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Preview: The Suburban Bushwacker.

The Suburban Bushwacker: From Fat Boy to Elk Hunter

A tubby suburban dad watching hunting and adventure shows on TV and wondering could I do that? This is the chronicle of my adventures as I learn to learn to Forage, Hunt and Fish for food that has lived as I would wish to myself - Wild and Free.

Last Build Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:40:08 +0000


Squirrel Hunting In The UK Pt1

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 10:36:00 +0000

Pests: Invasive and Domestic"When the buffalo are gone, we will hunt mice,...for we are hunters, and we want our freedom."Chief Sitting Bull: Warrior / Philosopher / Statesman"When the nanny state tells us meat only comes in packets, I will hunt Tree Rabbits with a pellet gun. It's the way I roll”SBW: Plumber / Philosopher / BloggerInvasive, destructive and delicious Sciurus Carolinensis: the American Grey Squirrel, is a very common sight in the south of England and they've reached as far north as The Kingdom of Fife. As an invasive species in the UK there is no closed season - we can hunt them 365 days a year. While their antics in city parks are certainly amusing; they are a proper pest to the farming and forestry communities, a carrier of fatal disease to the native Red Squirrels, and a delicious source of free protein to me. Well when I say 'free' like so many pastimes you need a few bits and pieces to get going."Squirrel hunting is for the patient, and for the person easily entertained by observation"James GeorgeI thought they were vegetarian too! Pic found on Reddit The first thing you've got to hunt down is a place where you have permission to hunt. It took me a while to find a permission that was within reasonable traveling distance of my home and I still don't have a really near one.They love that MDPE,  once they've had a good chew on this feeder, they'll eat the grain.I had a permission where the family owned a nursery and squirrel damage was an easily defined cost. I’ve hunted them on a Pheasant shoot where they eat the Pheasant feeders first and then the feed, and they've vandalised the water supply. Maybe you could use MDPE as bait?A vegetarian owns my main permission; she has a passion for woodland management and the squirrels and deer are inhibiting regrowth of her coppice. You just never know. Keep asking. The BASC website - the British Association for Shooting and Conservation -  has some useful pointers, and a template permission slip.Once you’ve got somewhere to hunt you need a lethal weapon that can make a humane kill. Catapult: If you're really well practised. Not I.Shotgun: Very popular in the USA but you need a licence/certificate in the UK and due to the noise you may end up  hunting them one at a time..22LR rimfire rifle: Very  popular American squirrel calibre, as the bullets can easily travel on for miles not such a good idea shooting up into the trees here in the highly populated UK. So common sense safety rules pretty much limit you to shooting squirrels on the ground with rimfires. I find it hard enough to find them without limiting the search to terra-firma.  Fire Arms Certificate (FAC) Air Rifle:Lots of cash, and paperwork for unproven benefit. I wouldn't bother..17HMR rifle bullets have a tendency to explode on contact so in some ways safer than the .22LR, but they can go even further so only applicable if you've got a lot of land to shoot over.    My weapon of choice is the off-the-shelf air rifle (limited to 12ft/lbs); you don't need a licence so you can lend and borrow them, they are easily powerful and accurate enough to make a clean, humane kill on a Squirrel that never knew you were there. I'm a big fan of the Pre-Charged-Pneumatic school of air rifle design as they take very little practice to become accurate.Due to the UK's firearms laws and high population density Air rifles have always been disproportionately popular here so there are loads, both new and secondhand, to choose from.  Well-known brands; English, German Czech, and Swedish, all very accurate and all pretty costly at £500 - £1,200+. There are even more brands (most quite accurate) of spring powered rifle from about a third of the cost and a middle ground where the rifles use a gas-ram system, [which is similar to the rebound dampers on a motorcycle's shocks,] to provide the puff. You pays your money, you takes your choice.A special mention goes to the next air rifle I'm going to buy - The IMP wh[...]

Felt Recoil Test: Sauer 404 XT v's XTC

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 16:24:00 +0000

The OMR A reader of this blog, who became a real-life pal, and I have been having a long [few years now] conversation about rifle stock design and in the sprit of 'a little less conversation, a little more action please' we made the pilgrimage to Ivythorn Sporting to send a few down range. Our plan was start at the top and work down. A few hearty thumps to the shoulder from the 375 H&H later, and we turned our attentions to the 404 from Sauer. Posh timber aside, these are Sauer's top of the line offerings: 404 XTC and the 404 XT. The 404 is a funny thing, like the Blaser R8 it looks a bit 'space-age laser-gun' in photos, but less so in real life. I wasn't too sure how I felt about the look of it.  I'm now convinced it's an ergonomic marvel. Once you shoulder one it's a revelation. Fit to function seen through new eyes.CZ in 375 H&H Yee Gods!! People shoot these things for fun? OMR (One Man Riflemaker) took one very reluctant shot, just to be able to say that he had, I foolishly took five and feeling a little discombobulated gave the rest of the rounds back. Recoil adverse neither of us can afford to slide any further down the rankings at our respective target clubs. I'm sure the 375's perceived recoil is negligible when you're firing at an enraged charging Cape Buffalo for the third time, but at the range? Flinch-Tastic. Rather you than me.OMR and I had taken the precaution of bulking up on pies to absorb recoil. What my daughter calls my  'Wannabe Alaskan' hat and beard combo in full effect. Even a full spec 404 in carbon with the fluted barrel, and no moderator chambered in 30-06 wasn't the hammer blow to the shoulder I was expecting.Shooting rounds in the 6-7mm range, these things must feel like a losely held 22LR.The XT Carbon surprised me too at 2.8 kilograms / 6.1 lbs there's really not a lot to it. I imagine it would make a wonderful Hill Stalking rifle.Steve from Ivythorn let us pour a cup of water over the pistol grip for a 'Cold Wet Hands' test, despite looking as smooth as a smooth thing's smooth bits, it felt every bit as grippy as an oiled walnut stock if not a little more so.There is at least one stock manufacturer claiming that carbon fibre has recoil damping properties, so far my cynicism of this claim is unbounded. Asking about, everyone I've spoken to who has actually laid carbon with their own hands has laughed when I've repeated the claim. One fella went as far as saying 'if you want damping you'd be better off with fibreglass, but that would cost you all the weight-saving you've just spent all that money on, re-think the ergonomics, transmission of energy is key’.  During the endless Blaser debates online, all kinds of hilarious objections to their radical design have been raised and disproved. What they all come down to is ‘I want a rifle that looks like a rifle’ Which really means ‘I want the comfort of the familiar’. There's another example from my work life. In the UK the specification for the position of power sockets has changed, they’re now a little higher up the wall above the skirting board, client after client has complained that they don't like the new height, a few months later they all say its actually more convenient. I’m not immune to this myself. When I first started spending time in Spain, I found the light switches counter intuitive, running my hand over the wall in the dark looking for the switch. In the UK we place them where your eye falls, in Spain they’re where your hand falls. Reach out at hand height and there it is.With the 404 XT Sauer have entered a  new era of rifle ergonomics, what looks a little strange at first sight feels just right after the first couple of shots. The stock and cheek piece are only the start of their plan to make a rifle tuned by the individual shooter to the individual shooter. Interesting times.Big shout to Steve at Ivythorn Sporting for letting us put our sticky fingers all over this stock[s] and use his range. If you want to test o[...]

