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The Fearless and the Free - Sunday 23rd December 2012


The dust may have settled after our eviction. The indignation, upset and turmoil may have passed. Yet all is not well.
My little family and I are living under anothers roof, and this has its challenges.
Presently for me, the most difficult aspect to face, and hardest to admit, is the grief and ongoing pain that bites my core. Deep within my heart and soul there is a yearning, a mourning, not for the past nor the life that was taken, but for my perceived loss of connection with the outdoors. There I resonate and rejoice with all that surrounds me. In nature, amongst the fields and trees is where I see, where I feel life and can sense the aliveness in me, a reflection, for it is there the divine resides.  

"Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift a stone and Ye shall find me". 

- Gospel Of Thomas

Though it may still be found here in the urban jungle, the tarmac, the concrete and stone all conspire to hide it. Man's manipulation and vulgar disfigurement of the surface of this perfect Earth, this Eden if we would only see it, strikes my heart with division, angst and sorrow.
But I will not suffer more than I am willing. Whilst misery is certainly an option and arguably the easiest, I do not like it much. Especially as I received a tip off regarding a potential site for our caravan yesterday, so today I laced my boots and set out to scout the possibilities.
My first visit was to a council house, one that is vacant and being offered to those on the housing list.





 




Quite clearly a work in progress, but what I saw strengthened my desire to reconnoitre the alternative.

The miles I covered surrounded by the green of the rolling fields and trees of the woodlands soothed and invigorated my spirit, reminding me of what I missed and what I sought so dearly.

I paused amongst the trees to shed a layer or two and it was as I did so that I witnessed what I think were two Roe deer come bounding in my direction from the undergrowth.

Only one of the Roe Deer paused long enough for me to snap a picture.
Deer never fail to evoke a 'wow'. They are just such majestic creatures it is always an honour to witness them. I took their presence to be a good sign and omen.

Not long after, I located and arrived at my destination.



A long abandoned rabbit farm, comprising of three derelict buildings upon approximately 1.5-2 acres of land.


This place had serious potential!



30m-50m long shed. Private rifle range?! (After a clear out)

 




The idea would be to get the place back up and running as a smallholding. This time the rightful and recognised owner, though evidently neglectful, has been traced and the opportunity here so great I intend to propose leasing the premises. I have big plans and visions of happiness here not solely based on the land and buildings but also due to the expansive fields and agricultural land that surrounds it. I am confident that permission to hunt could be secured.

In all, my trip today has gifted me focus, drive and determination with a clear plan and vision ahead. I have been certain something would materialise, and by networking with others and putting the word out, that faith has been rewarded.


'Let a great Assembly be
Of the fearless and the free
On some spot of English ground
Where the plains stretch wide around.

'Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold -

'Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley - The Masque of Anarchy

A Hunters Review Of The HSF Stealth Evolution Camouflage Jacket and Trousers

Like so many hunters, I have previously opted to wear British Army Surplus DPM. That is, until now, with the addition of the HSF Stealth Evolution Camo Jacket and Trousers to my 'wardrobe'.

Why the change? Well not only have my well worn and now very faded field jacket and trousers finally and inevitably reached the end of their life, but the change of the seasons has prompted something of a re-evaluation.
It occurred to me that some of the most adept and best camouflaged of natures creatures, predator and prey alike, change their colour in accordance with the environment. Take the Arctic Hare, Ermine, Stoat and Ptarmigan for example. With the onset of winter they will shed the summer coat not only for a thicker warmer one, but often a white one to match the changing background.
It was painfully obvious to me that as the leaves have fallen just how light, not dark, the woodland has become. The predominantly dark green and black Army DPM has become a hindrance rather than a help with concealment. My shape quickly and easily recognisable against the white grey of a more often than not cloudy sky as well as the pale white trunks of the numerous and currently abundant Ash trees.
It is true that muted colours are considered to be adequate for most quarry. In fact, only until fairly recently, it has to be acknowledged that that was all that was generally available. Whilst numerous manufacturers including HSF offer 'Drab Olive' or similar dark greens or browns, when the construction of a hide is not a realistic proposition, I'd like to feel my clothing is doing the very best it can in minimising detection from this nervous bird.

