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Monday 30 December 2013

Look what I found, Personal Nostalgia

I was clearing out the shed, old boxes and bags that I hadn't used in years and look what I found.

now it may not look like much to you guys, but this was my first ever 'Bushcraft knife'.
I bought it when I was 14 so that's many, many years ago!!
It was an old Ka Bar copy and I used it for everything. I totally loved this knife!
You couldn't get it razor sharp and it didn't hold an edge well, but it was mine!
Even more special was the sheath which after 25 years still has the skin of the first rabbit I ever snared and tanned on it.. the fur is coming off it easily now, but nonetheless this gives me incredibly fond memories of my youth.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas 2013

A very merry Christmas to all our Buzzard Bushcraft readers, we sincerely hope you have a very happy and healthy Christmas and new year, and we wish you all good fortune for you and your family..
This years wreath,
spruce, ivy, variagated holly, white holly, cotoneaster berries, wellingtonia cones.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Guest Author Geoff Guy on the Gralloch

Gralloching and Carcass Handling

After you have fired a shot at a deer, it has fallen to the ground and you have confirmed that it is dead, you now need to process it’s carcass ready for it to enter the human food chain.

A simple way to check that the targeted animal is dead is to touch it’s eye with a stick or finger, it’s not advisable to do this with the barrel of your rifle, if you do make sure that it is unloaded.

This picture shows the extent of the damage caused by the round exiting the animals body.
To ensure that the meat does not become contaminated by the contents of the animals ‘rumen’ (that is the system of four chambers which makes up the bulkiest part of a deer’s digestive system)  it must be gralloched (this is a traditional term applied only to deer which describes the process of removing the digestive tract of a deer) within an hour. This is a legal requirement if the meat is to be sold and is particularly important in the warm summer months and if the rumen has been damaged by the shot.
You should make the first cut as shown in this picture by lifting the skin of the belly and then cutting with the knife rather than by pushing the knife in, if you puncture the rumen with the knife the meat will quickly become contaminated. This first cut can be made anywhere between the bottom of the sternum and the rump but with a doe I normally remove the udder first giving an easy entry point for the rest of the gralloch.

Once you have exposed the entire rumen, there is no need to continue to cut all the way up to allow access to the heart and lungs at this point, these can be removed later once the deer has been hung up, they will not contaminate the meat at all. You can now empty out the rumen onto the ground, remember it is attached to the oesophagus and the colon these will need to be severed to allow removal of the rumen but remember that pressure on the rumen once these have been severed will force faeces and/or stomach content out into the body cavity of the animal. To avoid this they can be removed entirely, in the case of the colon by cutting around the anus pulling it out and knotting the colon, the same can be done with the oesophagus by accessing it through the neck of the animal and again knotting it before the rumen is removed. When the rumen is removed the entire digestive tract will come with it.  If this is too fiddly to achieve in the field the colon and oesophagus can be knotted nearer where they join the rumen to avoid contamination and removed later when the animal is hung up
Here is the rumen once removed with the intestines attached and spread out to show their Cumberland sausage appearance. At this point you could check that the mesenteric lymph nodes appear healthy, they should appear as small grey lumps between the intestines, any sign that they are enlarged, swollen or filled with pus might indicate disease. 


There are several other checks that can be carried out including, in a comprehensive check, checking other lymph glands such as the retropharyngeal located in the jaw an animal, bronchial located near the top of the lungs portal located near the liver etc other more obvious checks are illustrated above including signs on the hooves for foot and mouth and on the amount of fat carried internally around vital organs such as the kidneys.

These checks are intended to confirm that an animal is disease free and to identify the presence of any notifiable diseases in the UK deer population. Notifiable diseases include (but are not limited to) TB, foot and mouth and anthrax and must by law be immediately reported to the Divisionary Veterinary Manager at Animal Health (part of DEFRA). 

Once the gralloch and any checks have been completed the gralloch should either be taken away with you or buried away from any footpaths or regular activity. If you are going to process the meat yourself for your own consumption it is much easier if you can hang the carcass up.


Once the animal is hung up it is much easier to work on and can be skinned, notice that the skin is being removed without a knife; it can be separated from the meat just with the force of the hands. Once it has been skinned and the head and feet have been removed the carcass can be butchered. With such a small deer the main cuts are going to be the haunches, shoulders and backstrap steaks as well as the tenderloins and other smaller offcuts and offal.


This picture shows the removal of one of the backstraps, one of the best bits of meat from the carcass.