As Seen At The Gun Show: Holt's Of London

Fri, 22 Dec 2017 19:23:00 +0000

Yeah yeah been a while I know, life. Life, I tell you, it keeps getting in the way.The Bambi Basher and I used to make it a habit to visit the Holt's December sale and sink a few libations after we'd sharpened our appetites on the vol au vent, and party fancy's served. Sadly we've both been beset with that curse of the drinking classes, work, and have missed the tradition for the last couple of years.Not to have my enthusiasm dampened I popped along to what turns out to be the last Holt's in Hammersmith [they're moving to Blackheath for the next sale].The Holt's salesroom never disappoints, there were as ever, acres of fine English shotguns but lacking the tempo, or fiscal temperament, for them my interest is in the riflery.Some epic swag on offer this timeA Volly-Gun in 22LR was curio I'd not seen before. If you're like me, the kind who can be relied on for one sweet trigger pull per session, it could well be the sporting advantage we've been looking for?While an acquaintance was showing me around the pistol table I saw this little fella, a Charge Tester. You can verify the potency of your powder against it's spring.For a price approaching the the value of a nicely appointed Casa a Piscina in Spain this magazine-fed spin on the double rifle was on show.As regular readers know my champagne tastes on a beer income veer more in the direction of the take-down rifle. Holt's will always be, primarily about English guns, with a few high-end german pieces. So it was nice to see a couple of examples of the work of a South African 'smith of growing renown Bernie Laubscher, look him up, very highly thought of in his homeland. If the examples on offer were anything to go by a collectable of the future, and with an expected sale price of £2000 - £2500 something of a bargain too. SOLD £3,400.00Fancy a bit of history with your take-down rifle? How about this?  Chatting with one of the curators revealed that this rifle would have cost the price of two four bedroom houses in central-ish London at the time. You could barely by a parking space for its sale price of £36,000.00  these days. There's alway one eccentric offering that people will bid on just to be able to tell their pals that they own one, and this year it was this triple barrelled, er, duck gun?Wouldn't be Holt's without some displays of the 'Out of Office Plumage' of the eccentric sporting type.More soonYour palSBWGet a feed to here the latest SBW nonsense as soon as it's posted[...]

Unboxing Review: Helikon-Tex Raider 20L Day Pack

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:30:00 +0000

With the excuse provided by my long postponed return to the classroom I 'urgently needed' a new pack. It needed to be a little wider than the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 and smaller than the Markhor Elk Mountain. All the usual contenders were considered, and rejected on cost grounds. One of my target shooting buddies who introduced me to Helikon-Tex gear from Poland and has their equivalent of the Rush 12 I already have that's not wide enough for the binders that my workbooks come in. [See how the reasons for a new pack just drip from my lips]Then I saw helicon-tex's new pack The Raider, it was on pre-order and only available in limited colours, it's a bit wider and has a stretchy over-panel they call a 'beaver tail' which is like a little Mystery Ranch load-sling, built in. Small packs have always had one annoying snag to them: by the time you've packed all the rest of the crap you need to lug around with you, there's nowhere to put your jacket. We've all tried that threading-a-piece-of-550 para-cord-through-the-little-loops thing, kind of works but I've never really found it that satisfactory. The stretch panel solves that at a stroke. If you're cycling it's a neater way to store your helmet when you're not riding. Based on that, the dimensions, and price I ordered one, and got a pack that so far has totally exceeded my expectations. I'd even go as far as telling them they've under sold it, their description online doesn't even mention some of its best features.With double duvet for scale.Out of the box it's a solid little thing, and bit of poking around revealed an aluminium stay that stiffens up the centre of the back panel, I've not tried bending it to the contour of my spine yet, but I'll give that a go in the next week or so. I've had a few little packs they all tend to sag down your back, the Rush 12 being the only notable exception so far. The Raider sits well even without the sternum strap being done up, and with it is limpet-like. The stay-bending is only going to improve that. The slight increase in width over other packs in this size really seems to help stabilise the load.Cheap, and many not so cheap, packs have those stretch cuff pockets for a Nalgene sized water bottle, but make them out of mesh, which; snags, rips and inevitably fails long before the rest of the pack. Not so the Raider. Looks like a good stowage for a fishing rod tube.A soft-lined pocket on the pack's face, and in the main compartment there's a slip for your laptop, with a pad at the bottom to offer that little bit of extra protection.I either live in london where while it rains less often we actually get a greater volume of water falling from the sky, or in Yorkshire where its either raining, or about to rain. So I was chuffed to bits when after a couple of days of carrying the Raider around I found another zipper which was hiding a rain cover.Another other use for rain covers is to keep the packs straps and buckles from being caught in the conveyor belts and overheads when flying hand luggage only on the cheap airlines. They also make a useful improvised container for foraged roadside fruits, and when the amount of tat [school books] you're trying to lug around exceeds the bags capacity they keep everything onboard.On design, cost, and, construction the Raider is an absolute winner, it's made of branded Cordura with YKK zips. Its even got a meaningful hip belt.I hope they bring out an 'Airborne  Raider',  perfectly the dimensions of carry-on luggage for the cheap airlines, I've got packs I'd happily sell to finance buying one.More Reviews, my long overdue return to both the target range,and our archery camp very soonYour palSBWPS I've just looked and Helikon-Tex now have the Raider in five colours and six different camo's.Get a feed to here the latest SBW nonsense as soon as it's posted[...]

On This Day 8th September 1880 WDM Bell Was Born

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 00:00:00 +0000

WDM 'Karamojo' Bell. Walter Dalrymple Maitland Bell. Unremarkable looking fella, born with balls of steel.

