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The Hunters Chronicles - Thursday 29th November 2012


It is evident that this year we have entered testing and trying times. For the first time, due to heavy cloud cover and protracted periods of rain, the battery and solar array have failed, plunging us into the dark both technologically and literally. The effect has been most uplifting. No longer has ones attention been frequently distracted by the 'mobile matrix'. Without emails to check, news to read and opinions to be shared you have the stimulus provided solely by that which is around you. It may frustrate those whom wish to contact you. May concern loved ones who, rather than physically visit and converse with you, have come to rely on a text message. The peace and focus gained was refreshing!
Lighting reverted back to paraffin lanterns, as peripheral gadgets such as mobiles and computers are hardly essential to survival, they were left in their state of suspended animation. Such was the delay in the return of our power source, that even the batteries in my little trusted headtorch started to sputter and wane as they gasped for energy.

Now, my time spent hunting has been reduced by the increased consumption of wood and the need for fuel for heating. Whilst my forays may have decreased in regularity, the hunter is always scanning, always seeking to spy a 'source'. More concerning than any of the above, is the distinct and notable lack. The land is still. Quiet. Seemingly devoid, at least by day, of life. No rabbits spotted at dawn nor dusk. The pheasant numbers greatly diminished, though the barrages and salvoes from the guns still echo across the valley from time to time. The leaves remain undisturbed as no squirrels hop and bound and forage amongst them. Songbirds flit from branch to tree. Crows often and noisily frequent their flight paths overhead. Only now and again will the hurried flap and flutter of the distinctive woodpigeon be detected speeding from east to west then back again according to the position of the absent Sun.
The wisdom of our ancestors in their choice to trap and rear livestock now bears new gravitas and meaning. One of our five chickens will die this week. Two more at Christmas as hopes of a pheasant gracing the table have all but evaporated.
I revel in the challenge. I delight in the supposed, though thankfully unreal, demands and pressure this places upon me. Unlike our forefathers, I have a mighty and vast commercial infrastructure to fall back upon should the proverbial poop hit the fan. It may have its failings in the eyes of many for numerous and varying reasons, but as is true of society in general, like it or lump it, whilst it is perceived to fulfill a need and purpose and it works, it works. When it doesn't we'll adapt. Or die. I sincerely hope that my brothers and the sisters of the woods have triumphed over the recent adverse conditions, for if they have succumbed, my reliance on vegetables others have grown and shipped will increase. If not for my captive creatures, it'd be little more than sprouts this Christmas!

The Hunters Chronicles - Friday 23rd November 2012

Much time has passed since I last ventured out to the fields with the air rifle, though I have not been left wanting for meat and game. Most fortuitously, my quarry has come to me!
I have not executed all trespassers. Only when the 'hunger' has stricken, have at least three wayward Pheasants who survived the beaters and the lines of guns, fallen to the TX200.

The wonderful Pheasant with its superb camouflaged plumage.
Each feather is collected and stored. Can a pattern be created mimicking that which concealed its former owner so effectively?
Just one pellet is required.
On one rare clear and sunny Saturday, I observed numerous vehicles turn into the driveway of a neighbouring farm. When the gamekeepers 4x4 arrived, up pricked my Predator Radar. With my 16 month old in my arms, I wandered up to the lay-by that overlooks the game crop and farmland where the beaters were flushing out the birds. Baba and I watched as each squadron took off to be greeted by a salute and salvo from the waiting guns. I chastised myself for willing each pilot the best of luck in dodging the gauntlet of lead and death that awaited them. I felt almost as though I were sabotaging the efforts of another hunter.

The naive me stood awestruck at the spectacle that lay before me. The synchronicity and co-operation of the humans working together to effectively and efficiently slay large numbers of food. On this level it was a wonderful sight. A beautiful setting, a fitting last scene for those who were about to die this day. I envisioned the glut of birds, the tables laid with the cooked and prepared meat. The larders to be stocked with hanging poultry. The game dealers soon to be re-supplied. The sights and sounds I was seeing and hearing that have come to epitomise country life and living.

The realist however couldn't help but feel a tinge of sadness, as each of the guns boomed. Now the guns were not a salute as each soul passed from this world. It was the bark of mans collective greed and insanity. The reputed waste generated by these shoots. The numbers of feathered bodies that allegedly are cast into a pit. The profit. The money paid and spent. I cannot, without indulging in a level of hypocrisy, judge the participants for engaging in their chosen 'sport', for I too on a similar level, find release and enjoyment in a similar practice. Though to my morals my choice of sport is rather more....sporting.