According to the manufacturer – “Designed to blend with a multitude of winter and spring landscapes the HSF Evolution pattern features detailed and defined textures along with true to life colours, leaves and branches. Perfect for blending with hedge rows and light woodland the pattern is based around a neutral brown pallet enhanced by bark textures and shadows that help to break up the human form. Recommended for deer stalking and decoying”

This is exactly what I had in mind! For winter and spring, a pale light pattern, returning to the deeper tones of green and brown come the summer and autumn. But how does the HSF Evolution pattern Jacket and Trousers fare against their predecessors?

Now a factor not adequately addressed by my garments in the past, and one the HSF clothing has performed admirably, is protection from the elements.
Should rain or wind arise unexpectedly, it was often simply a case that I got cold and/or wet. Now I have something that is water, wind proof as well as breathable, unlike Surplus waterproofs that always retain a clammy cold wet film of sweat. This very unpleasant occurrence is countered, and a measure of warmth also given, by a fleece lining that is included in both jacket and trousers.

There is also a factor of movement here. With the Stealth Clothing, I do not have to compromise my concealment grappling with layers just because our notoriously temperamental British climate is doing what it does best! A nice inclusion, for concealment as well as weather, is the removable hood attached with a solid zip. The opening can be adjusted by the elastic minimising exposed hair and flesh.


A zip at the front of the jacket is covered with a flap that is buttoned shut using sturdy 'poppers'. Either side sit deep 'cartridge' pockets of ample proportions. Whilst I would prefer them to be fastened with a button or poppers, I had to keep in mind the price and acknowledge that the velcro does do the job and keep their contents secure. Noisier than alternatives it may be, but I don't foresee me rifling through my pockets just before taking a shot.
Above the pockets, below the breast, are two handy pockets that are perfect for slipping cold hands into, another thoughtful and welcome addition that makes this jacket invaluable. At the end of each sleeve is a generous run of velcro allowing infinite adjustment to the dimensions of the wearer and excludes those unwelcome drafts.


Moving to the trousers, we have two deep hip pockets, one large rear pocket on the right buttock and two more cargo pockets. These pockets, one by the side of each knee are fastened by strong, well attached buttons keeping all within, in!
Good belt loops ring the waist band, with adjustment allowed for by way of a buckle and nylon strap each side, the ends of the legs can also be sealed using the ribbons provided to tie off.
In instances that movement is required, such as when stalking, it is often a challenge in and of itself to navigate your way through 'land mines' of twigs and other surprises. Whilst perhaps not as quiet as standard trousers, the Evolution ones are surprisingly muted considering the waterproof coating described best as a barely audible 'brush' as one strides.

Whilst the clothing is without doubt superb value for money, performing exactly, if not better than described, it is the pattern that sets this product apart. Upon inspection, we have a smattering of brown and green leaves both in focus and slightly blurred, and in the background the darks of barks and branches. To my eye, the species depicted seem to be birch which accounts for the very pale overall hue and I suspect that this would blend well in the light surroundings of Ash which is so prevalent. My suspicions were confirmed.


I have, so to speak, jumped the gun rather, it still being early autumn as I write this. At present the pattern is still far too light, there are still swathes of brown leaves on the ground and a lot of die hard greenery on the branches and in the hedgerows. That said, I'm sure with frost and, dare I say it, snow just around the corner this pattern will come into its own and perform admirably. I have no doubt whatsoever that buyers in more northern regions will benefit greatly indeed from this pattern and certainly will not be disappointed by the capabilities and protection this clothing offers. It is sound advice with any cold weather clothing to layer your clothes underneath, as this is an outer layer, be sure to purchase a size that will accommodate a thick jumper etc without becoming tight.