His first book: The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter is a collection od essays he wrote for Country Life magazine
You can read my review here and the full text here

Karamojo Safari: is his full length telling of his adventures
My Review and the Full Text

Bell wrote for a few publications, including a couple of pieces for the NRA's American Rifleman

Small Bores versus Big Bores.  full text here

There's something of a controversy about the piece, my thoughts Here

In exciting news for Bell aficionados from Safari Press there is now another collection of his writings.
Incidents from an Elephant Hunter's Diary

More Soon
Your pal


Review: The New Zealand Wilderness Hunter

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 09:03:00 +0000

Over the course of this blog I've been in email correspondence with a few readers and ever so often these connections result in something new and unexpected.A good few years ago I conversed with a chap on the far side of the world, one thing led to another and we kind of lost touch. A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of our mutual interest in WDM Bell and sent him an email update. He wrote back and in passing mentioned that he'd made it into print. I was intrigued enough to order a copy of one of his books. It was with a little trepidation that I turned the first page; anyone can write a witty insightful email, turning out a whole book of it asks a little more of the author, as I've found in my many stop-start attempts.Phew. He smashed it.Dear readers; Hunter philosophers, shooters, wild-foodists, and fans of adventure writing. I bring you James Passmore's  The New Zealand Wilderness Hunter.While we undoubtedly live in a golden age of ammunition we just as certainly don't live in the golden age of writing about hunting. In print, Stephen Rinella, Steve Bodio, and John Gierach aside, most of it is so 'me too', the same tired tropes about 'tradition', 'passion' and the sickly sentimentalism of 'family'. The ex banker who found happiness in the wisdom of his fishing ghillie, the ballsy chick who hunts private estates, the smug hipster visiting his hillbilly relatives, yet another pastiche of Capstick or Hemmingway. Yawn.Online things are even worse; lacking the discipline of a editors stern scalpel, a hideous 'style' has developed. As moron apes lackwit, and every passing mouth-breather positions himself as an 'expert'. All re-telling the work of the one before, each bad facsimile a little less distinct.On the far side of the world the Kiwi literary hunting tradition has no greater proponent than Barry Crump, yarn spinner extraordinaire, often described to me as 'the Kiwi's Kiwi, how we'd like to see ourselves'. Crump churned 'em out too, selling a million books into a home market of four million people. Even if his books didn't quite come free with every box of ammo, I'm told Crump's tales of life as a deer culler can be found in almost every home with a rifle, and set the expectation of kiwi hunters for generations to come.James Passmore's book walks a very different path over the same ground and is all the better for it. There are lots of books that attempt to capture the reverence that exposure to the fecund majesty of the woods brings, I couldn't put this one down. The tales are told in a modest insightful way, JP has obviously spent a hooj amount of time afield, has nothing to prove, but presents a series of observations, often prompted by small errors that lead to larger consequences. I got the impression of someone who'd done a lot, and incorporated each and every insight into an evolved best practice. Cautious and thoughtful as he intwines the emotional and philosophical landscapes with the misty hills and hollows of the unforgiving wilderness of the south island. JP brings us something different in  hunting writing;  some deer are just for the pot, sometimes its a trophy he's after, always it's to immerse himself in the wilderness. The stories are told with equal verve, some of his biggest tales end with the smallest deer. He conjures an unspoken reverence for wild places.The book wouldn't be from NZ if it didn't also capture some of the eccentricity of his fellow countrymen.'The old men rose up out of the glacier-fed river, pale and wrinkled, carrying trim Day-Glo coloured packs, and picked their way through the clearing over the tussock grass and bracken. They were both stark naked except for their boots. Dangling from their packs were coils of expensive climbing ropes.They walked shamelessly up to the hut. I was sitting outside holding a tin cup of tea and watching the late afternoon light over the mountain range; sombre and purple. It was the middle of a pre-[...]

FireSpark Ferro Rod Review

Sat, 02 Sep 2017 13:04:00 +0000


I do like a ferro rod; if I didn't keep losing them I would say that they provide a lifetime of sparks, and of course give you a nice bushcrafty feeling when you spark your fire or stove to life with it.

Ferrocerium rods 'can' knock out sparks of up to 3,000c, where they're not all born equal is the size of the burning flakes of metal we see as sparks. More than one of the famous outdoor brands, endorsed by celebrities who should know better, produce rather pathetic little dots of spark. I've had a few over the years: from an awesome one made in some dude's shed that produced its own weld-splatter, to the really rather pathetic one made by the famous Swedish brand. This one came from Poland,  and as usual with Helikon: heroes of Polish Bushcraft was a bit cheaper than the others and it turns out a bit more thoughtfully designed.

Size-wise its probably overkill, being about twice the thickness of the well known brand, it's going to last several lifetimes. I was a bit unsure about the smaller handle to start with, but once I realised it unscrews to give you a place to stash some vaseline soaked cotton wool or a splodge of Bushcraft Napalm  I was a believer. Fire steels are awesome ,especialy if you've got flammable kindling to catch the spark.


At some point I'm going to make a sheath for my Fallkniven F1 with a loop for the Firespark. Overly robust knife and bike axle ferro rod make a nice pair. The tinder/ napalm holder really makes it. Handy bit of kit. Would buy again.

More foraging, Lightweight Sporting rifle, a new and very exciting wood work project, and some actual bushcraft / wild food hunting coming soon

Your pal


Bushcraft Napalm And How To Make It

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:23:00 +0000

Quite a few of you probably pride yourselves on your skills with fire by friction, and I salute you for you dedication. This stuff is for the times when you actually need a fire blazing NOW!Perfect Example: When Mr Grendel and myself were dropped off by The Ghillie at the lodge and told "there's a wee stove make yerselfs a fierr" sure there was stacks of wood, in the kind of sizes you'd use as props to hold a mineshaft up, but no axe and we only had skinning knives with us. It was snowing, we were soaked from hats to gaiters. Without any kindling to speak of we had to rummage about a bit to get a blaze on.  A few bits of cardboard from the bin and a couple of candles from a kitchen drawer, and we were soon drying out. As we were huffing and puffing the fire into life I'd remarked "I wish we had some Bushcraft Napalm this would be a piece of piss". Mr Grendel enquired "WTF is Bushcraft Napalm?"I've not made any Bushcraft Napalm in ages, but as I promised him I'd do a How To [about eighteen months ago], here it is. Bushcraft Napalm is cheap soap and petrol, mixed into a paste, and here's the clever bit, stored in an old toothpaste tube.You need a bowl you can heat up, without causing an outburst of rage to intrude on the peace of your dwelling. You need the cheapest soap you can get - this was three bars for one Great British Pound Chop the soap up a bit Chop the soap up a bit a bit more. It would be even better to use a cheese grater.Soften it it in the microwave - our microwave has lost the facility of the number one button, two mins and twenty two seconds was way too long, twenty two seconds not long enough. Your mileage may vary.As the soap softens its time to start adding petrol, the great thing about using the microwave is its much less likely to burst into flames than using the stove top. Don't ask.In preparation you'll have carefully sliced off the sealed end of your old toothpaste tubes, soaked and washed them until clear and clean, then left them to dry out. When you can let the mix cool but still remain a paste, you'll know you've got the soap to petrol/gas mix right. Milage will vary. Spoon the gloop into the tubes, trying to keep the cut edge gloop free.It helps to use a bit of brown paper to stop molten plastic from ruining the iron. Don't ask.I've also had good results using a old pair of pilers heated in a gas flame. Heat seal the cut end of the tube, with an iron. Pretty soon you'll have sealed the end of the tube, thus.Probably a good idea to label the tubes to avoid accidents. A little squidge is all you needSpark it up with your ferro rod, and it smells like VICTORYMore SoonYour palSBWPS My favourite Spark Stick/Ferro Rod reviewed HEREGet a feed to here the latest SBW nonsense as soon as it's posted[...]

