Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Know Target Shooting

Very exited about next week, James has invited me to the prestigious West London Shooting School for a days rifle tuition. If that wasn't enough to drive me into a fever pitch of excitement, we'll be starting with.22 and working our way through .243, .308, 6.5x55, and .270.

It's certainly taken some of the sting out of turning 40.

Not many people can claim a 100% success rate with a rifle, but I'm prepared to put my record on the line! Seriously I've only ever fired one round (.300 win mag), out of one rifle, and killed one deer. So it'll be, err, interesting!

Meanwhile at the other end of the experience curve, I've been reading some really great writing and some truly mouthwatering recipes posted by Brigid on her blog; mausers and muffins - home on the range.

There are loads of great posts but this one is a good place to start, it's a review of her Interarms Mauser in .300winmag and her recipe for a truly kick-ass Yukon Maple-Bacon quiche.


Saturday, 22 November 2008

The Lost Hunters Guide - A Free Survival Manual

I recently discovered this great book, You Alone In The Maine Woods - A lost Hunters Guide. written by Gareth Anderson and John F Marsh, published for free by the Maine Warden Service. I heartily recommend it.

Not a guide to lost hunters, or a tale of a hunter's guide who is lost, but a great FREE survival manual - you could read it cover to cover in twenty minutes and live to tell the tail.

The book has had ten imprints since it first appeared in 1972. Unless you're in radically different terrain like the jungle, desert or tundra this book has just what you need. Simple, memorable, and printed with an orange cover to wave frantically at passing aircraft or other hunters!

The books authors had two outcomes in mind when they assembled the guide with the help of their local community of hunters, guides and back country enthusiasts.
  1. Be prepared to survive
  2. Make it easier for a rescue party to find you[r sorry ass].
Or as a wag recently put it "Relatives get a lot of comfort from seeing a body. The less decomposed you are, the more comfort they get"

One of the things i like best about the book is the authors offer the advice we've read before in the 'advanced guides' but they also offer the 'minimum bid' advice which you'd be a fool not to take. Making the steps seem simple everyday and followable.

Dress right for the worst conditions the terrain has EVER seen:
clothes can be taken off and put on as conditions change, ONLY if you brought them with you.

Carry water:
you might not be thirsty now, but you will be, and by the time stump water starts to look thirst quenching other problems will be mounting up.

Your minimum bid for a survival kit
Spare knife[s] or very sharp axe: Chop, Cut and Just in case
Waterproof matches AND firesteel: Firesteels are brilliant and waterproof, but the immediacy of a lighter or matches gives confidence, light and warmth. Best take both.
Spare compass: If the reasons for this aren't obvious, you best stay home.
Whistle: Even my three year old daughter whose had her sweets taken of her by her brother cant squeal as loud or for as long as a PROPER survival whistle.
Medication and if you wear them Spare Eyeglasses: not many people carry them, but without them the prognosis isn't great is it?
Emergency type foods: what else could take up so little space and lift your spirits? Take that too.

As ever, your pal
The Bushwacker.

Monday, 17 November 2008


Well who'da thunk it? DEFRA have been back in touch, and forwarded me some paper work saying they think it is possible for one blogger to send another a few chestnuts in the post. I'll let you know how this one unfolds...........
As ever, your pal

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Rex's Nuts - Thereby Hangs A Tale

About a year ago I wrote about the 400 year old chestnut trees that grow in Greenwich park home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and wrote up my favourite recipe for them. For the nuts that is - not for 400 year old trees!

Rex wrote to me and asked for a few to plant at the famous Christmas place Hunting Club AKA The Deer Camp that his blog is named after. I said 'sure I'd love to' and there by hangs a tale:

By the time I got back to the park the best and oldest trees were totally picked out leaving only a few wrinkled specimens that didn't look like they'd germinate.

So i put 'mail Rex his nuts' in the diary and promptly forgot all about them. The Apple laptop that had been my constant companion finally died, even though it had survived a scooter smash that had me off the road for two weeks, and I forgot all about Rex's nuts. A few weeks ago I was collecting a few nuts in the park and the reminder popped into my head.

Along the way I'd learned of the terrible fate of the North American Chestnut, a tree that was a common sight all over the North American Continent as recently as the 1930s but now only exists in one isolated location. A fungal infection known as chestnut blight which had first been noticed on the east coast in 1904 and, spread westwards carried by burrowing insects and killed off most of the chestnut trees in North America within thirty years. As a result of this and a few other incidents the US postal service irradiate all post entering the USA to prevent the introduction of invasive species, so just sticking them in the post and hoping for the best wasn't going to do it.

