Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Eating Ortolan

Here's one from the 'Wouldya! Couldya?' files. It seems there is an innocuous little song bird (25g-just less than an ounce), called the Ortolan that makes its way across the Landes region,to the south of Bordeaux on its way to winter with the Hippo in africa. As yer do.

Here's the strange bit, Not only is this little fella considered a delicacy, but it's eaten guts, feathers an' all and served on fire - yep a la Tweedy-pie and Sylvester. Gizzards, testicles, Goofy Girls cooking, I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater. But I'm not sure if I could!

As this takes place in France there are a few ritual elements to consider - you're supposed to eat them with a napkin over your head. Strange yes, but that's not the only part. they are trapped in nets, then kept tin the dark for a month being fattened up on grain, and then drowned in armagnac. Classy.

Trapping the Ortolan has been illegal in France for ages, an this is supposed to be the zero tollerance year, but being an activity that's only practised in the depths of the countryside by a dwindling band (you wouldn't have to ask why) of old people it's not usually considered for prosecution.

'Fran├žois Simon, a restaurant critic for Le Figaro, has tried ortolans on several occasions. "It's absolutely delicious: rather crunchy, with the texture and flavour of hazelnuts,"'

EDIT Thanks to Hubert some background is here in a story from '97
Your Pal

Friday, 27 August 2010

On This Day 1911: Ishi Stepped Out Of The Stone Age

A victim of genocide, born on the run from an encroaching culture that was totally alien to the frame of reference he'd have known. Fresh out of options, he turned to face the very thing he'd run from his whole life, and one afternoon; bewildered and exhausted Ishi stepped out of the stone age and into the 20th century. He was imprisoned, poked, prodded, and gawped at. Then at last, protected, befriended and given the welcome such a stranger deserves.

... Somehow, despite Ishi having endured the horrors and hardships of seeing his people murdered, and continuously aware that Americans might find and kill him too, Ishi continued to accept life as each new day came his way. Even after every other person in his clan was gone, Ishi lived on alone like a signal beautiful flower firmly accorded in the soil of a hillside that had already eroded away. Indeed, “a unique gentlemanliness… beyond all civilized breeding and training… an outward expression of a pure inward spirit…”

Theodore T. Waterman, Professor of Anthropology at Berkeley

I first read Ishi's story in the amazing 'Hunting with the bow and arrow'. Inspired by Ishi and the spirit of Robin Hood. The surgeon, bow hunter, and Edwardian wag Dr Saxton Pope offers this thesis on bow craft and hunting as taught to him by Ishi. Thanks to the non-profit Guttenberg project the book can be downloaded for free or you can read the review

Your Pal

Monday, 23 August 2010

Let's Play With - Crossbows!

After all the fun we had thinking about Mini-Cannon (Part 1 and Part 2) and now that we are potentially plagued by Trophy Rats, it was nice to see Jay from MArooned giving a mention to the the Chu-ko-nu or the Manchurian Repeating Crossbow. Lets just say that again, Manchurian-Repeating-Crossbow, sounds like fun doesn't it? And highly affective against beer cans, cardboard boxes and other household menaces. For the full spec click here.

Your pal

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Show Us Your Guns

This one is from Saturday Night Live, me I'm looking down the barrel of Saturday Night Home-Alone.

Japanese Deer Sign

This afternoon I took a leaf out of Chad's book and spent some time aimlessly surfing the internet for things that would excite my imagination, and perhaps prompt a wry smile to break across your face dear reader. I'll admit that my find on Boing Boing wasn't as WICKED AWSOME as his, but of course Chad gets paid for it and I'm doing it [for you] for free. Just sayin' 's all.

Anyway back to the picture I found: I was heartened to see that there is still one first world country that expects it's people to have what I believe was once known as 'common sense'. Novel idea huh?

Your pal

Friday, 20 August 2010

Ooo VOX Folders

Nice eh? VOX has finally brought out his own custom folder.
A thing of much lovelyness. I don't know, I didn't ask, I can't afford one.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Trophy Rats Of Bradford

Over the last few days the English papers have covered this story of giant rats seen on an estate in Bradford.