Choosing A Pack Frame - For Heavy Loads

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 18:23:00 +0000

Pack frames are not a new idea, here's a recreation of the wood and hide pack Oetzi the iceman was carrying when he met his end on that alpine pass.When I decided that my old internal frame Berghaus was too broken up to continue as my main pack I'd intended to buy a pack frame, cut the straps and semi-frame out of the old Berghaus, and lash it on to a frame.  As you've already read the title of this post you'll know I feel there are two main choices, Kifaru and Mystery Ranch.Both have developed a system of adjustments that let you fine-tune the fit of the pack to your skeleton and posture.Good packs last a long time, I'd had the last one for years and years before it finally succumbed to plastic fatigue with its clips and buckles giving up the ghost. Still usable, but without proper adjustment, a terrible carry and even when new its design hailed from the days when 20-50% of the load was expected to be born on your shoulders. These days we know better - 100% of the weight on your hips - seeing as they are the only part of your body designed to bear weight. As packs last so long they are something worth taking your time over choosing, which is fun, and strangely cost effective.The opportunity to buy a G2 Kifaru Longhunter came up first so I got a pack and frame at the same time. One thing led to another; I found some bits and pieces of junk lying around to trade online and you know how it is, I later bought a Mystery Ranch Mountain Ruck. Two different approaches to load management. Both streets ahead of the packs of yore.That consummate outdoorsman, climbing guide, and Alpinist historian BoB (my bro) tells me that back in the day the pack frames were soldered copper tubes (yep from the plumbing store) to which the plumber/pack-maker used to add a filling point at the top and a drain cock at the bottom. So the frame could also be a fuel canister. I saw this recreation in the Nat Geo store. They've missed out the padding so you can see how the forces are distributed across the shoulder blades, the pack must have been pretty wobbly and tiring to carry.With characteristic contempt for the well being of their employees the british army issued this, er, 'super ridgid' and I guess super-heavy frame to radio operators. You can buy one HERE should you feel your back-guy is under employed or you don't have enough scrap metal in your life.Both Kifaru and Mystery Ranch are US based, low to lowish volume manufacturers with devoted followings (Kifaru actually have fan-boy meet-ups). Both boast of sales to elite military units, and have great reputations on the hunting forums. Both companies make a frame which is the foundation of a system, with different packs for different loads. Both companies sell their packs online or you can visit the factory to be measured up. Most important to me - Both companies are still run day-to-day by the guy who founded them; Dana Gleason [Mystery Ranch] and Patrick Smith [Kifaru] - you can ring up and ask Patrick Smith as many daft questions as you like!There are now a couple of other options; unfortunately the new kid on the block stopped being an option after an outdoorsman and blogger whose opinion I value bought one; took it for a walk in the hills, and didn't review it - I wrote to him privately asking what happened and he complained of 'squeaking' a crime so bad that no pack accused of it will grace this blog or see any of my hard earned cash.or if you like it Retro-Tec Vargo Titanium have brought out a frame & pack, but I've not tested one yet.Cumbersome loads, are what Pack-frames are all about, the ads and 'when-I' pics on the hunting forums show a trophy Elk, but far more li[...]

Unboxing Review: Hunter Balmoral Wellies

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 14:10:00 +0000

Hunter 'Balmoral' Wellies.
Zip Sides, aka 'Technical' Wellies. Like all english people I've had a few pairs of welly's over the years, from 'paddingtons' the red wellies I had age six, several pairs of Dunlop's simple unlined black wellies, and as the welly came of age, couple of pairs of excellent neoprene Muck Boots.

The Field Blazer's from Muck Boots I reviewed a while back were the best by a country mile, thick neoprene certainly made them a lot warmer that the Dunlops of the 1970's and 80's which kept you feet dry but stone cold. The soles were designed to shed mud, but lost a little in grippyness in the process.

Neoprene Wellies are next to the perfect tree-stand hunting/ woodland stalking boot; you're not walking that far, and you'll be sitting still for long periods of time.  Shooting in the club competitions there's a lot of hanging around to be done, much of it in inclement conditions. Warm dry feet go a long way towards keeping your spirits up on the windswept plains of Bisley.

The one thing that's always annoyed me about wellies is they're either a hassle to get off, or too lose to be comfortable to walk in. At the Archery Camp The Northern Monkey and I have in the New Forrest the precarious and slippery steps to the shepherd's hut are a less than ideal site for welly removal. When I saw Zip Sides, I knew I'd end up getting a pair.
There are a whole host of different brands, the Ex Mrs SBW and The Littlest Bushwacker both have pairs of Hunter wellies and they seemed a lot better made than the wellies of yesteryear.

So far I've only unboxed them. They are certainly more sculpted to your feet than the non-zipped /non-technical wellies I've had before. The tread is a lot deeper than the Field Blazers.

Lennox, The Northern Monkey's Labrador, and I are committed to a mass reduction program, and while TNM's mum is trying to feed us both up, we're going to be walking it off morning and evening for the next few months.

In truth I got the Hunter's on Amazon because they were half the price of the brand I'd been hoping to get, the bargain basement brand I'd been planning to get, are perpetually out of stock in my size, and I had a amazon voucher. These are without doubt the most middle class thing I own, and walking a Black Lab in them pushes me over the edge. I'll let you know how I get on.
More Soon
Your Pal


Review: Helikon Backblast Shooting Mat & Bisley: 600 Yards On Century.

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 22:50:00 +0000

With the weather scheduled to be warming up the [even] older boys at the club were levering themselves out of their armchairs and waddling down to Bisley to put a few down range. It's that time of year, my offspring are hitting their school books. So I found myself at something of a loose end, and as Bisley is the last place I was described as 'young and keen' I thought I'd join them. Club shooting is both fantastic value, you're splitting the range fees amongst a few of you and if not many turn up the club is subsidising the day, and best of all some of the chaps have been teaching other members longer than I've been alive, so the standard of tuition is high. Did I mention the lunch? The club matriarch lays on a really great lunch.  Churlish not to attend.Century 600 yards. Century is the first range where I shot out to 600 yards, but its been a while so I was keen to get back into it. Talking over my plans I mentioned that we were going to be lying-on-the-floor shooting, and my pals at Helikon stuck their latest shooting mat, the BackBlast, in the post for me to test. The world and his brother make a shooting mat. So the guys at Helikon have their work cut out trying to design something that stands out. I think its fair to say things started tolerably.  With the first sighter landing on the edge of the 14.4 inch V Bull. Once the beginners luck was safely out of the way I started reciting the usual litany of excuses: Wind, Variable Wind, Non-Existent Cheek-Weld, Inconstant Ammo, Dehydration, Sore Neck, Existential Angst, Not my Lucky Hat, the Gods Displeased, EtcClub Rifle: Remington 700 Police in 5.56 NatoThe package that had landed on the doormat was smaller and lighter than I expected, all the club mats are bulky affairs. The Helikon boys include a  pouch for ten rounds, and a windowed pouch, both of which velcro on to the mat. The mat's got grippy sections for your knees and elbows and a moveable velcro backed grippy bit for the hand that supports the rifle's butt. There are pockets for your tent pegs; so you can keep the matt flat. Obviously I could have used any old tent pegs from the gear pile, but I've ordered some poncey titanium ones to keep in with the lightweight theme.Automation hasn't made it to Century range yet and behind and below the butts there's a manual raising and lowering mechanism for the targets.  We took turns providing the muscle power to lift the targets into place and mark the scores.   There are two parts to scoring. A spotting disc, which is actually square, which is pinned to the face of the target marking the bullet hole and the scoring panel that runs along the bottom edge of the board. Your best potential score is five points for a Bull, but to serve as a tie-breacker the Bull has an inner 'VBull' ring which scores separately. So a ten-shot competition has a highest possible score of 50.10. Ten 5's and 10 VBullsThe scoring panel is at the bottom of the target board. There are four holes which the markers are pushed into. They are black on one side and orange on the other.Orange in the hole on the far left would be a score of - One PointBlack on the far left a score of Two PointsBlack left a 'magpie' - Three PointsBlack right - Four PointsBlack far right - Five PointsOrange on the far right a VBull.On the upside: scoring is 'inward', touch the line to get the higher score.On the downside: you'd better hope the person doing your scoring is taller than five feet, if they're not you could end up having one of your shots marked as a miss. Handy if you need just one more excuse. more soonYour pal SBWGet a feed to here the latest SBW nonsense as soon as it's posted[...]

