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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

BushScience; Binomial Nomenclature

You will all have heard that plants, animals and all organisms in fact have 'Latin names' in fact for those of you who may be particularly interested in fungi you may well have encountered fungi which do not have a 'common' name at all.

So why are things assigned 'Latin names'?

First of all they are not! While Latin was the language of academia at the time the system known correctly as binomial nomenclature was established a lot of the names are not really Latin and take their names instead from the person who discovered them or even from other languages. 

For example Caerostris darwini, Darwin's bark spider, an orb-weaver spider discovered in Madagascar takes it's name from Charles Darwin and the long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) takes it's name from Sir David Attenborough. Both these giants in their respective fields have many other things named after them too.

Now that we have established that plants and animals do not necessarily have Latin names what is that strange double barrelled name that they have? And what is it for? 

That doubled barrelled name is part of a taxonomic system (a system of collecting, grouping and naming  things) known as binomial nomenclature, that means a two part naming system. The two parts refer to somethings genus and species. Let's look at an example;

Red Deer; Cervus elaphus

The first part of it's binomial name refers to it's genus, within a genus there may be several different species, for example red deer share their genus with sika deer (Cervus nippon), Thorolds deer (Cervus albirostris) and North American elk (Cervus canadensis). The genus is always presented with a capitalised first letter. the second part of the name is it's species, the combination of genus and species is unique to a particular organism although species names may apply to more than one species for example Reeves muntjac (muntiacus reevesi) and Reeves pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesi). An organisms species name is always presented entirely in lower case. These binomial names are always italicised in text although they can also be underlined if hand written to show that they are a scientific name. 
Portrait of Linnaeus on a brown background with the word "Linne" in the top right corner
Carl Linneaus the father of binomial nomenclature
By Alexander Roslin - Nationalmuseum press photo, cropped with colors slightly adjusted, Public Domain, Link

Binomial nomenclature is part of a larger taxonomic structure which was established by Carl Linnaeus as Swedish Zoologist and Botanist who lived from 1701-1778. Since his work the system of binomial nomenclature has been used consistently. An organisms genus and species though fit at the very bottom of a larger system of classification, we'll use red deer again as an example;

Kingdom; Animalia (animal)
Phylum; Chordata (got a back bone)
Class; Mammalia (mammals)
Order; Artiodactyla (even toed ungulate; an ungulate is a mammal with hooves, even toed ungulates include deer, cammels, cattle and believe it or not hippopotamuses)
Family; Cervidae (deer)
Genus; Cervus
Species; elaphus

The highest level of classification is Kingdom where organisms are split into their five kingdoms of plant, animal, fungi, monera and protista. Next an animals phylum (plants have domains instead of phylum) within the animal kingdom it is at this level of classification that organisms are split into molluscs, animals with a backbone, animals with an exoskeleton, worms etc.... Next; class, within the phylum chordata their are five classes; mammal, fish, bird, reptile and amphibian. Within the class mammalia (mammals) there are twenty six orders including carnivores, rodents, bats etc... After that things get much more specific with family and then on to genus and species which you are already familiar with. 

The reasons for this sort of naming system are many, one major need being a need for scientists to communicate across language barriers. Common names are clearly not going to be the same from one language to another. If I was to tell you not to eat a röd flugsvamp for example you may not know what I mean but even if I couldn't speak English I could tell you not to eat an Amanita muscaria and you could work out which species to avoid. Nowadays I suppose you do have google translate at your finger tips on a smart phone to help you but it isn't always accurate or helpful, while google did know that a röd flugsvamp was fly agaric it was confused by dovhjort (which means fallow buck in Swdish);

Also scientific names do away with any doubt over species which may share a common name or go by various different colloquial names depending on where in the county you are, take hadge garlic for example which might be called any of the following; Garlic Mustard, Garlic Root,Hedge Garlic, Sauce-alone, Jack-in-the-bush, Penny Hedgeand Poor Man's Mustard.

So there you have it 'Latin names' avoid confusion, cross language barriers and aren't Latin. 

    Thursday, 25 January 2018

    Foragers Diary; January 2018

    I originally set up the foragers diary as a regular series here on the Bushcraft Education blog before it became a stand alone 'micro blog' which you can access through the link at the top of the page or HERE. The micro blog allowed me to post small regular updates on the foraging I was doing and the wild food I was eating directly from my phone. 

    Since setting it up I haven't really done much about wild food on the Bushcraft Education blog but from now on there will be a monthly update here on the wild food that is available at that time of year, these posts will be longer and more detailed than the micro blog posts and will contain tips for finding, identifying and cooking wild food as well. 

    I hope you enjoy January's post and maybe you'll even be inspired to do a bit of foraging yourself or expand your current wild food repertoire. 

    January is part of the 'Hungry Gap' the time of the year when little is available for animals or humans to eat, the seeds, fruits and nuts are all gone, the season for most fungi is over and hardly any edible greens are available at all. This is the time of year that demonstrates the importance of meat in the diet of hunter gatherers. Although vegans are entitled to make their decision not to eat meat I guarantee not many of them would stand by their conviction at this time of year if all they had to eat was what they could forage. 

