Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Unboxing: Swarovski CTC Draw Scope

What 'drew me' to the draw scope? Boom Tsh! I'm here all week.

While I've not been posting much lately I've been preparing for a couple of adventures, working, and the Elfa is Spanish, er lets just leave it at that. Currently I'm off work with a bad back so I may have jinxed it all.

For the next trip I'll need to see the deer a fair way across open country, and on the one after we'll be mapping an orchard that encompasses a whole hillside, where terrain permitting we'll be scouting out a space for a 200m+ .22LR range. I've used a pair of Eden 8x42 binos for the last few years and don't see the point in upgrading them, they are so close to perfect I'm more likely to buy a spare pair. While the 8x42 class is wonderful for woodlands, they don't help so much as things get a bit further away. I wanted a decent spotting scope. 

The tools of a hunting guide have moved on from dressed in rags, lives on wallpaper paste and government cheese but owns a pair of $2000 binoculars, now he has a prismatic spotting scope, and prices have moved on from $2,000 too.  It's really become the must-have tool for guides working big landscapes, they are a wonder of engineering. At my place al wildlife in within bio range, at the Elfa's there are all sorts of things you could see. You can also attach an appropriately shaped piece of plastic which lets you clip on your smartphone to record proceedings or even attach a DSLR camera, if you've got any money left after buying it in the first place. Cheap they aint. I was stumped. 

When the chance to borrow the entry level  Swarovski CTC in 30x75 came up, I said 'thanks a lot' and slunk away to look this gift-horse in the mouth.
I'd seen a few pictures of Scots Ghillies in tweed Deerstalker hats using the traditional draw scope but I'd not considered one before. I actually didn't know Swarovski made one, I don't really associate them with anything so low tech. Seems sometimes simplicity is practicality personified. Prismatic scopes are weighty in the hand and need a tripod if you are to get comfortable. Whereas the draw scope is almost half the weight of the smallest prismatic scope.

Glassing the hill Ghillie style, seen from a distance in this position the keepers body loses its 'human' outline and the estate-tweed becomes environment specific camo, blending in to the landscape. 

Bisley 600 yards .308 target sights. Keep scrolling in, 600 yards is a long way, a very long way

While a tripod is almost essential for the range, where you're leaving the scope pointed in one place, out in the campo a draw scope rests so well on your knee, a fencepost or the top of a pack.  It's far more go-anywhere. There really isn't a lot to go wrong, with prismatic scopes all that precision gearing that feels so smooth in your hand,  is another thing to go wrong, jam or need costly servicing. The draw scope is two tubes and some O rings. Doesn't hurt that its literally half the price of their bottom of the range prismatic scope.
As you can see you don't get a lot in the box, a telescope, a cleaning kit, strap, and case with end caps. I thought the lens caps were missing but a quick read of the inventory shows Swarovski, relying on the case's covers, have done away with them. Not too sure how I feel about that.
How's it to look though? Goes without saying  Swarovski is the Shizzle!

"Buy the best scope you can, spend the change on a rifle" - attirb. Richard Prior

I've been spending a few evenings shooting .22 prone in a jacket, I can hit the targets well enough if I can get comfortable in the straightjacket, some weeks it's a big 'if' so discomfort lead me to the club's other shooting discipline: Lightweight Sporting Rifle, which has frustrations of its own.
"It ain't braggin' if yer really done it" v's  'It is a fluke if you only done it once'

LSR is ten round groups at 25m standing, no sling. With ranges stretching out in stages to a remarkable 400m!! Yep 400m with .22LR !! The two main choices of rifle are tricked-out 10/22's or AR15's  with dedicated .22 LR uppers by CMMG or Spikes. So far I prefer the ergonomics of the AR's.  I love the idea of .22 LR at 400m; its technical challenges are fascinating, it's ammo costs are bearable.  Most of my shooting experience has been of the dinner-bell kind with fixed power scopes,  so the bewildering technical aspects of today's scopes are all new to me. I found this guide to long range scopes about the clearest writing on the subject. I'm still nowhere near making my choice yet, and all the budget is spoken for by another project which I'll let you know about in the next few weeks.

Please: Never ever scan the terrain though a rifle scope with the bolt closed, just don't risk it.

More soon
You pal

Picture credit for the Ghillie and the estate

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Unboxing Review: The Bush Buck Big Four

Well well well all those nice things I've been saying about New Zealand must has brought me some good Kiwi-Karma. Very good Kiwi-Karma. Toby from Bush Buck got in touch about his Big Four jacket. and was kind enough to send one for testing.

The saga of the search for that holy grail of jackets; Lightweight and Cheap and Durable and Quiet and Waterproof has long preoccupied me, and has never been truly achieved. I've fallen in and out of love with Ventile, its wonderfull stuff but its not as waterproof as its champions would have you believe, I've owned and loved some really nice wool hunting jackets from the US and NZ, but the lack of water resistance, its  ability to absorb 1.5 times its dry weight in water, and a series of unprovoked Moth attacks left me ready to explore synthetics.

