Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Been A While Hasn’t It?

Sorry for the lack of updates, my laptop is no more and I’ve lost access to quite a bit of stuff I’d been putting together for the blog. In the meantime I’ve been catching up on a bit of reading. As I searched for new bushcraft blogs I found some that are a great source of information and entertainment, and quite a few that fit into the ‘good intentions being cast into the tides of everyday life’ section where a great start is made, and then it becomes an abandoned ‘ghost blog’.

Laplandica has proved a fascinating read, with its mixture of hiking trails and a historical perspective on the clash of cultures between the settled Swedish people and the nomadic Sami of the Arctic Circle. Stunning photos too.

A new voice in outdoor blogging is RJ Mosca author of common outdoor survival skills. He been a prolific poster so far and as a former instructor at an outdoor skills school he’s put the stuff he recommends to some pretty tough tests.
(I would say something like ‘keep posting’ but who am I to talk?)

Falls-Down Laughing blogs a mixture of cringe-inducing puns, historical north American recipes and folk lore. A very silly man. Check him out

Only two days to go until I take to the field with James from Sporting Shooter, in a heroic effort to rid the ancestral lands of the Marchingtons from the delicious curse of the bunny rabbits.
wish us luck

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Uncles Like Snakes Have Tales

The SAS survival trainer and all round legend Lofty Wiseman said 'where there's a snake there's a steak'.
Here in Blighty our best known native snake is an virtually an endangered species so I'm waiting until I'm stateside before i find out if the herpetofauna is succulent or chewy.
I'm hoping my wild food hero will post a comment and let us know.
In the meantime Nor Cal Cazadora has an uncle, the uncle has a hilarious turn of phrase, the turn of phrase has an outlet, the outlet is a blog, the blog has stories about snakes

"Torremolinos, Spain, 1975. I met a great white hunter at a party. He complained that by the mid-70s the great white hunting business wasn’t what it used to be. Thanks to unfriendly poachers, vigilant rangers and inflation, there just weren’t that many safaris any more. Things had come to such an ugly pass, he continued, that he was available for almost any reasonably legal employment. Consequently, when a British movie company came to his part of Africa on location, he signed on with them as an assistant animal handler."

And thereby hangs a tale........

All the best
picture credit ( i've only seen one a couple of times and never this near to my house) © Lee Brady

Nordic Bushcraft

I've read posts by Johan of Nordic Bushcraft on one of the bushcraft sites, he knows his stuff so I've added him to my blog roll. For those of you you who always feel a the need for more cutlery (you know who you are) he has some really nice traditional knives for sale amongst other cool bushcrafty stuff. Well worth a look.
Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Undercurrents - The A to Z of Bushcraft

Undercurrents is a production company with a focus on social and environmental justice issues. Specialising in films reflecting the global counter-culture. They are a non-profit company working with video makers from communities who have been marginalised or overlooked by TV broadcasters.
They've been working with the charismatic Andrew Price, founder of Dryad Bushcraft to create this series of short films. I like them and think their efforts deserve a wider audience. See what you think.
Thanks for reading

Monday, 14 January 2008

Saw Feelings

Axes may give you more of a ‘woody woodsman’ feeling, but in most situations saws are a lot more practical. Especially if your trying to introduce the little people to the big outdoors. Saws let kids make a sizable contribution to the woodpile without scaring the living crap out of adult observers.

It’s been a while since I’ve prattled on about the horrific cost of living in ‘Rip Off Britain’… and its also time for your pal the bushwacker to help himself to a nice fat slice of humble pie.

A while ago I sang the praises of the BCB commando saw. Well I’ve had a change of heart. I couldn’t tell you why, but when outdoors I’d always preferred saws where both ends of the blade are secured. I don’t know why but I’ve taken it as an article of faith.

In support of this belief I have painstakingly filed the teeth of a cumbersome bow saw to vicious sharp (took ages) and wrapped the blade in cardboard for transportation. Then I moved over to the BCB saw, dumping its brittle blades for a wire saw that either stretched or clogged and most of the time did both. It was light enough, but frustrating.

