Saturday, 29 September 2007

Is That A Survival Kit In Your Pocket?

Viridari was kind enough to post a comment on my last post so i visited his site
where i saw this - great isn't it!

Reading a few of his other posts i found out about the Every Day Carry Forum.
A site where guys boast about who has the smallest......
Not something you hear everyday!

Friday, 28 September 2007

A Round Toit

I’ve just added a bushcraft blog by lad called Leon to my blog roll.
If you’ve ever fancied learning some bushcraft skills but not gotten round to it YET his enthusiasm and experiences may give you some impetus.
Careful with those sharps now!

Round toit

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Those New Chestnuts

Like the our pal the American Bushman I’m noticing the shift in the seasons; London was decidedly nippy today, and the prelude to last nights fitness training was a drum roll of chattering teeth as we gathered at the park gate.
I’m not sure where it went (I’ve even been having salad for breakfast!) but I’d certainly let things slide in the last week. The regime of running, sit ups, burpees, star jumps and press ups seemed almost as tortuous as the first time I attended. I sweated like a carthorse and my legs felt like I had tree trunks tied to them. Having struggled and slithered across the wet grass praying for the strength to continue or at least a merciful end to the torment.

Having survived I started to think of myself as a rather heroic figure. Back at home; as I lay panting and moaning on the front room floor, I was quickly disabused of even this crumb of comfort. Mrs SBW delivered a ‘motivational’ lecture about the ads she seen on TV where tubby fellas of a certain age are putting their health at risk by eating and drinking to their harts content. She succinctly pointed out that it was my harts (fat) content that means it’s not a choice. I will be going back, rain or shine, like it or not.
As Carl the PTI keeps pointing out “there’s plenty of time to think about it later, just do it”.

The park is the site of an ancient hunting ground and although we’re denied the chance to shoot (or even trap) the squirrels or stalk the deer there are still some foraging opportunities to be had. I’ve only ever had chestnuts and puffball mushrooms, but my foraging days have only just begun there must be more edible species for a re-wilded bushwacker to find. The chestnuts are getting a little riper but the first sightings of the granny migration that signals their ripeness are still a little way off.
It would seem I’m not the only person visiting the park hoping to invoke the aid of the gods, I saw this offing left at the foot of one of the bigger chestnuts trees.

The history of the site as a place of worship is at least as old as the roman invasion/settlement of Brittan. Discovered in 1902 the park has the remains of the mosaic floor of a roman shrine, supposedly dedicated to Diana the Huntress an imported deity the Romans took to their harts.

The area is steeped in history; first as a hunting ground and later as a pleasure park for the royals. Just as the invasion/settlement of Virginia was getting under way Le Notre (the gardener to Louis XIV) was commissioned by king Charles II to design the layout of the park we see today. The avenues of Sweet Chestnuts were planted from Spanish seed and some of them are now 400 years old.

I was more than a little off in my tree-size-estimate this fella is 24.5 feet around the trunk!
More trunk reduction for the bushwacker to follow – thanks for reading everbody

Monday, 24 September 2007

Life After 50

Pablo has asked what I’ll happen when I reach my goal.

Been thinking about this myself; when it started I thought the project would last a couple of years. But as anyone who’s met Mrs SBW will tell you there is no end to her DIY ambitions and they are a major drain on my resources.
This year’s program is largely about fitness and archery practice, with some field craft and collecting and cooking wildfoods along the way.
Before I go after Mr Elk here are a few things I NEED so they’ll be ‘just a little bit’ of kit collecting! To insure I make it back in one piece I’m going to be attending and reviewing some survival, tracking and bushcraft schools.
Once Mr Elk is safely in our freezer, (with his antlers out of harms way on my wall) there are some other hunting and fishing challenges. Cutthroat Trout in Colorado, Upland Pheasants in South Dakota, Sanglier (wild boar) in France. Red Stag with a rifle in Scotland, and with a bow in New Zealand, Bronze Whaler Sharks from the shore in Namibia, and most exotic of all Shotguns for Pigeons in the wilds of Essex and Kent.

I may even find time to make Mungo that Kuksa

Friday, 21 September 2007

Bushwacker at 50!

Wow fifty posts already!!
Some of you I know personally, some of you I’ve gotten to know as you’ve posted comments – please keep writing ‘em! If there’s anything you think I should include, learn or investigate, on my journey from Fat Boy to Elk Hunter let me know.