As longterm readers may remember I did try to commission some alterations to a coat I really like, just a few tweeks to my own recipe - a service offered on the companies website, but was thwarted by the brand's angry proprietor. Twice. LINK 

The last coat I spent my heard-earned on that I've been really pleased with is the Hill Smock by NomadUK. Its a kind of thick fleece Kameez with taped seams - literally outdoor pyjamas. I would wholeheartedly recommend them.  Quiet, Lightweight, Durable (so far) and Waterproof. Cheap never came into it.

Meanwhile down under; New Zealand's hunters have developed their own hunting traditions and clothing to match the climatic conditions. no wooden capes and lederhosen for them, I guess their river fording's are a little deeper than Scotland as they've shortened Breeks (aka Plus Four's - as in four inches bellow the knee) to, well , shorts really and its the home of the hunters smock. I really like the smock concept, they keep the elements at bay in a way waist length jackets can't match. Toby sent me some pictures of his design and he's got most of the things I want a smock/coat to have.

Toby calls his jacket The Big Four. I'd assumed the big four were NZ's famously changeable seasons, but they turn out to to be Fishing, Bird Shooting, Deer Stalking and Pig hunting. My interest was piqued. A coat that will cover all bases, from super active to sedentary is quite a big ask, so I was keen to give it a go.

Fishing; in my experience usually takes place sitting on damp pebbles being lashed by wind and sprayed by surf. The minimum you can expect to get away with is damp buttocks. The longer cut of the Big4 would come into its own.
Bird Shooting; It's a well worn fact that I'm a complete lummox with a shotgun, from a design perspective as swing is the name of the game, any jacket for bird shooting must give a lot of freedom across the shoulders - bodes well for archery and beachcasting.
For Deer Stalking quiet and windproof will be appreciated- first you're sneaking, then you're sitting, sometimes for a long time.
Pigsticking; looks like beating only more so, you've got to follow the dogs wherever they take you, penetrating the briars and brambles. Any jacket that will survive that kind of punishment is tough.

First Impressions:

Long enough to sit on.
The hood is more than a nod to fashion, its cut to give cover without compromising peripheral vision, has a wire in the rim which despite being a fairly old idea is still missing from some hoods.

Its made in the same way as a US airforce issue jacket I've got somewhere, the layers of material are bonded together and then the seams are welded. I think its fair to say it will not leak.

Neoprene cuffs under storm cuffs, these really work for me. Toby has designed the cuff with a slight dart, which stops the inner edge of the cuff from snagging. Me Likee.

Pit-Zips - these are the first thing I'd add to my wish list, when you're active but its pissing down you'll not want to undo the front zip but you do need to regulate your temperature, pit zips are the way to go.

At first sight I thought the chest/binocular pockets looked a little small, but they're actually big enough for my Eden 8x42's (still blown away by these binos 3 years later, best affordable glass by miles)

I'm not a believer in drain holes on packs and rucksacks, but on a jacket that will be worn fording streams they come into their own.

So far I'm very happy with the BigFour, and in a surprising turn up of events both the Ex Mrs SBW and the Evil Elfa have commented favourably on how much smarter I look than usual, which has I suppose been an unintended consequence, but in a good way for a change! I'm not due to get out of town for the next few weekends so so a full foul-weather test will have to wait.

More soon
Your pal

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Dan Price's Bushcraft Hobbit Home

I spend a lot of time daydreaming about living off grid, in the kind of camps I built as a kid. Dan Price author of 'Radical Simplicity: Creating an Authentic Life'  has been living in this cluster of hobbit houses for over twenty years. Katie Felber's film is a charming glimpse into the lifestyle of someone who actually did pair it all back to reveal the simple life.

your pal

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Buck, Buck, Moose: Hank Shaw's New Book

A quick mention for longtime blogger and my wild food hero, Hank Shaw and his new book.
I've been reading Hank's blog since the first post, its grown as he's found an eager audience of people who want to cook wild food. Hank's become my go-to for all wild food cooking. Over the years his practical instruction has inspired me time and time again. Holly Heyser's photography will make you hungry even if you've just eaten.

Here's how he describes his new book

Buck, Buck, Moose: 
Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Deer, Elk, Antelope, Moose and Other Antlered Things celebrates a food so important to humankind that many scientists believe it is one of the reasons we are who we are as a species today. We have hunted deer, in one form or another, since before we were fully human, and every culture in the world has a living venison tradition - from whitetail deer, elk and moose in North America, to red and fallow deer in Europe, axis deer in Asia, sitka deer in Japan, to the myriad forms of antelope and gazelle in Africa. Heck, even the native Australians hunted kangaroo, which has a flavor very much like venison.

