Wednesday, 25 March 2020

On This Day 1916: Ishi Died

In europe we have Otzi the iceman, we have a few artifacts, some of his EDC if you will, but the languages we speak were not due to be heard for thousands of years after his death. He's a Polaroid, a snap shot, just one frame (in not too sharp a focus) of a world we can only imagine and even then imagine only through the distorting lens of a viewpoint far far removed from anything Otzi would have known. His world was long gone before ours was born or thought of. We'll never know the date of his death, or the shape of his life, we just get a tantalizing glimpse into the day he died on. A glimpse that asks a lot of questions and answers very few.

On the other side of the pond there's an actual date, a day and a time when the last stone age man in North America saw the door close behind him, and breathed his last. His friends put some of his tools in a simple bag by his side, and committed his empty body to the flame. I like to think of his spirit going to the happy hunting ground. Wherever he went, his body turned to ash and his brain went to medical school.

A lot of things flicker to life in my imagination, but very few have consumed me like Saxton Pope's book about his friendship with Ishi the last of the Yahi people - the last north american to live in the stone age - literally a time traveler who came to the 20th century.

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.

None of us can ever know the 'real' Ishi. We can only project the Ishi that we wish for onto his legend, but that probably makes him all the more special. I've read Pope's book several times now. It's not a very well written book, its in the style we might now call 'blogging' (it slips from history, to how-to, to eulogy, to call to adventure), but there's something about it. Something beguiling. I sometimes feel it's the book I'd been waiting to read. Pope and Ishi's friendship is a reflecting pool can I see myself in, and if you ever played at Robin Hood with two sticks and a shoelace you too may hear the call Pope was so compelled by.

At the end, against the express wishes of those who knew and cared for him, his brain was taken to medical school with what intent we can only speculate.  Ishi's legacy hasn't come from that bag of cells and inanimate neural pathways, it's come from the fire he lit in the hearts and minds of Dr Saxton Pope and Art Young.

If I couldn't have my hearts desire and become more like Ishi, I'd settle for being more like Saxton Pope and consider it a life well spent.

How you treated that stranger might just be how you really are.
PS: "Ishi felt Western society was essentially silly - the only things that impressed him were matches and glue,"  

A bit more about Ishi

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Current Situation

Reader, I bought a cut price unicycle, and have found a vintage bakelite phone I'd traded with a client a while back, I must be able to part with some of the drawer full of knives I never use, how many rucksacks do I really need? Everything must go!

But lets not get ahead of ourselves.

This one started in a hotel room in the North of England. A long time ago.
It was back in the golden age of blogging, on a pre-facebook internet. So long ago that Field and Stream was actually written by staff writers who owned muddy boots and guns, rather than fixie-riding blue-haired interns who are reluctantly rewriting things they've misunderstood from the internet, while they dream of writing for Buzzfeed.

I'd written a few blog posts, and was trying to turn my love of out-loud storytelling into a passable ability to tell them on the page. As I was lying on my skinny bed, in a hotel room used to train submariners. To my unexpected delight one of the F&S staff writers commented on this very blog, and we started an email conversation based around; our mutual belief that cartridges in the 6.5mm class are inherently wonderful, as are the the peaty malts of Islay, that Sarah Palin's candidacy was as baffling as it was alarming, and that punk rock is the appropriate soundtrack to an evening out.

11 years later....

Both of us have kids in the Uni; I'm mending rich people's central heating, and he's the face of a conservation organisation.

And there hangs a tale...

Adventure is around every corner, and the world is still full of corners
Your pal

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

More Squirrel Hunting In The UK.

450 divided by 14 

We won a day's squirrel bashing in a charity auction. Months passed, various people dropped out, in the end it was the Ambulance Chasing Lawyer formerly known as 'Sailor', South Side D, and your pal SBW who made the trip to the west country. We took a fairly large number of cartridges with us. Thankfully.

What can I tell you; it wasn't quite the usual tale of incompetence but it wasn't the most cost effective carry-on either. SSD and myself were billeted in a local hostelry where the burgers were pretty good but we had to significantly mark them down on the fries. Half a dozen phat G&T's later the bed seemed comfortable enough. In the morning dehydrated by the evening's entertainments I awoke, stretched and gave myself a lovely dose of cramp. Once the tears had subsided I joined SSD for breakfast. Limping.

The ACL joined us for our repast then we set off to meet the keeper, a cheerful sort who, once the usual tall tales of game numbers were out of the way,  apologetically told us  'I've just taken over this estate it was the last guy who donated the day, totally happy for you to be here, but, small problem, my missus says there's water pissing though the ceiling so I'm going to leave you to it.' 