Thanks for reading everybody – I really appreciate it

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Running, Eggs, And Posts I Re-Read

Last night I had a glimpse of the future, a bit like Scrooge seeing the Ghost of Running Club yet To Be….. And re-read some of my favorite blog posts

This morning I’ve just had the perfect poached egg for my breakfast, it smiled at me from the plate, sitting next to some toast and a pile of smoked salmon – a boy needs his Omega 3’s!

The holy grail of poached eggs: add just two drops of vinegar to a shallow pan of gently boiling water, put some spin on the water creating a vortex. As soon as you crack the egg and slowly add it to the centre of the spinning water, you can see the egg white coalesce into the perfect form.

Towards the end of our run I moved briefly from pound, pound, pant, pant wheeze to that fluid movement where the amount of effort drops considerably, but the amount of forward motion rises. Steps that had crashed against the ground now have a lighter touch, the jarring of my spine gave way to a glimpse of the serenity of motion I’d forgotten I could have.

Two of my favorite ‘good eggs’ of the bloggersphere

Pablo has a very handy list of REASONS, (proper valid reasons honey), for buying ESSENTIAL kit from Ebay.

The Hobo Stripper separates the person from their behaviour, and spends her post remembering angels with dirty faces.

Sorry I didn’t explain that very well at all
How to spin water:
Carefully stir the boiling water with a spoon, until it is ‘spinning’

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Deer Hunter Ed

The Buck Hunter Blog have just posted a link to Fresh Tracts an outdoors school with a deer hunting course. There are a few people doing a deer stalking certificate in the UK. The way UK law works there are only certain weapons considered suitable for deer hunting and the bow isn’t one of them. I’m not sure if I’ll take the course here or fly out to take their course. Either way one of them’s going to get my money sooner or later!

That Old Chestnut.

I’m eating one of the last apples from our tree, as I recover from the mornings exertions. Outside its still sunny but the season is starting to change, apples over, blackberries still good, chestnuts about to begin.

On the sofa my legs are aching, and I wanna go back to bed, but the goal is in sight.
Finally I feel I’m on the road to fitness, I’ve attended Military Fitness three times this week!!!! Twice to the running club, and once at the military fitness class.

Trying to keep my head up as I ran I saw that the chestnuts are in abundance, and will be starting to fall in a week or two. I really love collecting them with Bushwacker Jnr, and eating them with pork. I’m not so keen on peeling them, but its a small price to pay for the satisfaction that wildfood brings.

In the park some of the chestnut trees are literally hundreds of years old, as I ran (OK speed-waddled), I made a note to dig out the big tape measure and try to find out just how old they actually are. Some of them look at least ten feet (3m) around the trunk.

The best sign that the worthwhile nuts are falling is to watch out for the migrating herds of - Chinese Grannies! Seriously, the nuts that fall first aren’t really worth the effort, but as soon as the big fellas start to drop there’ll be septuagenarians matriarchs using broom handles and plastic bags as yokes, harvesting the parks bounty.

While we were collecting last year we’d often meet a few dog walking toffs who know the nuts are edible but are surprised that anyone would bother, they are encouraging in that patronising yet indulgent way toffs often have.

The nuts are never as big as the Spanish imports but some how they taste a little sweeter.
I’ll let you know how I get on.


Saturday, 15 September 2007

Safe Drinking Water - From The Toilet!

You wouldn’t want to, but if you HAD to, you could now drink from a water source that had fecal matter floating in it!
The water purification revolution moves on a pace with a new invention by Michael Pritchard of Ipswich (UK). Inspired by seeing disaster relief teams unable to provide safe drinking water after the 2004 tsunami and again in the aftermath of Katrina, Pritchard set to work. At £190 ($380) it’s not cheap, yet, but prices are expected to fall as demand grows.
Up until now even the best filter has only removed bacteria 200 nanometres long from water. Viruses are typically only 25 nanometres long and would pass through the filter. Pritchard’s invention, which filters right down to 15 nanometres means instant access to safe water whatever the circumstances. Amazingly one filter is said to be good for 4,000 liters.
For the full story


Thursday, 13 September 2007

Edging Closer

You must be wondering: when’s he going to get on with it?
Where are the pictures of smashed targets and gleaming broadheads?
Today saw a couple of significant steps in the right direction...