Buck, Buck, Moose embraces that global heritage - and its modern expression - with more than 100 recipes ranging from American classics like country-fried steak to Southeast Asian curries, African favorites like bobotie, Chinese stir-fries, traditional European standards - as well as a host of completely original dishes I've created just for this book.

The book is already funded - so its defiantly happening and you can find it on Kickstarter HERE

More news as it comes in
Your pal

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Hunting Roe Deer With Golden Eagles In Spain

Just a quick one this morning. Mainly for Steve Bodio, but you might like it too.

Big birds, Small deer. WOW

For more about our little european deer HERE

For more videos [also in Spanish] HERE

More soon

Sunday, 23 August 2015

New Zealand - World's Best Hunting Destination?

Representing for NZ Clay TallStories - YouTuber, Balladeer, and Pig Hunter.

Life on the south island of New Zealand has been in my thoughts lately, it sounds amazing.  
regular readers will know that BoB [brother of bushwacker] lives there. He and I are close enough that we speak once or twice every eighteen months wether we need to or not. Being on the other side of the world it's winter there now so in the long dark evenings BoB is available to take calls, and we're all caught up for the year or so. His life sounds good to me.

At the same time Clay TallStories has started to post on Reddit's Hunting Sub and I've been watching a few of his videos. These chaps hunt pigs like men. Really. To hear many european and american pig hunters talk you'd think these beasts were prehistoric in their ferocity and anything less than .375 H&H was suicide. Kiwi's hunt them with a knife and some dogs. They wear shorts too, 'Shorty Shorts' they call 'em. But more of that later.

Here Clay responds to a critical message he received on Youtube, the dude's a total gent. and a credit to us all.

Gentleman pig hunters and far flung brothers aside. Here are a few of the reason's I want to go to NZ

Staggering Fishing: on the fly and from a kite.
BoB has few failings, most of them of the Hunting and Fishing kind, despite living within walking distance of some worldclass trout fishing he doesn't even own a rod. For shame. To illustrate the point he and some pals were climbing a rock face that overlooks a trout river, at the end of the session he's climbed down and was brewing up and packing his kit when a fly guy rocks up with a fish as long as Bob's arm saying 'you blokes must be hungry after all that'. I would have eaten it as sashimi, BoB cooked it over the brew-fire. He's a nice lad but he's not perfect.
Another form of fishing that I've long been fascinated by is Kite Fishing. this is an ancient art, one the cunning Kiwi's have perfected with a few modern innovations. Using the motor from an electric wheelchair as your winch, and Spectra for your line, its possible to fish out to two kilometres  offshore [about 1.2 miles in the old money]. When i found out that there was a type of fishing I didn't have copious amounts of gear for i immediately set out to rectify the situation, Just as I was about to click the buy now button it occurred to me I'd better check the weather patterns - on-shore winds all year round in the south of England. Bah! Thwarted!

Simple Firearms Laws.
They licence the individual not the tool. Logical huh? Gun can't fire itself. As a traveling sport you can download the licence application, print it off, rock up at the airport with your licence from home, your rifle, the form and $15 [last time I looked] and they issue on the spot.
A while back BoB was doing some demolition work and needed some explosives, he popped down to his local police station to sort out the paperwork. Told the cop on the front desk what he wanted to do and what he needed for the job.
Cop: "No worries mate we'll just tack an explosives ticket onto yer rifle ticket"
BoB: "I don't have one"
Cop: "Why not?"

Bow Hunting:
Growing more popular by the week, you'll see why when you look at the NewZealand Bowhunting Society's record book HERE  all taken on public land - regs are strait forward  and as usual farm permissions more forthcoming than with firearms.

All hunt-able species are invasive. Yep even those Himalayan Thar are a pest you can shoot for free on public land!

BoB has been shooting a little with some pals from work so he needs a rifle, - a left-handed rifle - should he start with a pre-loved Blaser R93 or should he get an AR15 with extra upper's in .308 and .22LR? While we're at it what's the  Best Scope for AR15 rifles?

I've been in touch with a very interesting fella regarding testing his range of outdoor clobber, which may really be that holy grail of outdoor clothes - light, durable, AND affordable. More news on that when the postie knocks on the door. In the meantime I have to start saving for that plane ticket.

More soon

Friday, 17 July 2015

Foraging For Undercrackers And Finding Plumbs

Lots to report but little impetus to report it over the last couple of months. A few weeks back ages ago some unexpected foraging raised my spirits and I felt a report was in order,  I've finally got round to posting it.