In summary, this pattern is definitely a winter one that will keep the wearer dry, warm and concealed in environments where common alternatives (mine being British Army Surplus DPM) will fail miserably. I, for once, cannot now wait for those short, cold, grey days with a smattering of the white stuff on the ground as I await the roosting pigeons! The clothing itself is well crafted with the welcome addition of numerous features ordinarily found on garments many times its price. At just £29.95 for the Jacket and £29.95 for the Trousers from Stock And Tackle (www.stockandtackle.com), this outfit represents a veritable bargain!
If the buyer is accurate in the assessment of his needs and shooting environment, I see no reason why he shouldn't find his needs met by the HSF clothing range, either with this pattern or one of their many others.

A Bitter Blow - 11/12/12

I followed the plan to the letter.
I rose early to tend to the chickens. I armed the sentinels. I made certain to visit the bucket!
Then I retreated to await my fate.
The caravan was dark and very cold. The edges of the windows were misted with frost and rivelets of ice became the bars of my pathetic 'fortress'. But an ember of hope, deep deep within my being still glowed. Still believed. After an hour of anxious waiting it burned hotter. It sputtered when at 09:10 the mercenaries and their master, the self proclaimed "Rural Dragon" (see Cotswold Life!) Mr Amaury Blow, beat their way to my door.

The Blow residence. Hilles House, Edge. 4.4 miles away.


I kept silent, listening to what snippets of their conversation my ears could detect.
For a brief while the voices faded. I dared not allow any optimism in. If any managed to find its way to my heart, it evaporated when the expected, and I'll admit it, dreaded, thump thump thump came. My adrenaline levels spiked. This was it.

I maintained my silence. A name was called. 'Protocol' followed by the issue of the usual warnings and sabre rattling.
The thumps became more persistent. The lock rattled. A pause.

The rattle of the lock changed to one more ominous. I knew then that the wolf at my door intended to break it in regardless of whether I answered or not. My intuition was proved correct as the efforts of the invaders became more concerted. Irrespective of whether anyone was present. Though I had not intended to phone the police, I asked my partner, who was being fed updates via text messages, if I should. "Yes" came the immediate reply. I dialled the local non-emergency number just as the crowbar entered the fray.
By now, instinct controlled my reactions and my left hand held the lock and door shut as I battled the levering from the other side. I was resolute I would hold them back until the Police had arrived. I knew full well they would not intervene, certainly not on my behalf, but what had I to lose.
Unfortunately, the door gave up before the strength in my arm. The latch snapped, the wooden splintered,gave and fell away. I was defenceless.
Now came a stream of "court" this and "sheriff" that. It is with a tinge of shame that I recall I spoke rather forcefully and impolitely to Amaury Blow and Mr Gareth Thomas, who, Agent and Principal, had destroyed the door of my home.





I concede that when the bailiffs announced I was somehow now in breach of some random rule of theirs and they would call the police, I derived a slither of satisfaction in telling them they were already on their way. Ridiculous of me. I had only done the bullies a favour as I had feared by calling Her Majesty's enforcers.
The Policy enforcement brigade arrived. A brief interlude now followed as the bailiffs asked for me to be arrested. A cheshire cat grin just may have flickered across my face when their request was denied...
The female policy enforcement constable seemed offended when I declined her request to enter (I didn't want yet more potential threats!), told me the thugs had "papers" and asked me to explain what was going on. I highlighted the criminal damage done. Bewilderingly she appeared annoyed at that and stepped aside to allow the bailiffs through the door to assault me. Now assault does sound a bit strong, it was not as though punches were thrown, I was pulled out of my seat and shoved out of my door. But assault nonetheless.



Upon my exit, my defeat was complete. After a tirade at Mr Blow concerning his dishonourable and ungentlemanly behaviour I sat down and rolled a cigarette.

Like salt in the wound, they revealed their intention to not only now steal my home and mode of transport, but hold it to ransom. How very pirate like. State sanctioned they say!