When I had seen enough and the beaters moved on, I retired to my little patch of woodland. I found solace in knowing that all who had caught, and would catch, lead from my barrel would not risk dishonour, would not suffer such disrespect as reportedly is wrought upon their brethen by those with reportedly more money than honour. Is this an insight I muse? Is there perhaps a correlation between the increase of wealth and the decrease of decency and honour?
No. The animal known as the Human and Homo Sapien is very sick. The relatively recent though seemingly endless, all consuming pursuit of currency, the lasting, profound fulfilment such wealth falsely promises appears to be just one of the many causes and symptoms of his malady.

I have to stress I did not see any evidence to support the notion of waste etc as mentioned previously. Even if I had I am a firm believer in "each to their own". I also recognise that what others do and how they go about it is of little concern to me. Either way the result is;


Delicious!

Camouflage and Concealment


The change in the season, as it often does, has brought about a reassessment. Specifically, my clothing.
For the past two years I have lived in two pairs of cheap DPM trousers that have now faded to the point of exuding a pale cream hue, the knees have worn thin, buttons on the pockets long lost and the disruptive pattern not even that disturbing. No wonder my hunting trips have been more challenging and less fruitful!
I didn't honestly expect trousers I work in to also remain effective in the field, certainly not for long. I do have work trousers, but not wishing to upset the washing cycle I often neglected to change in to them.
Even if the above were not the case, it is optimistic to expect predominantly green camouflage to provide concealment in autumn and winter. Whilst the knock off DPM's have been placed in the 're-purposing' bag, and proper heavy duty replacement ones purchased in their stead, still I am conscious that soon the shading canopy above me will disappear completely, and the woodland will be much lighter as a consequence. The basic principles of camouflage and concealment are as follows;
Shape, Shine, Shadow, Silhouette, Sudden movement, Surface, Spacings.

Adhere to these and you should succeed in bagging game. Even dressed in Jeans and a yellow t-shirt. Of course, wear the same colour as the predominant one around you, generally green or brown, and you should see improved results. Wear a disruptive pattern in those colours and you should fare better. The other end of the scale is a full blown hide. But lets stick to the context of clothing.
I decided to research camouflage patterns and available products that would better conceal me these next two seasons where foliage and cover are thin on the ground.
There are a multitude of patterns from a wide variety of manufacturers. The selection is greatly narrowed if you consider your landscape and the plant species that predominantly grow in it. Not only that, but I also had the seasons as a criteria.
Now consider this. Many patterns are sold that appeal to the hunters eye, but I don't wish to avoid detection from humans. So lets consider our prey. This is mostly rabbit, wood pigeon and squirrel.
Of the three, the wood pigeon certainly has the keenest sight, so movement (or lack of it) is key with them. Rabbits and squirrels, are a touch more forgiving, but they all have difficulty with depth perception.
As we know, the pigeon overcomes this to an extent by bobbing its head, the squirrel by moving its head up and down or side to side relative to the subject, and rabbits are just plain terrible. Why is any of this of any relevance? Well some of the most effective patterns have what is called a 3D effect to them whereby the pattern includes blurred background and sharp foreground, this all helps in confusing the senses of what is looking at you. The aim and result is that your shape is broken up almost by employing a 'magic eye' optical effect.
What about colour?
Well rabbits can differentiate only between green and blue, seeing shades of light and dark. Squirrels have 'dichromatic' vision comparable to a human with red-green colour blindness and wood pigeon can see the same spectrum as humans plus ultraviolet!
The latter two species make your choice rather important even if they have trouble gauging your distance.
Then of course, there is that very human factor. Price!

So I have chosen to go with the HSF Stealth Evolution Camo Jacket and Trousers (both just £29.95 each) from Stock and Tackle (www.stockandtackle.com)

I will be testing this outfit and posting a full review soon so watch this space...

If You Went Down To The Woods Last Night 09/11/12 - 10/11/12

The usual, along with a surprise suspect caught on The Super Scouter Trail Camera from Global Egrow www.stores.ebay.co.uk/globalegrowinc


How To Get The Best From The ACME Crow Call

A bad workman may blame his tools, but I feel he may be forgiven if he was the recipient of poor instruction. The ACME Crow Call appears to be a very capable tool, like all too many otherwise excellent products, I believe it is let down by the inability/unwillingness of the manufacturer to properly express to the customer its operation to achieve optimum results.
My short experience has gleaned that a low pitched, almost growl of a 'blow' achieves the very best 'throaty' and 'gravelly' call that is associated with the European Crow.
Available from Stock And Tackle .


The Hunters Chronicles - Friday 9th November 2012

On a walk through the woods to setup the trail camera, I received a phone call from the owner of my permission.

She wanted to know whether I had been using a shotgun on the cereal field. I informed her that no, I hadn't and I didn't own a shotgun.Her enquiry was prompted as her horses acted strangely last night and one of them "aborted".
This was interesting as upon my walk home I noticed the horses in the field below running in circles and snorting. As I left they were lined up looking in my direction. I could only think that my couple of crow calls had peaked their interest. I did consider texting her, but decided against it as they didn't appear overtly distressed and I've often seen horses galloping at the end of the day possibly venting energy.
But as a layman, its hard to say. Equally, what I witnessed may have been unrelated.
When told her this, she wondered if the pitch of the caller had upset them. Potentially, though I wouldn't have thought to the level of inducing a miscarriage.