I was tortured by thoughts of being responsible for the deforestation of the Mississippi and being hunted down by an angry mob made up of members of the American chestnut foundation, i could see them in my minds eye, distinguished looking but angry, burning torches held aloft shouting 'burn burn burn the infecter!'

I'm guessing that many of you feel the same way: i try to limit my exposure to government and government agencies to Hatchin's, Matchin's and Dispatchin's, but according to my scout around on the net i was now attempting to become a seed exporter, a trade I'd never imagined myself entering in a million years.There was nothing for it, the time had come to contact DEFRA
[cue ominous roll of thunder].
For those of you who don't live in the UK or who rarely leave the city the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are the most maligned of government departments, they enjoy the same sort of reputation as Americas DMV, a place of Kafkaesque bureaucracy where nothing ever happens and whole forests are consumed to feed the departments insatiable lust for paperwork. In triplicate. Look on any farming forum and you'll see countless tales of their meddling while things are going well, and doing nothing when they could do some good. Nice people work there, but the organisation is too bloated to ever be effective as anything other than a hole to pour public money down.

They have a website! things have changed! there is hope!

The phone number on the website is not connected, hope hangs by a thread.

I call another number, they give me the right number

I speak to a very nice lady, who cant help laughing as she explains what I've let myself in for.

No I cant drop them off at their office or pop them in the post, I must make an appointment for an inspector to visit me at my place of business.
"this isn't a business I'm just sending them to a blogger"
The inspector with have to come to your primary residence then
"who do they think i am? Of course i only have one residence!"

A chap comes round, he's a very nice man. He's got a 'you have no idea' look on his face the whole time. He collects the chestnuts from me. they must now be sent to York to be examined, then sterilised. Then a certificate can be issued, the seeds can be sent back to me, i can pay £41.50 plus postage (ouch) for the privilege. Luckily he cant receive payment, that will have to be done with another department and no they don't take cards or paypal, they want a bankers draft.

A couple of weeks pass

Ring Ring " Hi it's Ruth"
Wow long time no see! how are you? How are the kids?
I'm Ruth from DEFRA
Well hello Ruth from DEFRA I'm guessing your calling about my nuts?
Yes were you really trying to send them to the US?
Err I err was?
Well you can't do that ( her tone suggest that this in fact common knowledge)

So our hands across the ocean dream of having a stand of Chestnut trees, spawned in Greenwich park, growing at the Christmas Place Hunting Club is, it seems, no more.

As ever your pal

Monday, 10 November 2008

Now That's A Truck

As Mr Toad says in Toad Of Toad Hall

Rolling down the dusty highway
A-rolling down the Rolling Downs
Any way of yours is my way
As long as we go out of town
Every day the sun is rising
On a brand new episode
Here today and gone tomorrow
That’s the Life on the Open Road

a boy can dream................


Friday, 7 November 2008

Stonehead - More Weekend Reading

I've been reading a few smallholding blogs this afternoon and a couple of them are certainly worth a visit. First up is:

Musings from a Stonehead: The trials and tribulations of a modern crofter

A transplant from down under living in the frozen north or Insch, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland as it's more commonly known. He lives on a croft (Scottish for very small farm) and tries to live the lifestyle my friend MCP (middle class peasant) is always espousing.
"We’re trying to lead a more traditional lifestyle while also minimising our impact on the environment around us. Our life is hard, but it’s ours and it’s a lot more fun than being a wage slave tied to the consumerist treadmill. So while the croft once supported four families and their livestock and is not likely to do that again, it’s a real pleasure to have one foot in the past and another in the future."
He has a great 'how to' section of neat tutorials. The one showing how he skins the rabbits he shoots, is linked here.

I enjoyed the tutorial and thought some interesting blogs might be found by perusing the comments left by other readers. What a world of delights awaited me! Some of the people who write in are like me interested in wild food, some smallholding, and some just small minded.

Funny chap, have a read of this discourse from his comments page

Chanel writes in to say "Eating rabbit is pointless. They are generally such a small animal that hardly enough mean to justify a killing is consumed. It really sickens me that you would post pictures like this. I have two rabbits as pets and I love them more than my annoying pomeranian. They are peaceful and quiet animals. Please, if anything, state your response in an intelligent manner unlike the mocking manner in which you replied to Jenna and Cayla."