    Luckily for meat eaters there is plenty of variety over winter and this 'hungry gap' coincides conveniently with most of the UK's game bird shooting seasons and some of the deer seasons too. In January Chinese water deer, roe does, muntjac, red, sika and fallow deer are all in season as are pheasants, partridge ducks and geese. Even before seasons for game were implemented and non native game species were introduced to the British Isles the lack of fruit, veg and other food during during this hungry gap would have necessitated a reliance on meat and preserved foods. 

    Without preserved food from last year though what wild food can you eat in January;

    Scarlet elf caps and jelly ear fungi are some of the few edible fungi available in January and are one of those unmistakable wild foods which unlike some other fungi are more or less impossible to mistake for something inedible or poisonous.
    Scarlet elf caps grown on the floor of damp woodlands, on decaying wood and amongst moss, the bright scarlet colour inside the caps gives them away and their lack of any gills or pores makes them really easy to identify. Jelly ear fungi can be found growing on dead and live wood alike and seem to have a particular preference to elder. I have found the best way to make use of jelly ears is to slice them fairly thinly and add them to stir fries, some specimens can seem to have quite a rubbery texture but they do go well in stir fries. 

    Scarlet elf caps are also quite good in stir fries but are delicious on their own as well, I would describe their taste as something between a field mushroom and a very mild radish. Although I have been eating them for quite some time I'm still undecided as to whether the radish taste is real or whether I'm imagining it because they just happen to be a similar colour. 

    I quite enjoy filling scarlet elf cups with beetroot chutney and winter cress leaves, cress plants which are part of the brassica family produce basal leaves all year around so if you know what  to look for you can forage some greens in winter.
    Cress comes in many shapes and sizes but what you won't see in January are any flowers, hairy bitter cress has small clusters of white flowers to help in it's identification in spring and summer but in January you will be looking for leaves and nothing else. 

    Collecting scarlet elf caps and cress leaves. 

    You will also occasionally be able to find oyster mushrooms in January and my favourite way to eat those is to use them in a stroganoff. Their firm meaty texture makes them a perfect substitute to the beef that would normally make up the bulk of a stroganoff. 

    Oyster mushroom stroganoff. A delicious dish of  oyster mushrooms, peppers, creme freche and flavoured with paprika and mustard. 
    While the jelly ear fungi and scarlet elf cups are easy to identify oyster mushrooms as will any gilled fungi require a little more care in their identification. They grow exclusively on decaying wood and in my experience seem to have a preference for dead horse chestnut, willow and poplar although I have seen them on other species. 

    To identify them look first for the oyster shaped caps which will generally be of white to quite dark grey, their gills are decurent which means that they are not only present under the cap but that they continue down the length of the stem, if there is a stem present. The stem on oyster fungi is not typical and they will often be twisted, short and curved as a fungi will grow on the side of logs as often as on top, where stems might grow in a normal upright shape. As well as decurent gills where a stem is present there will be no ring around the stem like you might find on a shaggy parasol or horse mushroom and no sack around the base. Additionally although the cap may be quite dark grey the flesh should always be white. 

    The fungi that can be found in January are a treat for the wild food enthusiast as is the food that can be hunted but pheasants are much easier to identify than fungi. 

    Pheasant, pigeon and vegetables ready for roasting 

    A delicious meal and while the pheasant and pigeon can be foraged from the wild other parts of this meal obviously weren't  
    Follow the posts on the foragers diary blog for regular updates on the wild food I have been foraging and eating and you can expect another more detailed wild food post here for the month of February.

    Wednesday, 17 January 2018

    There is Always Something

    Another regular series that is being resurrected here on the Bushcraft Education Blog is Martins regular 'from the highseat' series where he shares his latest encounters with wildlife as he goes about hes deer management work and other outdoor excursions. We hope you enjoy todays instalment and you can expect regular updates on a monthly basis. 

    We start the year with a reminder that there is always something out there worth seeing in the countryside and some of Martins rules for 'doing it right' when it comes to deer stalking. 

    My work as a deer manager takes me along hedgerows and ditches, through woods and scrub and I know pretty much what can be found and where at any time of the year. I see the trees blossom and come into fruit, I watch them ripen and I take some home. My quest may be a deer but I am happy to come home with a rucksack full of apples, plums or cherries, a photograph or a memory, hunting is a journey not a destination, the secret is to enjoy the outing, not the outcome and I do.

    Until November, hardier crops such as Apples, Crab Apples and Sloes are still on some of the trees and ready to eat or be converted into Jellies and sauces for the meat crops which come during our peak deer season. I love fruit sauces with meat and Bambi and Cranberry is my favourite roast! But sadly the Elder Flower cordial from the summer is long gone and the blackberries are already in jam or been eaten in pies.
    a haul of blackberries and rosehips picked opportunistically while out looking for deer.
    It saddens me that people think that all a deer manager does is kill deer because it is a whole lot more complicated and involved than that and it starts with many miles of walking, interspersed with picking fruit and watching birds in my case!