The skin and all the meat from a completely processed Chinese Water Deer carcass

This picture shows why deer stalking is necessary, this is one tree of many affected in a similar way in a nursery of young trees. Populations of deer left unmanaged can cause massive damage.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief guide on how to deal with shot deer. All pictures were provided by Martin Guy.

Check out my blog on how bushcraft can be used to enhance education at or follow me on twitter @GdaGuy


Legal Note; This brief guide is not designed to give full training on how to inspect a deer carcass. Although you can use a carcass for your own consumption without official training, you must have appropriate training to carry out checks on the health of deer before you can sell it. For guidance on where to get this training refer to the Deer Initiative and/or British Deer Society websites. 

Monday 16 December 2013

Early Meths/Paraffin Burner Kit

Davy got this on ebay, it looks brilliant, seems to be made from tin and I would think probably from the early 1930's
it's composed of a meths burner with stand, a tin cup with folding handles and a lid
 it's a brilliant wee set up and you can see where modern burners like the trangia etc got their ideas!

filled with meths it heated up a 1pint mug in about 6 mins, that's brilliant even by modern standards.
if anyone knows anything about this kit, please let us know, we think it's made by Tower.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Ray Mears Autobiography

Thought I'd do a very quick review of Mr Mears book, the review is below
Oh Dear..

Friday 6 December 2013

Another Food prep night with the Scouts

The Scouts have been asking for another food prep night for quite a long time, so we gave in to the requests and got some game, rabbits, pheasants and rainbow trout, food from the Land, Air and Water..very fitting
there are usually a few squeamish kids in the bunch but the majority of these guys all took to the animal prep very well
the idea behind this nights prep was to prepare the game without the use ofknives, so skinning the rabbit just with your hands, plucking and gutting the birds and ponassing the trout

all very easily achieved and cooked up for a great wee evening supper, it all went down very well!!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Waxing my Swedish Snow Smock

I've got a couple of these but don't wear them much as they're not waterproof, but I figured I'd wax one and see how it fared
I made a mixture of 5 parts vaseline to 1 part beeswax, now this isn't the mix I normally use, I normally use candle wax instead of beeswax as this makes a thicker firmer wax coating.. but as this is a light weight garment so I figured flexiblity would be more important

I dabbed the mixture on with a paintbrush and melted it with a hair dryer, after it cured it still remained tacky and sticky, I probably should have used my regular mix.
However I will try it out over the next few months and report back on it's preformance.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Tim Lloyd Blacksmith - Campfire tripod

I was recently contacted by Tim Lloyd, a blacksmith from Dorset, who asked if I would be interested in reviewing some of his bushcraft products, I told Tim I would gladly do it but with the understanding that I would be honest in my review and that in the past other would be makers have then backed out when they heard this thinking that just because they sent it free that I would give a glowing review, well I'm afraid that's not how it works!
Anyway, Tim duely sent the items of what he calls his 2 in 1 tripod, and below you can see what comes with this package
left to right..a trammel hook, chain and hook, S hook, 2 uprights and a cross piece
 Tim explains his set up thus..
"To give you a bit of background. The tripod is what I call a 2 in 1 design. Conventional tripods are normally attached at the top, with mine the three legs are separate. This means that you can either use it as a tripod by placing the 'U' shaped leg into the ground first then adding the other two legs. (I normally add the two legs over the thicker and doubled back bit of the 'U')
Or it can be set up by driving two of the legs into the ground and placing the third between them. This is really good for cooking multiple items. For example hanging a Dutch oven on one side and a kettle on the other. You have two sets of hooks if you want to try that. "
all seemed very straight forward and I've tried it out a couple of times in the past few weeks so here follows my initial impressions

Made from 3/8" steel rod, a little over 4 feet long and weighing in at around 4lbs, it's actually a very nice little set up. Not a particularly aesthetic design lacking twists and turns in the steel like some I've seen, but then it doesn't need to be, it just needs to do what it's intended for and it does that very well.
I taped it all together and used it as a walking stick when walking into the woods, a little heavy maybe but it was ok, easy enough to carry without having to tie it to my back or use a carrying strap, so provided you don't have miles to walk it's actually not too much to carry as long as you're not going ultralite!
Very,very easy to set up, string the chain from the top and using the extra hook allows for multiple heights when cooking over embers or heating over flame, the tripod is always a handy design if ground is rocky or frozen and is a tried and tested design particularly from Pioneer days.