Suffice to say, she has understandably asked me to abandon shooting there. Whilst she has promised to call if the biopsy on the foetus comes back negative, I am rather pessimistic.The very fact I was present the day the incident occurred warrants enough doubt to ensure my indefinite exile.

It is early yet, but I believe it may be better to concentrate on securing another permission than to wait and hope.

A door has shut. Time to open a window.

The Hunters Chronicles -Thursday 8th November 2012

My ventures of late have been... How shall we say?

Unproductive.

As a result, I have been left with the odd photograph, but not much to report.

Well, today I felt the lack of trophies and any incident of note, was in and of itself, worthy of note. Not once have I despaired in spite of the mild disappointment that can potentially arise within. I also feel that it is of value to report the misses as well as the hits, both on a shot to shot basis as well as an overall outing one.

So far my dry run stands at three excursions. I have not necessarily gone without meat however, as two pheasants in that time were caught and shot after wandering into my dormant veg patch.

I suppose my ability to accept coming home empty handed is rooted in my expectations and motivation. When I set out, I have only the rough idea of what quarry it is I seek, and thus hope to find. I do not go out shooting, I do not go out hunting.
I go for a wander in the countryside with the air rifle.
In that respect, I have never failed, not once. I have always successfully achieved what I set out to do! The resultant outcomes, kills, whatever they maybe, are invariably a bonus.

On this occasion, as I 'wandered' down to my permission, I gazed at an empty, barren expanse of land that only weeks ago had been teaming with air rifle quarry.
This, I pondered, realising that identifying your preys food source and adjusting to their habits is one key to hunting success. The greater truth of course, is change is inevitable and it is how we go about adapting, and how quickly we do it, that sets us apart.


Evidently, I am a tad slow!
 The trees, not the fields, seem to be where the action is found now. The leaves have fallen, exposing the perches that so recently beckoned with promises of concealment and security.  Conversely cover is becoming harder to find, but nonetheless we are entering my favoured time of year for hunting. The cold allows for my field jacket with many very useful pockets to be worn, (its essentially my 'Hunters Handbag') the heat of spring/summer usually curtails movement for fear of salty rivers gushing from the orifices!

After a brief chat to the landowner, I followed up her 'hot tip' on where the magpies appear to congregate and meandered down to where I believe she described.


 Sure enough, flashes of white on black shoulders of departing birds as they evacuated told me the match box shakers were here abouts.


Finding somewhere dry and comfortable as well as suitably concealed proved difficult.
After an hour I returned to my favoured strip of trees at a known stop over. I had just got settled in when my phone rang. My friend and former employer needed a 'five minute' job doing.
Four hours later I returned to catch the crows as the light drew in.
The sitty tree I chose, though looked the ticket, was an unknown and evidently not a sitty tree after all. I did see two lesser spotted woodpeckers which was a pleasure. Their sideways shuffle and curious calls were fascinating and delightful.

My time was up. The sun was now below the horizon and my legs told me that home should be my next port of call. Though hope remained with the fading light, it was pointless to argue.

Still. I had begun the day wondering how I should fill it. I filled it. And I did so in a manner that pleased me, no time was wasted, just spent doing what I enjoy. It may not have gone as expected, but it has gone regardless.
Besides, though it may never come, there is always the promise of tomorrow.

If You Went Down To The Woods Last Night - 06/11/12

After hunting a pheasant, the parts that are currently beyond my needs and uses were 'offered to the woodland gods'.

I'm tempted to leave this Camera strapped to the Christmas tree!


A Hunters Review of the Super Scouter Trail, Hunting and Wildlife Camera



As the age old maxim goes, “knowledge is power”. For a hunter, knowing where and when your prey is most likely to be, can mean the difference between success and failure. Sometimes, 'luck' will be a factor, but more often than not, it is surveillance that reaps the greatest rewards.
If we look to nature, we see that the most successful predators are able to gain their prize with the minimum of calories expended. How? A big part is knowing the habits of their quarry and placing themselves in the right position at the right time. This has long been my objective, and so far, like all of natures carnivores, it has meant keeping my eyes and ears open as I wander my hunting grounds and being sensitive to the changes in the habits of the quarry around me. In this way, I have built a picture (albeit approximate until now) of their locations and tendencies.
But there is a limit. I only have one pair of eyes and ears. I can only be in one place at any one time. I also need to sleep.
But what if I could change that?
What if I had an extra set of eyes? Imagine if those ears could be placed, camouflaged in a location where my prey is known to frequent. Consider the possibilities if those instruments of observation need never rest!