Ten Years Of This Blog!

Mon, 22 May 2017 08:46:00 +0000

Mental. I just go an alert to let me know that it's ten years yesterday that I sat on the sofa, at the now Ex-Mrs SBW's house, and mused that there was a dichotomy between my life in the suburbs and my thirst for a life of adventure and wild food. The Suburban Bushwacker was born.From that first post:To awake from my comfortable homeostasis, rediscover my physical self and embark on the adventure of reconnecting with the natural world. Fat and lazy as I am, I get the feeling it’s going to be a rude awakening! I live in one of the most highly urbanised societies on earth, and it shows. Mainly around the middle!Ambition:Hunt, and kill a massive Elk with a bow. To skin it, butcher it, put it’s meat on the table and in the freezer, hang its skull and antlers on the wall, spread its hide across our bed and love-wrestle Mrs Bushwacker on top of it in its honour.Between here and there:Lose quite a lot of weight, gain quite a lot of muscle, develop endurance, learn archery, learn bushcraft and stalking skills, choose then buy (or trade for) all the kit needed to trek out into the wilderness, kill and bring back the body of my noble prey.Why Hunting?Ever since I started eating meat again, I was vegetarian for a few years in my teens and early twenties, I have felt a growing need to have an honest (and some would say blood thirsty) relationship with my dinner. I’ve noticed a lot of hunters refer to killing an animal as ‘harvesting’, just as there is no polite word for a euphemism, on this blog killing is called killing. I’ve met too many people who can/will only eat something if its origin is obscured. Fish, but only if it does not have a head, prawns without their shells, chicken but only when it comes from a plastic tray, and then only the white meat. These are people are afraid of their dinner. Our food deserves our respect. On the days when our skill and tenacity overcomes the animals guile and awareness, we earn the right to eat the flesh of another being. If you cant (or won’t) kill it, gut it, cut it, and cook it what gives you the right to eat it? I believe in celebrating and honouring the life that is taken so we may live. A couple of million readers later I'm still in touch with a few of you, and still reading what you're writing. I've shot a few deer, and eaten a few more, I've seen the highs and lows of accuracy with a variety of rifles, fallen in love with some amazing handmade outdoor equipment. Some of which I've been lucky enough to own.If real life didn't keep getting in the way, I reckon I would have bow hunted that Elk by now, but ho-hum perhaps its the journey that's been important rather than the freezer full of Elk.Still to come from the laptop of SBW:I'm going to continue with the gear reviews, and possibly be designing a few bits too.Target shooting will continue apace. I've not posted nearly enough on this blog about my .22LR and 7.62X51 adventures. Might even get some .50 cal mini-cannon in!I'll be going back to Scotland: more Roe, more Reds, Goats, Boar, Mountain Hare and that so far so elusive Sea TroutThere's still the possibility of some bowhunting for Rabbits in SpainFinland for Beaver and panning for goldThe Kiwi grand slamAnd my long, long, overdue return to the US of A.Thanks for readingmore tales to tell very soonYour palSBWGet a feed to here the latest SBW nonsense as soon as it's posted[...]

Review: Helikon Patriot

Fri, 12 May 2017 12:38:00 +0000

Who is the apex predator who will ruin your day, your week, and even your year?Who has no respect for tradition, and will rob future generations of their tweedy sartorial inheritance? Tineola bisselliella my nemesis, the common clothes moth. If you like your bushcraft and or traditional Scottish Deer Stalking, you probably like the comfort, warmth, and indeed elegance of wool, and more specifically Tweeds. Not cheap, but with potentially generations of wear in every garment, an investment. Or so I thought. I've lost count of the number of jackets and suits that have been ravaged by the evil that is the clothes moth. So I started all over again with synthetics, and in fairness never looked back. You can buy fleece clothes at every price point from free chuck-ables branded by tool companies to NomadUK. I've got a NomadUK set of breeks and smock for hill stalking and they are fantastic, they were also a fantastic price, even though I got mine at a significant discount on Ebay.I reviewed their gear a while back and I've now put it to even harder tests and I still love it. A few of you wrote in with variations on 'How Much!?'Then for not a lot less dosh there's the 'tacti-cool' guys, there are a few companies making 'issue replacement' gear in the tactical/military contractor style; from complete junk, to very well made. Triple Aught Design [TAD Gear] probably being the best. They have their retail outlet in San Francisco so you can imagine the prices. Plus shipping, plus import tax, plus handling charge etc. Really well thought out and made though.A few weeks back I met up with a friend who has mentored me in Lightweight Sporting Rifle. He has; a very good job, no kids, and as you might expect, a wonderful collection of toys that go 'Pew-Pew'.  The was wearing one of the most substantial, and best cut fleece jackets I've ever seen. As he'd just come back from the US of A I assumed it would be some super niche brand to rival TAD Gear. Not a bit of it. Helikon-Tex of Poland. When I found out you could have one list price for £60 I was intrigued. A few emails later the lovely people at Helikon were kind enough to send me a fleece for testing. I've got a few base layers that work well enough, so I chose a heavy fleece hooded jacket they call the Patriot.Straight out of the bag I like the Patriot. 390g/m2 is a fairly substantial weight of fleece giving a comforting jacket-ness to it. The design detail is right up there with the three times the price American brands and quite a bit better than my much-loved NomadUK hill smock. The zips are full spec YKK’s and the pulls don't look like they’ll fail even in heavy use. The pull-cords that snug-up the bottom of the jacket are better than the usual junk and have a little bead to stop the quick-locks from getting lost. Me likee.The chest pockets have inner pockets made of a 'silky' material to hold a pen, your phone, and glasses. They also have clips to keep things that mustn't be lost, like your cast ear defenders secured. The jacket is what's sometimes called 'media enabled' which in the real world means there are little grommets for headphone cables to pass through in the pockets. I had a jacket like this before and I did actually use them, another nice touch. Helikon have gone with a semi-rigid velcro closure for the cuffs which are actually nicer to use than having a cloth tab, and very convent during the gralloch or when costal foraging where you want to keep the muck off your cuffs. The way the jacket is cut; no hand pockets and pit-zips that you can actually do-up & un-do while still wearing the jacket, mean its going to be my first choice to wear with a pack. There's a map sized pocket on the back, for when you n[...]