The story goes that a Mr Goddard - who says that he and his friends go rat hunting a couple of times a week - decided to see if he could bag one of the bigger ones. They took an air rifle and headed to the edge of the estate.The group had heard rustling and scratching near the wall before he got the shock of his life.

'The first went right past but we got the second one. Then three more got away."

Rats in Indonesia and South America can grow up to three feet long, and witnesses say the rats in Bradford are just as big 'I've never seen any as big as this. The one I shot was absolutely terrifying. I was shaking, Goodness knows where the others went. I'm glad I don't live there.'

Estate resident Rebecca Holmes, 38, was in no doubt that large rodents are in the area - after having cornered one in her house. The mother-of-five said her cat Marie had cornered one in the lounge, but the rodent stood its ground - because it was around the same size as the domestic cat.

Carol Beardmore, who represents the Eccleshill on Bradford Council, sounding just like your typically pompous local politician, played down suggestions that hundreds of giant rodents were plaguing the estate.

She said: "I live on the estate and while I'm not saying we don't have rats - everywhere has rats - I am not aware of an infestation of giant rats." She added: "I live close to a wood ... and we have not seen anything like that, and if we had I am sure my cat would have caught it."

Just what kind of super-cat does this woman own? As Miss Holmes testimony suggests, your average moggy would have more sense than to tangle with a 30 inch rodent!

As we saw before the 'culinary solution' awaits the brave locavore!

Your Pal

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Blogs Of Note And Weekend Reading

There are a few blogs that I've been reading lately that i'm not sure are getting all the readers they deserve. If your blog doesnt apear on this list it's not because I dont read what you write it's just that I've either not read your blog because you haven't commented on mine, I've already mentioned you, or I love your blog but you're not posting that regularly and I'm starting to wonder if you ever will again.
Lets start our journey with a real live journey-man 
Pathfinder Tom
Ever wanted to jack it all in and hit the road? Yeah me too! Well now we can without ever leaving the comfort of our armchair campfires. Tom has been to most places, and lived to blog about it. One of the many appealing things about the tales he tells is the super low budget he runs the whole show on, if he's got new gear he's either traded for it or dumpster dived it.

'I need an Axe and bastard file for my upcoming Maine wilderness adventure so my friend and Me took in the local swap meet and I managed to locate a 2 pound Axe head and a bastard file to sharpen it with for the grand total of 3 bucks - not bad. The Axe head is actually in fair shape but the file leaves a bit to be desired, but, ill make them work for me. At the same swap meet I was also able to locate 3 pair of Carharrt pants and 2 pair of Carharrt shorts for 4 bucks - excellent deal.'


.....this buck is the largest whitetail taken in our household...

'A Wisconsin Chick's Journal of Outdoor (Mis)Adventures' Kari has a great voice that leaps off the screen as she blogs tales of her outdoor and toxophilite adventures with Hubbin and her little lad.

I'm super jazzed about this 9 day gun season for reasons to numerous to mention, but I think the main reason is that the last time I hit the woods "packin' heat" I was 4 months pregnant. Then, for two whole seasons after that, I didn't go because...there was no one to watch the boy. Ah, but this year, my mother-in-law has offered to wo-"man the fort" opening weekend so my hubbin' and I can hit the woods. So very romantic, in a "back woods" kinda way, and that just so happens to be the way we roll.

On: Jewelry
I am not just the average chick when it comes to pretty much everything. I occasionally do to things like pee on scrapes during the rut (just to see what happens) or when I find myself with available "duty-free time" I go to the woods, or the range, rather then visit the spa or get my nails done. Well, when it comes to dressin' up and going out, I guess I'm a bit different there too. You see, I like love to wear raccoon ivory with my diamonds!

You read it right. I wrote raccoon ivory. It's not really ivory, like you'd find on an elephant, but rather just a fancy name for a raccoon penis bone that sits well in all types of company. Besides being called an "ivory," they are commonly referred to as: coon dongs, love bones, Mountain Man toothpicks or "insert your state here" toothpicks (and yes, they do work as such!) and as I like to call em', just plain ol' coon pecker s. 