    First of all we need to know what species we have on the land (we have three, Roe, Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer) then we need to know how many and where they are, how many we need to take out during the season to maintain a healthy and sustainable population but which won’t cause too much damage to crops. A happy farmer is the key to coming back and doing this each year, it is a privilege not a right and it has to be done right!

    Doing it right means:

    · Doing it safely! Safety will always be the top priority, we have to share the countryside with everyone and our presence cannot impact on their safety or enjoyment of the environment.

    · Safety is closely followed by humanity, if we have identified a poorly looking animal, taking this one will be our top priority, one with a limp is the most obvious and common sign of something being amiss and only a close inspection will reveal the cause. The most common cause is old age and/or bad feet, arthritic joints, and overgrown feet are common place, encounters with agricultural equipment can be a factor although many of those are fatalities during the harvest, where young animals just sit tight until it’s too late to flee. Fighting and road traffic collisions are other causes and just occasionally, a deer peppered with bird shot, where someone has exercised poor judgement.

    · With all of these other factors in place, marksmanship, stealth and an understanding of the weather (wind in particular will betray your presence) all add up to a unique experience. 

    practising regularly is important if you plan to humanely and safely harvest deer or other wildlife from the countryside. 

    · I believe that one of the greatest obligations on me and anyone who engages in any form of ‘meat harvest’, is to ensure that there is no waste, or at least the very least possible.

    · Finally, leave the countryside devoid of evidence that a deer or I was ever there.

    For someone who knows and loves the countryside, there is always something to eat, something to watch and a myriad of things to appreciate, from a sunrise to a sunset, from a fruit bush to a mushroom patch, a pigeon pie or a venison steak.

    Wrap up warm and get out there soon, you will never regret it!


    Wednesday, 10 January 2018

    Applied Bushcraft; Outdoor Education

    Now that we are posting regularly again on the bushcraft education blog we will be resurrecting the regular series that we used to run. The 'Applied Bushcraft' series will be one of them and today's topic for the applied bushcraft series is Outdoor Education. 

    As a postgraduate student I studied Outdoor Education (OE) and because of my background and interest in bushcraft often looked for ways in which bushcraft could be integrated into OE programmes. I have also regularly looked at the benefits of teaching bushcraft as an educational activity, in fact that is the whole premise of this blog. I will use some excerpts from my post grad essays here to give a little bit of history of OE and how it intertwines with bushcraft. 

    Throughout the first half of the 20th Century pioneering outdoor education programmes were established all around the world to address a range of perceived needs of the youth of their respective  countries and generations. Some of the reasons for the establishment of these programmes included; 

    • Development of moral fibre and desirable character traits (Cook 1999)

    • Developing active lifestyles through games and recreation (Smith 1997a)

    • Combat social decline (Loynes 2007; Richards 1990)

    • Development of 'Character' (Baden-Powell 1908)

    • preparing boys to be MEN (Baden-Powell 1908)

    • prepare boys physically and mentally for service in war and/or the community (Baden-Powell 1908; Loynes 2007)

    Emmeline Pethick's country holiday programme for girls, Baden-Powell's Scouting movement, The Woodcraft Folk and Kurt Hahn’s Outward Bound schools are all examples of these outdoor education movements. It may have been the moral panic of the Victorian era and concern over a perceived social decline amongst the working classes that led these and other influential 'social entrepreneurs' to begin developing early forms of OE (Loynes 2007). These early forays into OE were informal, in that they were not established in a recognised or nationally endorsed curriculum or delivered in schools or as part of any formal training. Although many became very popular and some are certainly now recognised on both a national and international scale.

    Scout stone Brownsea
    A stone on Brownsea Island in Dorset commemorating the first scout camp.
    By Adrian Pingstone (Image:Scout.stone.750pix.jpg) [Public domain]
    Even though the outdoors was a common theme whatever the specific objectives of these early programmes there were significant cultural clashes within the field of OE from it's very inception.

    Kibbo kift althing 1927
    A ceremony of the kindred of the kibo kift, an early outdoor education movement based in the UK.
    Image courtesy of The Kibbo Kift Foundation 
    The Kindred of The Kibbo Kift was a breakaway group from Scouting. Leaving behind what it's leader John Hargrave felt was an overly militaristic approach to engaging boys with the outdoors, although interestingly according to Smith (1997b) this is the same reason given by Baden-Powell as to why he stopped his involvement with the Boys Brigade and focused on his Scouting programme. Kibbo Kift focused more on living an open-air life and would eventually become The Woodcraft Folk in 1924 and which still exists today..

    The Woodcraft Folk were also heavily influenced by Ernest Thompson-Seaton, who was born in Britain and brought up in the USA and had developed a strong appreciation of Native American culture and teachings. Seaton was a founding member of the Boy Scouts of America and his writings and his Woodcraft Indians organisation heavily influenced the establishment of the The Woodcraft Folk (Woodcraft Folk 2010), although Smith (1997b) claims that Baden-Powell was strongly influenced by Seaton as well.