More Bisley: 5.56mm at 100m

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 09:43:00 +0000

Most of the time my target shooting looks like this, 22LR at an indoor 25m range with varying degrees of success, some weeks I even make it down there twice, some weeks not so much. Once the weather warms up my club rents out target at Bisley - the national shooting ground and we gather to shoot a little further. This year's outing started at 100m with most people shooting 5.56mm my results were, er um, undistinguished and so shall remain unmentioned.One nice thing about Bisley is you'll often get to see iconic rifles in action, here's aSteyr SSG 69, which its owner tells me he's shot it for the last 20 years. These rifles are arguably the precursor to the 'sniper rifles' of today, SSG = sharp shooter gun, although one wouldn't be my first choice for hill stalking, they are a smashing target rifle and chambered in .308 not too spendy to feed either.As its still early in the year shooters are getting back into it after the inclement weather, some of the crew are preparing for the Target Rifle season, and the Civilian Service Rifle crowd are working out the reliability issues that seem to plague the AR15 owner.There are dozens of people who will be described to you as "Bisley Types" usually by people who would fit the description themselves, and 'engineering buff' would defiantly be one of them. A few lanes away we met a gent who had brought this spectacular scope with him. He managed to underplay his own expertise by telling a series of amusing anecdotes about his brother's engineering obsession. 'Buy a lens for three grand and then polish it'. This scope was a cast-off, his brother makes them as binoculars for bird watching at ranges of a couple of miles or more!More tales to come, Your pal SBWGet a feed to here the latest SBW nonsense as soon as it's posted[...]

Book Review: A Fly Rod Of Your Own

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 09:10:00 +0000

John Gierach still has it. The original trout bum is back for his 21st book, and for me his laconic storytelling style never gets old. Whereas he was once young and keen he's now older and wider. Still bouncing along over dirt tracks and bumping down in small planes to reach the trout others only see in magazines he's made a life for himself living wild and free, fishing wild places.

In a world where all outdoor activities now seem to need to be "extreme" he manages to hang on to the idea of The Gentle Art, he fishes for the sake of fishing, sure he'd like to bank the big one, but I can't help get the feeling he'd be happier if he saw a newbie catch it. He's owned all the best gear a fly shop can offer, and yet at the same time he can't help but poke fun at the way 'simplicity' always seems to come with such an eye watering price tag.

Best of all he has the good graces to make himself sound delighted with life, without being smug. One of the great outdoor voices.

Much more to come
Your pal


Book Review: Tracking the Major

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 19:31:00 +0000

The blogger known as the Bambi Basher and myself have a sort of yule-ish end-of-year catch-up tradition. Last year we stalked the Highlands. This year our December catch up was to return to its regular venue. Holts host their bi-annual london auctions - it's the nearest thing to an American gun show central london has to offer. You can 'view' by which I mean 'pick up and handle', firearms from £500,000 to £50. Did I mention it’s catered? You can see the appeal. This year BB couldn't make it, and worried that the excess provisions laid on would go to waste I stepped up to the plate[s], loosened my belt a notch or two, and headed for Hammersmith. There were some very nice things on offer: at least three Mannlichers, one with the famous rotary magazine, all with the 'double set trigger' mechanism, that can both aid accuracy and render the consumption of roughage unnecessary. For me the star of the show was a rather scruffy and well used Rigby take-down [obvs chambered in .275]. Back in the day when a sport could pop down to the Army & Navy department store and equip himself for everything from a weekend in the country to a multi-year expedition to untraveled lands, Army & Navy’s gun department kept a stock of off the shelf Rigbys, this one delivered to the store in 1901.As you can imagine it’s been about a bit. The stock has some scratches, while in two pieces it's been dropped onto something hard denting one mating plate where the two parts meet, it had been re-barreled in the 90's and had a chamber sleeve added sometime after. One of the more lived-in Rigbys.Like a wand in your hands, the stock's semi-pistol grip worthy of the name, super petite, and svelte at 7 lbs 2oz. Now 115 years old the bolt's travel has worn as smooth as a smooth thing's smooth bits. Not, perhaps one for a collectors safe, but a real traveling sportsman's rifle that would earn you a hit-tip from any aficionado, and derision from anyone with an ounce of fiscal probity.The Victorian-Edwardian transition, the second surge of industrial revolution, must have been a great time for the rifleman. When adventurous english gents would embark on expeditions to far flung corners of the world with a realistic expectation of adding to the sum of human knowledge. For the gentleman explorer it was considered, if not an act of devotion, certainly one's patriotic duty to record the whole escapade. As Queen Victoria passed and Prince Edward sat in the big chair. A new age of recording the moment had begun. The birth of more portable photography, cinematography, the telegraph, audio recording for broadcast, and an age of prolific taxidermy. Newsworthy moments were transmitted by Reuters and Pathe back to the public; samples and specimens were preserved and prepared for display in cabinets of curiosities and diorama, in sizes from desktop to needing to build an extension on to your house. By the 1970s and 80s the baby had been chucked out with the bathwater. Explorers were still just about ok, fur coats and taxidermy were out, and big game hunters, unthinkable! The once heroic figure of the sunburned Englishman in a pith helmet wasn't a passionate naturalist and ethnographer, he'd become a figure of fun to be mocked and derided. The life stories of these intrepid eccentrics were only remembered at places like Bisley, the reading rooms of moth-eaten gentleman's clubs, and the Bambi Basher’s bookshelves. Taking a break from leaving greasy paw-marks over the merchandise I happened to be at the right end of the room (funnily enough where the free champagne was being served) to hear someone from Holts announce that Andrew Joynes was l[...]

Fullbore At Bisley

Sat, 08 Oct 2016 08:10:00 +0000

I'm posting some new stories and some retellings of past adventures on Steemit

This morning its a piece about my new-found enthusiasm for target shooting, at 1000 yards.
Yep over half a mile with open sights. Story is HERE

Keep well and thanks for reading
Your pal


SBW Now On Steemit

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:13:00 +0000

I've been having a look at a new blogging platform. There's some interesting stuff over at but there was no Hunting stuff so I've done a major rewrite of the last Scottish adventure.