Taking a break from the 'tyranny' of underwear shopping with Elfa, we were making our way to a local hostelry intent on slaking our thirst with a small libation, when delight of delights, an urban foraging opportunity presented itself. Opposite the pub lay hundreds of these yellow plumbs and quite a few red ones too

We scavenged a carrier bag and snaffled a pile to take home, as usual urban wayside foraging provoked a couple of conversations with passers-by. How is it that we now live in a world where Joe and Josephine Soap are so divorced from their dinner that they don't recognise something as ubiquitous as Plums if they're not in a little plastic tray?

Stoning looked like it was going to take a while

Until I remembered my 'Kirchomat' or Cherry Stoner, Which despite sounding like the HighTimes cover girl sept. 1974 is actually a very handy device from Germany. 

It works really well and I loaded the the dehydrator 

As you can see I wasn't as diligent as I might have been and didn't halve every plum. 
First mistake.

I 'may have' slightly over-done the drying time. Second mistake. Schoolboy error.

I left them in the back of Elfa's fridge for a few months, too stubborn to chuck them after putting the time into foraging and then drying them. But as all 'shed blokes' know if you hang on to things long enough, eventually their time comes. The truly desiccated plumbs have found a use.  I soaked them in Sloe Gin. They are in a Fallow liver pate.

More soon
Your Pal

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tactical : At The Shallow End Of The Gene Pool

By the bones of Ishi! Modern life is rubbish, yah yah yah, moan moan moan.
Yes its a device for cleaning Velcro.
So now you know why I hate this world and everything on it
Bah Humbug!

Glamping: At The Shallow End Of The Gene Pool

"Look everyone, you'll still be able to check your social media accounts while you're 'camping'."

Another bit of my soul dies.

Modern Life Is Rubbish

pic found on Reddit

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Woodland Archery: Accuracy Is The Best Policy

The woods have seen some action since we were last there. At this time of year the Fallow are gathering into groups and had passed though our little world, flattening the Bluebells and chowing down on the bark of Beech trees.

On Friday as the skies darkened, then burst, we achieved escape velocity and were on the road. By making lateness part of the plan we set off within half an our for the allotted time and made the most rapid pace across and out of town. In all the trips we've made The Northern Monkey and myself have always failed to leave early enough and have sat in traffic most of the way across the south of England. By leaving later we arrived at the same time we usually do, but drama-lessa nd with the serenity of the intentionally late.

Our archery practice sessions are starting to bear fruit.

Things I learned about archery the time around:

1. Archery is seriously dependent on Natural Point of Aim; seeing as arrows are traveling a lot slower than bullets this should have been the bleeding' obvious, but  I guess its taken us a while to get to the bleeding' obvious.

2. On the subject of which, it turns out the shot starts before you draw the bow; by aiming with my left heel before I start to draw the bow is on target as soon as I draw it back. Consistently the pins were over the target, just had to use my hips to adjust vertically and its time to squeeze the release's trigger.

3. Arrows that are so bent they have names come into their own at longer ranges; The Northern Monkey  shoots aluminium arrows with varying degrees of bent-ness They are called things like; The Wanderer, Hook Nose, Curvy Lady and The X-Files [its out there. Somewhere]. At 10 and 20 meters they won't group for toffee, more often than not sailing into the bushes, but at the furthest extreme of our shooting lane, where we can shoot at 50 and then 60 meters, he sunk not one, but two bulls.

It was my turn to feel the pain and dismay. I started the year with 12 arrows, broke one on day one, [pallets are not as good as foam targets], lost two a couple of archery camps back. This time I went from 9 to 4 alarmingly quickly, breaking one trying to get it out of a tree,  'hiding'  3 under the leaf mould and the last a catastrophic failure.

The words of Hodgeman keep ringing in my ears “It's like rifle hunting...only more expensive, and less effective.”

More soon
your pal

Memory Collector: Hunting In Alaska

Regular readers will know that one of my favourite bloggers and to me the outdoorsman's outdoorsman is that Rifle-Sage of the north, Hodgeman. I've been reading his blog for years and if you want to read real practical advice about hunting, firearms, and kit he's your man.

Some pals of his have made this film about their mutual friend. Poignant without being folksy this is great storytelling. its a window into the way of life of a hunter-contractor who always wanted to live, work and hunt in Alaska as he hunts that symbol of the north, Barren ground Caribou. Seems like a happy and contented guy.

More soon

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Unboxing Review: Scott Mongoose XT Bow Release

Posts on the SBW blog are like London buses you wait for ages then two come along back to back.

Sometimes the kit does make a difference, all the most accurate shots I've ever taken have been with rifles with triggers that have that sweet, crisp break, the break that's not a hair trigger and isn't scratchy either, my Parker Hale Phoenix, and the Blaser's (R93 and R8) spring to mind. 

When I bought my bow it came as a Ready To Hunt package from Hunter's Friend [who I can't recommend enough] with a Truball release [I think it's the cyclone]. It's OK, in fact it was perfect while I was getting my form together shooting in the backyard and at fifteen meters. At 25 meters I started to notice the long travel and scratchy feel which seemed to amplify with every wobble and waver I made.  