    Scouting pioneers
    Seaton, Baden Powell and Dan Beard, another influential figure in the Boy Scouts of America and the founder of an organisation known as the Sons of Daniel Boon which merged with the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. 
    Seaton's overarching philosophy was that the outdoor experience should be more recreational (Seton quoted by Smith 2002), but in the classical Latin sense relating recreation to social education rather than time out from work or responsibility (Glyptis 1991). Seaton also had a fascination with the Native American Indian cultures basing a lot of the principles of his Woodcraft movement on their teachings of harmony and balance in nature, He was also a supporter of instinct psychology and rather than directly addressing the development of the moral, physical and character of young people he allowed them to exhibit a 'boyish savagery' as part of their developmental journey (Hall 1999) towards 'civilization'. He eventually accepted the Indian way of life as an end goal without there being a need to look further for civilisation and by 1915 was encouraging the teaching of Native American religion and ceremonies (Smith 2002).

    Seton Book Woodcraft knots.jpg
    An Excerpt from on of Seatons books; The Book of Woodcraft and Indian Lore, Doubleday (1912)
    It only takes a cursory glance at the books by Baden Powell and Ernest Thompson Seaton and at the  curriculum of these various societies and organisations to spot the links with bushcraft. There is more to the history of OE than the British and American contribution though, rather than the key goals of preparation and character development in the programmes discussed here so far there is another approach to the outdoors which is deeply ingrained in the Scandinavian culture. This culture of outdoors engagement is so ingrained within the culture of those nations who practice it that it has become part of the vocabulary.

    In Scandinavia the word 'friluftsliv', literally 'fresh air life', encompasses all forms of outdoor and nature based activity and is not a discipline, subject or means of facilitation but rather a way of life (Stormeldeting 1972; Swedish Ministry of Culture 1999). I would argue that the vast majority of those people in the UK who go outdoors, whether that involves walking, rock climbing, fishing, canoeing or bushcraft do it in the spirit of friluftsliv even if we don't have a specific phrase for it. However, on the whole it seems to me that in the UK, instead of outdoor and nature based activities being an integral part of our culture and society we are in fact drawing further away from the natural world. As demonstrated by recent studies which indicate that the amount of time children spend playing outdoors has dwindled to between five and a half (JCB Kids 2013) and as little as 30 minutes per week (Mothercare 2014). This is not just the case in the UK, In the USA The Nature Conservancy conducted a poll in 2011 to gauge how 'connected' America's youth are to nature. Key findings included the fact that 88% of American youth claim to spend time on-line every day, with 69% playing video games or watching TV with that same level of frequency. Contrast that to the fact that less than 40% of American youth spend time taking part in outdoor activities on a weekly basis (The Nature Conservancy 2011). With all these distractions and easily obtained entertainment, and with the temptation for parents to use the TV and games console as an 'electronic babysitter' to get a bit of peace and quite or a free minute to prepare a meal in addition to the risk averse culture we now live in (Gill 2007), we are certainly not immersed in the spirit of outdoor life like those who practice 'friluftsliv'.

    Perhaps this reduction in outdoor engagement is due to the advance of modern technology? Perhaps the outdoors does not provide the convenient, easily accessible recreation of a games console? Or perhaps it's just too muddy? Maybe Marinetti got something right in his Futurist Manifesto? Maybe there would be a time when technology and 'progress' is all that matters and nature is but a hindrance and a dirty place to be avoided? (Marinetti 1909)

    Games consoles and other modern entertainment distracts fro outdoor experiences.
    By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

    The poor voluntary engagement with nature indicated by the studies cited above may well be one of the reasons for including OE in the modern national curriculum; so that it can be used as a tool to engage children and facilitate learning with the outdoors as an arena for development. Much in the way that Gösta Frohm established Skogsmulle in Sweden in 1957. As a response to what he saw as a population that was becoming more and more urbanised and less in touch with the natural world than the increasingly mechanised industries of forestry, trapping, mining and agriculture would previously have necessitated (Friluftsfrämjandet, nd). Although the skogsmulle programme is not officially part of school curriculum in Sweden outdoor play and nature based learning is (Ärlemalm-Hagser 2006), as it is in other Scandinavian countries, in particular in the Norwegian education system. In Norway outdoor learning was formally recognised in the curriculum in an attempt to improve the overall pedagogy of schooling and deliver a rounded programme using the outdoors and nature to provide situated learning (Lave & Wenger 1991) rather than de-contextualised learning (Säljö 2001). Outdoor learning achieves this by teaching about nature in nature, about society in society and about the local environment in the local environment (Jordet 1998) instead of trying to teach children about things outside of the classroom from the classroom. Outdoor learning as it is delivered in the Norwegian curriculum should be a course of prolonged exposure to the outdoors directly linked with the theoretical subjects being studied (Jordet 2009) not just one off activities with short term objectives and impacts. This approach and it's origins as part of the curriculum is different to the way OE has developed and been applied in the UK. OE as it is applied in the English Curriculum. This might be due to the existing culture of friluftsliv in Norway compared to a different culture perhaps best described as one of outdoor avoidance or nature deficiency (Louv 2005) in the UK.