In a word 'beguiling'

Although Hodgeman doesn't post that regularly I will never delete him from my RSS feeds. If you're looking for something a bit more thoughtful than your average blog, this is where its at. Living in Alaska he has more opportunity and more field time than armchair enthusiasts like myself will ever know. He hunts, fishes and gets out and about a lot.
One of the things I admire about his writing style is the way he creates opposing propositions and then, as if by magic, gathers them up into a cohesive whole, leaving the reader (this reader at least) with a feeling of having covered more mental terrain.

Here in his most recent posts he discusses the decline of the American Rifleman

Perfect Practice makes Perfect- Part 1
We've all heard the old adage that practice makes perfect but nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that perfect practice makes perfect and nothing else. Imperfect practice does nothing except solidify bad habits and instill a false sense of confidence in shaky abilities. Being a person interested in the shooting sports, I've noticed a few things regarding practice and some critical elements that I think we're missing very badly in the 21st century. African PHs (professional hunters) and Alaska guides share many things in common and one of them is the opinion that clients tend to overestimate their shooting ability by factor of (at least) ten. Both have gotten used to the practice of consoling a client who's shooting poorly by saying that "the light is different down (or up) here... you'll get used to it." Both have also gotten quite terrified of letting a new client shoot much past bayonet range until the client has proven himself a competent hand with a rifle and the pre-hunt ritual of "rifle zeroing" conducted under the pretense of calibrating rifle scopes after shipping is as much for checking to see if the client is "calibrated" as for the stated purpose. Sad to say but the American sportsman these days is largely a pathetic example of field marksmanship. Why would this be? The American sportsman at the turn of the previous century was a marvel to the sporting world with good aperture sights, early scopes and smokeless ammunition. Those early adventurers to Africa and Alaska were often men who spent considerable time afield with a rifle in their hand as well as men with more than a passing interest in riflery. The reputation of the Yankee marksman soared. These days a visiting sportsman is assumed a clod until proven otherwise.

Perfect Practice makes Perfect- Part 2
In my previous effort I decried the declining state of field marksmanship among Americans but I feel some apologetic words are in order. One, America remains one of the last places on this spinning orb that an average man can go out and for an average weeks' wages, purchase himself a high powered rifle and cartridges and then take that rifle hunting for a large game animal with a minimal amount of government intrusion. I think that is a very good thing. Two, the declining state of riflecraft in America is notable because we have the masses out in the fields shooting game.

While I don't pretend to know many European hunters, the few that I've met in Alaska seem to be a very serious sort of rifleman indeed. A couple of Germans and an Austrian in particular were quite savvy and their guide reported them excellent marksmen and wonderful field hunters. But, I'd wager those gentlemen were the exception to the rule and a random cross section of Europeans would likely have as equally bad field marksmanship as Americans- if not worse. It seems that Europeans have many more restrictions and provisos on the purchase and shooting of high powered rifles than Americans have and the men who pursue hunting there must be very dedicated indeed. When a rifle subjects you to the level of hassle and expense the average European endures to own a smokepole, I'd wager a weekend warrior you are not. 

Having taken instruction on both sides of the pond I would echo this. In the UK I've always (100% every time) been handed a rifle that's been proved empty in front of me and I've been expected to confirm its status immediately. In the US I've had a rifle put in my hands with the words "It's hot and ready to rock".

There's been some interesting discussion of the ethics of hunting on the blogs I read in the last year, but for the best commentary was Hodgeman's you might enjoy reading Hail Mary Shooting... and The 'Texas' Heart Shot

Alaska is just the sort of place to commune with nature, eating it and or being eaten by it"Bear Haven"- Just My Two Cents....
As an avid collector of gear, and owner of some of the most worst low-rent outdoor attire I chuckled over his take on the proper attire for a hunting trip.

About those shoes [and that camouflage]…
I also tend to abhor most camouflage clothing as it generally looks goofy anywhere but the field and in the field it’s often just plain ineffective. If I were a Southeastern U.S. deer hunter I might feel differently but in Alaska I just don’t see the point. Every year hundreds and thousands of hunters from the Lower 48 (affectionately and locally known as theCabela’s Army) pour into Alaska and bring their hunting attire with them. Not to sound snide, but you can spot a guy wearing Mossy Whatever (or similar pattern) out on the tundra at about 3 miles with the naked eye- its just too dark, the pattern is too dense and it appears nearly black at any kind of distance. Neither do dark, complex patterns work well in open mountainous terrain, ... There simply are very few open country patterns that work well up here, but solid color clothing in the right palette can disappear remarkably well over the variable terrain if you keep the extraneous movement to a minimum.