Bored with the sheer divisiveness of Archerytalk I posted to asking for opinions on releases, only got two responses, both shouting out for Scott Releases. 

During a visit to an Archery shop I got to try out one of their thumb releases, so beloved by the target shooting crowd. Wow, so crisp, so sudden, so WOW! I was tempted, not by the price, but by the mechanics of the thing, then I had a disturbing vision of a repeat performance of the time when I dropped a round from a high-seat and it clattered off every effing rung of the effing ladder on the way down, it would also be fair to say that I don't tend to lose things that are tied-on, so that was a factor too. 

Looking online for reviews of Scott's  Mongoose XT certainly has its fans, I can see the thinking behind the single calliper concept. Don't know if it works, but I like the idea, so I pressed Buy Now. 

Fresh out of the box its in a different league to the other releases I've seen, so far I've only done the shoelace test (I'm at work) but it seems crisp, like R8 crisp.

Have I managed to spend my way to accuracy? I'll let you know after the weekend.

More soon
Your pal

Arrows And Broadheads Pt One

The 10m Range which offers limited opportunity beyond sighting in the first pin

So dear reader, or hopefully still 'readers' plural, its been all go since I last posted with, er some stuff achieved, a few observations, a bit of mudlarking in Spain and some plans to maybe make it a bit further east on the next trip.

Meanwhile back in the woods; meaningful groups are starting to develop at 25 meters. I shoot the Easton Aftermaths with the yellow and orange vanes, The Northern Monkey is still handicapping himself with his Alloy arrows - where accuracy and durability are sacrificed on the alter of cheapness.

I wish to state for the record that The Northern Monkey has several advantages in this game. He's a lot taller and stronger than me, that draw length gives arrow speed and therefore a flatter trajectory, he also practices more than me. When he shoots straight arrows his groups are generally smaller than mine, but thanks to his ally-handicap....

While Bare-Bow is all 'art' with getting to know each arrow part of the 'fun', Compound shooting is more 'science' - once your rig is properly set up the first 10 meters are almost a gimme, sometime the repeatability of it all gets a little tedious. Un-like gloating.

Essential kit for woodland archery 101 - the metal detector

Carbon Versus Aluminium/'Aloominum'

Price - Woodland archery is often about searching for arrows, every miss is potentially eight and a half Euro you'll never see again. Focuses the mind.

Straightness - Before or after the first time the arrow strikes something hard? Alloy arrows make a wonderful noise as they bounce off a tree, morphing into scrap metal as they fly through the air.

Durability - Of my 12 Aftermath's I've smashed one, and lost two. TNM has eighteen arrows in varying degrees of bent-ness.

Findability -  I am yet to find some of mine, he is yet to find a straight arrow in his collection.

While we're on the subject of durability the lovely people at Schmeisser Archery have sent me a couple of broadheads for testing.  First impressions are they are very well balanced - at 10m there was no desirable difference in point of impact from my field points , and they're a lot easier to dig out of a tree stump than the three bladed designs. As to their claim to durability?  We'll have to see in subsequent testing, they do seem tough as old boots.

Hoping to get down there again this weekend - new toy has been ordered, if the postie does his bit we'll find out if you can really spend your way to accuracy?

More soon
Your pal

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Reasons For Buying An Air Rifle

I know you want one, you know you want one. There are a lot of great reasons to buy an air rifle, lets have a look at them.

All the best shooters got their start with pellet pushers. 
The slow recoil and low exit speeds of ‘springers’ amplify user error, when you can get it right with a spring powered gun you’ll be ahead of the game with a PCP, rim fire, or centre fire rifle. 

It’s the cheapest way to practice.
From $20 a thousand, pellets are cheap and get cheaper the more you buy, they have no use-by date and take up very little space - most sizes of shoebox will hold 100,000 which will last anywhere between a long time and a lifetime. 

They are the best introduction to shooting
Without the BANG and with negligible recoil, the air rifle is the perfect starting point. Just as many of us started shooting with pellet pushers, so we shall start a new generation of shooters. Personally I’ve introduced new shooters ages 8 to 56 they’ve all wanted to do it again.

You can shoot them where you can't shoot anything else
In many inner-city jurisdictions you cant hunt control pests with anything else. 
Making a ‘Phutt’ rather than a ‘Bang’ they are the subtle alternative to firearms, and less provocative than using your compound bow. For example in the gun-unfriendly UK you can still practice in a suburban garden, taking squirrel, parrot and pigeons for the table right outside your kitchen window.

Pellets for Pests? Gets you hunting land
When you are asking about; trying to gain permission to hunt on farmland, an air rifle for pests tends to to get a yes on first asking, more often than a centre-fire for deer and pigs. Farmers will up-grade you later when you’ve shown your safe and you’ve offered them rabbits and / or scotch!