I'll be adding to this post as stuff goes live later today in the mean time heres my info post

Worth a look, and my story is quite good too ;-)


I Heart Cabins

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 08:48:00 +0000

If the above makes perfect sense to you, I can warmly recommend
Where I found love. Real enduring love.

(image) 200 year old Bushwhacker on the outside

Austere minimalism on the inside. 

 It's in Switzerland, so I'd shoot 10.3x60, you know, just because I could. 

Keep well 
More soon
Your pal

PS for scale The Bambi Basher and I once took a look at a rifle chambered in 10.3x60, I could poke the end of my pinky down the barrel!!


Old England,Bisley And The Queen's Prize

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 18:45:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="415" src="" width="660">This BBC film from the 80's has everything, a blast of history, some very old posh people, and Brian Glover! Yeah that Brian Glover, the teacher from Kes!

Many times I've been told that Bisley is in a time-warp, and this film backs that up. The place still looks exactly the same. Wandering around you'll see a miniature world of, what 150 years ago were temporary buildings. These wooden club houses all have their legends and traditions. What the film doesn't explore is the full range of Shooting Types.
The film's visit that Bisley institution G.E. Fulton & Son, Bisley Camp shows a shop that is exactly the same as the one I visited a few weeks ago. Piles of stuff everywhere, and a floor that was secondhand on the first day of trading. A man in tweed [paired with red trousers] came it for some 22LR. The RP accents aren't 'quite' as ubiquitous these days and the ammunition costs more.

Worth a watch

Your pal



A Shooter's Education: Civilian Service Rifle?

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 17:01:00 +0000

I’ve been expanding the range of my shooting lately [ber-boom], trying my hand at a few new disciplines, I’ve shot some short range Gallery Rifle where pistol calibers and .22LR are shot in what used to be pistol competitions before they were banned [for the most part – we’ll come to that later]. I’ve tried shooting Fullbore out to 1000 yards, and I’m hoping to shoot some Civilian Service Rifle. When I first heard of the Service Rifle competitions, I’m not sure why but, I thought red tunic’s and pith helmets would the dress code. Or at least wearing those itchy green army jackets and the soup-bowl helmets. I imagined reenacting the shooting drills of WW1 with SMLE’s in chambered in the venerable .303British. Events like the legendary ‘mad minute’ where even with a ten round magazine you’d have to reload 3 times to beat Sergeant Major Jesse Wallingford's record of 36 shots on target at 300 yards. It turns out what’s become the fastest growing Rifle sport in the UK is now Civilian Service Rifle a service rifle competition ‘civilianised’ i.e. without the semi automatic rifles used in today’s service rifle, which isn’t open to the public. Shots are taken prone, sitting, kneeling and standing at ranges from 25 to 500 yards. Targets are engaged against the clock, and with a few ‘jog downs’ to get your heart rate up between shots.You can use a bolt action or straight pull rifle, with most people shooting straight pull AR15’s in 5.66 NATO topped either with iron sights or in two optic classes; service which it limited to 4.5X magnification for Service Optic, unlimited magnification for Practical Optic. There’s also a Historic class for SMLE’s etc. If you want to wear a pith helmet you have to bring your own.As usual with anything to do with shooting in the UK there is a hilarious controversy, with a well-known shooting writer having a war of words with a well-known competitor. They both feel the other is bringing shooting sports into disrepute. I’m paraphrasing a bit here  – The chap who likes to shoot standing up in a fedora and tweeds called the fella who shoots lying in a muddy field in army surplice clothes ‘selfish and weird’ telling him that the public were put off by his ‘playing soldiers. This was rebutted ‘your great white hunter act is loathed by the public.’  I’ve no idea whether either of them is selfish and/or weird in real life. However practical army surplice clothes are in a field, wear ‘em and you’ll be accused of being a militia wannabe [trust me on this one]. Just as if you insist on rocking a fedora, checked shirt, and tie you’ll look like you’re an Edwardian fieldsports re-enactor. The public find it hard to see behind the caricatures guys. At any UK shooting event I’ve ever been to if you mixed and matched a badge strewn fedora with some tweed breeks and a couple of camo layers from more than one nation, you’d just be yet another harmless shooting eccentric. Trigger pull is from 4.5lbs – the sticker shows this rifle was tested at the start of a competition. Bradley Arms who built this rifle have been competing in CSR and building rifles for other competitors have acquired a great reputation for the reliability of their guns and the modernity of their customer service. I have it on good authority that, in an innovation unknown to the English gun trade, if you leave a message they will actually return your call. Where the sport wins out in attracting new entrants is you can s[...]

I Want One - A Not So Occasional Series Pt22 Titanuim Rifle

Sat, 28 May 2016 13:08:00 +0000

While noodling about on 'tinerweb this morning I discovered that Lawrence Precision, who are famous for their titanium moderators also make this  2.3 Kg mountain rifle. From Titanium. Drool.In order to create a unique Rifle, we have started from the ground up. Using our own unique super light receiver, built from High Strength Aerospace Grade Titanium, our super strong lightweight Carbon fibre stock, Match grade barrel and trigger, we have created an ultra light and accurate rifle.Proven reliability and performance, weighing a mere 2.3 KG* When incorporated with our Titanium Sound Moderators and Scope Mounts, this produces a unique ultra light winning combination.The tantalising combination of exquisite machining, Titanium, and Carbon Fibre really does it for me. This is a 100% custom rifle, not an assembly of parts, all the work of one man. Let us not discuss tawdry things such as the price and four month build time. Mr Lawrence only makes Short Actions, and suggests; .243 Win [aka 6mm08]6.5 Creedmoor 7mm08 I've also seen a .308, for me its the magic of the 6-7mm range. With such a light rifle I'm veering towards the .243 BUT at 100gr it's at the top of its bullet weight range, whereas the other two are at the bottom of their's. Obviously there are lots of other factors to be considered. What would you choose and why?More soonYour palSBW Get a feed to here the latest SBW nonsense as soon as it's posted[...]

Unboxing Review: Markhor Elk Mountain 45l Pack

Tue, 03 May 2016 13:01:00 +0000

Would you like to review a pack that's lightweight, durable, and affordable?Would I ever. Does, or could such a thing exist?Most people have one pack, for people like BoB, Mr Grendel and myself this shows a cavalier attitude to foot travel and a lack of commitment to adventure. I asked BoB (brother of bushwacker) how many packs he and Mrs BoB have, his response 'Hard to say'.Having spent the night in Mr Grendel's gear room I mentioned 'I saw you've got a few packs' and heard the words I've so often used myself to head off an argument  with the kind of person who has 4-5 thousand pairs of shoes but thinks everyone else can get by on a half a drawer full of clothes and camping equipment. Combined.  'They're all for different things".Hunter to Hunter have launched the  range of Markhor Hunting packs. Where most packs are designed on the Alpinist model - lots of room for rope, a smaller space for clothes and attachment points for ice axe and or snowshoes. The hunting pack would do well to carry a rifle or a bow, needs to be waterproof and needs to carry loads of an awkward shape. It's quite a big ask. The Elk Mountainpack in the 45l class seemed to fit my current needs so I accepted their kind offer of a pack for review.I've got er, one or two expedition sized packs; the 45l class will just about swallow an double duvet This dart and compression strap are cut to push the content down towards your hips.Clips on both shoulder straps for the tube from your water bladder.A vertical compression strap means the lid's straps aren't doing all the work, so its easier to get things in and out of the lid's pockets when the pack is full.Very nice, neat, and strong Bar Tacking at all the load bearing points.The mesh panel is an extra, which adds to compression and if the pack is empty turns it into a carry frame for a chainsaw or trophy.The extra straps give a lot more 'squish' which stabilises the loadComes with a rain coverComes with a condom / hood thingy.Excellent value for money, all the bits you'd pay extra for are included.I would have made the lid detachable, and the compression straps longer.Weather's getting a little warmer, lets get outsideMore soonSBWGet a feed to here the latest SBW nonsense as soon as it's posted[...]