    Another cultural difference, comparable to that difference between the friluftsliv attitude in Scandinavia and the more contrived involvement with nature, through OE, in the UK. Is the difference between the UK and other countries with no memory or remnant of first nations and those countries with a preserved tradition of ancestral skills and remnant populations still living by means of traditional skills. Outdoor education could be considered a concept unique to first world countries where the general populace are disconnected from the outdoors to the point where it has some sort of novelty value. But where a nations prevailing or remnant culture embraces or demands a closer connection with nature and the outdoors does the concept of outdoor education exist at all?

    I would argue that it does not, at least not in the same way. Think of first nations and the research which exists into the continuation of their traditional skills and knowledge. For them teaching those skills, such as Polar Bear Hunting (Pearce, et al., 2011), making skin clothing (Kritsch & Wright-Frazer, 2002), Fur preparation, hunting, fishing and trapping (Ohmagari & Berkes, 1997), is a necessary continuation of their traditional way of life and an exercise in cultural heritage. Whereas if we were to deliver a similar or even identical activity in the UK it would fall in the realm of OE, or be illegal/impossible due to environmental changes, extinctions and modern legislation.

    Today we are far removed from the ancient skills that would once have been used by native peoples living in the British Isles; the hunter gatherer societies of the Maesolithic (10,000-5,500 years ago) were the last people in the British Isles to operate without agriculture and would have used their own bushcraft skills to survive (Darvill, 2010). In other parts of the world primitive survival and bushcraft skills have been used by native peoples in living memory and in some parts of the world is still a way of life (Wescott, 2001). As Pearce et all (2011), Kritsch & Wright-Frazer (2002) and Ohmagari & Berkes (1997) explain, the successful transmission of these skills is a vital part of preserving the skills, traditions and way of life of surviving native peoples. Where these traditional cultures are threatened or dwindling formal schools have even been set up to ensure these skills can be taught to younger generations such as the Samernas Utbildningscentrum (The Sami’s Training Centre) in Jokkmokk, Sweden, and the TePuia in Rotoroa, New Zealand (Te Puia , 2010). These types of skills have already been lost, or at least only practiced by a very small minority in the UK. They may be primitive skills based on stone age technologies or more modern methods and techniques used well into the 20th Century as part of woodland management practices, but to teach them now is to re-introduce them rather than to preserve them. While these skills are of heritage value elsewhere here they would certainly be classed as part of bushcraft in the UK which has emerged over the last twenty to thirty years as an increasingly popular part of the outdoor recreation and education scene. Other than the obvious cultural value of retaining or re-learning traditional skills are there also educational benefits.

    Fassbauen Kollega hat Durst 1935
    Traditional crafts and skills such as coppering and other skills with a much closer relationship with the raw materials required are largely lost in the Western world. These skills are practised by a few artisans in little more than cottage industries with few people learning to carry on those skills.
    Image By Josef Reichenberger (Scan von Fotografie aus eigenem Besitz) [Public domain]
    Just as the field of OE claims that there are educational benefits to being involved with adventurous activities such as rock climbing, kayaking and expeditions I would suggest that the same benefits can be seen and objectives met through the use of bushcraft. Although there is limited, if any, conclusive evidence of this I conducted a brief study in 2013 looking at the benefit of including bushcraft in countryside management studies as a way of improving students performance in specific element s of their course, including plant identification (Guy 2013). My research suggested that this was the case although it was based on a small sample size and would benefit from further exploration. I presented the talk in the video bellow at the 2014 Bushcraft Show at Catton Hall in Derbyshire summarising the findings of this research.

    In preparation for this research I had to justify that bushcraft was relevant to the curriculum of the BTEC Extended Diploma in countryside management that I was teaching. This highlights the current culture in education of standardized testing and delivery of a prescribed curriculum rather than focusing on the potential developmental benefit of an activity or experience even if it does stray slightly beyond they bounds of the conventional curriculum. Fortunately the field of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Wisdom (TEKW) is closely related to bushcraft and there is plenty of research to suggest that traditional knowledge and skills are valuable and valid even when you consider the availability of modern land management methods and improved scientific knowledge (Agrawal, 1995) (Colorado & Collins , 1987) (Posey, 1990) (Schultes , 1988) (Hunn, 1993) (Ellis, 2005) (Berkes, et al., 1993) (Richards , 1997).

    So that is a little bit about Outdoor Education and it's relationship to bushcraft, I hope you enjoyed it or at least found it interesting. The references will be available below for those of you who are interested. 

    We will be posting new applied bushcraft articles fairly regularly and I'm even working on a new book titled 'Applied Bushcraft' which I am hoping to finish by the end of the year. 