Easy and paperwork free
In many places they are online purchases; you’re over eighteen, you makes your choice of best air rifle for your needs, and wait [impatiently] for that exiting knock on the door.

Home customisable 
There is no better (or safer) first project for the home gun-tinkerer; start with lightening the trigger, then reducing the recoil by smoothing the spring’s path, before refinishing the stock. Lot’s of fun doing the work, lots of satisfaction in the end result, and you’re creating an heirloom for pennies.

Sometimes they are the best choice
The squirrel hunters weapon of choice, a silenced PCP gives you the pellet speed you need, and is quiet enough that the bushy-tailed tree-rabbits may well stick around so you can take a second shot at one of his pals.

Low-power leads to high-skill
When you can stalk rabbits to take a lethal shot on an inch wide kill-zone at 25 yards, you are arguably more of a hunter than the fella who was escorted by a guide to shoot into the four inch circle of a game animal’s vitals at 100 yards. 

You cant buy skill with money. But you can train for it with a pellet pusher!

Go on, go on, go on, you know you want to
More soon

Monday, 4 May 2015

Hunting, And Shooting Videos

A few weeks back Phillip of The Hog Blog did a round up of some of the better efforts by American TV makers, at that most difficult of genres; The Hunting Video. It's not easy. The 'pro' efforts are sometimes less engaging than the home-grown youtube videos.

The Music

Many film makers seem to share the sentiment of the Anti-Hunter that hunting is a highly adrenalised activity best given musical accompaniment by what I believe may be called 'death metal'. This makes no sense to me whatsoever; I go hunting to walk around in silence, listening to birdsong. I expect you do too.

The Celebration

The whooping and back slapping is pretty tiresome. I will admit I did once snap my fingers to show my satisfaction with an uncharacteristically tight group, but I've never felt the need to whoop or high-five. Hunter X smeared deer blood all over my face, I can't help but feel it was just because he wanted to. I was once the recipient of high praise of the Scottish variety "a welcome rest-bite from sheer suburban uselessness', but usually, on this side of the pond, a firm handshake is all that's deemed necessary.

The Dialogue

Most video blogs are awful because the person speaking hasn't actually decided how to say what they want to say, and then when they slip up mid ramble instead of 'mulligan-ing' and taking the shot again, they either just repeat themselves or worse yet launch into a long-winded apology before repeating themselves. It doesn't really work for me. If I were to offer a pointer; It may help not to mention 'commitment' or 'tradition' again. I can't be the only viewer who switches off when subjected to rapid-fire cliches. I know you did this with your 'daddy' and you want to take your daughter hunting, yawn, there is more to hunting than sentimentality.

So, how to capture the moment on camera? How to show the people at home what goes on? Here are a couple of examples of how the pros do it and an example of a really inventive low tech way of telling stories on video.

First Hunt from Civilware Service Co. on Vimeo.

Meanwhile down under, where their contempt for inclement weather and glaciers is shown in the shortness of their 'Shorty-shorts' the guys from Calibre Shots show just what I'm missing not going to see my Bro.

Father & Son Tahr and Chamois hunt from caliber shots on Vimeo.

But what if you haven't got a drone, and can't hitch a ride on a helicopter? What if its just you and a camera, up close and personal? How would you tell the story, to an audience who may not speak any language you speak? You let what the camera sees tell the story.

At last a film of deer stalking in Scotland, that looks and sounds like, well, deer stalking in Scotland.

Thomas Haugland is a Hunter, Shooter and Filmmaker from Norway where; deep competency, stunning scenery, and dry wit come free with your passport. His videos never have him talking or a voice over, which in our current climate of moron-ification and pointless babbling is strangely attention grabbing.  His videos often have super deadpan descriptions

"This longrange shooting test was primarily made for Norwegians, but you are invited to try! It'll test the basic skills needed to make the bullet hit where you want (accuracy) at long range. This test is done in meters, at least 500 m range which is 547 yds."

Or the Jedi-like

"Not all days are equally successful. But there are sights to be seen and if you stay in bed, failure is guaranteed."

Enjoy, and comment if you've got any reconditions for videos that do something different with the the Hook and Bullet genre.

Picture credit goes to LikeCool and here's a list of top 10 best AR 15 scopes in case the picture put you in the mood

More soon
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Unboxing: Biolite Camp Stove Review

I've wanted one of these ever since I saw them as vapourware a few years ago. One thing lead to another and I've not ended up pressing Buy Now. But in a unprecedented turn up of events The Northern Monkey found himself inspired and ordered one. I think it was the offer of free electricity.

