Thursday, 31 December 2009


I've just come back from spending a snowy Christmas with friends near Newport on Tay where I had the joy of seeing, for the first time in my life, hares racing about in the fields.

Snowy fields near Newport-on-Tay

The turn of the year seems like a good time to send out my thanks; I started blogging here about air rifle hunting & shooting on February 9th this year and this will be post 134; the blog has received 13,832 visits and 25,117 pages views so far. I've certainly very much enjoyed my end of things - writing and fiddling with photo's - but this amounts to little compared to the pleasure I've had from all the comments, responses and feedback to the blog. So I thought this would be a good time to express my gratitude.

My thanks go in particular to:

Albert A Rasch (currently in Afghanistan), for his generous and enthusiastic support both for this blog and for the life of the Hunter-Blogger community in general.

The Suburban Bushwacker - the premier UK Hunter-Blogger! - for his links, comments and the pleasure of the conversations we've had.

NorCal Cazadora - Mighty Queen of the Hunter-Bloggers! - it's an honour to be on y'r blogroll, ma'am!

Mungo Says Bah! - Thanks for your links and support and the pleasure that your always-delightful photography has given me.

Thomas - I faintly suspect that, were I in the States, my voting choices wouldn't meet with your unqualified approval - but your kindness, comments and emails have greatly enlivened this blog, broadened my outlook, sharpened my knives and improved my shooting.

Fred - many thanks for that Rhino Scope you were kind enough to send me. I've been such a lazy bugger of late that - and I'm embarrassed about this - I've yet to use it in the field. But that day will come, and soon, I'm sure.

Tony of Sandwell Field Sports (probably the best gun shop in the UK) - for tuning my old HW80k - it's a different gun thanks to you and I'm very much looking forwards to the barrel work you've suggested.

Many thanks for the comradely links and support from James Marchington, Harris' Hawk blog, Wandering Owl Outside, Wildcat Outdoors, Backyard Safari, Hodgeman, Lone Star Parson and Murphyfish.

To those that have hit the 'Donate' button on the left: You know who you are - please know also my very sincere thanks to you.

To those who've clicked the ads on the blog: Google Adsense quite rightly forbids me from encouraging you, but it can't stop me thanking you!

Thanks, cheers, and a Happy New Year to you all!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Hackney Farmer Karma of Hubert.

Joy! After months of relentless lurking in charity shops I finally landed myself an authentically smelly, wrinkled and grubby fake Barbour Jacket! Hallelujah! The search is over: with my new jacket, straggly beard and filthy flat cap I am, at long last, the very image of a bona-fide Hackney Farmer.

A Hackney Farmer? Just so: one who affects the full trappings of rural work-wear and yet can be seen to do nothing but lounge around all day in Starbucks with a Mac on their lap, cradling, in their moisturised, callous-free hands, naught more burdensome than a de-caff soya latte.

C'est moi!
I might now look like a scion of the rural working community, but I've been nowhere near the fields for... well, for what seems like months.

Anyway, now fully outfitted for appearance in the country I, of course, headed straight for the city (with the ever-lovely Mrs. Hubert)...

...and strode around proudly in the crowded streets, resplendent, so I felt, in my new-found, very becoming, son-of-the-soil, rural garb.

Out for a meal at my brother-in-law's place in the city, the three of us were just finished with the first bottle of wine each and, swaying somewhat, I struggled into my new coat and went out into the garden for a smoke.

As I left the warmth, my brother-in-law elected to bring his fluffy and adorable pet rabbit into the cozy, wine-and-roast-chicken perfumed snug of his lounge to warm up a wee bit. All very nice.

Fag finished, I came back inside, dropped everything and said 'yes please!' to another glass.

The rabbit ate my bloody jacket.

In a flash, in the space of a minute the damn thing put about a dozen holes in it; big holes, not little nibbled scratchy marks, dirty great big inch-across holes.

Now, I'm very happy to pretend I'm a farmer but I'm less happy, far less happy, to appear like someone who lives in a bush and talks back to his voices (obviously, since this is actually who I am, and the whole useful and enjoyable point of costume is putting on the orthopaedic mask of someone that you're not). So the hole-riddled jacket went on the peg in the hall and stayed there for a month while I contemplated it in passing every day with a grumpy scowl on my face.

Pedalling back from the giant charity warehouse on the outskirts of the town where I live the other day (where I'd gone to try and find a cheap fridge, since my old second-hand one has chosen this helpfully chilly part of the year to finally break down) I spotted a mouldy green lump in a ditch which, on inspection, turned out to be another filthy fake Barbour.

Joy! (and thanks, God.)

I cut the less mouldy strips of the waxed fabric from the discarded wreck of the coat and, over a few nights, stitched them onto the rabbit-wrecked remains of my own.

Job's a good 'un.

Winter draws on.

Winter has come to the West Midlands; the first flakes of the season's snow fall invisibly through the late afternoon's darkness, glitter for a moment in the yellowy-orange glow of the street lights and shiver down finally onto the lawns, the roofs of parked cars and the piled-up, wind-blown remains of Autumn's long-fallen leaves.

Do they fall on Hubert, hunkered in a field somewhere, one boggling eyeball frozen to end of a scope?

Nope; no-sirree; no they don't - for Hubert is inside: crouched in the weak field of warmth that's grudgingly given by the ancient storage heaters in his near-Arctic flat; long-john clad, duvet-wrapped, chain-smoking roll-ups and dreaming of summer...