with the desk jockeys and ready-meal addicts. I would be telling you about the burning pain of such a humiliation, but I honestly didn’t feel it. The burning pain all over my body meant I was incapable of any existential angst.
24 hours later I’m wishing that was still the case ! Oh the pain, the pain of being a wuss! Oh the pain of being a lazy, greedy wuss! Every glorious fatty, salty, sugary delicacy I’ve stuffed in my face is now dancing before my eyes.
When Bushwacker jnr woke me up in the middle of last night my stomach still ached so much I couldn’t go back to sleep. Awww!

British Military Fitness - Now UK wide

Nike 5.0
Like socks with soles attached. I really like 5.0’s the low heel height means much greater stability, (how do chicks stay balanced on high heels?) and the articulation of the sole really does make them like walking barefoot.

Nalgene 0.5 litre
The best bottles ever! For reasons why the Nalgene is so good, lets look at how it trounces that traditional favorite the Sigg bottle.
Siggs may look good on the shelf (Sigg1 Nalgene 0) but like so many ‘outdoor classics’ they are crap.
They dent (Sigg1 Nalgene 1).
The neck is too narrow to insert anything wider than a straw-who would want to put ice in a drink? (Nalgene 2. Sigg1. Advantage Nalgene).
They corrode (Sigg1 Nalgene 3)
And they are way, way overpriced-look around you’ll see perfect copies for 15-20% of the price (Sigg1 Nalgene 4).
Nalgene wins!
If Sigg is ever to regain it’s once exulted place in my pack, its time for a major rethink, aluminum just ain’t doing it anymore.
Dear Sigg
‘If you can’t run with the big dogs, keep your puppy ass on the porch’

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Dr. Lure Fishing

Dr Mike Ladle is probably the leading British authority on lure fishing in the salt for Sea Bass (like Stripers in the USA / AKA Suzuki in Japan) and in freshwater for Pike and Carp. He is often credited with kick starting the popularity of salt-water fly fishing in the UK.
Lure fishing with 20-30 pound braid, he takes a stand against the super light tackle idiocy that claims to ‘give the fish a chance’ pointing out that this is actually giving the fish a chance to swim off with a lure in its mouth.
Unlike the fishing journalists in fishing magazines he has no agenda to keep advertisers sweet and sell you new gear. His approach is based on having a small amount of inexpensive gear and large amount of understanding of fish behaviour. His book Operation Sea Angler is free to read online, and his blog is informative as he puts a lot of time into keeping up to date with the latest findings from marine biologists across the world.
Doc Ladle uses his blog to promote his range of DVDs detailing the tactics he uses to fish in the Caribbean. What he doesn’t mention is that he’s also the designer of the SureSpin range of rods – including the highly rated 4SureSpin travel rod. I use Shimano STC myself, but next time it’s a 4SureSpin for sure (!).
One of the good guys check him out

Doc Ladle is asking the UK's fisherfolk to sign this petition to Increase the MLS for Bass to 45cm for commercial and recreational anglers. A very good idea. Please help.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Axe Review And A Tale Of Price Fixing.

Fiskars Gardening Axe – also sold as - Wilkinsonsword Garden Axe and for about double the price as the Gerber Camp Axe.
“A Finnish forged steel blade wrapped by a ‘virtually’ indestructible Polymid Fiberglass hollow handle.”
As given to me, (almost new and never having felt a stone) it was sharp enough to trim fingernails, if not shave hairs off my arm.

I was given this axe while dump camping in South Dakota last summer and as the camps only hand axe (we had a maul for the bigger splits) it performed well. Everyone in the camp used it, from the highly proficient, via the almost proficient (me) to the down right incompetent (see photo). Even after the abuse it suffered it was only ever a few coarse wet stone strokes away from handsomely sharp.
It has a flat grind with a secondary bevel making it easier to sharpen in the field than the grind found on the more traditional designs. The edge is good but nicks easily so this is a very good feature.

Starting at the business end; the head is treated to a non-slip coating – looks nice, possibly adds (very slightly) to cleaving efficiency (I can’t say I’d ever felt the need for a non-slip head before), although if a covering isn’t your thing - it certainly wears off quickly!

The plastic (Nyglass®) shaft joins the head to the shaft by the wrap around method, all well and good unless you need to use it for splitting into anything deeper than fist with timber. Some people did feel the need, with predictable consequences (see photo). The plastic shaft does have the benefit of absorbing shocks. I used it to trim Fir trees, cut firewood, and make bowls for hours on end and not being ring fit, found it easy to use and kind to sore/weedy elbows,

As you can see in the photo the “virtually indestructible” shaft is also susceptible to chipping if the head is sunk deep enough into a piece of wood. When (rather than if) it fails I’m planning to drill out the head and give it a wooden shaft. I’ll post an update on how easy this proves to be.
The unique feature, which I found most useful in a ‘camp’ axe, was the last third of the shaft being painted blaze orange, it meant I could rescue it from the woodpile!

Handle length 14 inches.
Blade length 3 inches
Weight 11/2 lbs aprox.

UK As Fiskers gardening axe £20
UK As Gerber pack axe (without orange paint) £33.00 reduced from £44.99
In the USA I’ve seen it for sale at around $30 (£15)

Would I buy one with my hard earned cash?
Yes but only at the Fiskars / Wilkinsonsword price. See future posts for my feelings about Gerber.....Hmmmmm

Monday, 21 May 2007

Dear Mr Elk 5-4-3-2-1 coming ready or not!

Getting Inspired

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Hunting with the Bow and Arrow, by Saxton Pope (1875 - 1927)

Inspired by Ishi the last of the Yana people and Robin Hood. The surgeon, bow hunter, and Edwardian wag Dr Saxton Pope offers this thesis on bow craft and hunting. Thanks to the non-profit Guttenberg project the book can be downloaded for free!