Highland Deer Stalking Pt 4: The Gear List

Mon, 15 Feb 2016 17:24:00 +0000

This wouldn't be the SBW blog without a round up of the kit used. Some of the kit used was tried and tested on other adventures, some things I've seen that would answer problems we either had or could have had. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think I've left out. Here's my thoughts. Where you hunt may differ.All three of us dressed as though our lives depended on it; if you did have the misfortune to have any one of a number of potential misfortunes befall you, it's a long wait for the air ambulance on a freezing hillside. In the dark. Did I mention it'll be snowing? The Ghillie on the other hand knew he'd never be far from the sweat lodge of his Landrover and apart from the last day where we stalked the hilltops, didn't even bother with a jacket.The ground is rough and tussocked, any distance will be 'only 300 meters' and its always 'doon-huil', you will stumble, the soft clinging ice-cold mud is punctuated with jagged sharpe stones. In some ways its a bit like hill-walking, although there are a couple of crucial differences beyond the obvious'Rifle' bit, there will be crawling about, lots of crawling about. The terrain is rougher so the level of protection clothes need provide against abrasion becomes more important and your boots are all that protect you from a twisted ankle.On the drive up The Bambi Basher had gone to great lengths to prepare Mr Grendel and myself for what was ahead.BB: ‘The ground is pretty steep, the Ghillie is the proverbial racing snake, but he makes sure everyone gets some good stalks. There'll be times when your struggling to keep up and he needs to get into position quickly. There's no shame in letting the ghillie carry your rifle across the really rough ground, he prefers it’What he should have said is“ the ghillie hates this rifle and everything attached to it. While you wheeze towards the firing position he’ll snatch it from your hands, wrench angrily at your bipod and leave your rifle set up on the edge of a puddle of melted snow. You will then have to lie in the puddle to peer through the fogged scope desperately trying to find the deer he claims to be able to see. All the while he will be demanding to know the whereabouts of a single piece of tissue he gave you an hour ago while you were in the Landrover which if you can find it will fail to de-fog the scope."Lundhag's  Ranger bootsYour boots should come at least half way up your shin, you don't have the ankles the Ghillie has. Personally I'm all about the 'Hags' no lining means they dry out overnight and the big toe-box seems to keep my tootsies feeling warmer. I wear two pairs of socks so the wool can act as a bearing surface soothing out any rub patches. Stupidly on the first day I wore little socks under my big socks and the Compeed saved the trip. Two pairs of big socks minimum bid. While Lundhags  don't call their boots waterproof I've always found them to be so, unlike so many boots advertised as being so.The Bambi Basher wore the high Le Chameau Mouflon's and disdains the second pair of socks. I know quite a few Le Chameau devotees, but I've not found a pair that fitted me like the Hags. Not something I'd recommend buying online.Mr Grendel chose a much lighter weight and lower walking boot which he wore with 'Sealskins' socks. The ghillie wore wellies, Anti-grav wellies.Gaiter's from the Mac Gaiter Co.I’ve had a few pairs of gaiters over the years from the excellent but noisy Yeti’s[...]

Highland Deer Stalking Part 3

Sun, 31 Jan 2016 11:21:00 +0000

The week races by, we are either on the hill, or drying out in the cottage. Where we feast on venison from home and cakes from the supermarket.  There is no internet so evenings are filled with military history programs on obscure TV channels. Even the comedy was military history. I quite like military history programs but I'd not considered how much better they'd become in the presence of real fans.  I once watched a whole 3+ hours of a marathon on TV with a committed sports buff, previously I'd not been able to work out why marathons were even televised, but there I was enthralled. I've gotta tell you, you've never watched Dad's Army until you've watched it with two guys who are playing the 'more obscure than thou' game, each topping the other with ever more arcane facts about the uniforms and weaponry used in the show.The last couple of days we all spend together further up the glen, where we are stalking in twenty minute sessions  from the mobile bothy of the Landrover. Drive a bit stalk a bit. Now we're on the really exposed hillside, the snow has mostly melted but the wind is fierce. Even the ghillie is wearing a smock.As the Landy rattles up the glen crunching the pebble and ice road beneath its fatter taller tyres I'm in the front, to my left sitting motionless on the steep wall of the hill is a Hind.SBW: "Look theres a deer there!"The Ghillie: Oh aye. Is that rightThe ghillie seems almost pleased that we're going to knock in an easy one early in the day.Mr Grendel: Don't say that we've got to drive back down south with him [adopts whiney tone] Did you see that? The Ghillie said I was the best when I spotted that deer"The hind is sitting on the hillside staring at us, I poke the rifle out of the window and chamber a round.The Ghillie: "Wind the feckin’ window up then you’ll have a rest."still the deer doesn't move, 'Feckin'' window wound, I give her a round, still she sits and stares at us.I give her another.The Ghillie: Why’d do that? She's deed.The Hind in question is the easiest retrieve we done all week, right up until I'm standing on top of her I can't work out why she didn't get up and bound off into the gloaming. At first sight I assume her injury is a broken leg from a fall, the bone has been severed by a round. From the black edges of the wound it looks like she's been hobbling about on it for a few days, the intact part of the leg is swelling but not yet gangrenous.  While the Ghillie gralloch's it suddenly occurs to me, it's almost exactly nine years and eleven months to the day that I had shot that first deer, which had also had its leg shot off.During one of our short stalks from the Landy, which usually involve the Ghillie getting into position, with me trying to join him in time to take a shot only to watch the deer bound away. We find ourselves hiding behind a rather improbable wall. Its not three feet high and runs all the way up and over a windswept hill, and down the other side for no discernible reason. I ask the ghillie why anyone would build a wall there?The Ghillie: "Sheep like ‘em", he looks into the middle distance for a while and adds, "wall bulldin’ and fecking, there’s not a lot else to do"The Bambi Basher has brought a Ruger No.1 with him, chambered in 25-06. The quarter aught six is a cracking round, popular with highland professionals and Fox shooters down south for it's flat trajectory and reputation a[...]