Today was one of those days, not those days, those days.
After yesterdays run I felt, well, well, not just well, well good!
I could actually walk without wincing. I was almost invigorated. Unbelievable I know.
Then I got the email I’d almost given up hope of receiving; I finally have a place on the program, only a month to go until my archery lessons begin! Really you’d think in a city of 6,000,000 there’d be the odd archery coach going spare. It’s been a long search.
I bet it wasn’t like this the year we won at Agincourt!

I felt so inspired by the morning’s events I went back to the park for a bit more of the living hell that is British Military Fitness. Where BMF beats the gym is in it’s sheer relentlessness, you can’t kid yourself. There’s nowhere to hide.
Let’s hope it’s the same for Mr Elk.

PS Pablo - thank you for your kind offer - see the comments on the last post.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Sharpening and Reprofiling

Oh the pain! Whinge-moan. Whinge. Moan. Running club! Battered. Whinge moan.
Delicious fried food danced before my eyes.
Imaginary Elk snorted contemptuously and sauntered away over the great mountain range that separates my homeland from the lands of my dreams.
Have you ever heard an Elk laugh?
Well they did, safe in the knowledge that I’d never get my wheezing butt within rifle range. Bow range? Ha!! They’re still laughing now.

The stunning picture is of the appropriately named cardiac range

Monday, 10 September 2007

The re-wilding of Mrs SBW

The weekend saw a return to the regular weekend schedule; kids to drama class and vegetable shopping in the market afterwards. On Sunday I really wanted to see The AJS & Matchless Owners Club’s show at the Woolwich Arsenal, theses bikes are very good looking and were real giant slayers in their day. The display circuit was very short but it was still good to see and hear these museum quality bikes on the move.
I admit, I also thought I’d pick up a few brownie points by spontaneously taking the kids out. To my surprise Mrs. SBW offered to come and pick us up afterwards, she too had an agenda “let’s pick some blackberries for a crumble”.

Oxleas Wood is that rarest of things, an ancient deciduous woodland within the confines of a city. Most of the 8,000 year old woodland is on the southeastern slope of Shooters Hill, which overlooks London. On the 72 hectares grow Oaks, Silver Birch, Hornbeam and numerous coppices of Hazel. Being inner city woodland, litter has ‘sprouted’ everywhere you look. The kids loved it and even put 1-2% of the blackberries they picked into the tub. They were covered in juice by the time we headed for home.

Lets get crumblin’

Put your medium sized ovenproof dish into the oven and turn the oven up high
Peel, core and chop your apples. Rinse your berries in cold water.

There are many different ideas as to how to make a crumble, in this recipe I’ll show you the quickest and I think easiest method. The ruination of many a crumble is letting the stewed fruit juices soak into the uncooked crumble mixture. Don’t panic! I have a way round this! Miss out the stewing.

Once the apples (3+ per person) are chopped, chuck half of them into the pan.
Sprinkle the berries over the apples and add the remaining apples on top.
The apples and berries will get hot and some of the juice they make as they cook will evaporate the rest will sink to the bottom, away from the topping.
Yes it’s that simple!

While all that’s happening lets make the crumble.
In a big bowl put
Two parts flour – the 00 stuff from Italy is best – but whatever you have will be fine.
One part sugar – I use half and half, white and brown sugar
One part butter

For a medium sized pan each ‘part’ would be two ounces (50g). Squidge the flour, fat and sugar together until they make an ‘almost pastry’. A crumbly mix of, crumble.
Now sprinkle the crumble over the top of the hot fruit.
Slam the oven door shut with a confident swagger.
Cook until you’ve finished the main course or it looks done, which ever comes sooner

If you like a very think crumble topping treble the amounts.
Ground hazelnuts included with the flour are really good.
The better the ingredients the better the results.

Serve with crème anglais or my favourite, regular custard out of a packet.

Last word to Mrs SBW
“I keep finding purple spoons in the dishwasher, I hope you don’t think your eating anymore of my crumble”

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Yes Deer.

It’s that time of year again, the bloggersphere is full of men and women (sadly it’s still mostly men) either preparing for, or starting the deer season. I’ve not been able to get a stalking ground lined up for this season (YET!), so disappointingly I’m still buying meat.