If I big him up a bit more do you think he'll post more often?



PS The only surefire way i know to find blogs worth reading is by following comments on this and other blogs. HINT.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Fresh Air Fund

A while back Sara wrote to me and asked me to publicise the non-profit that she's involved in and inadvertently showed me a glimpse of what I'm doing with my life .

As those of you who are still waiting for post from me will have noticed I tend to let everything else get in the way, and I despite my good intentions I did nothing about her request. Then by chance I read this post on a blog I'd never read before. The Fresh Air Fund is a very cool organisation, that match families living in the fresh air with children who live without it in the city. It works out so well that as of last year 65% of the children we invited back.

A couple of years ago I worked with a grey haired Scottish guy, with piercing blue eyes that could look into your soul, who had been a minister in Texas, and then in Mexico working with the very poorest people, at the bottom of the food chain. As we travelled we'd sit up into the night talking about the nature of the universe, the gulf between saying and doing and role religion plays in the world, one thing he said still haunts me. It was at the end of a story about why he left his comfortable life with his wealthy flock in Texas "they seemed to think if we told people about being christian that would be enough, I thought if we showed them being christian that would be a start". While I'm not what you'd call blessed with faith myself, I could see his point. We could change the world, if only we were wise enough to do it one person at a time.

Living in the city I'm not able to extend an invitation myself, but if you can I'd bet you'd find it the best thing you've done in years. Kids are kids; they delight in the smallest things and are naturally drawn to all that the outdoors has on offer. These kids don't have the start in life that many of us enjoyed, but with just a few days exposure, will surely become the outdoor advocates of tomorrow. So if you're concerned about the way the worlds going, the lack of options inner-city kids have, and the wholesale destruction of the natural world, here's your chance to make the most difference with the smallest amount of input. A week living with a little person (who may just teach you something about yourself), or a blog post to spread the word.

Thanks for your help
PS If you fancy sending a few bucks, a very cool donor is matching funds, for every dollar you send they'll send one too.


Saturday, 14 August 2010

Yea Mini Cannon! Pt2

Still Lovin' Mini Cannon - just this time it's a more destructive kind of lovin'

Friday, 13 August 2010

Skull Pix 1

Today: rain stops play, and work.
As you've probably noticed I love skulls and skull motifs, and I'm not the only one.
Regular Commenter Goofy Girl pointed me in the direction of the excellent Skull-a-Day where skull art and skull-like things are posted. This afternoon I received an unexpected call from JonGee who is taking a break from his monastic studies and passing through 'Old Larnden Taarn' he's the owner of a VERY impressive collection of skulls from his travels and his day job. The main collection is in storage but in the meantime here's one he did have a picture of, on his computer.

For Five solid gold bushwacker points - name the animal that used to live in it- answers on a comment.

Your pal

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Weekend Reading: The Farce Side Of The Trail

As a self professed fan of both Blackberries and humorious run-ins with the public [fishing and eating] I really liked this tale told at the River Daze Blog

Recent conversation between a certain grizzled blogger and a local metropark employee. The setting, an intersection along one of the more remote loop trails, whereat the smaller trail, rather overgrown, sports a sign which says: 


Metropark Employee (MPE): That trail is closed to the public.

Grizzle Blogger (GB): I don't blame you. Can't have the unwashed masses traipsing willy-nilly all over their park.

MPE: Huh?

GB: All that tramping about. I can see how a path would become exhausted.

MPE: Uh, well anyway, you can't go in there.

GB: Wouldn't dream of it. But I presume it was all right to exit?

MPE: Huh?