Regular readers will know that squirrel sniping has at one time and another been a preoccupation of mine, always conducted with pellet guns. SSD is a proven slayer of squirrels and instead of taking the crappy farmers gun approach that's seen me roundly mocked at more than one shoot, has made an investment. SSD has a licence for a tricked out tacticool shotgun that can hold many cartridges, ACL and I have cheapo semi-autos that are only allowed to hold three shells. Instead of disturbing the squirrel's Drey with a set of drain rods, SSD blatted away at them until they were either proven empty or the incumbents had been evicted into the arc of fire laid down by ACL and myself.  Within ten minutes of arrival we were right into it, then things slowed down for a couple of hours.  We trudged around taking it in turns to cynically decode the keeper's speech, now convinced the wood was shot out and we'd come an awful long way for three squirrels. We saw three Fallow and a Muntjac. We sat out a rain storm in a beaters lodge. 

Any day in the woods is better than a day at work. ACL doesn't seem to have grasped this and takes a string of calls about an electrical installation or rather the lack of one. It's hilarious. He's very good at withering sarcasm, but this doesn't seem to advance his cause. Which is also hilarious. 

The daylight is in short supply so we skip lunch and fuelled by chocolate give the densest area of woodland a blatting. The day springs to life and eleven more tree rabbits fall to the cloud of pellets.
In an honourable attempt to bring a timely end to a wounded squirrel SSD shoots at too close a range and the end of his shotgun opens up like a flower. It's a sobering moment and signals that's its time for burgers and home. 

More soon
Your pal 


Monday, 9 March 2020

Choosing a Peli Case 1750, 1700, 1745

As the new year rolls in the Precision Wombles have been talking up our preparations for the coming season. Training and travel, how much do you really need to spend to get a bipod worthy of the name? And that perennial question of the traveling sport, will ramp monkeys mash-up my rig?

Back to the beginning  At my home club its a gruelling 10 yards from the car to the firing point, so the concern is moot. As Precision Wombles for our first fixture it's; trains, two planes, and a mini bus. With the same to get back home. So cases have become a hot topic of discussion. There are lots of cases, some people will keep their rifle in an airsoft box they got on eBay, I'm sure they're fine for the trip from car to firing point.
Various cheapskates have chipped in their, I felt slightly defensive, recommendations of budget boxes but the unavoidable truth is If your ambitions are international, your cases are Peli.

There are Hard Cases, and there are Flight Cases. 
Flight Cases are made by Peli.

And here's for why; When traveling internationally with your kit it all comes down to a couple of  clarity inducing questions.
1.Which is more delicate/expensive, your built-for-battle rifle and scope, or a broadcast standard movie camera? Both of which are cheaper than BoB's testing gear.

2.Have you ever seen a camera crew with any other brand of case?

BoB [brother of bushwacker] takes some very expensive testing equipment to some very inhospitable places using small planes, big trucks, boats of all sizes, and Peli cases.

Do a google images search for damaged luggage there are tales of grief. The search for damaged Peli cases gets you pictures of abrasions, the odd broken wheel, and tales of relief.

The 1750 is the gold standard for long guns; they are big and they are clever but, they're also heavy.
I took a Peli 1750 with me to Norway, rifle arrived un-crushed despite the ramp monkey's systemic disregard, pulling it through the airport(s) I thought my arm would be pulled out of its socket. Tough came at a serious weight penalty. So this time around I fancied something lighter and as we live in the age of the hinged stock, that could also mean something a bit more compact.

The 1700 that's lightish, and fits AR's and take down rifles so well, is annoyingly just a bit too short for my stalking rifles, I was tempted by a 1720 which will swallow a 1000mm rifle with not much space at either end, but for longer trips I really wanted a case that could take two 1000mm rifles with 50mm of padding at each end, and I wanted it to be lighter. The Storm range (added when Peli bought out Hardigg) are a bit lighter but not significantly.

Seems someone at Peli felt the same way, as now there's the AIR range. Claimed to be a sweet 40% lighter with the same guarantee of toughness.

The 1745. So far the AIR range is mostly camera and scientific sized, there's only one long case, but it's deep enough to be one-case-fits-most-kit case, interior dims are  111 × 42 × 20cm I like a short rifle for stalking and the Tiktac has a folding stock, once I've sorted the foam, it'll take two rifles or due to that 20cm depth, a rifle and a compound bow, without being one of those crazy big double cases that need its own trolly at the airport and takes up most of the bed of a pick up.

Kit to buy, deer to stalk, plans to make, and adventure just around every corner
happy new year
Your pal