I regained control of my faculties as the adrenaline and animal instincts faded. I confirmed with the hired muscle that when I was in my home and they were breaking into it, they knew I was not about to make their jobs easy, but nor was I ever going to retaliate or be aggressive.
I firmly believe it was my successful inner refusal to surrender to that fury which rises and boils within in such situations, that won their agreement to relocate the caravan and truck at my parents house down the road. If it had truly been a favour I would have been grateful. The truth is, it was merely the lesser of two evils. No one had any right to move anything!
One modicum of achievement came from my filming the agreement of Blow to pay for all my damages and expenses! I intend to hold him to it, though from his past behaviour I doubt he will have the integrity to honour his agreement.

A man evidently without any deeds to the land and the entitlement that goes with it, but money enough to "satisfy the courts" was so able to end the lives of myself, my partner, my 8 year old daughter and our baby at Bulls Cross, just 14 days from Christmas.

Approximately 9 months ago, when first approached, I asked that he verify his entitlement to the land and, if he was truly the 'owner' meet the cost of my moving, for without his request, it would not have been of my own volition. When he refused, I dropped all ancillary terms and asked only for him to prove his ownership by producing to me the deeds. Should he do so, I would negotiate my departure. He did not. I can only presume Mr Amaury Blow is a lying, deceitful, imposter though one with enough wealth to grease palms to enact his will and perpetuate his bluff.


A family that once were capable of looking after themselves free from 'The System' and had shelter of their own, are now homeless. His criminal agents have rendered our dwelling insecure and uninhabitable. Whilst our families have opened their homes to us, Amaury Blow has ensured that for four more humans to be suitably housed, the council has to foot the bill and find emergency accommodation. The rich, well and truly shitting on the poor. That is of course, if we apply and 'submit' for housing.

The very idea appalls me. It fills me with dread. But it has its merits and has been the recommendation of those aware of our predicament. Maybe it is worth entertaining at least til winter is passed.

My task now is to recover all I can of what remains, which includes the chickens, but not my garden trolley. That was thieved in the hour I was away for lunch. And it certainly wasn't stolen by the 'travellers', we've gone!

Whoever it was they're welcome to it, I have no need of it now.

So long Mr Blow! Let us hope no others choose to dwell at;

Bulls Cross,
Sheepscombe,
Gloucestershire,
GL6 7HU

It was kind of you to leave the gate open for them....

A Christmas present left for us by a kind, mystery, benefactor the night before our eviction.
Full circle. Battered and bruised back where the adventure began 3 years ago.


"Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold.

Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free.

Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses' heels.

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many - they are few."

- The Masque of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Jay 'Stalking'


Here's a few of inadvertently captured clips (left the trail camera on in the day). This bird has eyes bigger than his body! On the stump is a squirrel left as an offering to the 'Gods'.

D-Day!

The line has been drawn.


There are moments in a mans life when his core beliefs, ideals, principles and morals will be challenged. The 11th of December 2012 at 08:00 has been selected by others to be one of those moments.

Those I hold dear have been sent away to friends and family. There, they will await the outcome of this battle of wills and opposing desires.

My strategy is fragile at best. Note the bold and capital letters stating "ALL PERSONS". It is upon this I will depend. Peacefully, I will resist, holed up in my caravan, curtains shut. With no 'persons' present there will be none to evict from this tiny segment of land. This small parcel of the earth I have had the audacity to exist upon. The wolf will be at the door. It is a fool who would open it. A deluded fool who may think he could present the numerous factors that make these wholly illegal, not to mention unlawful proceedings, to the paid mercenaries that wait for him in the hope of neutralising them from their purpose. Money is actually on my on my side. Money may not be finite, but it is rationed and limited per individual. For the mercenaries, it is a 'job', for the employer a limit to how much he will spend.
For me, it is my life. My financier has granted me the entire term of my natural life to spend as I see fit. I will call my approach 'Chicken Belligerence'.

Anyone who owns/has owned chickens will be able to relate my meaning. A chicken will do as it chooses. It will go where it pleases. All its captor can do is limit this to an acceptable level. Despite expense of time and money, one particular fowl of mine persistently escapes over/under/through the fence. The fence was raised and reinforced. Wings were clipped. The chickens were observed. All avenues explored, yet still my belligerent chicken wanders free. I have had little choice but to accept the behaviour. I could kill the 'trouble' maker. I won't, because I have come to admire it! It also cause me no actual physical inconvenience. But I have spent all the time and money that I am willing and as the remainder of the flock keep within the confines, I have cut my losses.