While the other bloggers are telling you about fletching new shafts and honing new broadheads I’m heading for the kitchen ...

Reeves Muntjac are one of the smaller species of deer and by all accounts one of the tastier species too. At about twenty to forty pounds (10-18Kg) with antlers 2-4 inches (5-10cm) long they might not have same trophy status as the Whitetail, but for ‘pot hunters’ they are highly prized.

I have a haunch of Muntjac in the freezer, I want to casserole it in a red wine and plum sauce. Served with root vegetables, glazed carrots, shallots and mushrooms it’ll be just the kind of hearty autumnal (fall) fare I love.

[Pause to take kids out and do some food shopping]

Mrs Bushwacker says I’m not allowed to cook big dinners or have people round until I’ve finished re-glazing the dining room windows. Bah!

Better go I can hear her calling me

“Yes Dear”

Friday, 7 September 2007

Why Weight?

The morphic resonances of the bloggersphere never cease to amaze me. Just as the American Bushman was posting ‘unloading superfluous gear’ BoB and I were having a conversation along similar lines. As well as using his visit as an opportunity to give me the Opinels he told me the location of a long-time-no-see Trangia stove that he didn’t have a need for. As things do, the conversation rambled round to talking about the lightening the load, travelling with as little kit as possible, while still having everything you need to look after yourself. I showed BoB the amazing Anti Gravity Gear site and the caldera stove system, which is basically a Trangia that’s been seriously slimmed down.
BoB said he’d seen an article from the 1950’s where guys going on a climbing expedition carrying framed rucksacks had wielded up the holes in the frames, enabling them to use their frames as fuel bottles.

As even the most cursory look at the scouting and hunting technologies of the first nations shows, the need-for-speed in backcountry travel is as old as backcountry travel itself. Saxton Pope took instruction from Ishi’s in the art and science of travelling light.

‘In our early training with Ishi, the Indian, he taught us to look before he taught us to shoot. "Little bit walk, too much look," was his motto. The roving eye and the light step are the signs of the forest voyageur.
The ideal way for an archer to travel is to carry on his shoulders a knapsack containing a light sleeping bag and enough food to last him a week.....This will weigh less than ten pounds. With other minor appurtenances in the ditty bag, including an arrow-repairing kit, one's burden is less than twenty pounds, an easy load...... If you have a dog, make him carry his own dry meal in little saddle-bags on his back...

Nessmuk was also an early devotee, taking it as a focus in the classic Woodcraft and Camping.

While I was looking for a downloadable copy Nessmuks book for you I found Nessmuking, a site about super lightweight canoeing with this interesting ‘gear list’ challenge.
How light can you get a 35-day pack?

Last word goes to Mors Kochanski
"The more you know, the less you carry."

The Fish Pie Guy

Inspired by The Wild WoodsWoman’s recent post I thought I’d tell you my recipe for a really great fish pie.

While The Northern Monkey may mock our southern eating habits even he was forced to admit, " now that's some pie"

It’s an old cockney pie recipe, but with a bit of Italian twist, it can be something from the ‘bachelor scissors’ range (nothing gets ‘em out of their clothes faster).

First the spuds – as many spuds as you serve to the number of people you making the pie for – if I’m making it for Mrs SBW’s dad (major spud fan) lots of spuds.
If I’m making it for Mrs SBW’s friends (all on the Atkins-ish) less spuds.

However many spuds you’re using, the important thing is; you cant slice them thinly enough. I use a Madeline but you can use a food processor or very sharp knife.
Then soak them in cold water for five minuets, to get rid of the excess starch.

The Fish
I like to use smoked fish but really anything you’ve got is fine, you can even use other seafood’s as well or instead. I use about a Kilo (two pounds) per pie but you can use less or more.

Hard boil some eggs and then slice them – minimum of one per person

Some cheese is nice – I use a mix of Parmesan for bite and Cheddar for texture.

The White Sauce or in cockney cookery ‘The Liquor’
Melt a tablespoon or big blob of butter in a pan with a splash of oil and stir in some flour.
If you use .00 flour from the deli you’ll get a much smoother sauce than if you use regular baking flour from the corner shop.
When the flour is well mixed into the melted butter let it cook for a bit –but not so long that it changes colour.
Pour in half a cup of milk and stir it like a crazy person until it’s well mixed with few or no lumps.