While the book is a thorough and enthusiastic introduction to making your own bow, arrows and hunting kit, it was also the first time I learned of ‘Ishi’ the last of the Yana people who lived to the east of Sacramento before the arrival of (or invasion by) Europeans.
In 1911 Ishi, the last living Yana, starved and disheveled, walked out of the Stone Age and into the 20th century. The game scared away and the rivers poisoned by ranchers and cattle he must literally have been at the end of his world. At first he was found by the local constabulary and as no one present could speak his language he was deemed to be ‘mad’ and incarcerated. His arrival, coming only thirty-eight years after the Mill Creek genocide of his people, was announced in the local paper. Professor T. T. Watterman, of the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, came to Oroville to investigate. By some stint of good fortune the professor had a few words of the Yana language and was able to offer some comfort to Ishi and to give him shelter at the University.
Everyone has their own symbolic ‘Ishi’ political, spiritual and to some of us the ultimate expression of the bush-crafter as craftsman and hunter. He lived at the university where he worked as a janitor and living exhibit demonstrating his skills as a knapper, bowyer and fletcher.
Here is where Dr Saxton Pope joins the story: a surgeon by trade and something of a wag and an athlete by disposition, Dr Pope became Ishi’s physician and latter his friend and pupil in all things toxophilic.
Dr Pope himself is from a time that has passed, while his language and views are those of a man of his social standing almost a hundred years ago. His wit and wisdom come across as clearly today as they would have beside the campfire.

“ must have a good pair of legs. If automobiles, elevators, and general laziness have not ruined your powers of locomotion, you may follow the dogs; otherwise, you had best stay at home.”

At a time when ‘progress was all, biggest was best, and most powerful meant most right, Dr Pope must have been quite the contrarian; befriending an ‘Indian’ learning his language and hunting techniques. And taking to the wilderness with a ‘child’s plaything’ in pursuit of the largest predators North America had to offer.

“She undoubtedly would have been right on us in another second. The outcome of this hypothetical encounter I leave to those with vivid imaginations.”

Along with his physical courage what comes across in the book is his enthusiasm: whether it be for hunting Grizzly bears (Ursus Horribilis) on foot, armed only with “old horrible’, (a bow of his own construction), or his love and respect for his friends.

“I learned to love Ishi as a brother, and he looked upon me as one of his people. He called me Ku wi, or Medicine Man; more, perhaps, because I could perform little sleight of hand tricks, than because of my profession.”

After Ishi’s death from TB most of Dr Pope’s expeditions were with his great friend Arthur ‘Art’ Young.

“It seems as if Fate had chosen my hunting companion, Arthur Young, to add to the honor and the legends of the bow.”

My personal favorite, gives a clue to the twinkle in Popes eye when he says

“Young is so abstemious that even tea or coffee seem a bit intemperate to him, and are only to be used under great physical strain; and as for profanity, why, I had to do all the swearing for the two of us.”

Wag, Edwardian gent, contrarian, friend and philosopher Dr Pope lead the American bow-hunting renaissance. Championing ethical hunting and the defense and preservation of the wilderness long before such interests appeared in the pubic imagination.

“All that we have done is perfectly possible to any adventurous youth, no matter what his age.”

You can download the book for free from the Guttenberg project

I love this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and between it’s pages find the inspiration to take to the field in pursuit of breakfast lunch and dinner.

Why am I doing this?

To awake from my comfortable homeostasis, rediscover my physical self and embark on the adventure of reconnecting with the natural world. Fat and lazy as I am, I get the feeling it’s going to be a rude awakening! I live in one of the most highly urbanised societies on earth, and it shows. Mainly around the middle!

Hunt, and kill a massive Elk with a bow. To skin it, butcher it, put it’s meat on the table and in the freezer, hang its skull and antlers on the wall, spread its hide across our bed and love-wrestle Mrs Bushwacker on top of it in its honour.

Between here and there:
Lose quite a lot of weight, gain quite a lot of muscle, develop endurance, learn archery, learn bushcraft and stalking skills, choose then buy (or trade for) all the kit needed to trek out into the wilderness, kill and bring back the body of my noble prey.

Why Hunting?
Ever since I started eating meat again, I was vegetarian for a few years in my teens and early twenties, I have felt a growing need to have an honest (and some would say blood thirsty) relationship with my dinner.
I’ve noticed a lot of hunters refer to killing an animal as ‘harvesting’, just as there is no polite word for a euphemism, on this blog killing is called killing. I’ve met too many people who can/will only eat something if its origin is obscured. Fish, but only if it does not have a head, prawns without their shells, chicken but only when it comes from a plastic tray, and then only the white meat. These are people are afraid of their dinner. Our food deserves our respect. On the days when our skill and tenacity overcomes the animals guile and awareness, we earn the right to eat the flesh of another being. If you cant (or won’t) kill it, gut it, cut it, and cook it what gives you the right to eat it? I believe in celebrating and honouring the life that is taken so we may live.

Why Elk Hunting?
1.Stone sheep aside, it’s renowned as the hardest hunt there is.
2.You get a lot of meat from one success, and my time is limited

Why Bow Hunting?
To me bow hunting is a pure unadulterated expression of man’s ingenuity and the spirit of the hunt. With a HS Precision loaded with 200 grain .300 Winchester Magnum you can shoot to kill at 400 yards*. The commitment and skill required to kill ‘up close and personal’ with a bow is something such a noble adversary deserves.

* How do I know? During my only rifle hunting experience, with zero tuition I shot and killed a moving White Tail Deer at 100 yards+ with the first shot I ever fired from a (non air powered) rifle.