Stonehead doesn't take any prisoners "You choose to exploit animals by keeping them as pets to satisfy your emotional needs. I choose to exploit rabbits by killing and eating them to satisfy my dietary needs. The rabbits I exploit roam free until the moment they’re killed, the ones you exploit are kept in some sort of confinement. Don’t pretend you’re somehow morally better simply because you choose a different form of exploitation.This is my blog and I choose to share some of what I do with like-minded or interested people. If what I post sickens you, then go somewhere else. (Did you not read the disclaimer?) I shall also choose to state my reply in whatever manner I choose, in this case pointing out that it is not possible to mock without possessing a reasonable degree of intelligence. On the other hand, it does not require a reasonable degree of intelligence to come out with an unintended oxymoron such as yours."

Do read his linked disclaimer it's hilarious!

If you stay home and read his site this weekend you'll be consuming less, learning a thing or two and the laughs'll make you feel better.

Well that's my plan anyway
As ever your pal
The bushwacker

MyCo Diesel

No not an interview with Renzo Rosso founder of the clothing brand of the same name but some astounding news.

Professor Gary Strobel has been studying rotten tree stumps in the patagonian rainforests and has found a fungi that turns rotting wood into diesel fuel.

"We were trying to discover totally novel fungi in this tree by exposing its tissues to the volatile antibiotics of the fungus Muscodor albus. Quite unexpectedly, G. roseum grew in the presence of these gases when almost all other fungi were killed. It was also making volatile antibiotics. Then when we examined the gas composition of G. roseum, we were totally surprised to learn that it was making a plethora of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives. The results were totally unexpected and very exciting and almost every hair on my arms stood on end!"

How cool is that?!! What a Fun-guy. Sorry

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Another Door Opens

One door closes:
I'm a bit gutted to be reporting this but Outdoors Magazine is no more. Over the last few years I've read a fair amount of it -but sadly not all of it - and its always been the best Bushcraft resource on the web. No cliques of sniping armchair experts and LOADS of great content.
This post on British Blades has most of the details.

Fortunately a quick search for Bushcraft had revealed that a great new Bushcraft forum has opened its doors:

I dispatched Dixon of Dockgreen to investigate

Superintendent bushwacker: Well well well what 'ave we got 'ere then?

Dixon of Dockgreen: It looks like a new bushcraft forum 'as sprung up on the interweb sah!

Superintendent bushwacker: 'Ave we any idea who is responsible?

Dixon of Dockgreen: Foal play is suspected sah!

OK OK puns aside. A blogger called Foal has started the site for all those people who feel that hunting, survival/preparedness, and even a little politics are suitable topics of discussion for adults interested in bushcraft. So far the site has blazed a slightly different trail to the sites that have come before it, and while it's early days, I'm really enjoying the chance to hear a few different viewpoints.

Forums are a bit like pubs really, although we don't own them (or have to put up with any of the hassle of managing them) we make an emotional investment in them, and feel they should be as comfortable and familiar as our daily newspaper; a place where opinions are reassuringly similar to the ones we already hold. In reality forums are much more like family's - your thrown together with people you only enjoy a passing agreement with, people fall in and fall out, feuds and sulks are acted out, and in amongst that we grow from the process of learning to get along while being exposed to the strange beliefs of others.

I'll be there reading, posting, and hopefully being provoked. I look forward to meeting you down there.

Is your current forum high in pomposity and low in geniality?
Try new ..... Bushcraftusa.com

Your pal

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Happy Blog Day Nor Cal Cazadora!

Norcal Casadora - She’s another late convert to hunting and wild food and I’ve always felt an affinity with the trails and tribulations of her journey from foodie to cazadora (huntress). I remember when she only had a couple of posts up and I’ve really enjoyed watching her blog and its reputation grow. Her writing and analysis are both first rate. This is how the professionals do it. Where most bloggers do something else for a living she is a professional word smith, teaches writing, and frankly it shows. My prediction for the next year is that she’ll be asked to take over the Field and Stream huntress blog.

Happy Blog Day To You NorCal!!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

And The Winner Is.....

Just a quick post this afternoon as I'm out of town for a few days.

It seems amazing but its actually three weeks since i posted the Great Jam Competition of 08

And in fairness I would have hoped that a few more of you would have gone head-to-head like rutting stags fighting for the honour of spreading MOB's (mother of bushwacker) finest on your toast.

But ya didn't. So first prize has to go to

Pablo - for the most practical answer

with a runner up prize to Alistair to give him the energy he'll need for all that DIY.

Email me your postal addresses chaps, and the sticky stuff'll be in the post.

Your pal
The Bushwacker