GB: The sign says "Do Not Enter." It says nothing about exiting

Great photography too
your pal

Pic credit to google images

Friday, 6 August 2010

Arrow Flight High Speed Video

This ,as they say, is where the magic happens

No really, that's all. Watch it again.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

3D Archery with Stickman

Ages ago I got an invite to spend the afternoon shooting recurve bows in an Essex woodland, and when diary's and childcare and work all worked out: what an afternoon it was. I journeyed to Romford; an easterly commuter town in Essex, where the girls are bright orange, and the Louis Vuitton handbags are made in China, to meet with my new friend Stickman from the British Bowhunters forum for a lesson in instinctive archery. And what a revelation it was. My previous efforts at target archery were less than distinguished. All that squinting at a pin wasn't making things easy and the lesssons were on a one-shot-and-get-to-the-back-of-the-line basis which didn't help either. I knew I wanted to learn to shoot 'instinctive', I just wasn't sure how I was going to. 

Stickman hails from the Kimberly - the diamond fields of South Africa - and has hunted most things since he was a lad, like many of the more experienced hunters I've met, his passion for the process of hunting itself had led him to traditional bowhunting; where the chance to take a shot is 
hard won, without the surgical strike at 100+ yards of a hunting rifle, field-craft and even dumb-luck become big parts of the contest. At these distances the chance to even draw the bow in the presence of an animal a major achievement. This is hunting at 15 yards or less. Hunting on an unlevelled playing field.

Note: really neat wrist guard with sheath for his field scalpel

One tale that he regaled me with illustrates just how much skill (and luck) is involved in hunting bare-bow. Stickman had been hiding in a blind near a water-hole when a 'Big Impala Ram' in fact the big-impala-ram-of-a-lifetime, had approached the water-hole coming within 15 yards (i.e 45 feet) of the blind Stickman was hiding in. Having been practising to the tune of 500 arrows a day in preparation for the hunt, he drew back and loosed an arrow. Only to be String Jumped. 

The arrow was travelling at approx. 200 feet per second, lets call the distance 50 feet to make it easier, so in a QUATER of a second the Big Impala Ram was able to sense the movement of the arrow and spring into the air letting the arrow pass harmlessly underneath him.  It gets better - if we call the speed of sound 1200 feet per second that means that the sound of the bowstring got to the Big Impala Ram in a twelfth of a second. When the sound of the string arrived at the Big Impala Ram in the next sixth of a second the  Big Impala Ram had taken flight. literally.

Stickman had invited me to the woods his archery club use for 3D archery - instead of the circles on an straw board the targets are various prey animals, there is a tradition of throwing in a couple of humorous examples.

My first shot was a master stroke of beginners luck, Stickbow was impressed, I was double impressed!! Obviously once I started thinking about what I was doing I was back to my usual lummox self. Where I would have remained if it hadn't been for the light touch of Stickman's coaching. In between the banter and storytelling he paitently coached me to - actually hitting the target! Both eyes open, none of that squinting and aiming malarky, just launching arrows that either grazed the target or pounded into it! Yea instinctive archery!

"Call for Mr O'Shay, a Mr Rick O'Shay?"

Ok There were a few that went astray. Although sometimes the arrow, seemingly by magic. regains its trajectory, usually it's found embedded in a tree. If you're lucky. 

A large part of the sport is the time spent searching for lost arrows, not always successfully. Opps! Sorry Stickman.

Any prey animal taken with a stick bow is a trophy - even this plastic fella

I was defiantly well taken with Bare Bow and even felt the first throbbing certainty, that tickle of obsession yet to come, archery is a lot like casting when fishing. The first time you cast perfectly you're hooked, the simple elegance of the motion, the economy of movement and the cybernetic connection between spring and soul. Launched by love and magic the arrow seems to fly on the wings of intention. Once.

By which time you've started to think about how you did it and the next arrow goes at a right angle to you, before burying itself in a pile of leaves.When fishing: the line is now tightly bound around the reel so you cant even turn the handle. But despite the set back, you've been tantalised, you've seen the magic, by then you know, you must, you will. If you could just send another few hours, if I could just spent another few pounds, stay up for just one more hour surfing for infomation. Whoa...

...whoa, you like to think that you’re immune to the stuff, oh Yeah it’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough, you know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to [Insert latest obsession here]

might as well face it, you’re addicted to [fishing, archery, deer, blogging, the american girl - delete as appropriate]

So many hobbies, so few pounds to spend on them. Such is suburban life dear reader.

Big shout to Stickman - for a great afternoon - One of the Good Guys

Your pal


Note to self: my victory over The Northern Monkey in last years archery competion needs mentioning again