Keep adding milk until it looks like you’ve got enough sauce for the size of pan you’re using. At this point the sauce should be a bit thinner than you want it to be when you serve it as there will bit a bit of evaporation while it’s in the oven.

Pass the sauce through a sieve – making a lumpy sauce isn’t a crime – serving a lumpy sauce is!

For the simple version:
Add Peas and or Parsley

For the ‘bachelor scissors’ version:
Rinse and squeeze Capers then add them
Finely chop and add at least five anchovies - if you thought you didn’t like anchovies you’ll be surprised – the pie doesn’t taste of anchovy but will have a ‘deeper’ flavour.

Now put the whole thing together

Pour a little sauce into the bottom of your ovenproof dish.
Lay the pieces of fish over the bottom of the dish
Put the cheese (or mix of cheeses) on top
Lay the slices of hardboiled egg on top
Pour on more of the sauce.
Working from the outside of the dish lay the slices of spud in a neat spiral of overlapping slices, working in towards the centre of the dish. Sprinkle a very small amount of oil over the top.

Bake in a hot oven 200ºC (or 392F) until the spuds on to are brown and crispy and the pie is hot all the way through.

For the second time you serve this pie to the same people, you can put a further twist on it by adding some Smoked Bacon or Pancetta. If you’re doing a dinner party (or making them to reheat for lunches at work) you can make the pies in small individual dishes.

Serve with white wine.

On the subject of whine
Bushwacker Jnr tried to turn his nose up at the pie
SBW "food is love"
SBW Jnr "no dad toys are love"
He did eat it and begrudgingly admitted it was 'quite nice'.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Who's a Clever Birdy?

There’s a veterinarian who’s a regular reader of this blog, a few years back he bought a juvenile Koi for a couple of bucks and watched it grow into a handsome specimen. He kept it in a pond at his mum and dads house in suburban Glasgow.

One day as he was making breakfast when he saw a large Heron swoop down and make off with his fish. All he could do was sling a tin of baked beans into the sky and shout, “come back with my effing fish”.

Today’s has a great story about a very smart heron who uses bread to ground bait a restaurants Koi pond.


I Want One - A Not So Occasional Series

Nosler Custom™ Model 48 Sporter
A 6.5-pound custom rifle. Chambered for the Winchester Short Magnum cartridges.
Fully protected against the worst conditions a hunt can offer, and served up with a twist.
The twist is, it's off the shelf for $2595 + Scope.

Hmmm Noslerrrrrrrr.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

The Opinel – Another Kind Of French Whackin’

Earlier this week BoB (Brother of Bushwacker) passed by the house on his way down under. Amongst the other goodies he brought me were a twenty-year-old stash of Opinels from our childhood bushcraft adventures.

They really are fantastic knives. The design so simple, the edge so keen, the price so low!

The Carbon steel blade
A 20º edge, holds an edge well, and as the scar on my index finger testifies, cuts into flesh and even bone very well.

The Lock
Simplicity itself, the collar twists to hold the blade open. Could there be a simpler way to lock a knife blade in place?

The Beech Handle
This classic of ergonomic design is probably why New York city’s
Museum of Modern Art have added one to their collection.

The Tapping (or whackin') Point - at the end of the blade/far right of the photo
One of the Opinel tricks that every user comes to know well is tapping the handle to open the knife. When the knife is new, or the air is moist, the handle grips the blade a little tighter and its necessary to give the handle a sharp tap on a hard surface to eject the blade. I just never knew it had a name. ‘Le coup du Savoyard’ is the official name the company gives it.

The Opinel Museum and its website

There are now quite a few ‘special purpose’ Opinels available.
My current favorite is this mushroom hunters knife.


Saturday, 1 September 2007

Running Club Isn't The Only Uphill Struggle

Mrs Bushwacker has been taking a sudden interest in my blog and blogging activities.
She looked into my recent conversation with the American Bushman regarding the usefulness of crooked knives.

Mrs SBW “what do you use them for?”
SBW“ They’re essential for making spoons and kuksas”
Mrs SBW “You idiots, you can just buy them at Tescos”

What was I saying about bear bait?
Bear Claws Bushcraft are getting kuksas
Nordic Bushcraft have them in stock