When I was given that well loved staple of British bushcraft the Bahco Laplander saw for crimbo (it arrived a little after) I got to put my own BS (belief systems!) to the test. The scales fell from my eyes. This is one design classic that is actually worth its reputation. Really, it rocks!

Here in northern europe many of us have a built in preference for Swedish kit, it’s the land of top notch outdoor tools and clothing. Its tools like the Trangia, Laplander and fallkniven’s F1 that reinforce the prejudice.

First impressions of the Laplander:
The design is beautifully obvious, the Laplander convincingly locks shut as well as open. No more cardboard to protect the contents of my bag.
It weighs the sum total of ‘nack all’ (I couldn’t find the kitchen scales but it really is light).
Very, very sharp teeth, cleverly set to avoid clogging and binding. I once read a review that claimed the blade was made of two different thickness of steel wielded together, with the teeth cut from the thicker piece. I’ve not been able to verify this, but the teeth certainly leave a wide cut. I’ve not tried it on bone yet but I’m expecting great things.
The teeth nearest the handle are redundant, and if it were my design I might have chosen to put a choi there instead. The handle has a bit of flex to it but two things reassured me; its cold enough in Sweden to mean that plastics have to be chosen for their resilience in the cold, if a little flex is the price of not becoming brittle it’s a fair exchange. The other thing that gave me confidence is they sell replacement blades! When a tools is this cheap it usually just means disposable, I’m starting to suspect that in this case it mean that users have found that the handle lasts.

In the UK the best price I’ve seen is £20 inc delivery from Camelot Outdoor with the average being about £23 plus delivery. As usual being ‘just down the road’ from Sweden has no bearing on the prices we pay.
The good news if you’re in north America (or you’ve sorted out a means of shipping) is Bushcraft North West have the same saw made in the same factory just with a red Kershaw logo. It comes in at a measly $25 (£12.50p)! At that price you don’t have to take my word for it.


Thanks for reading

PS for a side by side comparison

PPS my cameras out of batteries, picture from camelots website

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Bushwacker Edu. - A Knotty Problem

As James pointed out the other day, unless you come from a family who hunt or live in a small community where everyone knows everyone else, your chances of getting involved in hunting in the UK are relatively slim. The net result is that there are a few holes in my education.

John: Hey, Jeremy, what do you know about holes?
Jeremy Hillary Boob, PhD.: There are simply no holes in my education.
Paul: You mean you haven't composed a "hole" book?
The Beatles - The Yellow Submarine

James has invited me to go Ferreting in a couple of weekends time. As you can imagine I’m fairly excitable at the best of times, so he’d no sooner invited me than I was starting my preparations.
“Apart from my hat & coat what will I need to bring?”
“We’ll need some Purse Nets”
“Where do I buy them?
“Your making them – a kit’s in the post”
“ How difficult is it?”
“ Just one Knot, tied lots of times!”

So I’m about to start making some purse nets that we’ll stretch over the exits to the rabbits warren, before sending in his business of ferrets to flush the bunnies out.

Wish me luck - thanks for reading

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Really Actually Tasty?

Much to my surprise the office has yielded a lesson in preparedness and survival this week.

Due to the early January lull when the rest of the world seems to still be on holiday. Last weeks office life was at a much slower pace than could be productive. The morning football conversation extended beyond its mandatory 20 minutes and peaked on Friday at an hour and a half.
Work, as it was, centered around half-hearted researching, most of the day went on teasing each other and reading stuff out from the internet.
One viral email caught everyone’s attention and made me think about the nature of our dinner and our expectations of it.




As we watched to squeals of horror, the question everyone was asking, well more shrieking than asking, was ‘Would you? – Could you!”.
Mr. Bojangles (the resident song and dance man) has lived in Senegal for ten years so he speaks with an authority the others cant muster.
“In lots of the parts of the world people eat all kinds of stuff”
Would you? Have you? You didn’t!
“I wouldn’t be surprised if I had, in a lot of places people just need to eat, you never know what you’re being served ”

In the Southern US and much of eastern europe squirrels are well known as good eating, a few people shoot them to eat here, and a couple of the more adventurous London restaurants have them on the menu.

Well they call squirrels ‘tree rats’, maybe these fellas should be re-branded as ‘ground squirrels’. Hmmmm?

Thanks for reading