Friday, 3 September 2010

Photograph of my arse...

...with a new toy I got in the post today (courtesy of a well-know online auction site).

I spent a while over the summer talking with a traveller bloke who was doing some 'community service' ('...So I said to the copper, "If you take these handcuffs off me I'm going to hit you." He took the handcuffs off me - so I hit him.'). He did a lot of hunting & fishing for food and he and I hit it off a little by talking about this together - and I really learned some things from him.

For one, I think he was quite genuinely surprised when I said that I took a knife with me when I went out hunting rabbits. 'Gut them? No, no, I don't do that, I squeeze all the innards out through the arsehole. I pick them up by the front legs, press down with my thumb on the belly and push it all out. I can't do it as fast as my dad, mind. My dad can do it in a second. Unbelievable, my dad is...'. But what about eating the liver and the kidneys, I asked? 'No,' he said, 'I don't do that,' and he wrinkled his nose in disgust.

He told me that he'd often go out with just his catapult and that he'd been using it since he was a boy. He'd learned to use it by going out with his father when they were all working together picking crops down south in the summer; they'd get wood pigeon, rabbits - even the odd duck - and put it all in a cooking pot outside with peas and potatoes from the farm.

It's easy for me - very easy - to imagine that I can pick up this kind of skill by just wanting to; it's a romanticism that I'm an easy prey for. Probably, for myself, I'll just end up using it to ping a few pebbles down the railway track at the bottom of the road. I know that there's a giant learning curve with catapults before you can become even remotely accurate with them. That being said, there were a couple of times in the summer, walking up the back lanes into the hilly farmland nearby, when a pheasant would pop out through a hedge in front of me and all I could do each time was watch them scurry away while I wished I had something useful to hand...


  1. i use a catapult to get the squirells moving when out hunting with my hawk, you just got to be careful not to hit your hawk

  2. HH

    Love cattys me, there's quite a growing scene of people hunting with them here in old blighty, so much less hassle than an air rifle.

    A tip that's paid off for me is making lead balls, they work a lot better than the steel ones. Scrap lead is more expensive than it used to be but is pretty easy to get (wheel balancing weights are often free for the asking as they are not reused). I bought my .40 musket ball maker for £15 - just make sure to use it outside - despite what the 'traditional ammo' crowd say the stuff is seriously effing toxic. So much so that the smart money is on sealing the balls with lacquer or even pound shop hair spray and using barrier cream on you hands while handling them.

    Let us know which hold you end up most accurate with - i use 'splayed fingers' and find it makes a HOOJ difference.


  3. Actually, it's not all that tough to learn good practical accuracy. On this season's Top Shot competition, the two contestants went from no experience to hitting tin cans at 20 feet within about 20 practice shots. It's at 32 minutes of this video.

    I don't know about your buddy's method for gutting (or not) a rabbit. Seems risky to me, but maybe I'll give it a try this year.

    As always, have fun!

  4. SBW, try using leadless pewter instead, or just purchase a cheap bag of marbles!

  5. Believe it or not, I used to use a gutting technique much like the one you described. I'd take the rabbit in my hands and slowly squeeze down the the midsection until all the innards were balled up near the hind end and then I'd stand with my legs a bit apart and quickly swing the rabbit down between my legs. The centrifugal force propels the innards out of the rabbit and behind you.

    My friends rather crudely christened it the "gut gusher" but it worked. I don't use it much anymore because, like you said, I like saving the liver and kidneys and it's a little difficult finding them in the brush twenty-odd feet behind you...

    Love the slingshots. My very first rabbit was taken with a wristrocket...

  6. I practiced and practiced one summer with a modern wristrocket. I never got any game with it, but the romance of it strikes me as well.

  7. I use a bag of marbles bought at the dollar store (similar to the pound store, except it has blue wallpaper). I've hit 1 cliff, 2 trees, and several large stones. I've got lots to learn.

  8. I've just been reminded of this video I watched a couple of years ago. This fellow is a slingshot magician.

  9. Thanks for the interesting catty links, folks, and for all your comments of course.

    The non-gutting gutting thing: ach! I can't bring myself to try it!

    I bust the original square elastic my catty came with inside of about ten shots - it was ancient I think. I just got a little sheet of Theraband gold in the post and - after a bit of head-scratching and research - I'm going to try and fashion two tapered bands of doubled elastic to replace the old stuff. That is, after I buy myself a razor sharp miniature pizza cutter - which I gather is about the only thing you can use to cut the stuff with. The whole business of rolling my own shot strikes me as a bit of a fag though, I have to say, so I'll have to see if I can figure a way around that. My traveller friend works as a scrap dealer & had an unlimited supply of chunky ball bearings - I'm tempted to see if I can't follow suit somehow and acquire a pile of those myself...