I do not expect admiration will result from my 'Chicken Belligerence'. I also don't think I'll be killed. One of the two parties will be forced to accept the behaviour of the other.

Let us see which it will be. After all, 4 of my 5 chickens remain on death row...

If You Went Down To The Woods Last Night - 05/12/12


A dead squirrel was 'offered up to the Gods', but what is interesting, is where is it? Sited in front of the cameras approximately where the fox stands it has evidently been taken yet neither camera detected its removal. The fox has nothing in his jaws, nor does he pick anything up, and yet the squirrel is gone. This is the second time this has happened, the first when something managed to drag a pheasant out of sight of the Super Scouter Trail Camera without tripping the sensors!

The Hunters Chronicles - Tuesday 4th December 2012

For a town mouse, the opportunity to venture out is never as frequent as desired. My accounts, as they reportedly do for many, had the motivations of my friend Mawders enlivened. I cleared his presence with the landowner, and we were set. Keen to capitalise on his window of opportunity, he did not wish to hang about. 06:30 this morning, man and gun were chomping at the bit.
A quick coffee and chin wag and off we trotted. On the way I explained that the quarry marked for termination were the numerous, loud and mischievous magpies. My plan was to slit the squirrel caught on my previous outing (whom the freezing temperatures had kept fresh!) and place the crow decoy nearby.
As the farmyard and chicken enclosure that they raided were far from being safe to shoot in, the nearest ambush site was a small grove of tall trees they were known to haunt.

As the sun rose, we approached, but it was not magpies that were plentiful. Mawders attempted an ambitious shot on a seemingly dozy pigeon. Potentially a superb boost straight out of the blocks.



We holed up in our ambush positions and waited.







Nothing. Not even a cackle. In the distance sea gulls lazily traversed the sky. Later a large buzzard wheeled, sunlight bouncing from its majestic and impressive wingspan.
The magpies may not have been around, but we both spotted numerous pigeons landing and idly perching in a sunlit tree just a few yards down the hedgerow. In favour of a stalk, we abandoned our ambush.
Amazingly, we crept within range undetected. We each got a shot off. Though my aim seemed good and the shot sounded true, somebody neglected to inform the pigeon that this was the point he should fall to earth. Defying credibility, if not physics, He elected to continue his day.
This pattern and outcome repeated itself more times that either myself or my shooting partner dared nor cared to count.

We continued on to our favourite woodland and spied numerous birds. To add to our hopes and expectations of what still seemed a potentially very high scoring day, a large flock of pigeons swooped over our heads and amassed in a sitty tree right to our front. Certainly to my eye, once they landed, they disappeared. A wrong move and a number lifted off. Thinking they were gone, you could scare off the hidden remnants. And again! Unbelievable. Nearly all shots were fouled by twigs or branches in some manner. If not, then fate would bar the way or the pigeon would simply lift off just as a bead was being drawn.

Keen to check on the squirrel bait and decoys, I periodically left Mawders under his tree and patrolled the hedgerows. In my absences, pigeons either dodged his rounds or were impervious to them.
A text message kept me abreast of developments and his rising bewilderment, bordering on frustration. My luck was no better.
Upon one of my returns, he was clearly lining up for a shot. Not seeing a target, I crouched. I awaited his impending shot as I scanned the tree his rifle muzzle indicated.
His HW95 thudded. No bird fell nor lifted. It was at this point he gestured. 2. Ears. ahead.
Being that rabbits have yet to develop the ability to climb trees, I deduced he must have seen two squirrels. After he'd reloaded, I waited what seemed an age for him to take the shot he appeared moments away from taking.
Carefully, I crept forward to the right of the target tree. I scanned it and yet could find no evidence of any living creature. I discussed this with him. He was adamant they were there, so I resolved to flush them out.
Standing at the base, I raised my gun aimed high into the branches and fired into the wood.
It was then I saw the tail. Protruding from the bark was a wispy bit of fluff that could only be attached to a squirrel, as I took this in, its mate burst out from cover and made an all or nothing run home. I shouted to Mawders, "That one's yours!" figuring as it was running almost at him he could hit him head on. My squirrel nervously bolted a short distance, but stopped, pausing and exposing her flank. I shot her broadside factoring in the extreme angle and the higher point of impact of the pellet.
She dropped like a stone. A small wound behind her left shoulder indicated heart and lung/spine shot. Though life was clearly absent from the eyes, the expiring heart was still beating. A follow up shot was granted that passed across the brain, exiting the other side.