set up as a hanging rack it's really lovely, very simple to do and gives absolutely loads of room to cook, heat or just keep food or coffee warm, this is my favourite way of utilising this setup and you can see why, easy enough for a base camp when it could be used by a number of people at the same time. If I was to make one addition to the rig it would be to weld a U shape to each upright about 18 inches from the end, the cross piece could then be lowered and could also then be used as a spit for roasting rabbits or pheasants, but this is just an idea.

the chain and hook could be used here but this trammel hook is just superb and allows height adjustment extremely easily, I've seen these used in old cottages in the past so not only is it effective but it gives a great sense of nostalgia too especially for the would be wild west pioneer!!
I really love this little item!

easily adjustable and very effective, just a brilliant addition to this set up.

All in all this is a superb campfire set, easily carried, versatile and effective and you can't ask for better than that, it really does come with a very high Buzzard recommendation.
 As I said this is an initial review and I will update the post in 6 months time after it's been used thoroughly, but from first impressions this will end up being a favourite piece of kit!
If you are in the market for a similar rig I would suggest you get in touch with Tim, I don't want to mention price at this point just suffice to say it's probably the best price I've seen these for sale at ever considering what you get.
Tim can be contacted at
drop him a line and get yourself a great christmas pressie that will last a lifetime..A brilliant rig!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Guest Author -- Geoff Guy on Deer Stalking

A very special thanks to Geoff for his contribution, all copyright for this article lies with him.

Thanks to Buzzard Bushcraft for posting this, hope you like it.

Deer Stalking
Getting food from the wild has always been part of bushcraft but in the UK is probably one of the most problematic areas of the pastime due to laws and legislation related to the use of firearms, bows and traps.
Deer, their meat, hide, tendons, bones, antlers, hooves, organs and teeth would all have been used by our primitive ancestors and nowadays the only common legal way of ‘taking’ a deer in the UK is by stalking and shooting with an appropriate firearm. Other than for their desirability as food deer also need to be shot to manage their population, in the UK there are six wild species of deer, bearing in mind that only two of those species are native and that they have no natural predators their population is large and increasing. Deer can damage agriculture, forestry, timber and conservation areas.
For all my deer stalking I use the rifle pictured here; a Tikka T3 chambered in .243 winchester fitted with a T4 silencer, a leopould scope and a bipod.

Today there are two main target species, Chinese water deer (CWD) and reeves muntjac. CWD were introduced to the UK at the end of the 19thCentury, first appearing at the London Zoo and Woburn abbey, after several escapes and releases they became established in Bedfordshire and have now spread. They are unique among the wild deer of the UK as they have no antlers, instead the bucks sport a set of large curving ‘tusks’. These are also present in the does but are much smaller and do not generally protrude below the lip. This species can be taken between the 1stof November and the 31st of March
 Muntjac are another introduction to the UK and they can be a serious nuisance in woodlands as they are partial to feeding from regenerating coppice and wild flowers such a bluebells. They can be shot all year round as they have no established breeding season. Like the CWD the bucks have tusks, but they are smaller than those of the CWD, they also have short backwards pointing antlers and some rather unique facial features;

A young muntjac buck showing the long ‘pedicles’ (the structures on the skull where the antlers grow) swept back antlers, distinctive skull ridges and corresponding black markings, you can also see clearly just in front of the eyes the massive sub orbital scent glands.
Once all the preparations are made you can start stalking, make sure you have the wind in your face so your scent is not carried to the animals ahead of you and use your binoculars regularly, you would be surprised how often you can’t see a thing but once you look through your binoculars you can see the tell-tale signs of a deer’s presence such as the deer in this picture which you might never spot without binoculars;

Once you have spotted a deer that you are going to shoot you need to ensure that you can get within range and and that it is safe to take a shot;
For example it would not be safe to shoot at this deer, you can’t see what’s behind it and a bullet will pass through the animal if you hit it and if you don’t a .243 rifle like the one I use will send a bullet about seven miles if fired in the air at a 45 degree angle. NEVER TAKE A SHOT LIKE THIS.

This is much better, there is a field rising behind the target animal which will stop a bullet making this a safe shot.
Aiming for a chest shot to destroy the heart and lungs, once you have fired and hit the animal it may run for a while before dropping to the ground if you placed the shot correctly. Once you have approached the animal and confirmed that it is dead you now need to carry out the gralloch, this is the process of removing the animals digestive tract to avoid any contamination of the meat.
More to follow on how to carry out the gralloch, skin a deer, prepare a flint scraper for fleshing hides and working with and curing deer skins.