TNM had, in a stroke of genius, actually read the instructions before leaving the house so the Biolite had had its preliminary charge and was all ready to go. I was really exited to get this unboxing underway as my phone had already run out of juice, TNM clipped the parts together, filled it with very small sticks and sparked it up.
Once the smoke has finally cleared and its up to operating temperature the Biolite produces no smoke at all and roars with a beautiful spiral of flame which is a bugger to photograph. Phone charging was a little stop-start but did work. Next time I'd plug the stove into a battery pack which might work a bit better.

Following on from the good reception the camp stove has received  Biolite have brought out a 'Basecamp' which you feed from the bottom and takes much bigger bits of wood, this baby size suffers terribly from its small combustion chamber needing constant attention and feeding.  We were in deciduous woodland with an unlimited supply of dry-isn little-finger sized fuel, on a beach where the small bits of driftwood are often the dampest, or in a sparse-fuel environment where you'd have to cut fuel to size, the small chamber would be a major pain. We tried to burn thumb diameter pieces but the stoves efficiency was massively compromised. I hope to do some tests with dried dung [horse poop since you ask] which I have high hopes for as the stove's ideal fuel.

They say:
"Burning only wood, the CampStove creates a smokeless campfire that can cook meals and boil water in minutes. Setup is easy, fuel is free, and flames are hyperefficient with performance on par with white gas stoves."

SBW says:
Burning very small pieces of wood, the camp stove creates unbelievable amounts of smoke until it gets going when it burns very well, defiantly an outdoor gizmo [you would seriously regret lighting this puppy up in a tent], set up is indeed easy, fuel is free if you're in a woodland, anywhere else it'll be a lot of work to cut the pieces up small enough. "On par with white gas stoves" is pushing it.

The two must have accessories would be - bushcraft napalm [which I'll show you how to make in another post] and a pair of secateurs which would be the perfect way to keep it topped up with its preferred stick size of 6mm x 50mm aka quarter of. by two inches.

On the way home we have a 'petrol in a diesel' mishap and ended up by the side of the road with no phone charge, TNM fired up the stove while I walked to the nearest garage and got his phone working again, which was nice.

More soon
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Friday, 24 April 2015

A Tale Of Two Bowtech's And Three Archery Shops

A lot has been happening while I've not been posting and we're long over due a catch up.

Regular readers will know that I gave up smoking and spent the saving on a new compound bow, choosing the Bowtech Carbon Knight. Most of my archery has been with a very old PSE that was way to big for me, both in poundage and draw length. I gave it to The Northern Monkey who stands head and shoulders taller than me. I choose Bowtech as Chad had told me that he has one he's still happy with after quite a few years and several of his pals also have good things to say about the company. I chose the Carbon Knight as its the lightest bow they make, the old PSE was very heavy so I was obsessing about something lighter although of course any modern bow would be a lot lighter.

The Carbon Knight has so far proved to be everything I hoped it would be. It quickly convinced me of its accuracy, which left me free to focus on reducing user error. I'm not a member of an archery club at the moment so coach-less, I watched a few videos on youtube, found my anchor point, and the rest is history. Its not a bow, it's a machine for launching arrows.

As you'll know when you look on the back of your 'man-card' you'll see that one of the rules is that it's not a hobby until you've managed to get at least two of your pals involved so you can have 'play days'. This is why at some companies everyone has the same hobby be it; lap dancing bars, charity fun runs, playing five-a-side football, archery, or collecting Morgan sports cars. Whatever it is you must gather a tribe around you. It's in the rules.

To get my hand in as an Archery-Mephistopheles  I chose CHJ for the first play-date as he already has a rig and had emailed in some impressive results. CHJ had recently sent his bow away for a new string and some tuning which had made his older bow very tight. We had a good day of it, shot some improving groups and only lost a few arrows. turns out its called 'field archery' for a reason - in a field you might even get your arrows back.

One hobby-buddy an archery club don't make, so the next available weekend I took The Northern Monkey with me to the woods. Planning to re-light his enthusiasm for all things toxophilic. It turned out to be pretty easy. By the end of the weekend he'd convinced himself that a new rig was essential. By the end of the following week a Bowtech Assassin RAK and some arrows were paid for and in the post to him.

I'd bought my rig from Dana of Hunter's Friend Europe which is based in Finland, The prices were good as the Euro is down against the GBP. Dana is a witty guy to email with and did everything he could to ship me my rig so I could spend the christmas break practicing - the Spanish postal service let us down, but I suspect they let everyone down. Having never bought a new bow before I didn't realise just how good at setting up archery gear he is. Right out of the box my rig has been accurate, if and when I've done my bit. The drop away rest is flawless, its all tight.
The Northern Monkey has a well deserved reputation for um, er 'fiscal propriety', it's a little known fact that copper wire was invented one afternoon when neither he or a game keeper of this parish had change of a penny.
He ordered his rig from a UK company called Aim Archery. It has not been a good experience. While Dana builds and shoots the bow you've ordered so when you pay for a Ready To Hunt package that is exactly what you get. At the other end of the performance curve; Aim Archery. It would seem they loosely assemble whatever they've got lying around. For instance the cheapo Arrow rest was over half an inch out of alignment, there is nothing 'Ready, Aim, Kill' about that. If they'd gone for Ready-Aim-Loose Arrow it would have been a fairer description.