    Agrawal, A.. (1995). Dismantling the divide between indigenous and scientific knowledge. Development Change, Volume 26, pp. 413-439.
    Baden-Powell, R. (1908) Scouting for Boys
    Berkes, F., Gadgil, M. & Folke, C., (1993) Indigenous knowledge for biodiversity conservation. Ambio, 22(2-3), pp. 151-156.
    BookCaps. (2010) Marxism in Plain and Simple English; The Theory of Marxism in a Way Anyone Can Understand. s.l.:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
    Brown, D (2011) Back to the Land; The Eduring Dream of Self-sufficiency in Modern America. University of Wisconsin Press; 1st edition
    Burk, A. (nd) In your opinion, what should the purpose of education be? TED Conferences LLC [Online] Available at; [accessed; 09/11/14]
    Colorado, P. & Collins , D., (1987) Western scientific colonialism and the re-emergence of native Science.. Practice: Journal of Politics, Economics, Psychology, Sociology and Culture , Volume Winter , pp. 50-65.
    COOK, L. (1999) The 1994 Education Act and Outdoor Education: From Policy to Practice. History of Education, 22(2), 157-172.
    Darvill, T. (2010) Prehistoric Britain. 2nd ed. London: Routledge .
    Department of Education and Science , (1975) Outdoor Education - Dartington conference report. s.l., Department of Education and Science.
    Ellis, S. C. (2005) Meaningful Consideration? A review of Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Decision Making. Arctic, 58(1), pp. 66-77.
    Friluftsfrämjandet. (nd) Det här är Skogsmulle. available online; [Online] available at; [accessed on 09/11/14]
    Gill, T. (2007) No Fear: Growing Up In A Risk Averse Society. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. London.
    Glyptis, S. (1991) Countryside Recreation, Gateshead
    Guy, G. (2013) Does Bushcraft Have a Place in Formal Education, Horizons, (63) pp 26-29.
    Hall, C. S. (1999) A Primer of Freudian Psychology, Meridian, New York.
    Hill, H,. (1980) Freedom to Roam – The Struggle for Access to Britain’s Moors and Mountains, Moorland Publishing Company Ltd. Newton Abbot.
    Hillage, J; Pollard, E. (1998) Employability: Developing a Framework for Policy Analysis, Institute for Employment Studies. DfEE Publications, Nottingham.
    Hunn, E. N. (1993) What is traditional ecological knowledge?. In: N. M. Williams & G. Baines , eds. Traditional Ecological Knowledge; wisdom for sustainable development. Canberra: Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, pp. 13-15.
    JCB Kids (2013) 'Fresh Air Campaign'  [Online] cited in [accessed 07/11/14]
    Jordet, A. N. (2009) Chapter 2: What is Outdoor Learning? Outlines Outdoor Learning in Elementary Schools From Grassroot to Curriculum in Teacher Education.  Socrates Programme [Online] available online; [accessed 08/11/14]
    Jordet, A. N. (1998) Nærmiljøet som klasserom. Uteskole i teori og praksis. Cappelen Akademisk Forlag, Oslo.
    Kritsch, I. & Wright-Frazer, K. (2002) The Gwich'in Traditional Caribou Skin Clothing Project; Repatriating Traditional Knowledge and Skills. Arctic, 55(2), pp. 205-213.
    Lave, J., Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press
    Louv, R. (2005) Last Child in the Woods. Atlantic Books. London
    Loynes, C (2007) Social Reform, Militarism and other historical influences on the practice of Outdoor Education in youth work; in Becker, P. Braun, K.H. and Schirp, J. Erlebnisse und die Padagokik. Abenteuer.
    Marinetti, F. T. (1909) Manifesto of Futurism, Le Figaro
    Morley, L (2001) Producing New Workers: quality, equality and employability in higher education. Quality in Higher Education, Vol 7, No 2
    Ofted (2004) Outdoor Education; Aspects of Good Practice.
    Ohmagari, K. & Berkes, F. (1997) Transmission of Indigenous Knowledge and Bush Skills among Western James Bay Cree Women of Subarctic Canada. Human Ecology, 25(2), pp. 197-222.
    Pearce, T. et al. (2011) Transmission of Environmental Knowledge and Land Skills among Inuit Men in Ulukhatok, Northwest Territories, Canada. Human Ecology, Volume 39, pp. 271-288. (2014) Grammar Schools, [Online] Available at [accessed on 13/11/14]
    Posey, D. A. (1990) The Science of the Mebengokre. Orion, 9(3), pp. 16-21.
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    Richards, R. T. (1997) What the natives know: wild mushrooms and forest health. Journal of Forestry, Volume September, pp. 5-10.
    Robinson, K. (2009) The Element; How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. London: Penguin.
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    Wednesday, 3 January 2018

    Wisport Forester; The Accidental Bushcrafter

    For a bit more information about the decision to start doing this please check out our new GEAR PAGE. 

    There will be about one gear review a month along with our normal posts, you can expect posts regularly again now as of January 2018. 

    We hope you enjoy the first review on the Wisport forester Rucksac. 

