Saturday, 29 June 2013

Primitive Hunting weapons and Practice

Managed to get a few more things finished up recently, and set out to the woods for a practice session.

So far I have made:-

Atlatl using just a greenwood branch with a side branch for the hook to connect with the two darts made. I used the flint points and fletched using feathers from crow and pigeon. Tied with artificial sinew.
Bushbow An Ash self bow, with two homemade arrows. Hazel shafts, Glass knapped points with notches, pigeon flechings. I brought along some modern bought wooden arrows for comparison and to get some extra practice in.
Sling made using one piece of sisal cordage, and ammo is small egg sized roundish pebbles gathered from watercourses and by the local tracks.
Target A cardboard box full of clothes :)

Making these things is fun, but without trying them out I feel its a little pointless, as I wont be able to see if I'm doing it right. I'm doing this from books and the internet, both of which have their limitations, in construction detail and methods of use I am finding.

The clear glass is a scraper for the arrow shafts.

I love these beer bottle glass points.

Flethings. Two arrows, and two darts.

Pointy ends fixed with pine pitch and artificial sinew (till I get some leg tendons)

Cordage sling. 
Thought this would be a simple and useful project using nettles when relying on natural resources.


So it was off to the woods, and very jungle like they are getting this summer. The bracken was above my head in some places and the midges were out in force, seeking out the stinky primitive hunter of cardboard :)
I brought the Air Rifle along to try and set the sights and play with some new domed pellets.

The range...

set at 15M due to the novice operator

Some missed of course, but I like this picture. Both modern and primitive arrows busting straight through half rotten wrist thick wood after travelling 15 metres, the modern one carrying on through a second seasoned small diameter section. I'm pleased with the power of my Bow. I pulled it with a luggage weighing device and it came out at 32lb.

A better grouping, fingers and wrist sore though. Need to get the leather working gear out I reckon. 

Atlatl time, and a few came close, but I need to adjust the spine on the darts as they arn't flexible enough and are happier down a much longer range. Spine weight effects both power and accuracy, and I need both for short ranges. 

Considering the amount of chucks on the arrows and darts the points and fletchings held up well, apart from the one un-notched point, which after being buried in the ground and bouncing off branches and boxes, finally came loose.

I tried the sling out, and was just getting the hang of it as I ran out of rocks. I quite like the simple over the head one throw action for novice accuracy and is a realistic one as swinging it round loads, could scare off prey. I'm looking forward to playing with this more though as its quite good fun, but I'm rigging a blanket next time to catch the hard found perfect pebbles.

All in all good fun, lessons learnt,  lots more practice needed, and a few tweaks to the kit.
Looking forward to improving, and putting into practice more things I've read about and seen. 

If you are reading this and have experiences using this type of kit, feel free to comment.

Cheers, Paul.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Primitive arrow making

This is another post in my ongoing theme of minimal kit crafts for extended trips to the woods. I'm hoping to put some of these skills into practice during the Hunter Gather week at Wilderness Survival Skills in September this year.

Firstly, I hadn't gotten around to posting up the full making of the bush/survival bow that I made a while ago during a day trip to a nice mixed deciduous wood. I bought some wooden shafted arrows to get me going and it really packs a punch. It seems good and strong, with just the right amount of flex, so I'll post up about it next time, followed by another of primitive hunting weapons practice.

EDIT - here is the post on the Bush Bow -

The Arrow was a project that's been on and off for a while. Firstly a couple of years ago, I started to knap arrow heads out of glass bottle bottoms and a couple of flint ones. There ok, but I've recently been given some nicer pieces of flint to play with and improve on. The Hazel for the shafts came from the coppice next to where I made the bow, which was gathered at the time and has been seasoning since.

The feathers for the fletchings, were from wood pigeon tail feathers that I shot a few months ago. Hopefully they will be ok, and to fix I used some artificial sinew that was kindly gifted to me at the food fair.

Having all these bits hanging around, it was time to get going

Hazel debarked, scraped and smoothed down. Notch cut ready for the head fitting. 
I used Pine pitch (pine resin, ground charcoal and beeswax) 

First fixing with a little pitch followed by a lashing of Elm bark.

Rest of the pitch goes on

Pulling off the thin side of the feathers

Three feathers lashed in place with the sinew, and trimmed.

Ready to rock!
Next time I'll make some better flint arrow heads, and make a couple more complete arrows. I really enjoyed this project, and the skills are transferable to making a spear for the Atlatl which I also plan to do soon. Looking forward to practice day in the woods : )

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Tracking and Nature Awareness Course at Frontier Bushcraft.

I've just returned from a wonderful week learning more about tracking from Paul Kirtley and the guys at Frontier Bushcraft. It was a very realistic course, breaking down all the mystery surrounding the subject, and giving lots of practical time to go tracking and the opportunity to absorb the information given.

I wont go into too much detail as I wouldn't want to spoil the experience for anyone thinking of attending in the future, but I'll post a few of the pictures I took though the week. It was a very busy first few days and I simply left the camera back at base and cracked on with all the exercices, but I grabbed a few.

After first setting up my camp we started learning more about our senses, and stalking techniques using lots of fun exercises, which helped us to tune into the area, before looking for spore.

My little home from home for a week. No roughing it here, and lots of handy firewood.

When in a rush, the wildstove worked a treat, twigs were a plenty and saved on the meths.

Staffordshire Oatcakes filled with bacon and cheese, washed down with a freshly brewed coffee. 
The bushcrafters breakfast of champions! (several days running)

The site was a stunning very old Sweet Chestnut Coppice woodland full of bluebells and fresh new leaves. The weather was very nice too, which made life a little easier. A spot of Birch here and there provided excellent tinder and kindling.

The course was not just about tracking. Plenty of long opportunities to watch wildlife were provided with some very special moments, and very many midge bites. Badgers, Fallow Deer, Woodpeckers, Skylarks all came out for the Binoculars to pick up, some very close.

Back on the trail with some pace tracking.

Can you see the boot print?

After stove comes fire, and making things more comfortable.

We spent some time collecting other signs of wildlife and death! 

Badger tracks

Signs of bushcrafters at work

Search and rescue party

Methodical work on the crossroads

Just off home for tea and medals, when we saw something on the track ahead...

its a poor shot on the camera, but this fallow deer looked great in the Binos.

Wizarding tracking wand of power, with little of the local sweet Chestnut bark as cordage.

If you have had your fill of fires, sharp shiny things and camping then I urge you to take opportunities to observe the natural world around you by implementing some basic tracking skills, or simply going to a place where you can sit quietly and watch known wildlife areas. Combined with a good walk, some foraging and some navigation work, it is a great way to relax, keep active and alert.