Subscribers to my YouTube channel, visitors to my blog, and members of the forums I contribute to will know I live what could be termed a 'simple' life. But living 'simply' does not necessarily dictate 'primitively'. The renunciation of modern aids is not an obligatory requisite. We live in a technological age, our ancestors very quickly grasped the potential, and benefited from, the advances of the inventions of their era. So I have done the same.
What is this device that satisfies the aforementioned desire? What piece of magic could possibly grant me such incredible powers?
I believe it is the Super Scouter Trail Camera 2.0C model from Global Egrow (stores.ebay.co.uk/globalegrowinc).
I came across this product after doing a fair amount of research into remote cameras suited to my purpose. I noted the features of the branded examples and set about finding one with all those benefits but minus the inflated price tag.
At just £109.99 versus the £245.40 of the branded equivalent, I believe I was successful. But my triumph was two fold, not only had I found a product that was over half the price, the features were not just equal, they were in cases superior!
The Super Scouter has a 12 mega pixel camera over 8 mega pixel,
Both record 720 HD video 1-60 seconds,
Both with colour TFT screens.
Both have expandable SD slot upto 32GB.
Both have IR LED's with a range over 50 feet.
Both claim battery lives of over 6 months.

With the seller having a UK distribution operation, I had the product in my hands within 24 hours of ordering. I got in touch with the seller to enquire about the differences in models and features as well as to express my thanks. I had an equally prompt response. I could certainly see now how they had acquired their 99.5% positive feedback! Impressive indeed.


Neatly packaged in a sturdy box with an adjustable mounting strap, USB and AV cable, I very quickly had the Super Scouter Camera out and gave the well written and worded English instruction manual the usual 'male' scrutiny. As suspected, it was very simple to configure and operate as anyone who has owned a digital camera will quickly see. Insertion of batteries is a simple procedure, a handy loop assists in lifting the panel that opens out and allows for 4-8 AA batteries, dependant on how long you wish to run the unit.



I was most taken with the effective camouflage pattern printed on the very solid feeling shell. The unit opens and closes via two clasps that compress a rubber seal which ensures the internals are kept dry and protected.

Can you tell where it is yet?
The rear of the camera has moulded, toothed grips that do a very good job of providing a positive contact to the bark of the host tree and keep the camera exactly where positioned. When elevation has required adjusting, the sliding of a stick under one of the grips works nicely. 

The use of the black adjustable strap is not your only option for mounting however, with a discreet thread mount (standard camera size) located on its underside, the camera can be mounted on a conventional tripod where trees are scarce, or even on a flexible mount up in the branches.
Outlets are covered with rubber plugs to maintain water tightness.

Hunting is not the only application for this product of course. For a man living in the woods, security is a consideration. Thoughtfully moulded into the main body is a receptacle that allows for a lock to be installed, deterring unauthorised access and theft. Set to video function with audio, I can rest easy knowing my sentinel is watching over my belongings and home. For a landowner or gamekeeper, posting these look outs discreetly on the borders of your property could pay dividends in many ways. It is worthy of note that the upgraded 2.0CM model has a GPRS function and allows the insertion of a SIM card which, in turn, means images and videos can be immediately sent via MMS and uploaded to the web by email. Poachers beware!

The unit is fully programmable to suit your application. A timer can be set to give time lapse results, photo interval (time between shots) can be set, burst mode (1-3 pictures), video duration (1-60 secs), quality can be adjusted to 5, 8 or 12 Mega pixels, date, time and temperature can be stamped on the photographs, you can even add a 6v solar panel/power supply or plug in an external microphone if desired.
A very useful feature has been the 2.4 inch colour TFT screen which has enabled me to preview photographs and footage in the field prior to downloading. 

 
In all, this product has proven itself to be a genuine asset and aid in delivering intelligence on the activity of the species that share my environment. A bonus has been the images captured of animals that have proved most elusive (not just prey, but other predators!). 
The thief responsible for the disappearance of two of my chickens?
The time stamps enable me to see when creatures are most active and this, in conjunction with noting the location the unit was in, is rapidly resulting in an accurate and detailed map. Consequently my hunting forays are set to be far more productive with the most efficient and effective use of my time thanks to this camera. I will certainly be grateful in the winter months!

Thankfully, you do not need to be a master of tracking, just have the ability to see the trails on the ground and identify a good vantage point to mount and place the camera. I have found the best results have been gained when the setup was angled with the subjects approaching thus providing maximum exposure to the lens.

If you find yourself in the market for such an item, I strongly recommend you purchase The Super Scouter Trail Camera and buy it from Global Egrow Inc, a seller who has proven themselves to be reliable, trustworthy and most helpful and co-operative. The camera's versatility is a quality that means this will earn its keep in very little time at all. Like me, you'll quickly wonder how your ever managed without it!