Shooting my bow, which is dramatically too short a draw length for him, TNM could comfortably have arrows kissing each other, with his Assassin, set to his correct draw, the best he could manage was a loose coalition rather than an actual group. With the spread getting larger and more and more arrows disappearing into the woods TNM dismay was growing.
We started looking for an archery shop online. It turns out that while they are like hen's teeth in london, we were only about a half hour drive from the UK's most famous archery store.
Quicks have gained their reputation by using a strategy almost unknown in modern British retail. They are friendly AND know what they're talking about. I know! Colour me shocked too!! The chap behind the counter took a quick look at TNM's bow and sighed. The peep sight isn't attached to the bowstring, but what's losing an eye between friends? The supplied arrows got another sigh, "these are for a recurve". Quicks dude could not have been more helpful; once he'd got the bow to safe to use, he took TNM upstairs to their range and helped him to start the tuning process. Buoyed with new found confidence he bought some more arrows and we headed back to the wood.
Groups were much improved for the first hour but substandard parts soon come loose and the arrow rest lost its grip on itself and lost its position. T'was not the only loss we were to endure that afternoon. At our woodland range we hang a Delta target from a tree. We don't have an archery net, so you need to be accurate. It's fine when the difference between on-target and a miss is less than a handspan, any further deviation either results in a clean miss where the arrow disappears beneath the leaf litter on the forrest floor, or strikes the tree where the aluminium shaft absorbs the force, warping horribly before flying off at a right angle and then disappearing beneath the leaf litter on the forrest floor. Gutted.

We sack it off in favour of lunch, well I I sack it off to make lunch and TNM starts getting serious about getting his arrows back. After a while he reappears, ever the sage, taking the whole debacle in surprisingly good humour he rocks up. "Do these look familiar?" he hands me two of my arrows from the first trip a few weeks back. "I've realised, there is one very important piece of kit we didn't bring, metal detector"

More news and reviews as soon as I get the chance to write 'em up
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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On A Spanish Hillside

In the campo, where we've been staying since crimbo its all been a bit of a drag really Mr Proper has come to visit and he and Elfa have fallen out, she's now in an almost permanent grump, he won't stop needling her. Being a semi-pro martyr I have positioned myself between them to catch any incoming fire before it hits its intended target. But there is a silver lining to this dark cloud.....

I'm up and at it, not hunter o'clock or even builder o'clock, but early enough that I'm out of the door on my own. Down the street, cross the road, past stop off at the bar and on to the dirt road out into the campo. This is as they say where the magic happens!

This is Alicante, but not as I know it. For me Alicante is semi-dessert; gnarled olives set amongst scrub, weird ant nests (?) rabbit poo, and an erie silence where there would normally be birdsong.
I think these fascinating holes are the entrances to Ant nests, not that I've ever seen the occupants come and go.

This is Spain so my morning constitutional features a Carajillo at the bar, not the best Carajillo I've ever had, more a cafe solo with a shot of brandy so I'll leave further description to another day when we can celebrate a better example. What the bar does have that's worth a mention is this novel stove.

Hopper on the left, chimney on the right, tiny firebox connecting the two, the firebox can be that small as the flue extends to well over head height, and then runs most of the length of the room giving out a not inconsiderable whack of heat.
I was wondering about the stove and its relatively small hopper, I have a cousin who has a woodturner that is run on pellets, but I can't see the campisino's  paying to have wood ground up. It turns out they are fuelled by Almond shells. 

Out of the back of the bar, and wending my way up the hill I pass several small terraced olive groves. Here the hills roll away to rocky crags, and its green. Grass grows between the olive trees, caca di conejo lies around in fuel-source quantities and wonder of wonders a wild Perdiz (partridge) whirrs past. Elfa's dad has it that there aren't any more wild partridge due to the desertification, but this is a green Alicante. Its so green you could have a lawn if you were so inclined.

On one of the terraces I stumbled upon this wonderful specimen

At the base it must have been 20ft in circumference, I'm guessing 300+ years old, hopefully a more educated reader will be along to let us know if I'm in the right ballpark?

The next find is one I wasn't expecting, Acorns. But not as I know them, I feel sure I've seen this species before somewhere. So I snaffle a kilo or so just in case.
When I get back to WIFI (which in Spain is pronounced 'wiffy' ) it turns out I have seen them before, and having brought them home to Blighty I even have a plan for what to do with them.

I could bore you with further tales of spousal bickering, but I'm boring myself so we'll fast forward to other adventures that have taken place since we made it home and made up.

More soon
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