    I recently received a new pack from Military 1st, I was looking for a pack which I could use to TRANSPORT a firearm and basic equipment while I was out deer stalking. I say transport because I wasn’t looking for an alternative to a sling for my rifle, I’ve not come across a more expedient and quiet carry system than a rifle sling ever and I’m not looking for one, what I was looking for was something that would allow me to carry my rifle comfortably without having to haul an unwieldy and uncomfortable gun slip around over one shoulder if I had to walk a couple of miles from my vehicle to my cabin or to where I will be starting my stalk from. Rifle slips are not comfortable to carry for long distances and when I have to walk to the little cabin where I will occasionally sleep before an early morning stalk the mile or two walk with the gun slip bumping against the back of my leg the whole way is tiresome.
    Today's lesson; When I launched the gear reviews on this blog I promised that every one of them would contain a lesson not just pure review about a piece of equipment. So today's lesson is on firearms ownership in the UK. I write a lot about firearms on this blog and I have already justified my position in firearms and their use as part of a bushcraft skill set many times, you can find out about that HERE so I'm not going to repeat myself but I am going to explain a bit about the UK's firearms laws as they apply to me personally and professionally. 
    With this review I look at a rucksack designed to carry a firearm, this may well not be a feature that many people need but as I have a background in game, wildlife and deer management and am actively involved in the management of deer population in the UK including carrying out deer stalking and culling it is a feature which would be very useful to me.

    Owning a firearm for deer stalking for any other purpose though is not strait forward. First lets deal with air rifles, yes they are firearms as in UK law a firearm is a barrelled weapon which fires a projectile but as long as they are not too powerful you do not require a licence to posses one. The limit is 12 ft/lbs of energy. Any air rifle capable of firing a projectile with more power than this requires a section 1 firearms licence for you to be able to posses it. Air rifles are extremely useful for pest control of species such as rabbits, pigeons, squirrels and rats and are a great way to put food on the table too.

    However they have limited range and power and so to be more effective more powerful firearms are required for certain situations. Deer for example, it would be illegal, not to mention stupid, irresponsible, cruel and ineffective, to shoot a deer with an air rifle. To shoot deer (in England and Wales) legally you need to use a rifle with a legal minimum calibre of .240 which produces a muzzle energy of at least 1700 ft/lbs, for the smaller deer species (reeves muntjac and Chinese water deer, you can use a minimum of .220 with a muzzle energy no less than 1000 ft/lbs and a projectile no less than 50 grains in weight. To possess this kind of firearm you will need a section one firearms licence.

    These licences must be applied for through your local police constabulary, you will need to explain your reason for wanting a firearm, give evidence of the land over which you want to shoot it, prove that you have a safe place to keep it, ask for the specific calibre you require and justify that preference, provide Character references and details of your GP, disclose details of an convictions or mental illness. Once you have made and paid for this application you will be visited at home by a firearms enquiry officer who will clarify the details of you application, check that you have an appropriate gun cabinet and separate storage for ammunition and ask about your reasons for wanting firearms. In England and Wales this visit will be carried out by a non uniformed enquiry officer, in Scotland it will be by a uniformed officer.

    You will need to justify why you want a firearm of a particular calibre and explain your planned use of it, that may be for pest control deer stalking, target shooting etc... if you want a firearm for target shooting you will need to be a member of a club. At first you will be restricted to shooting at the land which you have provided details of to the constabulary (you can give them details of multiple places) but may over time and with experience be granted an open licence allowing you to shoot over any land where you have permission, you will always have to have at least one piece of land registered with the constabulary though. Your licence will restrict you to own a particular firearm or firearms of the calibres that you have been granted and for the reasons that you have given, these will appear as conditions on your licence on the very first page and ARE LEGALLY BINDING.

    You must abide by these conditions even if they seem a bit odd; for example it is legal to shoot a muntjac with a .223 but if your condition for owning one is for shooting vermin and targets strictly speaking you can't shoot deer with that rifle. It's a strange situation but worth being aware of.

    Your licence will also the exact firearms you are allowed to purchase by calibre and will stipulate the quantity of ammunition you are allowed to purchase, every time you purchase a firearm and ammunition it will be written on to your certificate and you must inform the constabularies firearms licencing team of your purchase or disposal of a firearm.

    Shotguns are not covered by section one licences unless they are capable of holding more then two rounds in a magazine, these high capacity guns can be placed on a section one licence with the appropriate justification. Shotguns are normally carried on a section two licence which is applied for in the same way as a section one with a few exceptions, no named land is required taking into account the number of people who will shoot clay pigeons, go on pheasant shoots as guests etc.. at a range of different places. Although you need to keep shotguns locked up like you would a section one firearm there is not the same requirement for a separate safe for ammunition, and a shotgun certificate will not include conditions like a section one firearms certificate does.