Sunday 17 November 2013

Purple Loosestrife

a rather common waterside plant, but one that has great medicinal value
This plant is used by many indiginous people especially the north american indians.
It's primary function is as an antidiarrheic, but it's great for bowel conditions and as a throat gargle for minor infections. It's also good as an eyewash for conjunctivitous and the juice of the plant helps stop nosebleeds..a good one to keep in the natural medicine cabinet.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Twig Tongs

Tongs are a handy thing to have around a campfire for lifting things that maybe hot, or removing things from cooking vessels, even lifting coals or embers from the fire. There's a number of ways to make these but this way is the simplest

cut a fork with equal thickness branches, thin the insides slightly near the joint and taper the ends into a flat at the tip
simple as that, these ones were made to lift my char cloth tin from the fire.

Wednesday 30 October 2013


An easy one to find and recognise and a handy one at this time of year when a lot of plants are dying back

easy to identify with the close knit bunches of pinky white flowers
and the easy way to be sure is the black markings on the basal and lower leaves.
A good plant to start on if you want to eat wild foods as it doesn't taste green! as a matter of fact it's quite tasty and would be good in a salad although I've just eaten it as is.
Apparently it also helps stop diahorrea , however I haven't tried it for that so can't speak from experience..

Sunday 27 October 2013

New Lauri Bushcraft Knife

I do love Lauri blades and having made some of the larger ones lately, I figured I'd make a more utilitarian one for general use

Walnut handle, brass bolster
and end cap

and here it is, it really is very comfortable.


Sunday 20 October 2013

Buzzard Bushcraft in the Daily Mirror

We did a little thing recently where a reporter from the Daily Mirror came along to see what all the fuss about bushcraft was about, he was so impressed with what we had to offer that he did a little write up in one of the UK's biggest daily newspapers about us, it has a circulation well in excess of 1 million!!!

he did get quite a few things wrong, like mentioning yarrow and achillea!!

and morphing Davy and myself into the same person!! (har har)

but the rest of the write up was quite good

especially the bit where he says Ray Mears and Bear Grylls have nothing on Davy!!
I'll leave him thinking that's true!


Wednesday 16 October 2013

Much Room for Mushrooms

I love mushrooms, but I'm very reluctant to pick those I find in the wild as it's too easy to make a mistake. However there are a few types that are easily identifiable and also make great eating and this time of year is the time to find them

one of the easiest to identify, the common field mushroom, and one of my favourites, very tasty and great in stews and casseroles or just fried in butter

 another relatively easy one to find, the Shaggy parasol, I have mistaken yellow stainers for these before so please do take care
and the good old Ink Cap, pick when small like this, as it gets watery and tasteless when cooked and not particularly pleasant to eat.
Like all wild edibles, please be carefull only eat what you can positively identify,
If in doubt, leave it out!!!

Sunday 13 October 2013


This is the second of the 2 plants I have been looking for and eventually found this year. It's relatively uncommon in Northern Ireland so it was good to eventually find it

The leaves are edible but can be bitter, I nibbled on one and they are but I've had worse.
The most common thing chicory is used for is as a coffee substitute and I'm sure we're all familiar with that use, although I've read reports that over consumption can cause retinal damage, though I'm unsure as to how accurate this is.
The roots are edible raw or cooked and there is a history of it being used in europe where it's called endive.
Mythology about chicory states that when "taken" in a particular way it opens the doorways between earth and the spiritual planes, maybe best just to eat the stuff!

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Acorn Coffee

This is a really old way of making a coffee like drink, it's ok as a stand by and I much prefer tea but it might be handy for some of you dedicated coffee drinkers out there

gather plenty of acorns, for every 2lbs you get about 4 oz of coffee after discarding, shelling and roasting

shell the acorns and chew one, if they're too bitter leach in water for 24 to 48 hours

now there's 2 ways of doing this, the easy way or the hard way! The easy way is to use a blender, the hard way is a pestle and mortar, either way reduce your acorns down to a crumbly consistency

then slowly roast in a dry pan. You'll be surprised how much steam comes off them!!

once there's no more steam coming off them put back in your blender and grind them again, then back in the pan for a second time, then repeat the process one more time.

by the third roasting and grinding the acorns will be dark in colour and finely ground, they will also smell very coffee like! But this was all I got from 2lbs of acorns!!!

and the taste, it's quite coffee like and quite mild, I'm sure a lot of coffee drinkers will be pleasantly surprised by it's taste!