The Diana 280k .177 (right) and Weihrauch HW95k .22 (left)

I was extremely grateful to the squirrel. Not just for the nourishment she would provide, but also for the affirmation of mine and my rifles abilities.

Clearly, the Diana was spitting death, but what about the HW95?! Yet more opportunities came and went. The shooter was not seemingly at fault. Not the scope, nor the rifle.

I have subsequently concluded that Mawders must have been firing jelly beans.
Either that or pigeons have become immune/impervious to lead which may be the true reason shotgunners have changed to steel!

In truth, I feel that this is just how it is. Sometimes there is no physical, reasonable explanation as to why a hunt may be unproductive. I can fully appreciate how and why in the past Gods such as Diana were worshipped and revered.
Tonight, a squirrel has been left as an offering in her name to the Gods, Diana has returned and lives again in these woods and I shall see her satisfied.

The Hunters Chronicles - Saturday 1st December 2012

The bite in the wind has been relentless and unforgiving. Time for hunting may have diminished in direct relation to the temperature, but needs must. The need on this occasion was not meat but material. My friend and occasional shooting partner told me that he had misplaced his gloves and suspected they were under a certain tree one of my hunting grounds. Whilst there last we were unarmed, our intention being to shoot with the camera to assess camouflage patterns, of course not one but three squirrels were spotted! This time, I took the gun!

On my walk there, numerous clusters of 'vermin' (magpies, crows and pigeon) could be seen in pockets in the fields and hedgerows. I am keen to observe their habits as the cold comes and hope to identify likely feeding sites. I did not intend this to be a serious expedition, in fact hunting was the secondary purpose, the retrieval of my friends gloves and the putting his mind to rest, primary.
The errant gloves were very quickly located and stuffed into the side pocket of my trouser leg. Having watched at least twenty pigeon lift from the trees in this small young patch of woodland, I thought I would simply sit and let them come to me.



It wasn't long at all before my first customer glided to a perch in the tree I was observing. As luck would have it, his head was comfortably settled back and consequently shielded by a stout branch. Without my noticing until later, he was joined, but this bird was the other side of the tree and the shot meant threading a pellet through the eye of a twig and branch 'needle'. I took the shot as I knew if I missed it would be a safe one, if I hit, it would mean instant death.

I missed. But through no fault of the rifle I might add. Just physics and my failure/inability to adjust for the trajectory as well as to accommodate the numerous obstacles. On the three separate occasions, pellet thumped into solid wood.
I was not dispirited at all. The weather was dry if cold, the surroundings beautiful as well as quiet. Paradise.
Behind me came a scuffle that took me aback. It was within ten yards. After ruling out wayward walkers, I correctly deduced that this must be a squirrel. It was. A wary one too. She wobbled along her naked ash branch and leaped to the stout arms of the tree under which I hid. She did not present a shot, and would not have, had I not given her a squeak.
An intrigued head peered down from its vantage point.
The new Diana 280k .177 sent a pinch and a punch for the first day of the month and displaced her. She crashed down to the leaf litter.


Shortly after, with my toes now numb, I took my bonus prize home with me. I happened upon the farm owner who expressed her delight with my efforts and renewed my contract on the magpies. I was very much pleased with how things had worked out.

Diana, my Goddess of the Hunt is now by my side. She and I will romp this land, and have lots of fun in the woods together. She will keep my belly and heart full this winter I am sure.