    That is the very briefest of lessons on firearms licencing and ownership in the UK.
    On With The Review;

    Military 1st provided me with the Forester by Wisport which seemed at first glance to be everything I needed. It is sturdily constructed by Polish manufacturer Wisport and not only has a total capacity of twenty eight litres, plenty for a day’s food, map, knives, binoculars, ammunition and other assorted stalking paraphernalia but a built in rifle sleeve which seemed like the perfect solution to carrying my rifle. The pack retails at £79.95 and full specifications of the pack as available on the Military 1st Website are;

    • Capacity: 28L
    • Primarily designed for hunting enthusiasts
    • 1 main compartment with large inner sleeve pocket
    • Front pocket with waterproof zippers, sleeve pocket, zipped pocket and MOLLE strap
    • Unique engineered rifle mounting pocket
    • Tough leather on high-use areas
    • Two side pockets
    • Quick-detach ACS carrying system
    • Adjustable shoulder straps and back section padded with air mesh
    • Enlarged and adjustable waist belt with buckled strap
    • Chest strap with buckle
    • Two pairs of side compression straps
    • MOLLE compatible
    • SAS zippers
    • Duraflex buckles
    • All seams secured
    • Material: Cordura Nylon
    • Dimensions: approx. 19.7"x10.6"x9.1" (50x27x23cm)
    • Weight: 1150g
    • Manufacturer: Wisport
    • Made in Poland
    • 5 years manufacturer warranty

    It was this rifle pocket that I was most interested in. The other features of the pack, while executed excellently with strong fabric, good quality stitching and durable hardware used throughout the construction, are available on every other backpack, it was the packs ability to be used to carry a rifle that was important.

    The Forester is built of heavy nylon and sheds water excellently. 
    Before you attach a rifle to this pack one particularly excellent feature becomes clear, the fact that pocket for the rifle is not visible the whole time, it folds away into a small zipped compartment just under the front pocket of the pack and it is not obvious that it is designed to hold a rifle which is important as I don’t want to broadcast the fact that I shoot or own weapons if I choose to use the pack for more mundane tasks than going stalking. 

    However as soon as I tried to mount my rifle in the specially designed ‘rifle mounting pocket’ I discovered a serious flaw; a scoped rifle won’t fit at all. Looking back at pictures which appear on the Military First website and the manufacturers website it is clear that none of the weapons pictures in this pack or in their ‘Reindeer Hunt’ pack which features a similar rifle pocket are hunting rifles, they are both un-scoped air rifles, in the 2016-17 catalogue the ‘Reindeer Hunt’ pack is pictured with an SMK B2 air rifle mounted to it and on the Military 1st Website it appears that the Forester has an air arms TX200 in it’s rifle pocket, it’s worth mentioning that the TX200 can’t be purchased new with any form of open sights fitted to it so carrying it without a scope is pointless (I happen to have owned the carbine model of the TX200 for many years, it was in fact the first air rifle I saved up and bought as a teenager and I will be doing a post on it in the next few weeks). So my first and deal breaking criticism is that the pack can’t accommodate a scoped rifle at all so it was out of the question for using to transport my stalking rifle in.

    My Air Arms TX200 HC clearly does not fit in the rifle pocket, my stalking rifle, which the pack was intended for doesn't  fit either. I use a Tikka T3 chambered in .243 for most of my deer stalking and will be doing a full review on it here soon. 
    Additionally what I really needed was to be able to carry the gun while still in some sort of slip or covering to keep it out of the weather during transportation or just to avoid startling anyone I might encounter on my walk to my cabin or to the start of my stalk. So I thought I would try mounting a shotgun or my BSA sportsman five which doesn’t have a scope onto the pack in a slip, this didn’t work either shotguns and unscoped rifles will clearly fit in the pocket but they won’t fit with any form of slip or cover. The only reason to carry a weapon un’bagged would be to enable quick access to it, however the rifle pocket does not allow quick expedient access to any weapon mounted in it, the pack has to be removed completely to remove and replace a mounted weapon and several straps need to be loosened or tightened each time the weapon is removed or replaced. This tightening and loosening of straps every time the weapon is removed or replaced from the pack raises another issue which makes the pack less than suitable for carrying weapons. If the pack is not completely full when a weapon is mounted even with all the straps cinched tight the weapon flops back and forth quite considerably even bashing against the back of my head as I carried a weapon in a mostly empty pack. Conversely if the pack is completely full the fabric becomes so tight that it is almost impossible to situate a weapon in the pocket without unpacking the main compartment.

    The pack will accommodate a shotgun or unscoped rifle but, the barrels will bang against the back of your head if the pack is empty and accessing the weapon quickly and quietly is impossible.  
    These issues unfortunately make the pack entirely unsuited to my intended purpose of using the pack to carry my rifle.

    This pack has become my go to bag for bushcrafting. The ‘rifle pocket’ has become an axe pocket allowing me to carry a larger axe securely without it poking out of the top of my bag. I’ve also used the rifle pocket to carry a bow for friction fire lighting, shelter poles and other equipment that is longer than comfortably fits in the main compartment of the bag. The front pocket is just the right size for stashing small tools and equipment for whittling and fire lighting while the main compartment will easily fit a light weight sleeping bag, shelter and cook kit.

    The forester does fantastic duty as a bushcrafting pack. 
     So my conclusions are that this is a great pack, however when a product that is in most respects great but has a features which it claims as a unique selling point or special feature which sets it apart from other products the manufacturer has a responsibility to make sure that feature is fit for purpose, and in this case they haven't. Every thing but that special feature is great about this pack but when you consider that the whole reason I wanted this pack was to carry my rifle it is not at all fit for purpose.  

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